South Australian crossbench MP Connie Bonaros says she was shunned by members of the Liberal Party, and that going to work became “humiliating and distressing”, after accusations she was assaulted by another politician were made public.
- Connie Bonaros was allegedly assaulted by Sam Duluk at a Christmas function last year
- Ms Bonaros told the Upper House she has since been shunned by MPs
- Her comments were made during a speech about an equal opportunity amendment bill
Speaking in SA Parliament about the incident for the first time, Ms Bonaros was at times overcome by emotion as she recounted the “media frenzy” and impact on her family and work life.
Liberal MP Sam Duluk was accused of slapping the SA Best MP on the backside at a parliamentary Christmas party last December.
He was charged with one count of basic assault in April.
Speaking to the Upper House in support of proposed amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act, which would change the way politicians facing criminal allegations are dealt with, Ms Bonaros said she “will not be silenced”.
“I have named someone in this building for their foul conduct,” she said.
“Let me be extremely clear: every single day I get to feel the humiliation of what he did to me, and to others in this place, and to the very decent people who work in this place.
Ms Bonaros called on members of parliament to consider the effect of their actions on other people.
“All too often, we’ve become so consumed by the political point scoring in this place … that we fail to acknowledge the impact that our behaviour has on others,” she said.
“No regard for the fact that attending functions to which I was invited, in my capacity as a member of this place, became absolutely impossible for the very same reasons.”
‘Am I OK? No, I’m not’
The incident was made public weeks after it allegedly happened, and Ms Bonaros said she “had not intended to discuss this matter openly” at that stage.
She said attending work became “humiliating and distressing” after the allegation was published in the media.
“For a long time, so many members … treated me like I was to blame for everything that had happened in their own political party,” she said.
“It was worse than that: they just ignored me, and many of them continue to do so to this today.
At the time his party membership was suspended, Mr Duluk said he would “take leave from Parliament” while the police investigation into the alleged assault was underway.
He returned to Parliament in April, but Premier Steven Marshall later said he was not aware of his presence and confirmed his Liberal membership had not been reinstated.
A separate inquiry commissioned by Speaker Vincent Tarzia to examine allegations against Mr Duluk was shelved while the police investigation was underway.
Mr Duluk will face court over the incident in October.