The furore over former Speaker Peter Slipper and staffer James Ashby has been rekindled following a TV interview.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne told James Ashby there was potentially a job for him after the staffer left Speaker Peter Slipper’s office.
But Mr Pyne says it was never his intention to lead Mr Ashby to think a party job was assured.
Mr Ashby told the Nine Network on Sunday that Mr Pyne had indicated in 2012 there would be a job for him if he left the Speaker’s office and offered to find a lawyer to pursue sexual harassment allegations against Mr Slipper.
He said the job offer gave him confidence that lodging the complaint wasn’t going to be held against him later.
Mr Ashby in June dropped his legal action against the former Speaker, who has always denied the harassment allegations.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday he understood Mr Ashby took action against Mr Slipper simply “because he thought it was the right thing to do”.
“He believed that he had been treated in a way which was not only completely improper and wrong and despicable, but contrary to law,” Abbott said of Ashby.
Mr Pyne, who has previously admitted meeting with Mr Ashby on three occasions, said he had no specific knowledge of Mr Ashby’s allegations until they appeared in a newspaper.
But he knew Mr Ashby had been “uncomfortable” in the Speaker’s office.
“I indicated to him if we won the Queensland state election that would be a chance, potentially, for him to get out of Mr Slipper’s office,” Mr Pyne told reporters in Adelaide on Monday.
But Mr Pyne said the facts showed that no job was provided to Mr Ashby.
The Liberal National Party said in a statement it never considered Mr Ashby for a role with any state politician nor had the party been asked to consider him for a position.
Asked whether a lawyer was offered, Mr Pyne said he had advised Mr Ashby that it was “sensible for him to get good legal advice”.
Mr Pyne said he did not intend to give Mr Ashby the impression that a job or legal advice would be organised.
Mr Ashby said he twice “secretly” met federal Liberal MP Wyatt Roy to seek advice about a series of text messages sent by Mr Slipper.
Mr Roy allegedly told Mr Ashby a lawyer would be paid for within 24 hours to help him lodge a complaint.
Mr Ashby said he went to confirm this with Mr Pyne, who promised he would “have a job in state Liberal National politics or federal” if he wanted it.
During his court case Mr Ashby said he had never been offered a job or a lawyer.
Speaking to ABC radio on Monday, Mr Slipper’s lawyer, Simon Berry, said: “There appears to be a whole lot more evidence that wasn’t in his affidavit that … probably should have been in the affidavit.”
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the interview showed Liberals were prepared to use Mr Ashby for political ends.
“I think it is clear that Liberal MPs knew a lot more about Mr Ashby than they’ve admitted to,” he said.