Minister accuses One Nation MP of bullying

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NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard used parliamentary privilege to accuse One Nation MP Mark Latham of bullying as the pair clashed at a hearing.

“He has a history of bullying. My Lord,” Mr. Hazzard told an Estimates Committee on Wednesday.

The Minister also spoke under privilege of a fight in July 2001 over a bag between Mr Latham and a taxi driver, who ended up with a broken arm.

“(In) his own book he called all his colleagues snakes, monsters, assholes and sewer rats,” Mr Hazzard said.

“This man should not ask questions beyond the reasonable scope of this committee.

“This man should not be in parliament.”

During the hearing, Mr Latham questioned Michael Douglas, the former deputy comptroller of public health response for NSW Health, about a function held by nationals in parliament in 2021 which resulted in multiple positive infections in the COVID-19.

Mr Hazzard accused Mr Latham, who repeated the question, of being ‘pretty obsessed’ and bullying Dr Douglas.

‘There was one response given – two in fact – he’s quite obsessed – not just with bullying female MPs and ex-MPs,’ he said under privilege.

“He’s also obsessed with anything to do with it.”

Mr Latham laughed after Mr Hazzard failed to raise a point of order and the questions went off the rails.

The One Nation MP said his question was prompted by national MPs who complained that ministers only had to self-isolate for 24 hours after testing negative, while other attendees were subject to periods of self-isolation of 14 days.

The clash between Mr Hazzard and Mr Latham came after the latter used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to accuse Labor MP Anna Watson of being ‘paralytically drunk’ two years ago at the NSW Parliament bar.

“He intimidated (Ms Watson) with an absolutely irrelevant comment,” Mr Hazzard said.

Ms Watson said Mr Latham’s claim, made during an Estimates hearing on Tuesday, referred to the events of August 27, 2020.

‘On the day Mr Latham referred to, the Legislative Assembly (lower house) was not in session and out of office hours,’ she said.

“I was having a drink with Mr Latham in the Parliament Bar. I thought I had his ear and a shoulder to cry on that night.”

Ms Watson said she had been stressed because a close family member was going through a personal crisis.

“I drank too much alcohol during this extremely stressful and traumatic time, I admit it,” she added.

The opposition whip, who represents the Shellharbour seat, said she had ‘abstained from drinking alcohol’.

Labor leader Chris Minns said he had faith in Ms Watson, who drank too much after receiving ‘terrible personal news’.

“I’m not saying it was her best day and neither was she, but she took steps to work on her personal health,” Mr Minns said.

“I appreciate and understand that these steps have been taken.”

Mr Hazzard said Mr Latham’s comments about Ms Watson were ‘totally out of place’ in the context of budget estimates hearings, when ministers and officials answer committee questions about the use of taxpayer funds.

He also told the committee that Mr Latham was a “born worm”.

“Unfortunately, you are looking for the worst in everyone, as you did yesterday,” Mr Hazzard said.

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