More penalties possible as further claims surface against MP
Liberal MP Sam Duluk could face further penalties over inappropriate behaviour at a Parliament House Christmas party, as Premier Steven Marshall awaits the outcome of investigations in the evening.
The Advertiser can reveal preliminary investigations have been undertaken into claims of inappropriate comments towards two female staff.
It comes in addition to an incident revealed on Friday, in which Mr Duluk was claimed to have slapped the backside of rival SA Best MP Connie Bonaros and later sent an unwanted text message.
Mr Duluk, a prominent conservative who has campaigned against changes to sex work laws and euthanasia, has already quit a paid position as head of Parliament's Economic and Finance Committee.
Mr Marshall on Monday said: "There is an inquiry which is taking place at the moment. There is a process which is being followed".
"The Parliament has got its investigations, so we will wait to see what has happened," Mr Marshall said.
"There has to be consequences for this type of behaviour, which cannot be tolerated in the SA Parliament."
Mr Marshall said Mr Duluk had already paid a price in standing down from the committee, and avoided questions about what could be to come.
Mr Marshall said he became aware of the alleged incidents last year.
"I was made aware of this issue which occurred at Parliament House late last year when it occurred," he said.
"My understanding from day one was that there were various people who might have taken offence. That's why I said, 'you've got to issue an apology'. I directed Sam Duluk to do that, and that's what happened.
"I think that he genuinely regrets his actions."
Human Services Minister Michell Lensink said she had "reached out to certain people" since the behaviour became public.
However, she declined to comment on the details.
"Of course it's unacceptable. I think everybody acknowledges that," she said.
"Women deserve to be safe in whatever environment they are in, and that's the standard. There is a process underway."
Yesterday, The Advertiser revealed two further claims of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Duluk toward women in Parliament House had triggered investigations.
The Advertiser has learned that preliminary investigations have been held into the incidents, believed to involve inappropriate comments toward Parliament House staff.
It is claimed they occurred earlier in the evening, before Mr Duluk allegedly slapped SA Best MP Connie Bonaros' behind at a Christmas party and then sent unwanted text messages.
One of the other two matters was reported to Legislative Council Clerk Chris Schwartz, which led to discussions with the staff member. It is understood neither of the two newly revealed allegations has resulted in formal complaints.
Mr Duluk has publicly apologised via Twitter to Ms Bonaros, and quit as chair of State Parliament's Economic and Finance Committee.
"I wish to publicly apologise to Ms Bonaros and anyone else who was offended by my actions at a Parliament House Christmas Party," he said on Saturday. "I am deeply sorry for any actions that have caused offence."
Ms Bonaros last week said she was "not the only woman who was the recipient of improper conduct that night" and "all men should understand that their harassing conduct can have a terrible impact on how safe women feel at work".
Speaker Vincent Tarzia, a Liberal colleague of Mr Duluk, has confirmed that he became aware "near the end of December" about "allegations concerning the conduct of a Member of the House of Assembly towards other people".
"I arranged for preliminary inquiries to be undertaken to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the alleged inappropriate behaviour," he said.
"I am currently seeking further advice as part of investigating this matter."
Mr Tarzia said he had also made contact with the office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity on Friday.
The Commission's website says its complaint team recommences operation on January 13, but the wider office has reopened after holiday break.
Mr Duluk could face further sanctions from Parliament when it returns next month. Options could include limiting his access to areas of the building, including catering.
Mr Duluk did not respond to a request for comment on the two new claims. Ms Bonaros is considering her options, and legal advice.
Premier Steven Marshall declined to comment on the new claims.
On Saturday, he said Mr Duluk had "paid the penalty" in quitting the committee post.
He said the actions of "late December" were "totally and utterly unacceptable".
"Sam Duluk recognises this," Mr Marshall said. "He deeply regrets the actions."
Labor Deputy Leader Susan Close said the public should know "the scope of what Sam Duluk did wrong", if it turned out others had been mistreated.
"We should know how many people he treated inappropriately and whether he has apologised individually to each of them," she said.
"At the moment, there's only a vague admission about 'inappropriate actions'.
"He's apologised after being embarrassed in the paper."