Re-elected NSW MP facing sex-assault charges may be referred to privileges committee | The New Daily

The NSW government is considering referring independent MP Gareth Ward to the privileges committee after he was re-elected as the representative for Kiama while fighting sexual assault charges.

The former Liberal minister has pleaded not guilty to five criminal offences including sexual intercourse without consent, three counts of assault with indecency and common assault.

He has been committed to stand trial in the NSW District Court and was formerly arraigned earlier this week.

Mr Ward was dumped from the Liberal Party and suspended from the parliament after he was charged by police last year.

He has consistently maintained his innocence and said in a statement this week he looks forward to getting back to work.

“When it comes to elections, the people always get it right,” he wrote on Wednesday.

Asked if the government would support a new motion to suspend Mr Ward, Environment Minister Penny Sharpe said on Saturday the government was considering its options, including referring Mr Ward to the Privileges Committee.

“We’re looking at all of the options at this point,” she told reporters.

“We could look at referring him to the Privileges Committee but we’re waiting until the final declaration of the poll.”

The committee is able to make determinations on MPs’ ethical standards and their use of parliamentary privilege, which allows members to speak without risk of being sued.

While Labor’s candidate Katelin McInerney conceded the election on Wednesday, Ms Sharpe said the party would continue to watch for a final outcome to be declared.

“The count is still underway. It is still close in Kiama. So we’re really waiting to see the final outcome.”

The close seat of Terrigal was called for Liberal Party MP Adam Crouch on Saturday by the ABC’s Election Analyst Antony Green, as counting continued one week on from the state election.

“The Liberal Party’s Adam Crouch will retain Terrigal. Widens lead today after a very strong result on postal votes,” Mr Green said on Saturday.

The result means Labor is unlikely to reach a majority government, as counting continues in Ryde and Holsworthy, where the vote remains too close to call.

The government remains on 45 seats in the past week as postal votes continue to roll in and a number of close electorates including Goulburn, Kiama and Terrigal fall by the way to the Liberals and independents.

About 75 per cent of the vote has been counted in the remaining three seats.

In Ryde, Labor candidate Lyndal Howison, who attracted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s support on March 25, leads by a slim margin of some 235 votes.

Labor is quietly confident Ms Howison will clinch the seat with more than 5000 postal votes still to come.

If she wins, the party will still fall one seat short of a majority.

In the southwestern Sydney seat of Holsworthy, where former premier Dominic Perrottet strategically chose to launch his campaign, Tina Ayyad hopes 2000 postal votes will help her retain the seat for the Liberals.

Ms Ayyad has strong roots in the electorate, serving as a Liverpool councillor for years, while her husband Ned Mannoun is Liverpool mayor.

But outstanding absent votes could boost Labor candidate Mick Maroney’s chances if the postal votes broke even, Mr Green said.


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