House debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Personal Explanations

3:39 pm

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Too often during the last six months I've had to bite my tongue and not defend myself publicly whilst being misrepresented. I will not wait around for someone else to do what is right and show leadership. There are two sides to every story. Now it is my time to correct the record, be my own champion and the battler that I've always been in pursuit of what is right and fair.

I do not object to the media doing their jobs, but misrepresenting members is not one of them. I respect those who have shown ethical and good conduct while reporting. Let me be very specific. At 9.33 am on 2 August, Ms Alice Workman of BuzzFeed published the most damaging article. In it she claimed that she had requested my comment. She had not. This is false. At 9.34 am on that same day, one minute after that publication, she emailed me requesting comments and answers to 48 questions for the article that she had already published. I had no chance to refute or respond. At 9.35 am she further tweeted that I had bragged about who I was having sex with, that I had sexually harassed an employee and intentionally exposed myself, like Sharon Stone's character in Basic Instinct,in front of a colleague and his infant son. As a result of this initial misrepresentation, over 225 articles were re-published, each and every single one of them misrepresenting me in so many respects. Within 36 hours of this gross misrepresentation and the slut-shaming smears going viral, I was asked to resign as the member for Lindsay.

Let me correct the record. BuzzFeed and Alice Workman knew that the confidential letter which contained untested and contested allegations was in their possession. They also knew that I was bound by confidentiality under the Whelan process I was being examined by. But they went ahead and published their slut-shaming story knowing and with full intent that it would go viral. Let me correct the record: They didn't give me any notice in advance. They didn't give me the opportunity to seek release from my confidentiality obligations so that I could respond. They didn't give me the opportunity to use our legal system to preserve the confidential process until it had properly played out.

In furtherance of my correcting that record today, I have launched proceedings for defamation in the Federal Court against BuzzFeed and Alice Workman, who were involved in this shameless misrepresentation and subsequent take-down. Sunlight is always the best disinfectant, and today I bathe those misrepresentations in a flood of light, to remind them that they are not above the rule of law in this great country of ours.

Mr Speaker, I am not a bully. I am not Sharon Stone. I am not a thief and I did not deliberately misuse my work expenses. I will fight for my integrity, for my family and for Lindsay, which is full of battlers just like me, and I will fight for every woman who comes after me. I'm going to do my bit to ensure that this never happens again.

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