The behaviour former NSW Labor leader Luke Foley has been accused of “can’t be tolerated”, federal Labor leader Bill Shorten has declared.
“Modern politics is not some sort of episode of the 1960s Mad Men series. The world has moved on. That behaviour was never appropriate,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth on Friday.
Mr Foley resigned on Thursday evening after ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper revealed details of a November 2016 incident in which the state opposition leader allegedly put his hand down her underpants.
The former leader denies the allegations and has threatened defamation proceedings against Ms Raper.
Mr Shorten said the behaviour described is “improper, inappropriate and simply can’t be tolerated”, and that Ms Raper deserves understanding and support.
But that’s where his comments will end, he said, noting Ms Raper had no intention of the allegations entering the public domain.
“I’m not going to add to the sort of the public spectacle of it all by continuing the debate,” he told reporters in Perth on Friday.
“I’m generally going to leave it to the NSW Labor Party, I don’t intend to say any more, and in doing that, I do it for a very clear reason.
“I do it because she never wanted this matter in the public domain. Others have put it there.”
NSW Liberal MP David Elliott first raised the matter under parliamentary privilege in October.
He released a short statement on Friday following heavy criticism of his role in the scandal.
“This has clearly been a difficult time for the journalist,” he said.
“I have long held concerns over the character of the alternate premier. To that end, it was never my intent to cause distress for the journalist.”