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A timeline of the sexual harassment scandal tearing the Greens apart

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has this week lost the confidence of Richard Di Natale and other senior figures, but this fight has been on for the past six months.

Jeremy Buckingham Jenny Leong
Greens MPs Jenny Leong and Jeremy Buckingham (Images: AAP/Dean Lewins)

Allegations of sexual misconduct made against New South Wales MP Jeremy Buckingham have recently thrown the Greens into turmoil. On Tuesday, Buckingham, who allegedly inappropriately touched a former staffer in 2011, lost the confidence of party leader Richard Di Natale and other senior figures. But despite these calls to step aside, Buckingham has vowed to contest the next election.

How did we get to this point of open warfare?

May 2018: the complaint is lodged

A complaint is lodged accusing NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham of inappropriate behaviour at an event in August 2011. The incident is referred to Workdynamic Australia, an independent investigator. The complaint is lodged under the Greens’ anti-sexual harassment policy which was introduced a month earlier.

August 2, 2018: ABC exposes Buckingham allegations

ABC’s 7.30 airs an episode concerning several alleged incidents of sexual misconduct by Greens MPs and staffers. Ella Buckland, the former Greens’ research assistant who reported the Buckingham allegations, goes public. Buckland told the program that after a night of drinking, Buckingham touched her inappropriately and kissed her neck at his house in Newtown in Sydney’s inner west. In a statement made to the program, Buckingham calls the allegations false, and says female witnesses can corroborate his version of events.

In the same episode, journalist Lauren Ingram claims she had been sexually assaulted by a Greens staffer in 2015. Holly Brooke, a former NSW Greens co-convenor claims she was indecently assaulted by a party member last year. The episode pointed to a chronic failure to adequately deal with complaints in the Greens.

Rory Markham, a lawyer representing Buckland and other female complainants tells the program: “I have never seen a more amateur organisation and an organisation that has little to no organisational structure to deal with very serious issues of volunteer protection.” A number of women tell the program that when they made allegations of sexual assault, they were “encouraged to stay silent, to think of the greater good of the party”.

Di Natale offers an apology to the women and states the Australian Greens are “working with Greens NSW to review and strengthen their complaint handling process”.

Writing for Crikey, Brooke argues that the increasing professionalisation of the Greens, and prioritisation of electoral success above activist politics had led to a willingness to sweep incidents of sexual misconduct under the carpet in order to preserve the party’s reputation.

August 14 2018: Buckingham survives expulsion bid

At the NSW state delegates council, proposals to suspend Buckingham’s portfolio responsibilities and remove him from the Legislative Council ticket fail despite getting a majority vote. The proposals receive respective majorities of 65% and 60%, both falling short of the 75% required for them to pass.

Attempts to remove Buckingham appear to be part of a larger schism between the party’s left and right factions. It’s reported that members of the right initially try to block the motion, triggering a walkout.

September 11, 2018: Buckingham claims he is cleared

Workdynamic concludes that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate Buckland’s complaint. In a statement, Buckingham claims he has been cleared of any wrongdoing, and that the complaint was politically motivated:

I’m glad the day has finally arrived when I’ve been cleared. It’s been incredibly difficult and damaging to have these false allegations made public and used by certain people to try to destroy me.

In response to Buckingham’s statement, however, the NSW Greens said the investigation had not yet been concluded, and expressed disappointment at Buckingham’s pre-emptive release of the findings.

NSW Greens convenor Rochelle Flood states “the report does not make any finding that the complaint was false or vexatious”.

October 25, 2018: national convenors move against Buckingham

New Matilda reports that Buckingham is under fire from state and federal party offices over his claim that Buckland’s complaint was vexatious and politically motivated. A letter from the party’s national convenors to the NSW convenors indicates Buckingham may have breached clauses of the Greens’ anti-sexual harassment policy in his statement made in September. The letter invites Buckingham to address the National Council over their concerns, and to apologise to Buckland.

November 13-16 2018: senior Greens abandon Buckingham

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong makes a speech under parliamentary privilege calling on Buckingham not to contest the upcoming election over allegations of “sexual violence”. Senator Mehreen Faruqi joins Leong in calling for Buckingham to resign.

“The culture of sexism, harassment and unwanted sexual advances in society in general and in politics in particular must change,” Leong and Faruqi say.

