Two former Ken Wyatt staffers say they asked Scott Morrison to help resolve their complaints


Questions remain about the working environment of Mr Wyatt’s office after transcripts from multiple staffers allege his senior adviser, Paula Gelo, bullied other staff. An inquiry into the matter was told Ms Gelo had boasted of having a “special relationship” with the minister.

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Ms Gelo continues to work for the minister and his campaign to retain the marginal seat of Hasluck on Perth’s eastern fringe on May 18.

The Prime Minister has stood by his minister during the election campaign, saying the allegations of bullying in the office had been dealt with “by the normal administrative process”.

Up to 10 former staffers are believed to have given evidence to the $37,000 review – conducted by a firm called CPM Reviews on behalf of the Department of Finance.

But none of the staffers who participated in the inquiry have been given its findings or been told what recommendations were made because the government has claimed “public immunity” and said the report’s release could infringe the privacy of those involved.

Mr Wyatt has previously said he has acted on the recommendations but refused to say what they are. He has defended Ms Gelo as a “competent officer”.

The two former staffers, who do not know each other and contacted Mr Morrison’s office independently, told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age they asked the Prime Minister to help resolve their cases.

They approached The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age because they felt their claims of workplace bullying were being ignored. Both have requested anonymity.

“Before I go to the media in I wanted to extend the courtesy to you and your office to reply to the investigation conducted last year, of which I was a participant, about bullying in minister Ken Wyatt’s office,” the former staffer wrote to the Prime Minister’s office in April.

“I have gone so far as to submit a claim for the loss of wages and effects on my mental health through Comcare because of what I was subjected to at minister Wyatt’s office.”

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The former staffer also warned that “should this email fall on deaf ears” they would contact a journalist at a rival newspaper.

The staffer then forwarded the email to Senator Birmingham, the Liberal Party’s election campaign spokesman, demanding a response and again threatening to go to the media.

Senator Birmingham’s office wrote back saying that because the email had come from an anonymous account, “any response would therefore potentially breach privacy and confidentiality so no further action will be taken on this email”.

A second former staffer who told the inquiry they were unfairly forced to resign from Mr Wyatt’s office contacted the Prime Minister’s office asking for help in continuing to work for the government but said no help was given.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said Mr Wyatt and the government are “fully committed to ensuring a safe workplace”.

“All staff matters are treated confidentially and in accordance with the guidelines. As minister Wyatt has outlined, his office has responded to the report in question from the Department of Finance.”

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

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