Embattled minister defends keeping investigation secret


“It’s like Labor’s report on Emma Husar, it was never released,” he said.

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NSW Labor disendorsed Ms Husar as its candidate for the western Sydney seat of Lindsay after complaints about her conduct, that she disputed. At the time, senior Coalition ministers, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, demanded the Labor MP be sacked and the report made public in the interests of workplace safety.

“The Labor Party talks a big game when it comes to looking after workers but they can’t look after their own workers,” Mr Morrison said at the time.

The Prime Minister defended Mr Wyatt this week, saying his case was resolved “by the normal administrative process”.

The investigation, which was ordered by Malcolm Turnbull’s then chief-of-staff, looked into allegations that Mr Wyatt’s advisor on aged care, Paula Gelo, claimed to have a “special relationship” with the minister and created a toxic work culture by screaming abuse at colleagues.

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The inquiry was also told of Ms Gelo’s travel expenses, after she recorded a $108,000 travel bill in one year alone. Mr Wyatt’s overall travel bill for staff amounted to $750,000 – a figure on par with some of cabinet’s most senior members despite Mr Wyatt sitting in the outer ministry.

Mr Wyatt has defended the travel costs as within the rules but was not pressed further on the matter when interviewed on Tuesday. He confirmed Ms Gelo had his full support.

“She’s a competent officer…no she’s not a bully,” Mr Wyatt said.

Asked what the report recommended about Ms Gelo, Mr Wyatt replied: “Those are a confidential element of the report.”

Mr Wyatt also defended his own conduct: “I have always been fair, I have always ensured that the workplaces or the work that I do is within the constructs of what is expected as commonsense approaches.”

The $37,000 investigation was conducted by a firm called CPM Reviews on behalf of the Department of Finance late last year and heard testimony from at least 10 staff members.

Latika Bourke is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based in London.

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