‘Bonk ban’ considered for Victorian Labor MPs and staff

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Senior members of the Andrews government favour new guidelines to improve the behaviour of some MPs, with a “bonk ban” on politicians having relationships with staffers among those being considered.

On Friday, The Age revealed Premier Daniel Andrews met with female government MPs for a broad discussion about parliamentary behaviour.

Premier Daniel Andrews says orking at Parliament House should not be like a “footy trip”.Credit: Joe Armao

Multiple people in the meeting said Andrews had stressed that parliament was a workplace, and he had considered limiting the sale of alcohol at the bar in Parliament House.

It can now be revealed there have also been talks among senior government figures about new measures to limit bad behaviour, including asking MPs not to sleep with staff or engage in excessive drinking.

The possible crackdown was being discussed in Labor circles but was not yet a formal proposal and could be delivered through ministers and senior MPs talking to their younger colleagues.

The discussion has been compared to the “bonk ban” on sexual relationships between ministers and their staff in federal parliament, introduced by the Turnbull government in 2018 in response to then-deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair with his then media adviser, Vikki Campion.

The premier has met with MPs for a broad discussion about parliamentary behaviour.Credit: Paul Jeffers

The policy was continued by Scott Morrison as prime minister and last year adopted by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

But unlike the federal bonk ban, imposed on cabinet ministers in Canberra, the Victorian proposal could include all government MPs.

While there has been a focus on the future of the parliamentary bar, government sources who asked to remain anonymous, to detail the discussions, said the proposed crackdown on behaviour was expected to target misbehaviour by politicians and staff in the annexe behind Victoria’s Parliament House, where most backbenchers have offices. Access for the public and media is limited.

One minister, speaking to The Age on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party matters, said Andrews was “the angriest I’d seen him” at a recent caucus meeting about the behaviour of some MPs during sitting weeks.

Barnaby Joyce’s affair with his then staffer, Vikki Campion, prompted a “bonk ban” in federal parliament.Credit: James Brickwood, Supplied

Andrews was expected to meet male MPs this week about the topic, but it was stressed that the conversations were not focused solely on men but also included a group of newer MPs and a recent increase in the amount of drinking spotted on sitting days.

One cabinet minister said there was support for a potential “bonk ban”, and that it “might make them rethink their behaviour”.

Another minister said no proposal had been put to cabinet, but senior MPs had been encouraged to speak to their colleagues about appropriate behaviour.

Andrews on Friday said it was important not to use alcohol as an excuse and that people needed to be responsible for their actions.

“The notion [that] it is just the bar, I think there are some broader issues at play in workplaces all across the state, and we need to do more, and we need to do better,” he said.

“Parliament is a workplace, it needs to be safe [and] it needs to be respectful.

“This is not a footy trip. It’s not a place where you can behave differently to any other workplace.”

Andrews said he had worked in parliament for nearly 21 years and his approach was to spend less time in the bar and more time working.

“Everybody across the parliament would do well to have a similar outlook,” he said.

“If you want to go to the pub, do that in your own time.”

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