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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Tamsin Rose

NSW premier refuses to reveal why he sacked minister Eleni Petinos

Eleni Petinos speaks in front of microphones at a press conference, with Dominic Perrottet standing behind her
Eleni Petinos has been fired from her role as NSW small business and fair trading minister by the premier, Dominic Perrottet. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

The New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, has refused to detail allegations that led him to abruptly sack his small businesses and fair trading minister, Eleni Petinos, on Sunday.

Petinos was last week accused in media reports of running an unsafe office. Perrottet stood by his minister on Friday, but said he had made the “difficult” decision to fire her after being made aware of “further information in relation to separate claims”.

Perrottet said Petinos had denied all the allegations levelled against her but he decided she needed to go after a discussion with the secretary of the department of customer service, Emma Hogan.

“[Hogan] put me through a range of issues and I formed the view that if there was any possibility at all that there was an unsafe workplace that I had to take action,” he said.

“I cannot be in a position as premier where ministerial staff or a member of the public service through a deal or arrangement in an office does not feel safe.

“Based on the information I have received I don’t believe the environment in that office was appropriate and that members of the public service did not feel comfortable.”

Perrottet said he would not go into further detail about the claims made against Petinos to ensure people making complaints felt it was safe to do so.

He asked the public to trust his decision.

“While it’s difficult for me today to have made this decision and not be able to provide further details in relation to the information I received yesterday, I ask you to trust my judgment,” the premier said.

Perrottet said the decision was informed by briefings he has received in relation to the unreleased Broderick report on bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in NSW parliament which found people were not comfortable coming forward to report issues.

Earlier on Monday, the Labor opposition leader, Chris Minns, called for a full explanation as to why Petinos had been dumped.

“You seem to get more information when an NRL player is suspended rather than a minister of the crown has been sacked,” he said.

“We need to know what the circumstances are. This is not a family business. This is not a private company. This is the government of NSW. We’re calling on the NSW premier to explain that to all of us.”

Petinos on Sunday denied the allegations but said she was sorry if she unintentionally offended anyone or made them uncomfortable.

“Tonight the premier informed me I would no longer be a minister in his government,” she said in a statement.

“The intense pressures and stresses of such important portfolios are significant for both staff and their minister. I thank my staff for their efforts in supporting me to deliver for the people of NSW.

“I would never intentionally offend anyone or make them feel uncomfortable, and if I did I am truly sorry.”

She said she was involved in politics to make a “positive difference” and would continue to do so as the local member for Miranda.

The state’s customer service minister, Victor Dominello, has taken over Petinos’ portfolio responsibilities.

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