A West Australian MP has used parliamentary privilege to raise historic claims of sexual misconduct by newly-reinstated Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Labor's Jackie Jarvis spoke in the WA upper house early on Friday saying she wanted to "set the record straight" about allegations made by a woman in relation to Mr Joyce several years ago.
She also said she had been warned Mr Joyce was known to grope women.
Mr Joyce released a brief statement saying the WA MP's statement was politically-motivated.
"What a Labor Party person says about me at 2am under parliamentary privilege a number of days after I have been sworn in is politically understandable but defamatory and spurious," he said.
"I invite her to make the same allegation without the cover of parliamentary privilege."
During her statement in parliament, Ms Jarvis said that as an attendee at the WA Rural Women's Award in 2014 a number of women, including her, were told by an event organiser to "be careful of Barnaby Joyce because he had a history of groping women".
"It has been a very long day so I want to make myself absolutely clear," she said.
"I was the WA representative in Australia's leading award for rural women and I was warned that the then federal agriculture minister was known to sexually harass women at events."
Ms Jarvis' comments come four days after Mr Joyce was elected Nationals leader in a partyroom ballot in Canberra, returning to the job he lost more than three years ago.
The NSW MP lost his job in 2018 after scandals stemming from his affair with a staffer who has since given birth to the couple's two children, as well as sexual harassment allegations he strongly denies.
Nationals MPs Michelle Landry and Anne Webster both expressed concern Mr Joyce's history could damage the party's standing with female voters.
He was sworn in as deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development at a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.
Mr Joyce will spend the weekend putting the final touches to his ministry line up, expected to be sworn in as early as Monday.
Australian Associated Press