South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman quits Labor Party

A Victorian MP has been dumped following more allegations of “persistent and inappropriate behaviour” that the Premier says does not require police involvement.

Premier Jacinta Allan asked for South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman’s resignation from the parliamentary Labor Party on Monday night.

The parliament website now lists Mr Cheeseman as an independent.

Late on Monday night, Mr Cheeseman asked for privacy.

“A short while ago, I received a call requesting my registration (sic) from the parliamentary Labor Party. I have provided that registration (sic),” he posted to social media.

“I will continue to serve the people of South Barwon as their MP. This is an incredibly distressing time for me and my family and I ask our privacy to please be respected.”

Ms Allan said there was no place for Mr Cheeseman in her government.

Speaking to media on Tuesday morning, Ms Allan said there was no tolerance “for this sort of behaviour” in the party.

The allegations did not require the involvement of police, Ms Allan said.

The behaviour was “repeat, persistent inappropriate behaviour towards staff”.

“This is not an easy time for them,” Ms Allan said.

Ms Allan repeatedly said “I’m not going to go into any of the details of the staff involved” for the privacy and wellbeing of the staff members.

“They have the right to a safe workplace,” Ms Allan said.

Staff in various workplaces were offered support, she said, and she would not elaborate, citing privacy.

Ms Allan left it for Mr Cheeseman to comment when asked if he accepted any of the allegations.

Parliamentarians were obliged to conduct themselves to the highest standards, Ms Allan said.

Among colleagues there was a “strongly supported” view that asking for the MP’s resignation was the correct step, Ms Allan said.

A parliamentary integrity commissioner role would soon be established if legislation to be introduced in the coming weeks was passed, she said.

“I received new information about further allegations of persistent, inappropriate behaviour by the member for South Barwon towards another member of staff,” Ms Allan said in a statement late on Monday.

“After inquiries by my office, and in consultation with my colleagues, tonight I asked the member for South Barwon to resign as a member of the parliamentary Labor Party – and he has done so.

“Following these new allegations it is now clear to me that there is no place for the member for South Barwon in my government.

“The wellbeing of staff and their right to a respectful workplace is not negotiable.”

Allegations against Mr Cheeseman came out publicly on Friday. He then quit his role as a parliamentary secretary for education.

Ms Allan stood by Mr Cheeseman at that stage, saying: “The allegations were put to me in the context of my responsibilities in upholding the ministerial code of conduct.”

Mr Cheeseman was elected to state parliament in 2018.

His South Barwon electorate covers 360sq km, including the southern edge of Geelong.

He served two terms in Canberra from 2007 to 2013 in the House of Representatives for the Labor Party and the seat of Corangamite, which covers his Victorian electorate.

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