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New allegation of problem behaviour in SA politics

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South Australia’s Public Sector Employment Commissioner has revealed authorities have investigated the behaviour of a state MP or one of their staffers.

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Commissioner Erma Ranieri told a Budget and Finance Parliamentary Committee hearing this morning that the matter was referred to her “a couple of years ago” and involved problem behaviour outside of parliament.

She said she also had “one or two” informal discussions about matters that weren’t significant and she was confident that the complainants were referred to the “right channels”, such as the Equal Opportunity Commission.

The revelation was prompted by a question by SA Best MLC Frank Pangallo, who asked Ranieri whether she had dealt with any complaints about state MPs or their staff following the “serious conduct issues that have arisen in and around Federal Parliament (regarding) MPs and their staff in recent weeks”.

“I had one matter that was referred to me probably a couple of years ago and I would say I’ve had one or two informal discussions in relation to that,” she said.

“I’m confident that those people went through the right channels, whether it was the review through the Equal Opportunity Commission or whether it was the actual investigation that was occurring here.

“The matter I investigated was not to do with behaviour in parliament, it was a separate matter.”

Ranieri said she was not aware of any current investigations regarding the behaviour of state MPs or their staffers.

She said matters would not usually be brought to her office’s attention, unless staff “didn’t know where to channel their complaint, which is rare because it often goes through the chief of staff”.

It comes as the fallout from former political staffer Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations continue to reverberate through Federal Parliament, with both major federal parties now facing rape allegations against a man in their ranks.

Meanwhile, an independent report into harassment in State Parliament is set to be tabled this week.

The review, conducted by the Equal Opportunity Commission following a request from the House of Assembly and Legislative Council, examined how workplace harassment is managed and reported in Parliament House, as well as opportunities to better prevent harassment.

Ranieri said she did not assist the Equal Opportunity Commission with the review.

“I’m not involved in that investigation,” she said.

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