January 30, 2024

Premier won’t bring Will Fowles back to Labor caucus after police drop investigation

By Rachel Eddie
Updated January 30, 2024 — 6.48pmfirst published at 2.20pm
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Premier Jacinta Allan has declared exiled MP Will Fowles will not return to the parliamentary Labor Party after police closed an investigation into an alleged assault against a government staffer and did not lay any charges.

The Ringwood MP, who was arrested and questioned in October, has always denied wrongdoing and on Tuesday said he looked forward to working for his constituents.

Lower house MP Will Fowles.Credit: AAP

“I acknowledge the confirmation from Victoria Police that they have closed the investigation and will not proceed with any charges,” Fowles said in a statement.

“I have always maintained my innocence in the matter, and I am looking forward to continuing my work for my constituents in parliament.”

The 45-year-old had chosen not to attend parliament until the investigation concluded. Parliament resumes after the summer break on February 6.

Victoria Police on Tuesday said the sexual crimes squad closed the investigation into the alleged incident last August in Melbourne’s CBD.

“While a rigorous and methodical investigation has been conducted into the matter, in conjunction with senior legal advice, it has been determined that charges will not be laid at this time,” a spokeswoman said.

Police said any further information provided to them would be thoroughly assessed but that the matter was now considered closed.

Fowles was forced to resign from the parliamentary Labor Party in August at the request of the then-premier when Daniel Andrews’ office was informed of the allegations.


Fowles at the time said he expected his removal from the party room would be reversed once he was cleared of the complaint.

But Allan on Tuesday said he would not return to the parliamentary Labor Party.

“The wellbeing of staff … is not negotiable and we will always act on any allegations of a serious nature,” Allan said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The Member for Ringwood was asked to resign from the Parliamentary Labor Party in August last year.

“He will not return.”

Returning to the parliamentary team would require two Labor MPs to put their name to a motion, which one MP, who asked to remain anonymous to discuss internal matters, said would be “a lot of political capital for someone to spend”. It would then go to a majority vote of the party room, but half a dozen MPs told The Age that would never happen.


Fowles remains a member of parliament as an independent and is still a member of the broader Victorian Labor Party.

Labor MPs were also interviewed by police as part of the investigation.

The premier’s office referred the matter to police on August 5 – when Andrews made the shock late-night announcement that Fowles had resigned from the parliamentary party – three days after the alleged incident in the CBD during a parliamentary sitting week.

“My office made further inquiries over Friday 4 and Saturday, August 5 and has now received information from a government employee about an alleged serious assault by the member for Ringwood,” Andrews said in a statement at the time.

“The complainant has been and will continue to be supported and their privacy should be respected. The wellbeing of staff and their right to a safe workplace is not negotiable.”

Fowles strenuously denied any allegation and has not faced any charges arising from the investigation.

“I was asked to stand aside as a member of the parliamentary Labor Party, a situation I expect will be temporary,” he said in August.

Fowles has previously opened up about substance and alcohol abuse after he smashed a hole through a door in a Canberra hotel in 2019 following an altercation with staff over his luggage.

He took months of leave to seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse after that incident and was welcomed back by Andrews at the time.

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Rachel Eddie is a Victorian state political reporter for The Age. Previously, she was a city reporter and has covered breaking news.Connect via Twitter or email.


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