Fo­ley won’t fight to keep Auburn seat

The West Australian - - NEWS -

For­mer NSW La­bor leader Luke Fo­ley will not con­test the seat of Auburn af­ter al­le­ga­tions emerged he in­de­cently touched an ABC jour­nal­ist.

Mr Fo­ley an­nounced on Thurs­day he would re­sign as leader to sit on the back­bench and pur­sue defama­tion claims af­ter he was ac­cused of touch­ing jour­nal­ist Ash­leigh Raper in­ap­pro­pri­ately at a 2016 Christ­mas Party.

But late yes­ter­day, as the party con­sid­ered moves to dis­endorse him, Mr Fo­ley wrote to its gen­eral sec­re­tary say­ing he would run out his term and not seek re-elec­tion.

Mr Fo­ley said he had had time to re­flect and talk to friends and col­leagues and had de­cided to re­sign his en­dorse­ment for the seat of Auburn.

“The party must fo­cus on the elec­tion which is at hand. I do not want to be a dis­trac­tion,” his let­ter read.

“I will con­tinue to work for the peo­ple of my elec­torate as mem­ber for Auburn un­til the elec­tion.”

The ALP re­leased a state­ment shortly af­ter con­firm­ing the party had ac­cepted his res­ig­na­tion.

Ear­lier in the day, Mr Fo­ley’s likely re­place­ment as La­bor leader, Michael Da­ley, said he did not want Mr Fo­ley in the party.

“Frankly if I’m the leader of the La­bor Party, I don’t want him sit­ting in our ranks,” he said.

Mr Da­ley and La­bor’s high­es­trank­ing fe­male MP Jodi McKay threw their sup­port be­hind Raper, who al­leges Mr Fo­ley put his hand down her un­der­wear at a party in 2016.

Mr Da­ley said Raper “did the right thing” in com­ing for­ward, even though Mr Fo­ley re­peat­edly and strongly de­nied the claims.

“She’s a cred­i­ble per­son and I be­lieve her,” the deputy leader said. “Ash­leigh Raper did not de­serve to be treated that way.”

Mr Da­ley will be chal­lenged for the lead­er­ship by 39-year-old Chris Minns, who also sup­ported Raper.

Raper is­sued a state­ment on Thurs­day de­tail­ing her ver­sion of the al­leged drunken be­hav­iour at a Syd­ney bar af­ter a 2016 par­lia­men­tary Christ­mas party, al­leg­ing Mr Fo­ley “put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and in­side my un­der­pants” and “rested his hand on my but­tocks”.

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