In a statement of claim, Senator Hanson-Young says she was defamed by a suggestion that she made the «absurd» comment that «all men are rapists» in Parliament.
She also argued Mr Leyonhjelm’s comments painted her as a «hypocrite» in that she «claimed that all men are rapists but nevertheless had sexual relations with them», and a «misandrist, in that she publicly claimed that all men are rapists».
Outside Parliament, Senator Hanson-Young had characterised Mr Leyonhjelm’s «stop shagging men» comment as «slut-shaming», but did not sue directly over this claim.
Giving evidence on Monday, fellow senator and former NSW premier Kristina Keneally was asked repeatedly about the meaning of «slut-shaming». She said she understood slut-shaming to mean using a person’s sexual activity as «a weapon in political debate».
Asked if she would consider it reprehensible to use a person’s sexual activity in this way, Senator Keneally said: «Yes, I don’t think it’s appropriate.»
In his opening remarks at the commencement of a week-long hearing on Monday, Senator Hanson-Young’s barrister Kieran Smark, SC, said Mr Leyonhjelm had raised the defence of truth, «among other defences».
«He is saying, or he is seeking to prove true, that Senator Hanson-Young had made the absurd claim that all men are rapists, and as a result she is both sexist and a hypocrite,» Mr Smark said.
Mr Smark said that, following the parliamentary debate, Mr Leyonhjelm «saw fit to engage in something of a campaign against Senator Hanson-Young» consisting of a media release, two television interviews and a radio interview.
He said it was «universally known» that what is said in Parliament is subject to absolute privilege, but that privilege stops when politicians leave the chamber and, after that, they are not at liberty to make «any attack they might feel like» without consequences.
«It’s not open season on politicians,» Mr Smark said.
Mr Smark said his client would call «a number of witnesses» who were present in the Senate on that day, who would give evidence that they did not hear her say «all men are rapists», which will comfortably satisfy the court that she did not say those words.
He said the publications were «substantial» and had a «very wide reach», which was deeply hurtful to Senator Hanson-Young.
Mr Leyonhjelm’s barrister Tony Morris, QC, told the court that, when politicians say «unpleasant things about [one] another», it has «no impact on reputation if it is said by someone who is seen by the public to be in an enemy camp, and is seen to be the sort of rough-and-tumble that is part of political life».
Ms Keneally agreed that politics had become more aggressive and vituperative over time, but said that «it could also be the case that throwing mud, sometimes it sticks».
Mr Morris said he planned to cross-examine a number of witnesses who are politicians, including Greens Senators Rachel Siewert and Jordon Steele-John, to make this point.
During her brief stint in the witness box, Ms Keneally also said she believed people who viewed the commentary by Mr Leyonhjelm may have formed a view that Ms Hanson-Young is a «narrow-minded, one-dimensional misandrist» which would have undercut her advocacy on behalf of women and children.
The hearing continues.
Georgina Mitchell is a court reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Michaela Whitbourn is a legal affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.