Bizarre scenes unfold in Parliament as Pauline Hanson accused of sexual harassment, & more in News in 5.

1. Bizarre scenes unfold in Parliament as Pauline Hanson accused of sexual harassment.

Pauline Hanson has laughed off claims she sexually harassed United Australia Party Senator Brian Burston, saying “I’m not desperate”.

But it was no laughing matter for Senator Burston who was involved in a physical clash with her One Nation adviser James Ashby in Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday.

The Australian newspaper published images showing the pair in a physical clash on Wednesday night, after Senator Burston had earlier accused One Nation leader Pauline Hanson of sexually harassing him.

Senator Burston told News Corp Australia Mr Ashby ran up to him as he and his wife were leaving a dinner function and Mr Ashby, Ms Hanson’s chief of staff, put a phone close to his face.

An image supplied by Senator Burston appeared to show his hand with blood on it from cuts the senator said happened when he tried to grab Mr Ashby’s phone.

“I told him to f*** off,” Senator Burston told News Corp, adding that he tried unsuccessfully to grab the phone.

Senator Burston said Mr Ashby pursued him and his wife.

“I lost it,” the senator said.

“I grabbed him and I pushed him up against the wall.”

Senator Burston said he had reported the incident to Australian Federal Police.

He denied involvement with bloody marks that were found on Ms Hanson’s office door.

Mr Ashby said the senator’s claims were false and he had been trying to take images of Senator Hanson leaving the same function when Senator Burston attacked him.

The furore erupted after Senator Hanson on Tuesday night used parliamentary privilege to accuse an unnamed senator of sexually harassing at least six staff, and using taxpayer funds for payouts to keep some of the women silent.


“This gutless wonder we call senator should hang his head in shame,” Senator Hanson told the upper house.

Senator Burston outed himself on Wednesday as the man referred to, telling News Corp Australia it was “bull***” and one of the reasons he left One Nation was because of sexual harassment from Senator Hanson over two decades.

“Right back when we had our first One Nation AGM at the Rooty Hill RSL (in 1998), that was the first time she hit on me,” he said, of the unwanted attention.

He claimed Senator Hanson “rubbed her fingers up my spine” while listening to the national anthem and she’d propositioned him after he was elected in 2016 at her home in Queensland and Canberra.

But Senator Hanson denied all claims.

“I can’t stop laughing about it,” Senator Hanson told Sky News on Wednesday night.

“I might be 64 but I’m not desperate.”

Mr Ashby also denied Senator Burston’s version of events saying he had been trying to take pictures of Senator Hanson leaving the same function when Senator Burston attacked him.

2. Woman charged over starting NSW bushfire as battle rages.

A woman will face court accused of lighting one of the bushfires that residents and fire crews spent a second night battling in northern NSW.

The 40-year-old woman was charged on Wednesday night for allegedly lighting rubbish on fire in a steel drum in her backyard near Tabulam in the state’s north on Tuesday morning.

The blaze was allegedly left unattended in the hot weather and amid a total fire ban.


It quickly spread to bushland, incinerated almost 3000 hectares of land and forced the evacuation of the Jubullum Aboriginal area before destroying five houses.

The woman was charged with intentionally causing fire and being reckless to its spread during a total fire ban, and ordered to appear in Casino Local Court on February 27.

Fire crews spent Wednesday night battling that blaze along with erratic fires at Wallangarra and Tingha, as a southerly change swept through the state along with cooler conditions.

There are reports of homes lost on the edge of Tingha and residents spent much of the night defending properties in the surrounded bush township.

The cooler conditions should see a relaxing of the fire ban across NSW but the blazes burned out of control throughout the night and into the early hours of the morning.

3. Michelle Obama’s mum gives her a reality check after the Grammys.

It appears Michelle Obama has received a reality check from her mum following her appearance at the Grammys.

The former first lady took to Instagram on Wednesday to share a text exchange with mother Marian Robinson.

Obama had received a standing ovation opening Sunday’s awards show with Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Jada Pinkett Smith.

Robinson wrote: “I guess you were a hit at the Grammys”.

Obama asked if her mother had watched.

Mum replied she saw it, and then asked if her daughter had met “any of the real stars”.


Mother and daughter then quibbled over whether Obama had told her she would be on.

Obama ended the exchange by writing “And I AM A real star…by the way…”

Her mother replied, “Yeah.”

4. Qld mum convicted over genital mutilation.

A Queensland woman has been found guilty of arranging her two daughters to have their genitals mutilated in Somalia.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, denied she had taken the girls, then aged 12 and nine, to her birth nation in April 2015 to undergo the procedure.

She was convicted by a Brisbane District Court jury on Wednesday of two counts of removing a child from the state for female genital mutilation (FGM).

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before reaching their verdict.

The trial heard the woman, who had undergone a similar procedure as a girl, had her daughters endure FGM a few days after arriving in Somalia.

One of the girls was called inside from playing outside her grandmother’s house and had no idea what was about to happen when she had the painful procedure.

She was conscious throughout and it caused pain for days. Her sister was also subjected to the procedure, also with their mother by her side.

“(Their mother) had them in her care for the entire time. She was there when they were mutilated not long after they arrived in Somalia,” crown prosecutor Dejana Kovac said.

“She extended the trip to give them time to heal before returning to Australia.”

The family returned to their home in the Logan area, south of Brisbane, seven months later. Then the girls’ stepsister tipped off child safety services.

The girls told Queensland police about their experiences, leading to the charges against their mother.

Pediatrician Ryan Mills, who examined the girls, told the court the flattening of their clitoral hoods and discolouration of associated skin was “abnormal” and unlikely to be a “natural variation”.

“(The abnormalities) could be explained or are consistent with, in medical terms, genital mutilation,” he testified.

He said there was no therapeutic reason for the procedure.

Defence barrister Patrick Wilson said key medical evidence could have been interpreted differently by doctors not familiar with the case.

In a police interview, the woman said their trip had been to visit her mother and she’d done “nothing” in relation to a genital mutilation procedure.

Whatever had happened to the girls was “from God”, she said.


Asked by Justice Leanne Clare if there was any reason why sentencing should not be passed down, the woman, through an interpreter, said she had cancer and back problems.

She was granted bail and will be sentenced at a later date.

5. Commission hears of ‘extreme’ aged care case.

The royal commission into aged care has heard of the shocking treatment of an elderly patient given Panadol despite suffering ongoing pain from a severe genital wound.

Details of the man’s condition were given on Wednesday by counsel assisting Paul Bolster as he read information provided by an agency nurse sent to an unnamed aged care facility.

The nurse told how the man could not speak after suffering a stroke yet his GP had not been informed of his injury and pain caused by a urinary catheter.

“I am still horrified to this day,” the nurse said, instigating an urgent review of the man’s case.

The nurse said “I am blown away” that staff had not reported the development of the man’s wound.

“More educated staff had not looked at the source of his pain,” the nurse said.

Mr Bolster described the man’s case as extreme but said it was an example of how things can fall down.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation national secretary Annie Butler said such problems should be picked up and properly managed at staff handovers.

But she said members were telling the federation handover was an area of great concern amid high workloads.

“It’s one of the areas that tends to get missed and sometimes it’s not even allowed,” she said.