By the evening, the party’s federal leader Richard Di Natale joins calls for Buckingham to resign.

But not everyone in the party is behind Buckingham’s shafting. Cate Faehrmann, who recently replaced Faruqi in the NSW upper house, stands by her colleague, saying she is angry at the complaint being used as a “political weapon”.

On Thursday, NSW MP Justin Field joins Faehrmann in support of Buckingham, arguing Leong’s statement was “an orchestrated political hit”:

Jenny’s statement was first and foremost an opportunistic effort to destroy and a continuation of a relentless effort by some in the Greens to use this complaint to force Jeremy out of the party.

Buckingham also retains some support among local branches. In an email to members, Nepean convenor Patrick Darley-Jones describes the affair as “a vendetta against one of our MPs”.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Greens face a storm of their own, after a video emerges of Angus McAlpine, state candidate for Footscray, rapping about date rape and using homophobic slurs.

Buckingham refuses to step aside, saying he intends to contest the 2019 election.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.

Peter Fray

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Rosemary Laurens
Rosemary Laurens
2 years ago

Just one thing: in the fifth paragraph under the heading ‘August 2, 2018’, Kishor Napier-Rahman refers to an article Hooly Brooke wrote for Crikey and summarises Brooke’s position as follows: “Brooke argues that the increasing professionalisation of the Greens and prioritisation of electoral success above activist politics, had led to a willingness to sweep incidents of sexual misconduct under the carpet to preserve the party’s reputation.” That may well be Brooke’s opinion but, in fairness to Jeremy Buckingham and any others accused of sexual misconduct, I think Napier-Rahman should have written ‘alleged sexual misconduct’; otherwise, it appears that Napier-Rahman is accepting the view that sexual misconduct, on those various occasions, did in fact take place.

Vasco
Vasco
2 years ago

God this is gruesome, like watching someone eating their hair. No one is going to win in this, least of all the voters.

CML
CML
2 years ago

If the alleged behaviour by Buckingham was referred to an ‘independent’ umpire, and said umpire rules that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the allegation, then surely that should be the end of it?
Or are the Green’s women so pure that even the umpire must be wrong? I am female, (and NOT a Greens supporter) but this is off the planet! Guilty despite the evidence…something else going on here!!
What an idiotic bunch of drongos!!!

AR
AR
2 years ago
Reply to  CML

Raper “froze” for 2 years, Buckland for seven but noting beat KGF’s 30+ years against Kavanaugh.
So much for the strong wymmin who fought for Liberation 50years ago – the granddaughters will be swooning with the vapours next.

Margaret Marshall
Margaret Marshall
2 years ago
Reply to  AR

Why does everyone fall into the silly trap. It is ALLEGED. ALLEGED and ALLEGED, Should I put it again ALLEGED.
When someone says something it does not make it fact.
When I say the Greens are intelligent, does that make it fact?

mark e smith
mark e smith
2 years ago

It’s more than just he said – she said. The problem with these sorts allegations from politicians or wannabe pollies is you’d be crazy to believe any of what either side alleges. Inappropriate touching is this year’s bullying claim- movably definable as required in the eye of the beholder.

After a night on the piss and someone goes the late night grope or kiss on the neck back at someone’s private abode. If it’s unwelcome maybe a kick in the nuts or throw wine in his face or loudly tell him to piss off like in the old days. Not all sexual advances are welcome or accepted but plenty are. Is it a crime now to make a move or is there some app now to make a formal request ?

These sorts of sordid sagas just serve to devalue the importance of real sexual misbehaviour which is unfortunately still all too common.

Margaret Marshall
Margaret Marshall
2 years ago
Reply to  mark e smith

When it gets to “He said” and “she said” then there is no more than “he said” and “she said”
It says in the article this allegation has turned the Green into turmoil, then just who cares outside Jenny Leong?
What a good question?
Jeremy Buckinghams is getting on with promoting the Green and not pulling the Greens down in an Election campaign.

Alexander Turnbull
Alexander Turnbull
2 years ago

So we aren’t going to mention the fact that Buckingham started threatening current and former party atavists with that had sided with Buckland deformation proceedings?

Rosemary Laurens
Rosemary Laurens
2 years ago

Alexander, can you please clarify the point you wished to make? It’s not at all clear from the text. Thanks!