Julia Banks, an ex-Australian member of parliament, claims that a minister touched her inappropriately.
Julia Banks, a former Australian government MP, claims she was sexually touched by a current cabinet member in 2017 at Parliament House.
The male MP ran his hand up her leg during a parliamentary vote session, according to Ms. Banks, who made the allegation in a book.
The office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison claimed in a statement that they were unaware of the allegation prior.
They described such behavior as “absolutely improper.”
Ms. Banks did not name the man, who she claimed was still in the cabinet, in a passage from her memoir.
She claimed she and other government MPs were waiting for a late-night parliament vote when the minister approached her and placed his hand “just above my knee, edged slowly and deliberately to my inner thigh, and then farther up my leg.”
“It took incredible bravery for a minister to do this in the prime minister’s wing, which was full with Coalition [government] MPs. It was incredible to me.”
The claims leveled by Ms. Banks have once again brought attention to the treatment of women in Mr. Morrison’s conservative administration and in wider Australian politics.
Separate rape allegations, one in Parliament House and the other against a top government official, sparked a wave of #MeToo protests across the country earlier this year.
Previously, Ms. Banks has spoken out against sexism and misogyny in Australian politics.
After former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was removed in a leadership coup in which Scott Morrison was installed, the former MP made headlines by leaving the Liberal Party.
She decried the “bullying and intimidation” she had faced in parliament in her departure speech at the time.
Ms. Banks, a former lawyer, claimed that parliament’s attitude toward women was decades behind that of the corporate world.
In her book, Power Play: Breaking Through Bias, Barriers, and Boys’ Clubs, she expands on this “anti-women” mentality.
She further claims that when she announced her leaving, Mr. Morrison sought to “bully” her and silence her.
She described him as a “continuous, scary background wallpaper.”
Mr. Morrison had many talks with Ms. Banks, according to a representative for the prime minister.