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Julia Banks, then a member of parliament, sits on the cross bench for the first time after resigning from the Liberal Party at Parliament House in 2018 in Canberra, Australia. Photo: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

Former Australian Member of Parliament Julia Banks criticized Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday after accusing a current government minister of inappropriately touching her at Parliament House in Canberra in 2017.

Driving the news: Banks told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Monday night that she was "on a couch talking to another MP" when the unnamed minister sat down and "put his hand on my knee and ran it up my leg, on the upper part of my leg." Morrison's office said he hadn't been aware of the allegation.

Why it matters: Morrison has faced backlash in recent months for his government's management of earlier scandals, including allegations of rape in Parliament House that triggered massive protests across Australia against the sexual abuse and harassment of women.

  • Morrison said in response in April that politicians and judges in Australia would no longer be exempt from rules barring workplace sexual harassment.

The big picture: Banks told the ABC that the culture she experienced during her time with the ruling Liberal Party was like the TV show "Mad Men." She's expanded on her allegations in her new book, "Power Play: Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys' Clubs."

  • Banks accused Morrison on Tuesday of being in control of "bully boys" who "hounded" her after she left the party in 2018 when former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a leadership contest that saw Morrison become leader, per the ABC.

What they're saying: The prime minister's office released a statement to news outlets Tuesday, saying: "The Prime Minister is not aware of any allegations of sexual harassment Ms Banks faced. Any such behavior is completely inappropriate."

Go deeper

Updated Oct 4, 2021 - World

Japan's Parliament elects Fumio Kishida as prime minister

Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida after winning the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election on Sept. 29 in Tokyo. Photo: Du Xiaoyi - Pool/Getty Images

Japan's Parliament elected Fumio Kishida as the country's new prime minister on Monday.

Why it matters: The former foreign minister faces immediate challenges, including reviving the world's third-largest economy and working with the U.S. and other key allies to address security threats, per the Wall Street Journal.

20 mins ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement building since President Biden assumed office, and it's the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department will now consider bringing criminal charges against Bannon, marking a significant escalation in the Jan. 6 committee's efforts to enforce subpoenas against Trump allies who refuse to cooperate.

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