RETIRING Liberal MP for Hastings has yet to publicly respond to reports that he was suspended from state parliament and then banned from attending party events or involving himself in Liberal affairs following allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards parliamentary staff.
Two Melbourne metropolitan newspapers last week reported that the Department of Parliamentary Services had launched an investigation into the alleged misconduct by Burgess which started in November.
The allegations led to Burgess being banned from attending parliament for one month, which was followed in April by Liberal Party leaders telling him not to attend party event or be involved in party affairs until investigations had been completed.
Burgess has not responded to a phone call and email from The News, although the newspapers said he was “devastated” by the allegations and would “defend himself against them”.
Unnamed Liberal sources were quoted as being angered by the lack of detail about the allegations against Burgess being provided by the department.
Two Labor sources, who do not want to be identified, have confirmed the actions taken in regard to the allegations to The News.
Burgess, first elected in 2006, announced his retirement on 11 November, saying he had decided not standing at this year’s state election was “the right time for me and it’s the right time for my party”.
“Favourite outcomes achieved working together with my community, included, stopping a bitumen plant, urea plant and AGL’s gas plant from being forced on Crib Point,” Burgess said.
“It’s now time to pass the baton to someone new, with a fresh perspective, who will continue to serve this wonderful community.”
Former executive officer of the Committee for Mornington Peninsula, Briony Hutton, was subsequently chosen as the Liberal Party’s candidate for Hasting, the seat being vacated by Burgess.
A redistribution of electoral Boundaries last year saw Hastings having a winning margin for Labor, based on previous voting patterns (“Labor wins with boundary changes” The News 7/7/21).
Labor candidate for the seat is Mornington Peninsula Shire councillor Paul Mercurio, who has been granted leave from his council duties from 13 July to contest the election.
The mayor Cr Anthony Marsh assured residents of Mercurio’s single councillor Watson Ward that they would not go unrepresented in council.
Mercurio is the second councillor this year to seek election to parliament, with Cr Despi O’Connor unsuccessfully contesting the May federal poll as an independent.