■ Duluk booted from Liberal Party ■ New allegations of poor conduct ■ Police probe leads to assault report
PREMIER Steven Marshall has kicked MP Sam Duluk out of the Liberal party room after police reported him for assault over the alleged bottom slap of SA Best MP Connie Bonaros.
Mr Marshall said Mr Duluk’s position was “untenable” after the police report was laid and he was made aware of new allegations about his conduct.
It is understood the new allegations Mr Marshall was made aware of yesterday include lewd text messages and comments made by Mr Duluk.
Mr Duluk’s political career is hanging in the balance, with a conviction meaning he could not sit in Parliament.
Just hours after Mr Marshall’s announcement at 4pm yesterday, Mr Duluk released a statement saying he would suspend his membership of the Liberal Party.
Advertiser.com.au yesterday revealed police had launched an investigation into Mr Duluk’s conduct following a complaint by Ms Bonaros.
He was interviewed by detectives yesterday morning and formally reported with one count of basic assault.
Police launched their investigation after Ms Bonaros lodged an official complaint over the incident.
It is understood Ms Bonaros took the step because she was frustrated at the lack of action being taken against Mr Duluk by Mr Marshall and the Liberal Party.
The Premier confirmed yesterday morning that he had not spoken to Ms Bonaros this year. However, he repeatedly rejected any suggestions he had not done enough to address the issue.
Mr Marshall acknowledged the process to deal with complaints made about behaviour in Parliament House could be improved.
He said a combination of new allegations and the police action meant the Waite MP could no longer be part of the Parliamentary Liberal Party.
“I again make it very clear, the type of behaviour that has been publicly canvassed is completely unacceptable and falls well short of the standards expected of all members of parliament,” Mr Marshall said in his statement.
“Accordingly, I have advised Mr Duluk that he is no longer to participate in any meetings of the Liberal Parliamentary Party.
“Mr Duluk’s Liberal Party membership is a matter for the Liberal Party State Executive.”
On January 3, The Advertiser revealed Mr Duluk had been accused of slapping Ms Bonaros on the bottom. Since then, more accusations of a racist remark and homophobic comments have emerged.
Mr Marshall said further allegations made to him yesterday “were not brought to my attention by Mr Duluk”.
“To ensure confidentiality of the individuals involved I will not comment further on these matters,” he said.
Liberal Party state director Sascha Meldrum issued a statement from Mr Duluk about 5pm yesterday.
“Earlier today, I was informed that I am the subject of a formal report made to South Australian Police regarding a Christmas event at Parliament House in December 2019,” Mr Duluk said.
“I will take leave from Parliament while this matter is under investigation.
“In the interests of the Marshall Liberal Government and the broader Liberal family, I will not attend Liberal Parliamentary meetings, and I will suspend my membership of the party during the course of this investigation and pending the outcome of this matter.
“I will continue to serve my electorate of Waite to the best of my ability.
“My public apology is a matter of Parliamentary record and due to the ongoing investigation I will not be making any further statements in relation to this matter at this time.”
Greens MP Tammy Franks said police action could have been avoided if the issue had been handled better.
“While Parliament does not have a process to address these issues, this could have been handled so much better right from the start,” she said.
“This has put many people through distress and trauma and has required the media to become involved to create action.”
Just before midday yesterday, police confirmed Mr Duluk had been reported.
“Police can confirm that earlier today a 36-year-old man from the southern suburbs was reported for basic assault alleged to have occurred on 13 December, 2019, in Adelaide,’’ a spokesman said.
The report will be adjudicated and Mr Duluk summonsed to appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court at a later date.
On January 17, Speaker Vincent Tarzia appointed private investigator Paul Hocking to conduct a report into Mr Duluk’s conduct.
Mr Tarzia is expected to make a statement to Parliament next week on the progress of that investigation. He has not committed to releasing Mr Hocking’s report publicly and has admitted he has no power to take any action against Mr Duluk, regardless of its findings.
In early January – after The Advertiser revealed the allegations – Mr Duluk issued a public apology and stood down from his role as the chairman of a high-powered parliamentary committee.
Without specifying exactly what he did, Mr Duluk said his behaviour was not consistent with his character or values.
He is seeking support for alcohol use and says he is on a “journey of recovery’’.
Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close said the Liberal Party’s handling of the matter had been “shrouded in secrecy”.
Sam Duluk with Liberal leader Steven Marshall in 2015.
Advertiser and Sunday Mail coverage of Sam Duluk, left.