The NSW Opposition Leader, John Brogden, has announced his resignation at a press conference in Sydney this morning.
Brogden has been under intense political pressure since yesterday’s revelations of his behaviour at a function some weeks ago at which he referred to former Premier Bob Carr’s wife, Helena, as a “mail order bride” and made advances to female journalists.
It is most likely that Brogden will be replaced by his deputy, Barry O’Farrell. The Liberal Party will meet on Wednesday to choose a replacement. In announcing his resignation, Brogden attacked the President of the Young Liberals for promoting a campaign against him.
Brogden’s fall from grace will bolster the government’s campaign to retain its hold on two seats in by-elections next month. The incident will boost the new Premier, Morris Iemma, following the recent retirement of Bob Carr.
- Listen to John Brogden’s Press Conference (31m)
Brogden said he would not be resigning his seat of Pittwater in the Legislative Assembly. He claimed that most of his colleagues wanted him to stay in the leadership. His appearance before the media today was characterised by a sense of bewilderment about his situation. He admitted he could give no reason for his behaviour and comments but referred to his ‘familiarity’ with people.
Brogden is accused of pinching Sunday Telegraph journalist Justine Ferrari on the bottom and putting his arm around a Sun-Herald journalist and propositioning her at the same function.
“I love being a member of parliament,” Brogden told the press conference. He told a story of his work as local member, a role he compared to ‘parish priest’.
Tellingly, Brogden used the term “middle bencher” when referring to his future in the parliamentary Liberal Party. This is the term coined by former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, following his dumping as leader in 1989. It was a description he used to maintain his profile and leadership ambitions prior to returning to the position and winning office in 1992.
As his press conference continued this morning, Brogden’s immaturity became ever more apparent as he attempted to deliver one-liners and constantly referred to his childhood ambitions.
Addressing the press conference, Barry O’Farrell praised Brogden and predicted that there would be a contest for the leadership in the party-room. Claiming he was “fighting fit”, he said he would not be running his own campaign for the leadership through the media.