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Australian speaker's accuser lodges new complaints

Australian speaker's accuser lodges new complaints

A gay political staffer who is suing the Australian Parliament's speaker for sexual harassment lodged formal complaints of discrimination Thursday against the foreign minister and a senior opposition senator.
Speaker Peter Slipper has stood aside over his former media adviser James Ashby's suit lodged in the Federal Court last month that alleges Slipper pressured him for gay sex. Slipper has denied those accusations as well as separate criminal allegations that he misused taxi payment vouchers.
On Thursday, Ashby's lawyers lodged complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission alleging victimization by Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Nationals party Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce over their comments in the public debate over the Slipper accusations.
The commission investigates allegations of breaches of anti-discrimination laws, including discrimination based on sexual orientation. A commission hearing can result in orders for an apology and financial compensation.
Slipper being sidelined has effectively reduced the Labor Party's control of Parliament and has sparked questions about whether Ashby's allegations are politically motivated.
Ashby's lawyer, Michael Harmer, said Carr and Joyce had used their positions to demean his client.
"Our client has been subject to repeated public attacks on his reputation, integrity and credibility by senior politicians," Harmer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Harmer did not respond to The Associated Press' request for comment Thursday.
The complaint cites Carr's comment on Twitter that "Ashby seems more rehearsed than a Kabuki actor," referring to classical Japanese drama.
Joyce had described Ashby as "only slightly less dodgy than Slipper."
Ashby's spokesman, Anthony McClellan, confirmed that the new complaints had been lodged but declined further comment.
Joyce denied impugning Ashby's character, but said Ashby was welcome to take him before the commission.
"At the outset of this issue, I was neither on the side of Mr. Ashby or Mr. Slipper, and that's where I want to stay," Joyce said.
Carr's office did not immediately comment Thursday.


Updated : 2021-10-22 16:59 GMT+08:00