A senior male executive at the nation’s animal and pesticide regulator resigned after he was alleged to have urinated on staff members.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is now seeking an urgent briefing from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) following the stunning revelations at Senate estimates on Tuesday.
Chief executive Lisa Croft was grilled on the matter, alleged to have occurred at a Christmas party, by Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
“Was such an incident reported to you and if so, was there any action taken,” he asked.
Ms Croft confirmed she was “aware of the matter” but insisted the incident took place at a private event, and not at the organisation’s office Christmas party as was suggested.
“I am not aware of it in that context; not at a Christmas party,” the chief executive initially said.
“I am aware of an incident that occurred in a private capacity, not at a work function.”
She said people directly involved made her aware of the matter, but no official complaint was made.
“I understand that the people directly involved wanted me to be aware of the matter,” she said.
The issue was raised with the APVMA human resources team and the staff member resigned shortly after.
Senator Watt told the committee he would be seeking an “urgent briefing” from the department.
“These are very concerning questions. It is certainly the first time I have heard about it and I will be seeking an urgent briefing,” he said.
Ms Croft also took questions on notice about the organisation’s staff issues and low morale.