Luke Foley has resigned as NSW Labor leader.
Luke Foley has resigned as NSW Labor leader.

A hostile response damages everyone

LUKE Foley's defiant 46-second press conference changed everything. The accidental Labor leader who had come closer than anyone thought possible to bringing down the Berejiklian government fell on his sword yesterday, understanding the political realities of a credible groping allegation in the Me Too era.

That should have been the end of it. But he refused to let his reputation be destroyed without a fight. He denies the allegation that he put his hand inside the underpants of ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper at a Christmas function in 2016 and is launching defamation proceedings to "clear my name".

And, thus, begins an ongoing tragedy for both parties.

 

For Raper, it is the nightmare she tried to avoid. She didn't want to go public, and her decision should have been respected. It was not respected. It was used as a grubby political weapon by Foley's opponents.

As she said in her courageous statement yesterday, she chose not to make a compliant because she feared the negative impact of the publicity on her and her young family. And she knew that, "a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made."

That, too often, is the case. It is why women are reluctant to come forward when they are violated, which simply means the predator becomes bolder, and more women suffer.

But when you are talking about the destruction of a man's career and reputation, the stakes are high. This is the tug of war central to Me Too.

ABC Journalist Ashleigh Raper.
ABC Journalist Ashleigh Raper.

It is clear Foley, the son of an alcoholic, has a problem with alcohol. "I'm not a philanderer, I'm not a groper, I'm just a drunk idiot," is what Raper said he told her in a phone call last Sunday.

Two drunk driving convictions in his past signal an issue that should have been dealt with long ago. He should have learned from fallen Liberal Leader John Brogden that getting drunk with journalists is dumb.

He deserves the benefit of the doubt, but contrition would have been kinder to everyone.

 



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