Pauline Hanson says United Australia Party senator Brian Burston needs to “get some anger management” after trading verbal barbs and fisticuffs with her chief of staff.
The ugly physical clash occurred outside a formal dinner at Parliament House, just hours after Senator Burston and the One Nation leader accused each other of sexual misconduct.
“I think it’s retaliation and it’s a shame this is happening in parliament,” Senator Hanson told reporters in Canberra on Feb. 14. “He really needs to go and get some anger management.”
Bill Shorten said One Nation was once again descending into chaos.
“It would be comic-except it’s not-it’s violence and unparliamentary conduct,” the Labor leader told reporters.
Earlier, Ms Hanson laughed off claims she sexually harassed Senator Burston, who spectacularly left One Nation last year, saying: “I’m not that desperate.”
But it was no laughing matter when Senator Burston came toe-to-toe with her adviser James Ashby on Wednesday night.
Senator Burston claims Mr Ashby approached him as he and his wife were leaving a function.
He claims he was injured when he tried to grab a phone Mr Ashby was waving in his face.
“I told him to [expletive] off,” Senator Burston told News Corp.
“I lost it. I grabbed him and I pushed him up against the wall.”
Senator Burston reported the incident to Australian Federal Police and supplied a photograph of his bloodied hand to News Corp.
Images later published elsewhere appear to show Senator Hanson’s office door smeared with streaks of blood.
The furore erupted after Senator Hanson on Tuesday night used parliamentary privilege to accuse an unnamed senator of sexually harassing at least six staff.
Senator Burston outed himself as the mystery alleged culprit, telling News Corp it was “[expletive],” going on to claim he left One Nation after being sexually harassed by Senator Hanson.
“Right back when we had our first One Nation AGM at the Rooty Hill RSL (in Sydney in 1998), that was the first time she hit on me,” he said.
He claimed Senator Hanson had once “rubbed her fingers up my spine” while listening to the national anthem and propositioned him after he was elected in 2016 at her home in Queensland and in Canberra.
“I can’t stop laughing about it,” Senator Hanson told Sky News.
“I might be 64 … but I tell you what, I’m not that desperate.”
Mr Ashby claimed he was taking pictures of his boss leaving the function when Senator Burston attacked him.
Senator-staffer fight under investigation
Senate President Scott Ryan has launched an urgent investigation into an ugly fight between United Australia Party senator Brian Burston and Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff.
Senator Ryan has spoken to House of Representatives Speaker Tony Smith about the physical clash between Senator Burston and James Ashby outside a dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday.
“We will be looking into this matter as a matter of urgency. We both regard this as a grave matter,” Senator Ryan told parliament on Thursday.
The Senate president said if he didn’t report back to parliament on Thursday for legal reasons, he would aim to address an estimates hearing on Monday.
“At this stage I have received no formal information on it but we will be chasing this up in the course of this morning and I plan to speak to senators involved,” Senator Ryan said.
He said a range of issues were raised by the incident including the use of media, assault claims, and potential privileges concerns around senators being prevented from going about their business.
Mr Ashby filmed Senator Burston in the lead-up to the altercation, which left the One Nation defector with a bandaged hand when he arrived at work on Thursday.
Images appear to show Senator Hanson’s office door smeared with streaks of blood.
Politicians often fight.
But it’s rare to see their confrontations become physical.
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) February 13, 2019