Minister accuses One Nation MP of bullying

·3-min read

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has used parliamentary privilege to accuse One Nation MP Mark Latham of bullying, as the pair clashed during a hearing.

"He has a history of bullying. My Lord," Mr Hazzard told a budget estimates committee on Wednesday.

The minister also referred under privilege to a July 2001 scuffle over a bag between Mr Latham and a taxi driver, who ended up with a broken arm.

"(In) his own book, he referred to all his colleagues as snakes, freaks, arseholes and sewer rats," Mr Hazzard said.

"This man should not be asking questions which go beyond the reasonable realm of this committee.

"This man should not be in parliament."

During the hearing, Mr Latham asked Michael Douglas, the former deputy controller of public health response for NSW Health, about a function held by the Nationals at parliament in 2021, which resulted in multiple positive COVID-19 infections.

Mr Hazzard accused Mr Latham, who repeated the question, of being "quite obsessed" and bullying Dr Douglas.

"There was an answer given - two actually - he's quite obsessed - not only with bullying female MPs and ex MPs," he said under privilege

"He's also obsessed with anything to do with this."

Mr Latham chuckled after Mr Hazzard failed to raise a point of order and have the questions derailed.

The One Nation MP said his question was driven by Nationals MPs who complained ministers only had to isolate for 24 hours following a negative test, while other attendees were subjected to 14-day isolation periods.

The clash between Mr Hazzard and Mr Latham came after the latter on Tuesday used parliamentary privilege to accuse Labor MP Anna Watson of being "paralytically drunk" two years ago in the NSW Parliament bar.

"He bullied (Ms Watson) with some absolutely irrelevant comment," Mr Hazzard said.

Ms Watson said Mr Latham's claim, made during an estimates hearing on Tuesday, referred to events on August 27, 2020.

"The day Mr Latham referred to, the Legislative Assembly (lower house) was not sitting and outside of business hours," she said.

"I was having a drink with Mr Latham in the Parliament House bar. I thought I had his ear and a shoulder to cry on that evening."

Ms Watson said she had been under stress because a close family member was going through a personal crisis.

"I did drink too much alcohol during that extremely stressful and traumatic period, I recognise this," she added.

The Opposition Whip, who represents the seat of Shellharbour, said she had been "abstaining from alcohol".

Labor Leader Chris Minns said he had faith in Ms Watson, who drank too much after receiving "terrible personal news".

"I'm not saying it was her best day and neither is she, but she's taken steps to work on her personal health," Mr Minns said.

"I appreciate and understand that those steps have been taken."

Mr Hazzard said Mr Latham's comments about Ms Watson were "utterly irrelevant" in the context of budget estimates hearings, when ministers and public servants take questions from committees about the use of taxpayer funds.

He also told the committee Mr Latham was a "born grub".

"Unfortunately, you look for the worst in everybody, as you did yesterday," Mr Hazzard said.