In May, the Perrottet government developed its Respectful Workplace Policy, which states “zero tolerance for bullying, harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct”.
The policy applies to any activity associated with the ministerial office workplace, following a confronting review by former sex discrimination commissioner and former NSW minister Pru Goward.
Goward’s review last year found political ambition, loyalty to ministers and tenuous employment left ministerial staff reluctant to report bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.
A separate inquiry by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick is due to be released next week, following a review of the NSW Parliament and its management of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct.
Perrottet said ministerial offices had already implemented a number of training programs and established improved processes for complaints in response to the Goward review, which was described by then-premier Gladys Berejiklian as “brutal.”
“When it comes to the handling of complaints in the workplace, it is incredibly important that we allow for anonymous complaints to be made,” he said.
“And whilst it’s difficult … I could not, after the discussions I had yesterday and the information that I received yesterday, feel comfortable that the office environment and actions taken by [Petinos] were appropriate in keeping with a safe environment.”
In a statement on Sunday, Petinos said she was proud of her work as a minister and would continue advocating for small business.
“I would never intentionally offend anyone or make them feel uncomfortable, and if I did I am truly sorry. I pursue politics to make a positive difference and will continue to do so proudly as the member for Miranda,” she said.
Labor on Monday called for the premier to explain the circumstances that led to Petinos’ dismissal.
“At the end of the day, the sacking of a minister of a Crown is a big deal in the life of the political history of this state. It deserves an explanation from the NSW premier,” Opposition Leader Chris Minns said.
“Frankly, issuing a two or three line statement last night without explaining to the taxpayers of this state what happened is not good enough.”
Labor’s better regulation spokeswoman Courtney Houssos said there had been multiple allegations reported across several news outlets that needed to be clarified.
“On Friday the premier backed his minister, and yet two days later, he sacked her. The public needs to know what changed,” she said.
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