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 on Friday evening, as the party considered moves to disendorse him, Mr Foley wrote to the ALP saying he would not seek re-election because he “did not want to be a distraction”.
Mr Foley is under growing pressure as support has evaporated from fellow MPs.
His likely replacement as Labor leader, Michael Daley, said he did not want Mr Foley in the party.
“He has the right to stay in the parliament till March. Whether he stays there as a Labor Party member or not is a different matter,” Mr Daley told Sky News.
“Frankly if I’m the leader of the Labor Party, I don’t want him sitting in our ranks.”
Mr Daley and Labor’s highest-ranking female MP Jodi McKay on Friday threw their support behind ABC reporter Ashleigh Raper, who alleges Mr Foley put his hand down her underwear at a party in 2016.
Mr Daley said Ms 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 told reporters in Sydney.
“Ashleigh Raper did not deserve to be treated that way.”
Mr Daley, widely tipped to take over the leadership at a caucus meeting on Saturday, believes nothing good will come of Mr Foley remaining in parliament.
“It will be damaging for everyone, particularly for Ashleigh Raper,” he said.
“I think Luke should carefully reconsider whether he wants to take those legal proceedings or not.”
Mr Daley will be challenged for the leadership by 39-year-old Chris Minns who also supported Ms Raper and said Mr Foley should leave parliament altogether.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had said Mr Foley’s alleged behaviour could not be tolerated.
“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 Shorten said the behaviour described is “improper, inappropriate and simply can’t be tolerated” and 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 being made public.
Ms Raper issued a statement on Thursday detailing her version of the alleged drunken behaviour at a Sydney bar following a 2016 parliamentary Christmas party.
She alleged 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”.
It came after Liberal MP David Elliott raised the matter under parliamentary privilege in October.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian says she’s disappointed in Mr Elliott for publicly raising the allegations without the woman’s consent.
Mr Elliott 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.”