‘I was fuming’: Lambie says staffers were monitoring her

 

SENATOR Jacqui Lambie has fired back at two of her former employees alleging unfair dismissal, telling the Federal Court they bullied other staff and "tracked" her via her mobile phone.

She also said a public interest disclosure, which former chief of staff Rob Messenger had written in complaint to then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was "just demeaning" and "the last straw".

On Monday, Ms Lambie told Justice John Snaden that in the early days of her tenure as an inexperienced and "green" parliamentarian, she'd relied heavily on Mr Messenger for advice in navigating the system.

But she said by 2017, amid complaints from other staff members, she'd "started to wake up" to the fact that her office was in disarray.

During her first day giving evidence in the trial, which resumed this week after two weeks of hearings last October, Ms Lambie said "there was certainly no trust" left in her relationship with the Messengers.

"To send this to demean me, and put this kind of rubbish out there … I thought that was the lowest point," she said of the PID.

"He's a former parliamentarian and he should know better than that."

"To me this is the last straw mate. Sorry, I'm done."

But she denied the PID was the reason she dismissed the Messengers.

Jacqui Lambie’s former staffers Rob and Fern Messenger. Picture: Supplied
Jacqui Lambie’s former staffers Rob and Fern Messenger. Picture: Supplied

She said in 2017, other staff came to her and said they had been too afraid to speak up about the Messengers' behaviour, that they were being bullied and "walking on eggshells".

She said her other employees had also raised concerns over what they saw as the Messengers closely monitoring their employer.

"They said they may as well have microchipped because that's what they were doing with my phone," she said.

"They knew exactly where I was at any time. They were gathering a lot of information from my own phone.

"I was fuming."

Ms Lambie denied claims that Mr Messenger and his wife Fern - who had been employed as her office manager - had made a number of complaints about her use of "vulgar" language and "excessive alcohol consumption".

She also denied the Messengers' claim that they'd complained to her over concerns for their safety following a 2015 death threat, which had arrived in the form of a letter from someone claiming to be a supporter of Islamic State.

Ms Lambie said she went to Ministerial and Parliamentary Services for advice on how to manage the workplace issue, and was advised to undergo mediation.

The trial, which is being held via video-link from Melbourne, continues.

 

 

 

 

Originally published as 'I was fuming': Lambie says staffers were monitoring her