The NSW Premier says she will not call for the Minister for Families and Communities to resign, yet, and claims police have not contacted him about the allegations that were revealed yesterday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says allegations of sexual violence against government Minister Gareth Ward are “extremely concerning and distressing” but she won’t call for his resignation, yet.

  • The Kiama MP has denied all allegations but has stepped down as a minister
  • Gareth Ward is the third Coalition MP to either move to the crossbench, or resign, this year
  • The Premier says she isn’t worried about her government’s stability

The Berejiklian government has been plunged further into minority just one week out from a crucial by-election after it was yesterday revealed NSW Police were investigating allegations of sexual violence against the 39-year-old from 2013.
Mr Ward, who has been the Minister of Families, Communities and Disabilities since 2019, issued a statement denying any wrongdoing but stepped down from his portfolio and moved to the crossbench until the matter is resolved.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward denies the allegations which date back to 2013.(AAP: Joel Carrett
Ms Berejiklian said she was not seeking Mr Ward’s resignation from Parliament at this stage because he had not yet been contacted by police and was not aware of the details of the allegations.
“I feel under the circumstances, given there was speculation, even though he’s not been contacted by police, I think he’s done absolutely the right thing in stepping aside in the party room,” she said.
“After the reports came out I spoke to him and asked him whether he’d done anything wrong. He denied any wrongdoing. I asked him if police had contacted him and he said no.”
The Premier said “all of Parliament” was “quite shocked” yesterday when they heard what Mr Ward was being investigated over.
“What transpired yesterday afternoon was extremely concerning and distressing,” she said.
Police have created a strike force to investigate the allegations against Mr Ward.
Mr Ward’s decision to sit on the crossbench means the Coalition’s numbers are further eroded.
Nationals MP Michael Johnsen quit in March after the ABC revealed he had sent a string of lewd text messages to a woman while parliament was sitting.
He had earlier been accused of sexually assaulting the woman at a lookout in the Blue Mountains in 2019 something he denies.
“In that matter, [Mr Johnsen] placed on the record he’d already been questioned by police, he knew the extent of the allegations, he knew what the allegations were, but we don’t have any of that information in this instance,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“If any allegations of that nature are exposed, that is extremely concerning and all of us always want to see justice done and none of us will tolerate behaviour that is regarded as completely unacceptable.”
Mr Ward is the third Coalition MP the government has lost this year, after Mr Johnsen resigned and Liberal MP John Sidoti moved to the crossbench amid a corruption inquiry.
Despite being plunged further into minority government, Ms Berejiklian said she was “not too worried” about stability.
“I always believe when you put forward good policy and do the right thing by the community that you get the results you need,” she said.
“It’s always disappointing, no doubt about that.”
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet says due process needs to be affored to Gareth Ward.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said he supported Mr Ward’s decision to stand aside from the ministry and the Liberal party room.
“I haven’t spoken to him but I understand he had people with him, which is important, last night. These are very serious allegations, they need to be investigated and due process should be afforded to Gareth,” he told Nine radio.
“The police need to conduct the investigation and Gareth has done the right thing in standing aside and the Premier has acted very decisively yesterday.”
Police Minister David Elliott today said he was concerned about the allegations. 
“[It’s] certainly not a good look for the government and we’re very, very disappointed. Not only is it concerning for the government because of our majority but it’s concerning for me that the community may look at MPs as people of disrepute and I don’t believe that’s the case,” he said. 
“Any one of us can bring the rest of us into disrepute and that’s unacceptable.”
Mr Elliott said he was briefed about the investigation moments before a statement was issued to the media, and would not interfere with their operation. 
“It’s appropriate for [the police] to let me know what is about to go into media but it’s not appropriate for them to tell me how, why and when they’re doing serious parts of the investigation.”
When asked why Mr Johnsen was forced to resign but Mr Ward had not been, Mr Elliott said a resignation from parliament was a matter for Mr Ward. 
“These individuals who have had to answer for matters, make decisions on their future and I would encourage all MPs if they’ve been accused of wrongdoing to consider their future.”