News State NSW News Charged NSW MP Gareth Ward still paid
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Charged NSW MP Gareth Ward still paid

Gareth Ward
NSW MP Gareth Ward resigned from cabinet and moved to the cross bench last May. Photo: AAP
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NSW MP Gareth Ward, who has been suspended from parliament while he faces indecent and sexual assault charges, is still being paid his salary.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says he texted the former Liberal minister to tell him he should not be in parliament but has had no other contact with him since he was charged last month.

Mr Perrottet is also unable to stop him receiving his parliamentary salary.

Ward is charged with indecently assaulting a 17-year-old boy at Meroo Meadow in February 2013 and sexually abusing a 27-year-old man in Sydney in September 2015.

Ward resigned from cabinet and moved to the cross bench last May when it was revealed he was under police investigation.

Mr Perrottet initially called for Ward to resign or be expelled from parliament but the government received legal advice that an expulsion could jeopardise criminal proceedings.

The premier told a budget estimates hearing on Thursday the parliamentary privileges committee was assessing whether it could suspend Ward’s salary and other entitlements.

Labor MP Penny Sharpe asked if Ward was still being paid and maintained access to his electorate office and staff.

“I’ll take that on notice but I think so,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Yep,” NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter said.

“He’s an elected member of parliament,” Mr Perrottet added.

“(He) should be afforded the presumption of innocence but in respect of being in public office there are certain duties that we have to entail in our roles that need to be looked at.”

The Department of Education had banned the MP from visiting any schools in his South Coast electorate while he was suspended.

“That’s certainly appropriate in the circumstances,” Mr Perrottet said.

He said he was not aware of any complaint made to his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian about Ward before he was charged.

– AAP