A gay political staffer who launched a sexual harassment case last month against the Speaker of Australia's parliament has also made a formal complaint about comments by Senators Bob Carr and Barnaby Joyce.

James Ashby's lawyers lodged a formal complaint of victimization with Australia's human rights commission Thursday over remarks made by the senators on Twitter and to the media.

The complaint cites a tweet from Carr on May 5 which said: "This Ashby seems more rehearsed than a kabuki actor."

The following day, Joyce told the media: "If you are going to play marriage guidance counsellor, you've got to hear both sides of the story".

He went on to describe Ashby as "only slightly less dodgy than [Speaker Peter] Slipper".

Michael Harmer, representing Ashby, says Carr, who is also foreign minister, and Joyce, who is National Party leader in the senate, are using their high office to demean their client, possibly for political ends.

"In direct response to our client making such allegations [against Slipper], our client has been subject to repeated public attacks on his reputation, integrity and credibility by senior politicians," he said.

Harmer says public attacks on people who complain of sexual harassment will discourage other people from coming forward.

He says  Carr's tweet was republished in full in News Limited's Sunday newspapers, exposing the comment to about five million readers.

Brushes aside complaint

Harmer says the foreign minister was also given the opportunity on ABC TV's Lateline program to withdraw his remarks, but declined.

On Thursday's 7.30 program, Carr brushed aside the complaint against him.

He said Ashby had contact with several Coalition figures before he made the complaint against Slipper.

"In Australia and around the world there are a lot more serious cases of infringement of human rights than this," he told 7.30.

"Let me say again, sexual harassment is serious. Precisely because of that, if there is a complaint, take it to the authorities.

"Don't have a meeting with your employer's political opponent on three occasions."

Last month, Ashby launched a civil claim under the Fair Work Act against the government and Slipper in which he alleges he was continually harassed from the start of his time working for the Speaker.

He said it is clear the Speaker only hired him to pursue a sexual relationship.

Slipper also faces separate criminal allegations that he misused government Cabcharge vouchers.

Stepped aside over earlier allegations

He has stepped aside as Speaker of the federal parliament to defend himself and denies any wrongdoing.

The government solicitor has raised a lengthy list of problems with Ashby's claims against Slipper.

In a statement, the government solicitor says Ashby took no steps to try and resolve the issues and did not warn anyone from the government that he intended to start proceedings for damages.

The statement notes Ashby's application was widely reported on websites within hours of it being lodged.

It also points out Ashby has dropped some of the allegations in the original application.

The government rejects Ashby's argument that he took no reasonable steps to resolve the issue because the matter was urgent and involves victimization.

It sets out a list of alternative ways Ashby could have handled his complaint, for example by complaining to the department of finance.

A hearing was expected to be held in court on Friday.