Natalie Bini claims Liberal Party ignored complaint about married coalition minister’s behavior | Australian politics

Natalie Penny, a former liberal who will run as an independent in Sydney, has criticized the culture of her former party, claiming her political career has been thwarted after she raised concerns about the alleged behavior of a married person. coalition The minister had an affair with him.

In the wake of the release of the Jenkins report this week, Penny said she decided to speak out about her experience and invoke the “Liberal Party evidence,” in which it is alleged that senior party leaders have ignored complaints, and women are often discredited to complaining.

Beni, a former LUAC director of cultural diversity, announced Tuesday that she is leaving the party to run as an independent in part in protest of its handling of her complaints about the alleged “inappropriate” behavior of some of the party’s senior men.

Penny claims that she was in a consensual relationship with former Minister and Representative for Red Craig Lundy, whose family she has known since childhood.

She claims that she agreed to the relationship because Lundy told her that he had effectively separated from his wife, but that he was staying at the family home on a temporary basis for the sake of his children. I later found out that wasn’t true and she ended the relationship. She says that once the relationship ended she was overlooked for the initial seat selection.

When she complained about his behavior in front of top party leaders and Scott Morrison’s office, she said she was ignored.

At the time of the relationship, Lundy was the Minister for Small Business and Family, and Penny was the vice president of Reed’s branch and says she was seen as a potential successor.

Penny raised concerns about Lundy’s alleged deceptive behavior towards her with the party’s New South Wales state manager, Chris Stone, after the relationship ended, saying she was concerned that the marital affair could affect the party’s campaign if he chose to run again for the seat.

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She believes that this complaint led to the party disregarding her as a potential political candidate because it was seen as problematic for Lundy, who wanted to endorse his successor.

“It was detrimental to me to be honest in my personal relations statements as required by the Liberal Party,” Benny told Guardian Australia. “The important thing for me is that the honest person is punished.

“I know I’m not the first, but I’m willing to be a political human sacrifice if that means I’m the last.”

Penny’s comments come after Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge stepped aside on Thursday pending an investigation into his relationship with his former employee Rachel Miller, who claimed her career was damaged as a result of her consensual relationship with the minister, while Tudge was promoted. .

‘shameful’

Craig Lundy, a major supporter of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, announced in March 2019 that he would not re-run Reid before the last election after months of speculation about his future and potential successor.

Baini says she believes the party’s desire for Laundy to endorse his successor led to the selection of Fiona Martin as Morrison’s “pick captain,” with no formal process opened for other candidates to submit their names. Martin was announced as a candidate just six weeks before the May 18 elections.

When the initial selections were opened while Lundy was still a seated member, no other candidate submitted his name to challenge the incumbent.

After Lundy announced he was leaving, there was no official initial selection process.

The party managed the nomination process with discussions with both the Prime Minister’s Office and Lundy. At the time, the PM’s office was reported to have been in discussions with prominent ABC presenter Stan Grant and former NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Caldas. It was also reported that Lundy would campaign closely with the new candidate, with Reid’s marginal seat seen as crucial to Morrison’s ability to win the 2019 election.

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Two letters of complaint written by Baini to the party in late 2020 and early 2021 and seen by Guardian Australia went unanswered, with an official response sent from Stone on behalf of the party’s NSW division only after it transmitted the correspondence to everyone. Members of the state executive in October this year.

But the party found that none of Penny’s concerns were covered by the party’s code of conduct.

“While the department is concerned with ensuring that members act appropriately in their dealings with one another, allegations that have nothing to do with the regulated activities of the department or against persons who are not members fall outside the scope of the code of conduct,” the letter contained in the response says.

“The nature of your complaint against Mr. Lunde and about which you are seeking action by the department is unclear. You maintain that he misled you in what was otherwise a consensual relationship. With respect, this is not a matter that requires the intervention of the department, and falls outside the scope of the Code of Conduct.”

After the 2019 election, Benny raised her concerns about the Redd selection process with the Prime Minister’s private secretary, Yaron Finkelstein, who was a longtime friend.

She met Finkelstein at her home to discuss the Lundy affair. After the meeting, she complained about the party’s response to her concerns.

Benny said the response showed the party had no regard for how Lundy’s alleged behavior affected her.

“I wanted to acknowledge that I was unfairly excluded from the preliminary selection process or from consideration in previous elections in which I believe I was the strongest and most visible candidate, and that a number of people would support that disagreement,” Penny said.

“And I wanted to see a certain level of disciplinary action against the people who had been identified … a certain level of discipline to know that the party was sincere in its protection of women who had been subjected to bad behavior.”

Penny said she believes the party’s response to her complaints highlights the political culture revealed by Kate Jenkins’ Parliament House review, and said she doubts the government’s ability to adequately address the problem.

“The default understanding of problem management in the party is just to ignore it,” she said.

“It is a playbook. The manual is, first, to disregard, secondly, to avoid legal action, and third, to question the complainant’s ability and mental health.

“I am proof that people who are otherwise seen as qualified, of good character, capable and genuine, have their careers terminated because they are willing to say something negative about the party even in private correspondence.

“Brand management is certainly more important than the well-being of any member.”

The attorney and athletic director said her experience in politics was far from the private sphere, “where this kind of culture is not allowed to fester in any respectable organization.”

There, any accident is dealt with accurately and promptly. It is a shame to me that our government does not know how to lead in this space, she said.

“I used to think that the Liberal Party would be able to reform this culture, but the Prime Minister’s statements in Parliament yesterday indicate that MPs are above the rules because they are elected by the public,” she said.

“Members of Parliament need to realize that they are part of the problem, which I think they are not prepared to do, and that makes me less convinced that this government can tackle these problems in any useful way.”

In response to questions from Guardian Australia, Laundy’s spokesperson did not address Baini’s allegations about their relationship or her claim that he lied to her about his marital status.

When Mr. Lundy announced his decision to retire from politics in March 2019, he was unaware who his replacement would be for Reed voters. Lundy explained at the time that his decision to retire was motivated by his desire to focus on his family,” a spokesperson for the former MP said.

“Because his intentions to retire from politics were clear, Mr. Lundy did not participate in, and had no control over, the initial selection process that the party ran in 2019.”

“When the Liberal Party learned that Dr. Fiona Martin would be his successor, Mr. Lundy, he endorsed her campaign efforts to ensure that the seat it had held for six years was returned to the coalition in the 2019 elections.”

The NSW Liberal Party acknowledged that a meeting between Stone and Payney had taken place in May 2018, but claimed that the two follow-up letters of complaint had been overlooked, although they were received.

“A meeting was held in May 2018 at which some matters that the Director of State had been asked to keep confidential were raised, and were dealt with as such. A party spokesperson said the person who had raised these matters at the time was content to pledge to use the information in the course of the nomination review process. party secrecy.

Nominations for the Reed pre-selection were opened twice in 2018 – no nominations were received the first time and only one nomination was received the second time.

“The process of selecting and approving a candidate for Reid was carried out in accordance with the party constitution.”

In the party’s official response to Penny, Stone said, “Had I been nominated, normal constitutional procedures would have followed.”

However, Benny maintains that multiple attempts to contact party dignitaries to express their interest in running for the seat were ignored once Lundy announced his resignation.

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