• Sun. Mar 12th, 2023

Labor MP: Walt Secord steps aside over bullying allegations

The NSW Labor Party will seek to investigate a senior MP after he left the frontbench over bullying allegations revealed in the wake of an explosive review into the state parliament’s workplace culture. Veteran upper house MP Walt Secord asked to step aside from the shadow ministry after he was accused in a submission to the review, led by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, of raising his voice at staff members working for the party’s former leader. The ABC reported that in one submission Mr Secord was described as a “vicious manipulative bully who particularly targeted junior staff and young women”.A member of the party’s right faction, he previously worked as a staffer for former NSW premiers Bob Carr and Kristina Keneally as well as former prime minister Kevin Rudd.“At various times he used his position, his size, his voice and his presence to pressure, berate, intimidate and humiliate staff to get his own way,” the submission read.Mr Secord, who has not been accused of any sexual misconduct, will stand aside from his shadow ministries for arts and heritage, police, counter terrorism and the north coast.He detailed his decision to step aside from the shadow ministry in a statement on Monday morning.“After long reflection and with more than 30 years in the Labor Party, I have asked NSW Labor leader Chris Minns to let me stand aside from the shadow ministry,” he said.“Chris, myself, and the NSW Labor Party have committed to adopting the recommendations of the Broderick review and working across party lines to make the NSW parliament and NSW politics a workplace we can all be proud of.“I fully support the Broderick review and the change it will hopefully lead to.“But my remaining in the shadow ministry at this time has become a distraction from these major revelations and the important work that needs to be done.”State Labor Party leader Chris Minns said on Monday that several colleagues had raised concerns with him over Mr Secord‘s behaviour following the release of the Broderick review.“It became clear over the weekend that many colleagues had concerns about Mr Secord’s behaviour,” Mr Minns said. He encouraged anyone who wished to make a complaint to come forward. He said complaints would “of course” be investigated, either through an internal Labor process that Mr Minns said would be handled by someone independent of the party or via a parliamentary complaints process that is about to be established. Mr Minns said it was possible he had in the past been told of complaints relating to Mr Secord’s “political direction and policies”, but he had never heard complaints about Mr Secord’s “personal behaviour” until now.“I can’t specifically recollect them, but I can say with certainty, no one has said ‘I want this dealt with, I want a mediation, I want to make a formal complaint’,” Mr Minns said. Just last week, Mr Secord released a statement “unreservedly” apologising for his conduct.He said while he did “not have the same recollections from the staff in the former leader’s office – especially in relation to raised voices in the workplace”, he accepted that he can be “too blunt and too direct in a fast-paced workplace”.“If any parliamentary staff members feel that my conduct in the workplace was unprofessional and caused offence or distress and was unacceptable, I unreservedly apologise,” he said.“I will be participating fully in any and all education measures or proposals put forward by the review or that the Labor Party thinks is required.”

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