Parliamentary inquiry into claims of bullying and harassment must include 2018 state election campaign: SA-BEST

1 April 2021

SA-BEST today demanded a government-initiated Parliamentary inquiry into claims of bullying and harassment within the Labor Opposition be expanded to include the 2018 state election. 

SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo called for a similar inquiry after the state election three years ago accusing both major parties of deliberately releasing false and misleading information designed to undermine SA-BEST. 

“Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” said Connie, SA-BEST Attorney General spokesperson. 

“It’s a bit twee for the Attorney General to attempt to politicise a Parliamentary inquiry and accuse the Labor Party of bullying and harassment within its own ranks, when the Liberal Party has a similar dubious track record,” she said. 

“SA-BEST was the victim of some of the worst gutter tactics and harassment and bullying during the 2018 state election, but our complaints fell on deaf ears. 

“The government – and the Labor Opposition - refused to back our motion for a parliamentary inquiry at the time. 

“Now three years on – and less than 12 months out for the next state election – the Liberal Government now sees fit to establish an inquiry into allegations of bullying and harassment within the State Labor Party – because it can smell blood. 

“The Inquiry will be nothing more than a time-wasting, blood-letting exercise for the government, and it knows it - it’s a disgrace! 

“If the government is truly genuine in its intent to investigate claims of bullying and harassment during election campaigns, it must expand the Inquiry’s terms of reference to include all similar allegations from 2018.” 

Attorney General, Vickie Chapman, successfully introduced a motion in State Parliament yesterday to establish a Select Committee to investigate recent allegations made by former Labor MP, Annabel Digance. 

She claims Ms Digance was “frightened” to speak out in the aftermath of the ‘Can You Trust Habib?’ flyer scandal and that she was also bullied into silence by a powerful “boys’ club” within Labor. 

The Select Committee will also inquire into State ALP Secretary and Labor Legislative Council candidate Reggie Martin’s role in the flyer’s distribution. 

Connie and Frank said it was important Ms Digance’s allegations were treated seriously and it was entirely appropriate for Parliament to formally investigate her claims, as well as any others from people who wished to raise similar concerns – but the Select Committee needed to be broadened beyond just the Labor Party for that to occur. 

Frank said: “The Attorney General should hang her head in shame. It’s desperate politics on April Fool’s Day and is totally disingenuous. 

“The government realises it is on the nose of the public and is grappling at ways to win support in the lead up to the March 2022 election,” he said. 

“This is nothing more than a cynical political ploy by a desperate political party to throw mud in the countdown to the election. 

“Nick Xenophon was right when he said South Australian politics was toxic – it still is!”

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