Member for Indi Cathy McGowan raised Barnaby Joyce's behaviour with National Party's federal administrative chief

Rural network: Cathy McGowan with Catherine Marriott at an event in Beechworth for country businesswomen in 2013.
Rural network: Cathy McGowan with Catherine Marriott at an event in Beechworth for country businesswomen in 2013.

CONCERNS about Barnaby Joyce’s behaviour towards women were raised by the member for Indi with the federal president of the National Party.

Cathy McGowan phoned Larry Anthony last month when Mr Joyce was federal National Party leader and discussed issues aired via rural women’s networks.

But she said she was unaware of a sexual harassment complaint from ex-North East resident Catherine Marriott until the now Western Australian councillor was named by The Weekend Australian on February 24.

A leaked review by Western Australian Nationals president James Hayward into Ms Marriott’s complaint against Mr Joyce has referenced Ms McGowan.

“I was told that the allegation was likely to be made public at some point and that there was a credible organisation assisting the alleged victim and that there was likely to be more allegations from a number of other women through this network,” Mr Hayward wrote.

“I was also told that independent Senator (sic) Cathy McGowan had been aware of the allegations and could also go public.”

Party boss: Nationals federal president Larry Anthony speaking on the night of Barnaby Joyce's win in the New England by-election last December.

Party boss: Nationals federal president Larry Anthony speaking on the night of Barnaby Joyce's win in the New England by-election last December.

Ms McGowan had been contacted by agricultural figures about Mr Joyce’s alleged inappropriate behaviour during an awards night in Canberra in 2011 and decided to respond to their grievances after Nationals MP David Littleproud urged critics of the then leader to state their case.

“It was the put up or shut up comment of David Littleproud that caused great angst in the rural women’s network,” Ms McGowan said.

“That’s what I was addressing when I spoke to Larry Anthony.”

Ms McGowan doubted she would have gone public as feared by Mr Hayward.

“It’s not my normal way of operating to use the media,” she said.

Ms Marriott, a former Scots School Albury student, said earlier this week she specifically requested “a private and confidential investigation” by the National Party into her complaint.