Premier axes MP from role over staff allegations

South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman. (supplied)


South Barwon MP Darren Cheeseman has been dumped from his parliamentary secretary role after allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staff.

Premier Jacinta Allan demoted Mr Cheeseman as the parliamentary secretary for schools on Friday over allegations of “persistent and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace towards staff”.

“I asked for the resignation of the member for South Barwon from his role as Parliamentary Secretary for Schools … which he has given,” Ms Allan said in a statement.

“The wellbeing of staff and their right to a respectful workplace is not negotiable.”

She cited the ministerial code of conduct which requires ministers and parliamentary secretaries to behave to highest standards and in a way that upholds community expectations.

“Ministers and parliamentary secretaries must take all reasonable steps to maintain respectful and appropriate working relationships with their staff, staff of other ministers and MPs, parliamentary staff, VPS staff, and ministerial and parliamentary colleagues,” she said.

Mr Cheeseman will remain as an MP in the parliament and of the Victorian Labor Party.

He was the federal member for the seat of Corangamite from 2007 to 2013 before being elected to the Geelong-based state seat in 2018.

The MP was the parliamentary secretary for community sport and the doomed Commonwealth Games before he was handed the education role in October.

His resignation comes after Ringwood MP Will Fowles was forced to resign from Labor’s parliamentary party in August over the alleged assault of a ministerial staffer.

Mr Fowles has maintained his innocence.

Former premier Daniel Andrews referred the allegation to Victoria Police, with the investigation concluding in January and no charges were laid.