Public body to undergo independent culture review following allegations an employee urinated on colleagues

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An Australian government agency where a male employee allegedly urinated on colleagues will have its culture examined by an independent review.

Agriculture Minister Murray Watt has ordered the independent review by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), an agency that has seen plenty of controversy since former minister Barnaby Joyce announced his move from Canberra to Armidale in 2016.

Questions about the APVMA’s workplace culture were raised before a Senate Estimates hearing at Parliament House earlier this month.

During the November 8 hearing, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson asked APVMA chief executive Lisa Croft if she was aware of allegations of sexual harassment made by staff at the agency.

“I have been told of an incident that occurred at a staff Christmas party in 2021 where a male senior employee allegedly urinated on other employees. Was such an incident reported to you and if so was any action taken?” Senator Whish-Wilson asked.

Whish-Wilson is wearing a blue suit, no tie, holding some papers as he walks towards the camera.
Questions about the APVMA’s workplace culture were raised for a Senate consideration by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.(ABC News: Matt Roberts)

Mrs Croft said an incident had been raised with her.

“I’m not aware of it in that context, not at a Christmas party… I’m aware of an incident that took place in a private capacity, not a work function,” Ms Croft told the hearing.

Ms Croft said there was no official complaint about the matter and the employee concerned had resigned.

‘Report will shed light on any lingering issues’

In a statement released on Friday, Senator Watt said he had ordered the review, to be undertaken by Canberra lawyer Mary Brennan, following a briefing he had received from Ms Croft and the APVMA board chair.

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