HR exec quits following internet porn inquiry

by 14 Sep 2010

A human resources executive working in the NSW Department of Parliamentary Services has resigned following her part in an unauthorised audit of staff internet use.

Lisa Vineburg asked the IT department to trawl through the computers of all ministers and MPs, their staffers and all non-political employees in Macquarie Street, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Vineburg "took it upon herself to audit everyone in the building", a senior parliamentary source reportedly said.

Adam Lunn, workplace relations partner at Allens Arthur Robertson, told HR Leader that HR, along with the help of the IT department, has the responsibility and entitlement to commission an audit of internet usage. This data would then be kept in private files, “unless evidence of wrongdoing was found.”

Lunn added that MPs aren’t strictly employees of the department, but in a normal workplace situation there is a zero tolerance on accessing pornographic material.

The findings, which were then leaked to the press, led to the sudden resignation of a minister last week.

They found that about five people had recorded unusually high levels of activity or "hits" from adult or gaming websites.

When confronted by a journalist about the report, the Minister for Ports and Waterways, Paul McLeay, resigned, and the Christian Democrats MP, the Reverend Fred Nile, was forced to admit a staff member, David Copeland, looked up such websites for "research purposes".

“[Misuse of internet] is an enormous source of termination and discipline. Most organisations will not exercise extreme measures in receipt, but certainly in distribution,” said Lunn.

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