Bonaros slams Duluk conduct as Marshall waits on decision

SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros has questioned whether Liberal exile Sam Duluk is “fit to represent South Australians in our parliament”, as Premier Steven Marshall refuses to declare whether he wants the embattled MP back in the party-room.

Sep 08, 2021, updated Sep 08, 2021
Sam Duluk, right, photographed with his accuser SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros and Labor MLC Justin Hanson at the 2019 Christmas function.

Sam Duluk, right, photographed with his accuser SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros and Labor MLC Justin Hanson at the 2019 Christmas function.

Duluk was last month acquitted of basic assault against Bonaros when he touched her bottom at a parliament house corridor Christmas party in December 2019.

However, magistrate John Wells was scathing about his conduct, saying the Waite MP acted like a “drunken pest”.

Parliamentary Speaker Josh Teague yesterday declined to recommence a stalled investigation into Duluk’s actions at the function, saying the court process had finalised the matter.

But in a statement today, Bonaros said she was “disappointed that an inquiry in my worksite will not continue”.

“I have given evidence where I described some of his conduct towards me,” she said.

“I will speak and continue to speak for women and girls who have been harmed – and for others in our community who are unheard.

“Women like me who have been abused and assaulted at work say enough.

“We want the conduct to stop.”

However, she appeared critical of the media asking her for comment on Teague’s decision, saying: “Instead of asking me, again, what I think about this next step, and what happened that night – not forgetting I gave evidence in court and was cross examined by a QC for hours and was believed – why don’t you ask Mr Duluk for his statement”.

“Does he think he’s fit to represent South Australians in our parliament?” she said.

“Because until now, he’s been virtually silent. He didn’t give evidence. He didn’t tell the public what he did that night.

“It’s time we stopped expecting the women at the end of this behaviour to respond.

“It’s time the perpetrators were made accountable.”

Parts of Bonaros’s statement cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Duluk yesterday made a statement welcoming Teague’s ruling, and “once again putting on the record my personal apology and remorse for my behaviour on the evening some 20 months ago”.

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“I know that daily, I have taken positive steps to reflect and improve as a person,” he said.

“I seek to continue to serve the people of Waite to the best of my ability.

“As a community, we have been proud to work together to preserve the Heritage-listed Waite Gatehouse, save the Mitcham Service SA Centre, reactivate the Repat Health Precinct and ensure our environment and community infrastructure is well funded.

“I look forward to continuing this work.”

In response to Bonaros’s statement today, Duluk referred InDaily to “yesterday’s statement in relation to this matter, and apology”.

While Duluk is adamant he intends to continue to serve in Waite, it remains to be seen whether he will be endorsed as the Liberal candidate.

Marshall today evaded the question several times, declaring it a “decision for the [party’s] state executive” – of which he is a member.

“I think the first issue is we haven’t had an application from Sam Duluk to rejoin the party and I’m not sure that will occur,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide today.

He also noted in the same interview and in a subsequent media conference that Greens MLC Tammy Franks will be speaking under parliamentary privilege in a debate late this afternoon about the events of the night in question, “so I think we need to, basically, hear what she’s got to say”.

“We’ve already heard that Tammy Franks will be making a statement in parliament later today… I think that the State Executive would be waiting to get all information before it made a decision,” he told ABC.

“I’ve made my position abundantly clear that [his behaviour] was completely and utterly unacceptable.”

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