Liberal politician ‘slapped female MP on the bottom’
SA Best MP Connie Bonaros has accused a Liberal MP of inappropriate harassment at a Parliament House Christmas party, prompting Premier Steven Marshall to counsel the MP.
Ms Bonaros has complained that a Liberal MP slapped her on the bottom and sent a series of text messages on the night. She has sought legal advice.
The alleged incident happened during festive drinks, hosted by crossbench MPs at State Parliament on North Terrace, in the week before Christmas.
Ms Bonaros has also alleged she was not the only woman who was the recipient of improper conduct on the night.
Witnesses have said Mr Marshall and Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas briefly appeared at the function earlier in the evening but were not there at the time the alleged incident took place.
The Advertiser has chosen not to name the MP allegedly involved until more details of the investigation are revealed.
A State Government spokesman said in a statement: "The Premier was made aware of the alleged incident and was informed that necessary processes were being followed."
"Upon hearing of the matter, the Premier counselled the member to apologise to those involved," the spokesman said.
In a statement to The Advertiser on Friday, Ms Bonaros confirmed the complaint.
"Details have emerged in recent days that I was the victim of inappropriate incidents at a Christmas function at Parliament House a couple of weeks ago and that the perpetrator was another Member of parliament," she said.
"In the past few days, my office has been contacted by two separate media outlets about this matter.
"I have no idea who released these details to the media.
"I had not intended to discuss this matter openly at this stage but because it has now been made public feel I must respond.
"I have been taking legal advice in relation to the matter and continue to consider my options.
"All women should feel safe in their worksite. All men should understand that their harassing conduct can have a terrible impact on how safe women feel at work.
"I was not the only woman who was the recipient of improper conduct that night.
"I am hopeful this matter will be dealt with appropriately.
"Because of our desire for privacy and the fact that I reported the matter I feel it's inappropriate for me to comment further."
The incident is not the first time in recent history the Liberal Party in South Australia has had to respond to accusations of inappropriate behaviour.
In August an Adelaide woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted while working as a political adviser in Canberra for the Liberal Party had called on the party and Federal Parliament to make "toxic" workplaces safer.
Chelsey Potter, 30, accused an unnamed political staffer of assaulting her during a parliamentary sitting week.
She was one of two women who aired claims of sexual harassment that sent shockwaves through the party.
At the time Mr Marshall said the party "took this extraordinarily seriously".
Ms Potter alleged a senior Liberal figure had initially been supportive of her when told of the claims but later dismissed them because the staffer was being considered for political preselection as an MP.
Ms Potter, who joined the party in Adelaide at 16 and remains politically connected, said she did not raise her experience with her MP boss, their office or police.