Ashby lodges new complaint
THE man suing Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper for alleged sexual harassment has lodged a complaint against Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
James Ashby claims he was victimised by Senators Carr and Joyce earlier this month.
Lawyers for Mr Ashby lodged the complaint late on Thursday.
On May 5, Senator Carr tweeted to his then 12,000 followers: "This Ashby seems more rehearsed than a kabuki actor."
Senator Carr then declined to withdraw the comment interviewed on ABC program Lateline on May 9.
On May 6, Senator Joyce, the Leader of the Nationals in the Senate, told reporters: "'If you are going to play marriage guidance counsellor, you've got to hear both sides of the story."
In the same press conference the Queensland Senator also said Mr Ashby seemed "only slightly less dodgy than Slipper".
Lawyer Michael Harmer wrote Mr Ashby had been subjected "to repeated public attacks on his reputation, integrity and credibility by senior politicians" since making the accusations of sexual harassment against his boss, Mr Slipper, the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
"This is an important public policy issue," Mr Harmer wrote.
"It takes considerable courage for anyone to complain about sexual harassment by a person holding superior office in the workplace.
"Public comment attacking complainants of sexual harassment will only serve to discourage other people from coming forward. This in turn will result in genuine complaints being suppressed, while conduct contrary to the human rights legislation will proliferate."
Mr Harmer went on to accuse the senators of using their "high office to demean our client for their political ends".
The letter does not rule our Mr Ashby taking further action.
"Our client considers that he has a number of other causes of action in respect of the conduct of Mr Carr and Senator Joyce," it reads.
"Our client reserves all of his rights in relation to those causes of action while progressing this complaint to the commission."
The commission would not comment on the matter, but its website says complaints are resolved through conciliation, the outcome of which can include an apology, reinstatement to a job, compensation for lost wages, changes to a policy or developing and promoting anti-discrimination policies.
Mr Ashby's civil action will begin in the Federal Court in Sydney on Friday with a directions hearing.