28 September 2022

Murray MP demands apology after Shooters leader says she should be "clocked"

| Chris Roe
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NSW Parliament

Murray MP Helen Dalton (to the left in black) stands to confront One Nation’s Mark Latham. Photo: NSW Parliament.

Independent Murray MP Helen Dalton will demand an apology from a former party colleague who was caught on a microphone in the upper house saying someone should have “clocked her”.

“This is an example of what we’ve got to put up with,” she says, claiming that women in parliament are subject to regular personal attacks from their male counterparts.

“It’s the reason why a lot of women are reluctant to go into leadership positions – because of the behaviour.”

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The comment in question was made by Shooters, Farmers and Fishers MLC Robert Borsak following a heated exchange between Ms Dalton and One Nation’s Mark Latham.

Ms Dalton was not in the room at the time but heard the remark later after being alerted by a constituent.

“When I heard it come up through the microphones I thought, it’s inciting violence,” Ms Dalton says.

“With domestic violence in Australia, something like a woman a week is murdered by her partner or husband and I just don’t even think some men understand.”

Helen Dalton

Independent MP Helen Dalton wants an apology. Photo: Helen Dalton (Facebook).

But not everyone agrees that Ms Dalton is the victim.

Wagga MLC Wes Fang was in the chamber during the incident and says it was she who was the aggressor.

“When Latham started speaking about her, she starts commenting from the president’s gallery, which is unparliamentary, and then she tried to storm the chamber,” he says.

“She’s renowned for being aggressive but then all of a sudden she plays the victim.”

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The stoush with Mr Latham took place ahead of a vote on flood-plain harvesting, a key issue for Ms Dalton.

The parliamentary feed from the 21st of September shows her sitting in the president’s gallery watching the debate when Mr Latham calls her out.

“Oh, here she is,” he says gesturing towards Ms Dalton.

“Can she step in and reply? She’s good at dividing communities, can she step in?”

As a lower house MP, Ms Dalton can’t address the chamber, but the video shows her standing up, casting aside a binder and taking several steps toward Mr Latham before being told to sit down by several members.

“Come on, have a crack. Have a crack!” Mr Latham calls out.

NSW Parliament

Video shows Ms Dalton standing to confront Mark Latham. Photo: NSW Parliament.

Later, as members stood to vote, Shooters, Farmers and Fishers MLC Mark Banasiak commented that Legislative Council chair Chris Rath had been “soft” on her.

Mr Borsack added, “He should have got up and clocked her.”

“He was saying someone should have hit me,” says Ms Dalton.

“He’s inciting violence and it’s just not becoming.

“I’m going to refer this to the Privileges Committee and demand an apology from Borsak.”

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While Mr Borsak has declined to comment on the matter, Mr Fang says he has nothing to apologise for.

“We have a Black Rod in our house which is to protect the chamber,” he explains.

“It’s largely symbolic and ceremonial now, but in circumstances where we have what we call a ‘Stranger in the House’, it is appropriate that force is used to remove them.

“So that’s the context and it was a play on the ceremonial position of the Black Rod.”

But Ms Dalton maintains that any suggestion of violence against a woman is inappropriate.

“I’ll certainly be asking the Premier to have a meeting and also asking women to support this because domestic violence in Australia is just out of control.”

“And it starts with MPs setting a good example. That’s the bottom line.”

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