A Labor MP who was forced out of politics by false rumours of sexual harassment has engaged in a heated clash with Barnaby Joyce on live TV.
Emma Husar told Q&A she lost her job over slut-shaming innuendo while men like Mr Joyce who were ‘caught with their pants down’ unfairly kept their jobs.
A bitter battle of the sexes then erupted between Ms Husar and former the deputy prime minister, who was demoted and lost his marriage after having an affair with staffer Vikki Campion in 2017.
On Monday night’s episode, Ms Husar said she was forced to move interstate after a former staffer accused her of sexually harassing staff in 2018.
Vikki Campion (right), then 33, was working as a staffer for Barnaby Joyce (centre), 51, when she fell pregnant with his child. Mr Joyce told Emma Husar that he accepted what he did was wrong but it wasn’t for her to judge him. ‘I never did that to you,’ he said
‘It was completely unjust, what I went through,’ she said.
‘I had media cameras parked out the front of my house for weeks on end while I had young children inside. I was chased across my front lawn with a camera and a mic shoved in my face, asking if I was an slut and if I was Sharon Stone.’
‘I was the subject… of ridicule and trolling and horrendous threats and intimidation online.’
Ms Husar was then disendorsed, left politics in 2019, and had to move from NSW to Perth to get away from it.
Last Monday’s Four Corners episode on sexism in Parliament that exposed Alan Tudge as having an affair with a female staffer dragged the whole issue up again, she said.
‘It is galling to watch these men continue in their jobs. In Tudge’s case he got caught with his pants down, Barnaby is the same.
‘Mine was all over innuendo. There was a man that was wielding that agenda because I’d fired him.’
Emma Husar fought tears when she announced she would not stand for re-election in 2019
Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce took immediate offence at being named in Ms Husar’s diatribe, and said he admitted he did the wrong thing but said she shouldn’t be judging him
Mr Joyce immediately took offence at her personal attack and responded with a full-throated defence that descended into an angry war of words.
‘I’m disappointed with Emma pointing her invective at me. I have down nothing but support Emma in what happened to her,’ he said.
Mr Joyce was demoted after having an affair with staffer Vikki Campion which prompted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s infamous ‘bonk ban’ of ministers having relationships with their staffers.
His marriage broke down and he has since had a child with Ms Campion, with another on the way.
‘I don’t know anything about Emma’s life and Emma most certainly doesn’t know anything about mine,’ he said.
The National Party member for New England said Ms Husar was treated ‘incredibly poorly’ – but she immediately broke in to accuse him of failing to ‘call it out’ at the time.
‘I remember your party and the government of the day weaponising what I was going through and making it worse,’ she said.
Mr Joyce said it was her own Labor party that didn’t supported her, while he had.
‘I completely find what they said about you from your own side appalling.’
Mr Joyce told her to stop judging him – he accepted what he had done was morally wrong, that his marriage had broken down, but that was not a judgement for another politician to make.
‘I’m not in judgement of you, Emma,’ he said.
‘I do find it a little bit galling that you’ve opened your sort of narration with one of the meritorious selection of myself because I most certainly never, ever did that to you.’
Former Labor MP Emma Husar said she was hounded out of politics and had to leave her home because of rumour and innuendo, while male politicians who had affairs got to keep their jobs
Mr Joyce said while Ms Husar was chased across the lawn he was ‘flushed down the toilet’ and ‘locked in his house’.
‘I was the front page not for days but for months… I had to have my dinner put through the back fence, literally pushed through a fence so we could eat in our house.’
‘I don’t want anybody to be treated like that again.’
Later in the emotionally-charged episode, author Jane Caro gave an impassioned speech to the panel, arguing women were sliding backwards rapidly in society.
She said there were 86,000 fewer female enrollments in university in 2020 and 400,000 women over 45 were facing homelessness.
‘What I’m seeing is rights being removed. What I’m seeing is budgets that pay no attention to the stark poverty staring particularly older Australian women in the face,’ she said.
‘Yes, they’re the nurses, the teachers, the parents, the carers, and what’s their reward for doing that? The very real chance of poverty in their old age. I’m not hopeful. I’m angry. I’m furious.’