Former Australian government MP Julia Banks said she was inappropriately touched by a current minister in parliament in 2017.
Ms Banks, who made the allegation in a brief, said the MP raised his hand on his leg during a parliamentary voting session before walking away.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said in a statement it was not aware of the allegation before.
Such behavior was “completely inappropriate”, they said.
In an excerpt from her memoir, Ms Banks did not identify the man, who she said was still in the cabinet.
She said she and other government MPs were awaiting a night time vote from Parliament, when the minister came to sit next to her and put her hand “just above my knee and stood. slowly and deliberately moved to the inside of my thigh, then higher up my leg “.
“For a minister to do this in the Prime Minister’s wing, which was full of coalition [government] Members of Parliament, he must have been incredibly cheeky. I thought it was amazing. “
Ms Banks’ allegations have once again highlighted the treatment of women in Mr Morrison’s Conservative government and in Australian politics at large.
Separate rape allegations – in parliament and against a top government minister – sparked a wave of #MeToo protests across the country earlier this year.
Ms Banks has previously spoken about sexism and misogyny in Australian politics.
The former MP sensationally left the Liberal Party in 2018, after then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was impeached in a coup that installed Scott Morrison.
In his exit speech at the time, she condemned the “bullying and intimidation” she had suffered in parliament. Ms Banks, a former lawyer, said Parliament was decades behind the business community in its attitude to women.
She developed this “anti-women” culture in her book Power Play: Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys’ Clubs.
In it, she also alleges that Mr. Morrison attempted to “harass” her after announcing her departure and attempting to silence her. He was like “a constant, menacing wallpaper,” she said.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister admitted that Mr Morrison had had several conversations with Ms Banks.
Learn more about the #MeToo scandals rocking Australian politics
“The Prime Minister was disappointed with Ms Banks’ decision to leave the parliamentary party and had several conversations with her to understand what she was going through and see what support could be offered before making his decision,” the door said. -speak.
They added that Mr. Morrison “absolutely rejects the allegations regarding the nature of these conversations.”
The Australian Parliament is currently the subject of a Workplace Culture Inquiry led by the Gender Discrimination Commissioner.
The investigation was one of five opened after a former government aide, Brittany Higgins, exposed her alleged rape by a senior colleague in a ministerial office in 2019.