A federal government staffer has been forced to resign after being accused of verbally abusing a senior female politician.
Tasmanian Greens Leader Cassy O’Connor used parliamentary privilege to accuse Andrew Hudgson of yelling a vile insult — namely calling her a “meth-head c..t” — during a press conference in 2019, while he was working for the premier.
Mr Hudgson, who has since been employed by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, was asked to resign after the allegations were raised.
Liberal minister Jane Hume said his resignation demonstrated the power of the past week in federal parliament, which has been dominated by questions around sexual harassment and abuse in politics.
“So many women have found their voices and have the courage to stand up and say this behaviour is not okay,” she told ABC radio on Thursday.
“That’s a good thing, that’s a change that we needed to have.”
Mr Hudgson has been employed by various state and federal Liberals over many years.
Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie said while an in-house state government investigation cleared Mr Hudgson of any wrongdoing, that was not good enough.
“If you think by moving these people around this sort of behaviour is not going to catch up with them, especially now, I think would be terribly, terribly wrong,” she told Sky News.
“It’s been called out a few years ago and he should have been moved on then, action should have been taken early on, not him just moved on and moved up through the federal Liberal Party.”
A spokesman said the federal government was previously unaware of the verbal abuse allegations against Mr Hudgson.
“The staff member was asked to resign, which they have done,” the spokesman told AAP.
His resignation comes during a time of intense scrutiny on workplace cultures in federal parliament.
Both sides of politics are under scrutiny for the treatment of women.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles concedes there is much work to be done to improve the culture at Parliament House.
Mr Marles has apologised to women within the Labor Party who have outlined instances of sexual harassment in the workplace.
“There is a long way for us to go. I think there is a long way for the culture to go across the parliament.”
The issue of sexual harassment has been at the forefront of politics for weeks, after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins claimed she was raped by a colleague in 2019.
She has recently made a formal statement to police but Ms Higgins said she initially felt pressured to choose between keeping her job or going to authorities.
A review of the culture at Parliament House has since been announced, to be conducted by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.
Political staff from both sides of politics want assurances submissions to the review remain confidential and cannot be made public through freedom of information laws.
With Labor’s support, the government is expected to introduce legislation to guarantee the submissions are confidential.