The Government has attempted to silence questions in State Parliament today on allegations of bullying, intimidation and harassment of women within Victorian Labor and the Premier’s private office.
Shadow Minister for Women Emma Kealy was prevented from asking the Premier to unreservedly apologise to former Labor MP Kaushaliya Vaghela who resigned from the Party earlier this week after exposing misogynistic behaviour within the Government’s ranks.
The Premier dismissed Ms Vaghela’s experience as a “tough time” in response to questions today on what action he had taken to fix the culture within his Government.
Ms Kealy said the poor standard set by the Premier was a reflection the toxic treatment of women in Victorian Labor which started at the top.
“A fish rots from the head and there’s something very rotten within the State Labor Government,” Ms Kealy said.
“The Government has attempted to silence Ms Vaghela on this issue by destroying her credibility in labelling these allegations as “fantasy without foundation”.
“Backwards commentary questioning her “state of mind” and the Premier’s refusal to say Kaushaliya’s name, instead referring to her as “that person”, are dehumanising and wrong.
“Ms Vaghela deserves better. Victorian women deserve better. We deserve a government that stands against bully boy behaviour – not one that promotes it.”
Earlier in the day, Premier Daniel Andrews and Labor’s own Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams were named in a parliamentary motion by Ms Vaghela alleging the pair “participated in the systematic bullying campaign against me by seeking to undermine, isolate and exclude me”.
The Minister must now front up to answer questions, including:
- Has Ms Williams spoken to Ms Vaghela since the November 2018 State Election?
- How would Ms Williams describe her relationship with Ms Vaghela?
- Has Ms Williams ever publicly, or privately, referred – as allegations suggest – to Ms Vaghela as ‘a rat’?
- Did Ms Williams send Ms Vaghela a text message in August 2018 questioning Ms Vaghela’s integrity and demanding an explanation when she announced her intention to stand for election?
Ms Kealy said all allegations warranted an independent investigation by the appropriate body.
“The Premier owes us a guarantee that any investigation into bullying within Victorian Labor will go ahead without interference, intimidation or stonewalling from him or his State Labor Government,” Ms Kealy said.