Minister resigns following employee bullying allegations

by Chloe Taylor29 Jul 2015
Victoria’s Small Business Minister Adem Somyurek has been forced to resign by the Premier of Victoria following bullying allegations from a staff member.

The ABC reported that Somyurek was suspended from Cabinet in May as a result of a complaint made by his chief of staff, Dimity Paul, about threatening and intimidating behaviour. 

Following his suspension, Somyurek maintained his innocence, blaming the allegations on a divide within his party.

The former Office of Police Integrity boss and retired Justice Michael Strong filed a report into the allegations, which was submitted to Premier Daniel Andrews.

After receiving the report, Andrews said he had lost confidence in Somyurek.

“Strong makes adverse findings against Adem Somyurek in relation to a number of very unfortunate and inappropriate incidents, one of which relates to physical contact with a female member of staff,” he said.

According to Strong’s report, Somyurek attempted to stop Paul from leaving his office in February by taking her chin in his hand, shaking it and instructing her to “calm down” and “put a filter on it”.

Andrews said that the report also detailed findings related to abusive behaviour.

“One relates to the dismissal of a staff member because he stood up for a colleague,” said Andrews.

“For all of these reasons, which are very clearly laid out in Strong's report, I came to the conclusion that I could not have confidence in the minister and that his position was untenable.

“I therefore just a short while ago sought from him his resignation and he has given that to me.”

During a press conference yesterday afternoon, Somyurek claimed that the allegations against him were fabricated as “payback” for him leaving the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employee's Union faction earlier this year.

“We knew there would be payback, we had no idea this payback would be so extreme,” he said.

Andrews offered Paul an apology for Somyurek’s allegations, and said that a replacement for him would be selected at a cabinet meeting on Friday.
“We as a government breached our duty of care to her ... we will sit down and work through what her future holds,” he said.

“This is an unfortunate incident. There has been inappropriate conduct.

“I want to make it very clear to you that the process I have put in place has been by the book.

“This has been done properly as every Victorian would properly expect when such serious claims are made.”

Andrews added that the evidence provided to the inquiry by the complainants was “far more reliable than the evidence provided by the minister”.

He said that while the result was harsh for Somyurek, it was appropriate.

“It is a very heavy price for the way he has acted,” Andrews concluded. “That's the appropriate sanction.”

Most Read