AT the time of writing this editorial, Luke Foley remained the leader of the NSW Labor Party.
At the time of reading, it’s quite likely that’s not the case.
Mr Foley has been under fire for weeks after Corrections Minister David Elliott used parliamentary privilege to air claims that the drunken opposition leader had sexually harassed an ABC journalist at a Christmas party in 2016.
Curiously, senior Labor MPs – who must have been aware of the full details of the claims against their leader and the likelihood that, eventually, all would be revealed – have publicly stood behind Mr Foley over the past fortnight, even as they must have been privately counting the numbers massing against him.
The official line was that no action could be taken against Mr Foley without a statement by the journalist in question and that they expected Mr Foley to lead them to the next state election in March.
That has all come crashing down now.
After almost two years of silence, ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper issued a statement on Thursday identifying herself as the woman at the centre of the allegations and detailing her version of the night’s events.
She described Mr Foley approaching her to say good night as she stood with a group of people at a Sydney bar.
“He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants. He rested his hand on my buttocks,” the statement read. “I completely froze.”
Ms Raper said another journalist, Sean Nicholls from the Sydney Morning Herald, witnessed the incident but had honoured her request for him to say nothing about it.
At the time of writing, Mr Foley had neither denied nor accepted Ms Raper’s account of the night but, either way, there is no way he can remain leader.
If he wishes to defend himself against the allegations, he must do so from the backbench. If he accepts Ms Raper’s version of events, then his political career is over.
But none of this can vindicate Mr Elliott’s use of parliamentary privilege to air the allegations in the first place.
Mr Elliott had no right to make public an alleged attack on a woman when the victim herself wanted it to remain private.
And it is appalling that he sought to gain political advantage from another’s suffering.
Mr Foley stands accused of disgraceful behaviour in this incident, but Mr Elliott is not far behind.