A farewell party hosted by the ABC in Parliament House and attended by ministers is being investigated for a potential breach of COVID regulations.
A farewell party hosted by the ABC in Parliament House and attended by ministers is being investigated for a potential breach of COVID regulations.

Pollies’ parly party probed for potential COVID breach

A farewell party hosted by the ABC in Parliament House and attended by at least five ministers is being investigated for a potential breach of COVID regulations.

Strict density rules apply to parliament and an official complaint about overcrowding at the party on Thursday night has been lodged with NSW Lower House Speaker Jonathan O'Dea. The party was also attended by political staffers and journalists.

The farewell was hosted at the ABC parliamentary office and was also attended at various stages throughout Thursday night by staffers and reporters including Daily Telegraph political reporter James O'Doherty.

O'Doherty said the invitation had a limited number of names and once he realised the gathering had become too crowded for the space he raised it with others and left.

 

The farewell party hosted by the ABC in Parliament House was attended by at least five ministers.
The farewell party hosted by the ABC in Parliament House was attended by at least five ministers.

The ministers who spent some time at the party include Transport Minister Andrew Constance, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Mental Health Minister Bronnie Taylor, Water Minister Melinda Pavey and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell.

"I have received a complaint," NSW Lower House Speaker Jonathan O'Dea said.

"That complaint has been referred to the chief executive officer of the Department of Parliamentary Services and the matter is under investigation." Asked whether the complaint could be vexatious, Mr O'Dea said: "The person who has complained is not a frivolous source."

Attendees said the event was supposed to be small but there were up to 20 revellers at any one time as people dropped in on their way home to wish Ms Visentin well.

While the party was held in the public broadcaster's small bureau, an ABC spokeswoman said: "This was not an ABC event. It was a small, informal gathering of representatives from media outlets, including The Daily Telegraph and The Australian, organised by the NSW Press Gallery and using the ABC office space. It was organised according to the COVID-safe guidelines."

Sydney Morning Herald state political editor and press gallery president Alex Smith said she was given assurances after the fact by Police Minister David Elliott that the event had not breached the parliament's COVID-19 guidelines.

 

Received complaint... NSW House Speaker Jonathan O'Dea.
Received complaint... NSW House Speaker Jonathan O'Dea.

 

"David Elliott called me on Friday afternoon, said there was no breach of COVID rules and nothing further would come of the issue," Ms Smith said.

"As soon as it was raised there may have been too many people in the room, I told everyone to leave and everyone left in under a minute - I'm not exaggerating they left as soon as I raised the issue."

Sydney Morning Herald state political editor and press gallery president Alex Smith said she was given assurances after the fact by Police Minister David Elliott that the event had not breached the parliament's COVID-19 guidelines.

"David Elliott called me on Friday afternoon, said there was no breach of COVID rules and nothing further would come of the issue," Ms Smith said.

"As soon as it was raised there may have been too many people in the room, I told everyone to leave and everyone left in under a minute - I'm not exaggerating they left as soon as I raised the issue."

 

 

 

Originally published as Pollies' parly party probed for potential COVID breach