Tas Labor cops more heat over leadership

·2-min read

An independent Tasmanian MP claims people in the state Labor party knew about sexual harassment claims levelled at former leader David O'Byrne when they backed him for the role.

Mr O'Byrne announced on Sunday he would resign as opposition leader at the next party caucus meeting, less than three weeks after being elected to the job.

He issued a public apology last week after being accused of sending inappropriate text messages to a junior employee and kissing her twice without consent when he worked for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union more than a decade ago.

Mr O'Byrne, who remains in parliament as a member for Franklin, is the subject of an internal party investigation.

He initially temporarily stepped aside as leader before conceding at the weekend that ongoing speculation was not in the party's best interests.

The allegations date back to 2007 and 2008.

Independent MP Kristie Johnston, who knows the woman, says the woman tried to raise her concerns at the time with "people in the Labor movement".

"Unfortunately they were ignored, the concerns. She was mocked because she had the braveness to raise those concerns at the time," Ms Johnston told ABC radio on Monday.

Labor MP Ella Haddad previously said the woman, a friend of hers, had spoken to her about experiences at the union but asked her not to share the information.

Ms Johnston, who says Mr O'Byrne should leave parliament entirely, took aim at Labor broadly.

"There have been people within the Labor movement, who have actively gone out knowing that the complaint exists and having said that they believe the complainant, have ... endorsed and supported Mr O'Byrne in his leadership bid," she said.

"That is a complete betrayal. It's a betrayal of not just this complainant but a betrayal of every woman."

Labor will meet on Wednesday to discuss who'll be the next leader, with a ballot on the cards if more than one person puts their hand up.

Acting leader Anita Dow said she is "considering her options" in relation to a leadership tilt.

"We've got to re-engage with the Tasmanian community and earn their trust and confidence again. It's going to be a big job," she told the ABC.

Ms Dow, who said she first became aware of the allegations against Mr O'Byrne through the media, wouldn't be drawn on whether he should leave politics altogether.

"He's made his decision. There's a confidential process in place and that needs to run its course," she said.

Labor lost their third straight election in May, which prompted Rebecca White to step down as leader.

Mr O'Byrne beat Shane Broad in a drawn-out leadership ballot which included the votes of rank-and-file members.

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