Premiership not intending to remove pay of suspended MP

Premiership not intending to remove pay of suspended MP

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said the government was not intending to bring forward legislation to remove the pay and entitlements of the suspended MP Gareth Ward.

The Parliament voted to suspend Kiama's Member in March after he was charged with sexual offences, with some of the allegations involving a 17-year-old boy.

Ward says he is innocent of the charges and has refused the Premier's request to resign.

When he moved the suspension, Deputy Premier Paul Toole suggested that the government was considering further action.

I think the government will take any action to suspend the salary and other entitlements of the member for the period of his suspension. In a budget estimates hearing today, Labor MPs quizzed the Premier over his contact with Mr Ward.

Perrottet said he had texted him at the time he was charged and had no other contact.

Labor MP Penny Sharpe asked if the government was looking at making a law to strip Ward of his pay and entitlements.

I am not aware of that, Perrottet said.

The matter was now referred to a parliamentary privileges committee, according to the Premier.

Ms Sharpe asked if Mr Ward was still being paid and maintained access to his office and all of his staff.

I'm going to take that on notice, but I think he's an elected member of Parliament, Perrottet said.

In relation to being in public office, I think there are certain duties that we have to entail in our roles that need to be looked at.

I think that is appropriate in these circumstances because the Department of Education or the Minister for Education have acted in relation to attendance at schools. Perrottet said he would take notice if there should be an interim bar on Mr Ward's working-with children check.

Kiama MP recently shared images on social media of his continued community duties, including attending events and handing out awards.

Ms Sharpe asked the Premier if he was frustrated that Mr Ward was continuing on with the exception of being in the parliament.

He is a democratically elected member of parliament and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence. In the circumstances, I thought it would be better for both Mr Ward and the Parliament that he should consider his position, but ultimately we are in a democratically elected place. Now in relation to the areas where he should be entitled to attend events and certain locations, we have obviously made a point with regard to education and schools because that is within our ambit with the Department of Education, but I will look into those other matters. The Premier told the hearing he was not aware of any formal complaints against Ward.