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Carol Mills strikes back at Senate Clerk Rosemary Laing over criticism

Date

Noel Towell

Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Carol Mills.

Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Carol Mills. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Parliamentary Services boss Carol Mills has hit back at clerk of the Senate Rosemary Laing over Dr Laing's extraordinary attack on her public service colleague last week.

In a personal statement issued to staff on Canberra's Capital Hill, Ms Mills said Dr Laing's outburst, which was widely reported in Australia and the UK this week, was "disappointing" and broadly hinted that Ms Laing might face discipline under parliament's code of conduct.

Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing.

Clerk of the Senate, Dr Rosemary Laing. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Dr Laing intervened in the selection process for the a new clerk of London's House of Commons last week, writing an email to incumbent Sir Rogers Roberts in which she slammed Ms Mills, who is the frontrunner for the job.

Dr Laing wrote that Ms Mills' candidacy was "bizarre", "embarrassing" and an "affront."

The Senate clerk added that she was surprised Ms Mills had not resigned after a controversy this year when a senior Labor MP complained Parliament House CCTV had been used to spy on him by DPS staff.

But in an statement sent to departmental staff on Friday, Ms Mills said she was disappointed at the conduct of one of her "peers", Dr Laing.

"It would not be appropriate for me to comment further in a personal capacity at this time," Ms Mills wrote.

"As a senior parliamentary officer, I take seriously my responsibilities to promote and uphold the values and code of conduct articulated in the Commonwealth of Australia Parliamentary Service Act 1999."

Ms Mills also took aim at the Senate Clerk's claims about the CCTV controversy, which isnow the subject of a Parliamentary select committee.

"Until such a time as the committee completes its inquiry and report, it would not be appropriate for DPS to make any public statement on this incident beyond noting that the Department does not accept the accuracy of some reports on this matter," she said.

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