Senator Brian Burston denies sexually harassing a staff member | Australia news
The former One Nation senator Brian Burston has denied sexually harassing a staff member and has pledged to retaliate against Pauline Hanson, his former leader, for raising allegations in parliament.
Hanson used a speech in the Senate on Tuesday night to accuse an unnamed senator of “serious sexual harassment”.
Guardian Australia has seen a complaint of sexual harassment made against Burston late last year, as part of a settled unfair dismissal claim. The complaint alleges Burston made an inappropriate advance on a distressed staff member. She said he had asked whether he could “‘fuck’ me to make things better”.
A spokeswoman for Burston denied that the senator propositioned the staff member, stressing that a 70-year old man would not use the word “fuck”.
Asked if the former staffer had lodged a Fair Work Commission complaint, the spokeswoman replied: “No comment.”
Burston interjected that the allegations were “all bullshit” and “garbage”. He said that Pauline Hanson – who he described as “a woman scorned” – was engaging in payback because he left One Nation over other issues including the party’s stance on company tax.
Burston’s wife, Ros, corroborated the denial of Burston’s spokeswoman.
“My husband never says fuck,” Ros said.
Burston’s spokeswoman said to expect a “bombshell” on Thursday evening in the Senate adjournment debate, when Burston is expected to respond to Hanson’s Senate speech and take aim at the One Nation senator Peter Georgiou.
Hanson’s Tuesday night speech accused an unnamed senator of sexual harassment and said the matter was currently “under investigation” by an unnamed entity.
“What is disappointing is that this parliament has allowed the horrible treatment of staff to continue without this senator being forced to go through some form of training to prevent poor treatment of his employees,” Hanson said in the Senate.
Hanson and Burston fell out bitterly before Burston left One Nation in June last year. The tensions manifested months earlier when Hanson picked Malcolm Roberts as the party’s number one Senate pick in Queensland. Burston split with his leader on the government’s company tax cut bill, a move she saw as a stab in the back.
Burston eventually quit the party in June to sit as an independent, and is now aligned with the United Australia Party.