A key recommendation for a broad code of conduct to help end a culture of sexual harassment in South Australia’s parliament has been cast aside by the state Liberal government, despite an MP accused of assaulting a colleague at a parliamentary Christmas party saying the idea has merit.

Key points:

  • SA’s acting equal opportunity commissioner has recommended a code of conduct for all MPs
  • The SA Premier says the possibility of a broader code is a “matter for parliament”
  • An MP accused of inappropriate behaviour says the idea has “merit”

The government on Friday outlined its initial response to a damning review of parliament’s workplace culture, delivered by the acting equal opportunity commissioner Emily Strickland.

The review found sexual harassment is prevalent in South Australia’s parliament, with eight people reporting being victims of sexual harassment by MPs or their staff in the past five years.

That report recommended the South Australian parliament follow every other state and territory parliament and adopt a code of conduct for MPs.

Instead, the government on Friday announced it would amend the current code of conduct, which applies only to ministers, to include an express rule forbidding them from committing sexual harassment.

Premier Steven Marshall said that while he did not think there had been a “lack of clarity” in the ministerial code regarding harassment, it was “an item in the [acting equal opportunity commissioner’s] report and we [the Cabinet] were happy to address”.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says he does not support a code of conduct.(

ABC News


An amendment to the ministerial code was suggested in the equal opportunity commissioner’s report, but not formally recommended.

The Premier has previously voiced his opposition to a broader code of conduct to include other MPs, and today gave no indication the government would look to pursue it, saying any such move would be “a matter for the parliament”.

His comments were echoed by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman — who ordered the report into parliament’s workplace culture.

Ms Chapman declined to say whether she personally supported a code.

Accused MP backs code

While the government has expressed no desire to pursue a broader code, the idea has won support from Sam Duluk, the Liberal-turned-independent MP whose own actions sparked the equal opportunity commissioner’s inquiry.

Sam Duluk was accused of inappropriate behaviour towards SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros at a Christmas party in December 2019.

He later apologised for his actions and was charged with assault. The matter is due to go to trial in June.

Mr Duluk said he believed “pretty much every single MP” would support the introduction of such a code.

“I’m really looking forward to recommendations from the Speaker and the President in terms of the equal opportunity [commissioner’s] report that was handed down last sitting week.

“I think there’s a lot of positive movement out of that report, and if elements of that include a code of conduct, then I think that’s something that would be welcomed.”

A broad code of conduct has been the subject of debate in the South Australian parliament for almost two decades but has never been formally adopted.

The need for a code has been emphasised by both the current and former Independent Commissioners Against Corruption, with former commissioner Bruce Lander saying the refusal to adopt one “fails to inspire confidence”, and leaves parliament with no defined mechanism to deal with misconduct by its own members.

The parliament’s own Crime and Public Integrity Policy Committee has also recommended the adoption of a code for MPs.