Department of Finance investigation launched into Craig Kelly’s office over staffer Frank Zumbo allegations
A Department of Finance investigation is underway into workplace health and safety concerns for staff in the office of now-crossbench MP Craig Kelly, as New South Wales Police continue to look into claims of inappropriate behaviour by one of his senior staffers.
- The Government asked the Finance Department to look into the safety of Craig Kelly’s staff last week
- Mr Kelly’s senior staffer Frank Zumbo is being investigated by NSW Police over allegations of inappropriate behaviour
- Mr Zumbo strenuously denies any wrongdoing and no charges have been laid
New South Wales Police are investigating Frank Zumbo over allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women and are speaking to several people.
On top of that, police successfully applied for a provisional Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) which prohibits Mr Zumbo from contacting, harassing and intimidating a teenager who had worked as an intern in Mr Kelly’s office.
Details about the AVO were published in the St George Shire Standard last year.
In Question Time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he became aware of multiple allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards women recently and indicated an investigation was underway.
“We have initiated a process that is looking into those precise matters that came to my attention a few weeks ago,” he told Parliament.
The ABC has confirmed the Department of Finance was asked by the Government last week to look into the workplace health and safety of staff in Mr Kelly’s office.
On Friday, Mr Zumbo’s lawyer, Adam Moussa, said the AVO would be “strenuously and vigorously defended” and said the allegations raised in the investigation had not been brought to his attention despite it running for 10 months.
“They have not been substantiated,” he told the ABC.
“Police have had ample time to proceed with an application or criminal charge but they have chosen not to do so. As it stands, that tells me it appears to be an extremely weak case.”
Mr Kelly said he had not been notified about the Department of Finance investigation but was happy to cooperate.
“Of course I would like to speak to them. [I] thought the very first step would [have] been to contact the member,” he told the ABC.
The Member for Hughes also said he has had “extensive” discussions with his staff to check on their welfare.
“I am more than comfortable that my office is a safe place to work. They [the staff] have my mobile phone number to contact me at any time if they have any concerns about anything,” he said.
There are no details on when the Department of Finance investigation will be completed but the ABC has confirmed it is underway.
Craig Kelly stands by his staffer
Mr Kelly has previously vigorously defended Mr Zumbo and said standing him aside was one of the options the Prime Minister’s staff had put to him last week.
“I said at the moment, there are no charges that have been laid, there is an AVO application which has been publicly known for at least six months that doesn’t affect his ongoing work and I see no grounds for him to be thrown under the bus,” he told the ABC last week.
Mr Kelly spent the weekend looking into the claims, as first reported in The Guardian, and presented his results to the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday.
“I have investigated each one of those accusations personally and quite frankly there is very little to them,” he told the ABC.
However, New South Wales Police have told the ABC that an investigation into Mr Zumbo is ongoing.
The police investigation has again sparked questions about workplace culture and the treatment of women in politics, following unrelated allegations of rape outlined by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who worked in a ministerial office.
There is no suggestion that Mr Zumbo is associated with that matter or is accused of rape.
COVID-19 and allegations of inappropriate behaviour
Mr Kelly quit the Liberal Party yesterday to sit on the crossbench, after the Prime Minister repeatedly asked him to stop posting misinformation about COVID-19 treatments on social media.
But it is not just the spreading of misinformation about COVID-19 that Mr Morrison has had to speak to Mr Kelly about.
Mr Morrison told reporters on Tuesday that he had raised issues about one of Mr Kelly’s staff members, Mr Zumbo, in the past.
“I have long expressed to Mr Kelly my concerns about that staff member and he has long understood what my expectations were about how he would deal with that matter,” he said.
There have been no interns in Mr Kelly’s office for several months.