Topic:   Allegations in the Senate;

04:20PM AEST
Friday, 16 June 2023


Journalist: Should Senator Van resign?


Simon Birmingham: It would be entirely appropriate for Senator Van to reflect upon his position in the Senate.


Journalist: Does that mean you think he should resign?


Simon Birmingham: That’s what you would do if you reflect upon your position in the Senate, yes.


Journalist: Did you notice the Victorian Liberal Party branch has already scrubbed him from their website? What do you make of that?


Simon Birmingham: I’ve been a little busy today, so no, I haven’t been checking party websites. But he no longer sits in this place as a Liberal senator. That’s the clear leadership that Peter Dutton showed yesterday. And that’s the decision. And if they’ve done that, it’s an accurate reflection of that.


Journalist: And what did you know of the two previous allegations that Mr. Dutton has raised in the last 24 hours?


Simon Birmingham: Well, the matters involving Senator Thorpe, were raised in part a couple of years back by the Greens leadership in the Senate. They sought simply for Senator Van to keep some distance from Senator Thorpe and for his office to be moved. They were the requests made at the time, and those requests were fully actioned. And action to the satisfaction of the Greens leadership at the time. Other matters were new matters that for me at least only came to light yesterday.


Journalist:  Was the Prime Minister aware at the time of Lidia Thorpe’s allegations and of Senator Stoker’s?


Simon Birmingham: I don’t know in terms of the Prime Minister’s, the then Prime Minister’s full knowledge.


Journalist: Were you aware of Senator Stoker’s allegation? Well, at the time of the incident happened or thereafter.


Simon Birmingham: The first I learnt of that was yesterday.


Journalist: Should you have known? Should you have been told?


Simon Birmingham: Not necessarily. I think we must, in all of these instances, remember that a person with an allegation has a right to consult and engage with the people they choose to. That is part of their choice, their agency. What I am pleased we have managed to establish in this place since that time is the new Parliamentary Workplace Support service that ensures everybody should have confidence in knowing that there is an independent body that they can confidentially take matters to have complaints assessed, guide them through the type of actions that can then be taken. That’s the appropriate thing. But we should always respect ultimately the choices that people make in terms of who they involve.


Journalist: In the meantime, though, someone walking around Parliament House with multiple allegations against them. Doesn’t that concern you greatly? If that was the case.


Simon Birmingham: Well, as I said, who Senator Stoker chose to speak with really is her choice as it is in any other instance. Now, ultimately, it’s better that we now have an independent body able to independently assess these matters. And Peter Dutton yesterday, when he learnt of the fact that there were multiple allegations and new allegations, took that action, ensuring that David Van no longer sits as a Liberal in this Parliament. Thanks, guys.