Harassment claims levelled at Tas Labor MP

·3-min read

Embattled former Tasmanian Labor opposition leader David O'Byrne has been accused by a fellow member of parliament of sexually harassing several women.

Independent Kristie Johnston made the fresh claims under parliamentary privilege on Tuesday, a day after Mr O'Byrne defied calls for him to resign from parliament following a sexual harassment probe.

Mr O'Byrne has denied the "unsubstantiated allegations", saying parliamentary privilege - which gives MPs legal immunity - had not been properly used.

An investigation into allegations Mr O'Byrne sexually harassed a junior union colleague in 2007 and 2008 was finalised last week, with Labor determining at the time no further action was required.

Leader Rebecca White, as well as two former Labor premiers, have since called on Mr O'Byrne to resign, saying his conduct doesn't meet community standards.

Rachel Midson accused Mr O'Byrne of kissing her and sending her inappropriate text messages without her consent when the pair worked for the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union.

Mr O'Byrne previously admitted to the conduct but said he thought at the time it was consensual but now understood it was not.

He has rejected Ms Midson's assertion it amounted to sexual harassment.

"There are other women who have been victims of Mr O'Byrne's sexual harassment and unwanted advances," Ms Johnston, who is Ms Midson's sister, told state parliament.

"By my count, at least five other women since 2007 and as recently as December last year. Each of these women know of others."

Ms Johnston said the complaints were "remarkably similar" and included unsolicited text messages of a sexual nature and physical advances that made them feel uncomfortable.

She also accused Mr O'Byrne of trying to derail the investigation into Ms Midson's complaint by contacting potential witnesses and breaching confidentiality requirements.

"The mishandling of this complaint by the Labor Party is mind boggling," she said.

Mr O'Byrne earlier told parliament he had taken responsibility for his behaviour by resigning from the leadership and apologising to Ms Midson.

"I am human and I made a mistake. I have paid the price," he said.

Mr O'Byrne on Monday announced he had quit the Labor caucus but would remain in parliament as a party member for the electorate of Franklin.

He sat several seats apart from Labor lower house members on Tuesday, the first day back from the winter break.

He called for Labor to publicly release the investigation's report and provide a copy to Ms Midson, as many in the community would have "uninformed doubts" about its findings.

Mr O'Byrne was appointed Labor leader following the party's third straight election defeat in May and was replaced by predecessor Ms White after stepping down.

She told parliament it was "critically important" MPs set the tone and upheld expected standards when it came to workplace harassment.

Also speaking under parliamentary privilege, Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said Mr O'Byrne had not shown enough contrition or enough self-reflection to be capable of redemption.

Ms Johnston accused Mr O'Byrne of directing sexually suggestive comments at Greens election volunteers in 2014, something Ms O'Connor corroborated.

Liberal Premier Peter Gutwein said Mr Johnston's allegations were deeply disturbing.

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