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Patricia Karvelas: So you’re saying that should be the protocol, that you step aside if there is an allegation that is made? Do you understand there to be any complaints that have now been made through your process?
I don’t know the answer to that.
I think that’s very much for the complainant to have control over that, and if the complainant is choosing to want to do with through the party rather than other processes, but is a path I have chosen and I think it would be really problematic if we took that level of control.
I think one of the things you really need to make sure you get absolutely right here is not simply the letter of the rules in the processes but also the tone in which things are explained and the expectations that are given.
Brittany Higgins has made claims and I don’t want to misquote her but essentially believing that there was a level of pressure on her to do the right thing by the party. What I’m wanting to make clear is that there is nothing other than a desire that people come forward and that their complaints are dealt with appropriately. That is what we want them to do and they will be supported in that.
Tony Burke handles this a lot better than Anthony Albanese did when asked the same question today:
Patricia Karvelas: And if they do come forward and make a specific allegation about a particular frontbencher, for example, should that frontbenchers step aside?
As a general principle, my view is it is for if it is of the gravity of some of what I’ve seen that the answer is yes. And can I give a simple example that I saw a long time ago?
Hazem El Masri [Bulldogs player], when there was an accusation against him and he stood aside from all of his roles. And on that occasion it happens to be something that was not, you know, the allegation had a particular circumstance to it, but in every point, he said he was standing aside because he wanted people to have the confidence to come forward.