‘Shocked and distressed’: Gladys Berejiklian addresses Gareth Ward sexual abuse investigation | Ralph Lauren

Must Read

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has responded to revelations of a sexual abuse investigation into a Liberal MP, describing the claims as “extremely distressing”.

“What transpired yesterday was extremely concerning and distressing,” she told reporters on Friday.

On Thursday Liberal MP Gareth Ward revealed himself as the NSW government minister under police investigation over alleged sexual violence-related offences.

The Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister issued a statement denying the wrongdoing and said he would stand down from those roles and from the Liberal Party until the matter was resolved.

“Mr Ward has done the right thing in stepping aside from his ministry and also, obviously the party room. At this stage I have no further information,” the premier said.

Premier Presser
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Ward released a statement on Thursday in which he said a journalist informed him of the investigation by NSW Police.

“I have not been contacted by police in relation to any allegations. I deny any wrongdoing,” the Kiama MP said.

“Until this matter is resolved, it is appropriate I stand aside from my role as minister. I will also remove myself from the Liberal party room.”

Ms Berejiklian was probed about whether there should be a new standard for people to join the party.

“I think the standards are pretty clear, if you breach them you will be treated accordingly,” she said.

“All of us were shocked and distressed by what unfolded.”

She was also asked about why Mr Ward wasn’t asked to resign.

“As I understand it, he has not been contacted by police and the extent of any allegations isn’t known,” she said.

Earlier Ms Berejiklian said she supported his decision to step down as minister and sit on the cross bench.

“I was made aware through media reports today that an MP is under investigation by police,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

“I have subsequently received advice from Minister Gareth Ward of his decision to step aside as minister and sit on the cross bench while there is speculation about his future.

Camera IconGareth Ward revealed himself as the NSW government minister under police investigation. NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone Credit: News Corp Australia

“I support his decision.”

NSW Police said detectives from the child abuse and sex crime squad were investigating a NSW MP over allegations dating back to 2013.

“Detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad have established Strike Force Condello to investigate allegations of sexual violence-related offences against a 39-year-old man,” the statement read.

“The incidents were reported to have occurred from 2013.

“As investigations are continuing, no further information is available.”

No charges have been laid.

It’s understood the Premier won’t ask Mr Ward to step down from his seat in parliament, despite Deputy Premier John Barilaro telling the 2GB radio station that the Liberal MP should get the same treatment former Nationals MP Michael Johnsen did.

Mr Johnsen was asked to resign in the wake of a rape allegation, which he denies, and following the publication of salacious text messages linked to the MP.

But in the Premier’s view, Mr Ward’s case is different in that he hasn’t been interviewed by police and says he isn’t even aware of what the specific allegation is.

The resignation of Mr Johnsen, who denies wrongdoing and has not been charged, triggered a by-election in the Upper Hunter which will take place next weekend and which the Premier has said she’s worried the government will lose.

If Mr Ward stepped down, there would be another by-election in Kiama which would risk plunging Ms Berejiklian’s government even further into minority.

Mr Ward was first elected to parliament a decade ago. He was promoted to minister in 2019, after five years as a parliamentary secretary.

He was acting speaker in the lower house from May 2011 to May 2014.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Fishers push for Port MacDonnell Harbour dredging, but government still mute on timeline | Ralph-Lauren

Fishers from one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest rock lobster fleets are calling for more to be done to...

More Articles Like This