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Premier Failing to Act on Bullying Allegation

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Tags: Code of Conduct, Cabinet, Democracy, Bullying

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

The Premier has failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation Minister Hidding has created.

A female Member of Parliament has made a very serious allegation of bullying and intimidation against a male Minister in the Premier's Cabinet.

Ms Forrest's statement, on the Parliamentary record, must be taken seriously. How Ms Forrest felt as a result of her conversation with Minister Hidding is a very important consideration.

She says she felt "bullied" and "intimidated."  This matter can't be brushed aside as the Premier has repeatedly tried to do.

He is seeking to hide behind Departmental and Solicitor General's advice to avoid taking any action over what is a clear breach of the Ministerial Code of Conduct.

The Premier’s language of having “formed the view” after receiving advice is telling.

The Premier should release the advice he has received and clarify whether or not he has been explicitly advised on whether or not a breach occurred.

The Code states, "Ministers are to treat everyone with respect and courtesy, in a fair and equitable manner, without harassment, victimisation or intimidation"

The Minister clearly didn't treat Ms Forrest with respect and courtesy. Ms Forrest’s statement that she felt 'bullied' and 'intimidated' is indicative of this truth.

On any objective reading, the Ministerial Code of Conduct has been breached. 

Following a failure to act first on former Minister, Adam Brooks' misleading Parliament and now this situation, the Premier's Code of Conduct apparently isn't worth more than the paper it's printed on.

The broader democratic principles should also not be lost. The Legislative Council provides an important check and balance as a House of review. Surely the Premier doesn't want to send the message that it is ok for Ministers to bully Members into passing bills?

This is a significant issue, and the fact that the Premier does not seem to take it seriously is an indictment on his leadership and the way he runs his Cabinet.