National

Liberal minister backs Labor staffers

By AAP Newswire

Labor staffers need assurance they can elevate serious gripes through formal complaint processes, the government says.

Opposition MP Emma Husar was cleared of sexual harassment allegations on Friday following an investigation, but Workplace Minister Craig Laundy says Labor must now ensure staffers in her office have access to assistance.

"Alarm bells should have been ringing in relation to bullying allegations months ago," Mr Laundy said in a statement on Saturday.

"Staff should have been directed to appropriate agencies to investigate concerns immediately."

Mr Laundy said Labor needed to come clean about when senior figures were alerted to the allegations as it may have delayed staff ability to take action.

He claims staff may have kept their jobs if they had sought a stop bullying order from the Fair Work Commission while still employed in Ms Husar's office.

"Their livelihoods have been sacrificed in Labor's attempt to protect Bill Shorten's star MP," Mr Laundy said.

"If Bill Shorten won't stand up to protect Labor's staff, I will."

Under sustained scrutiny over the allegations, Ms Husar said she would not recontest her western Sydney seat of Lindsay at the next election this week.

She says she would have stayed on if allegations against her had not been leaked.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill described whoever had made the leaks as "reprehensible" and admitted there were failure points throughout the process.

"This was a matter that was terribly escalated by one person's reprehensible action," Senator O'Neill told the ABC.

"It risks mental health of people and the wellbeing and risk of anonymity of those who had complaints."

Meanwhile, two agencies will continue examining allegations regarding her time in parliament.

The Finance Department's unit and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority are casting their eye over claims regarding the first-term MP.

An independent investigation commissioned by NSW Labor found while she did make unreasonable demands of staff, who accused her of bullying, their allegations of sexual harassment were not supported.

Lawyer John Whelan's report said there was no basis for her to resign but found "complaints that staff were subjected to unreasonable management, including unreasonable communication, demands, practices and disciplinary methods have merit".

Two former staff members told BuzzFeed News they may take the MP for Lindsay to the Fair Work Commission or a civil court.

The report called for a "return to work" plan to make sure Ms Husar's office runs smoothly into the future - a recommendation she has agreed to.