A senator who was told “to stop shagging men” on the floor of parliament has dedicated her defamation action to all women who’ve been harassed.
On Monday night, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young tweeted to say she was taking legal action on behalf of all women who have “had enough”.
Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm made the offensive remark about her amid a parliamentary debate on legislation seeking to prevent violence against women.
He refused to apologise and went on TV and radio to offer further “appalling” commentary about her private life.
“No woman deserves to be disrespected, harassed, and bullied in the workplace, in the street, or in their own homes,” Senator Hanson-Young said on Tuesday.
“For women everywhere, from the factory floor, in the hospitality industry, to flight attendants, this fight is for you.”
She claims there is a strong case for defamation, emailing supporters for donations and saying any winnings would go to women’s charities.
Senator Leyonhjelm received a concerns notice a week ago that gave him seven days to respond, but says full legal action is yet to commence.
“The legal advice I’ve received would suggest she’s not likely to win,” Senator Leyonhjelm told AAP on Tuesday.
“There’s substantial risk to her. If she loses, she’ll pay my costs – and the costs in a defamation action are not insignificant.”
GoFundMe campaigns have been created by supporters of both parties to contribute to their anticipated legal costs.
“I’ve had thousands and thousands of offers of support and people indicating that they’re on my side,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
But he took issue with Senator Hanson-Young for, as he sees it, claiming to speak on behalf of “women everywhere.”
“Many women who have contacted me in recent days are adamant that Senator Hanson-Young does not speak for them,” he said.