It goes without saying that One Nation and its merry band of freaks attract some of the oddest drama/conflict/blood feuds in the Parliament, which seems entirely predicated on the fact that the people Pauline Hanson preselects are generally incompetent oddballs with wildly varying political fixations and a penchant for prosecuting personal beefs. But even by those lofty standards, this is a big one.
On Tuesday night in the Senate, Hanson stood up and spoke against an unnamed male senator, alleging that he was sexually harassing his staff. She didn’t reveal who he was or what party he represented. She suggested those who were targeted by this senator chose not to speak out, hence the anonymity:
Each of those people has been gagged from speaking publicly about their experience, and I respect the decision they have made to accept those terms and remain silent. But 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 the poor treatment of his employees.
It was soon revealed that the senator in question was Brian Burston – who was formerly a member of One Nation before ditching the party and joining Clive Palmer‘s rebooted United Australia Party. As such, I feel confident describing this as a One Nation drama despite the fact he is no longer associated with One Nation.
The Guardian reports that a sexual harassment claim lodged against Burston last year alleges the senator “made an inappropriate advance on a distressed staff member,” by asking her if he could “fuck her to make things better”. Here’s more from the original complaint:
There is a line that should not be crossed. Abusive language and sexual harassment is unacceptable. I knew that this poor practice of workplace bullying was accepted by Brian Burston as he was one of the biggest perpetrators.
This is obviously an incredibly serious allegation.
The revelation triggered a flurry of denials from Burston, including a somewhat bizarre claim from a spokesperson that 70-year-old man such as himself would simply never say the word “fuck“. This was backed up in The Guardian with an immortal quote from Burston’s wife Ros: “My husband never says fuck.”
As part of his defence against allegations of sexual harassment, Burston launched an attack on Pauline, announcing that she had actually sexually harassed him a number of times over the course of decades. He says that Hanson “rubbed her fingers up [his] spine” during the national anthem at Rooty Hill RSL back in 1998, and also sexually propositioned him in her Queensland home in 2016.
Hanson made a quick appearance on Sky News to deny the allegations.
A lot of men have tickets on themselves and Brian Burston, don’t go out in Canberra, it’s very windy tonight […] I might be 64 but I’m not that desperate. These are allegations that have been made up, there are no truth to them whatsoever and I feel sorry for his wife, I really feel sorry for his wife.
To top it all off, Burston got into an actual blue with Pauline’s chief of staff James Ashby in Parliament House. Reportedly, the pair had been seated at the same table at a Minerals Council function, and they scuffled afterwards when Burston says Ashby tried to film him.
“I told him to fuck off,” Burston told News Corp Australia last night, completely contradicting the claim that he never says fuck. It took like five hours for that web of lies to collapse.
“I lost it,” Burston told the Tele. “I grabbed him and I pushed him up against the wall. I defended myself and my wife, physically.”
Oh yeah, and there’s a smear of what looks like blood on Pauline’s office door. Very biblical.
Ashby says that Burston did that, which seems to line up with the fact that Burston had a bloodied hand after the fight. Either way, it’s extremely stupid.
So there you have it, folks. Duelling sexual harassment claims, a fight in Parliament House, blood smeared on Pauline Hanson’s office door, and a 70-year-old man who claims he never says “fuck” but then does so. It’s another day in Parliament House.