Victorian Upper House member Kaushaliya Vaghela has resigned from the Labor Party weeks after accusing the office of Premier Daniel Andrews of turning a blind eye to systemic bullying directed at her.
Ms Vaghela made these allegations just days after she crossed the floor to vote against her party, in a show of solidarity with disgraced MP and her former factional ally Adem Somyurek, to refer Labor’s 2018 “red shirts” rorts scandal to the ombudsman and Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). Her vote prompted her party to move to expel her for breaking the party rules to vote against the caucus.
She told ABC she complained with the Premier’s office about the bullying, in person and in writing, a number of times since April 2019. She added that she felt “worthless” and lost her self esteem as a result of the bullying and intimidation. She also alleged that the adviser at the centre of an ALP bullying claim remained employed by Daniel Andrews’ office for almost six months after a formal written complaint about his behaviour was lodged.
Her claims are being investigated by WorkSafe.
Ms Vaghela, the Western Metropolitan member of the Upper House since 2018, was earlier not re-endorsed for this year’s election as part of a factional purge that followed allegations of branch stacking.
She will sit in the cross-bench when the Victorian Parliament resumes this week.
Herald Sun has reported that Ms Vaghela will move a motion asking the upper house to note “the systemic bullying, harassment, and intimidation campaign.” She will also accuse the Premier and minister for women Gabrielle Williams of participating “in the systemic bullying campaign … by seeking to undermine, isolate and exclude” her, according to the report.
Earlier, Herald Sun carried a story that Ms Vaghela had accused a former adviser to the Premier, and a number of his associates, of threatening, intimidating, and harassing her after she defected to the party’s Right faction. According to Herald Sun, the former adviser was given other office duties and told to stay away from complainant MP Kaushaliya Vaghela. The person accused has denied the allegations made by Ms Vaghela.
Premier Daniel Andrews said in a press conference in February: “There was an issue with a staff member. A complaint was made and the staff member no longer works in my office. That was dealt with appropriately.”