Premier Dominic Perrottet has come out in defence of two MPs dragged into scandal this week, and accused Labor of planning to ‘weaponize’ information on their misdeeds.
Liberal MLC Peter Poulos resigned from his parliamentary secretary role on Friday after he admitted to sharing explicit images of a female MP, Robyn Preston, five years ago.
On the same day, Finance Minister and Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope resigned from his portfolio after it was revealed he had failed to disclose his superannuation portfolio contained shares in toll giant Transurban.
“He made the decision because he didn’t want this issue to be weaponized by Labor and distract from the campaign,” Mr Perrottet said of Mr Tudehope’s decision to resign.
On Mr Poulos, he was less complimentary, but committed to standing by the upper house MP, who he said had made a “mistake”.
“When that situation happened years ago I was appalled, horrified and disgusted,” he told reporters of Mr Poulos on Saturday.
Mr Perrottet said he understood Ms Preston had forgiven Mr Poulos for the incident, but said it had caused her great distress at the time.
When questioned by reporters on bullying complaints made to the party against Mr Poulos, the Premier said he understood the executive had “some matters” before them, but declined to know the contents of the allegations.
Treasurer Matt Kean weighed in on the matter earlier in the morning, after it was revealed Mr Poulos had been a member of his staff at the time of the incident.
“I believe Peter was working for me around that time,” Mr Kean told reporters on Saturday.
“It’s very disappointing.
“I understand it happened in a private capacity, but it doesn’t matter if it happened in someone’s private capacity or not. There is no place for disrespect anywhere across our community.”
Mr Kean denied receiving or seeing any email related to the photo leak from Mr Poulos at the time and claims he was only notified of the matter this week.
He said it was his understanding is that it was a private email sent in private time.
“The Liberal Party will be looking at those issues and what I’m sure they will do is take into account the views of the member for Hawkesbury, Robyn Preston,” Mr Kean said.
Despite the incident, Mr Poulos has retained his place in the Liberal party, and remains an MP in the upper house.
Ms Preston appeared beside the Premier at a press conference on Wednesday, where she told reporters she is “great mates” with Mr Poulos.
“Peter rang me and personally apologised and he was very remorseful,” she said.
“Peter and I are great mates.
“We have been in the party and we have a great following as friends we support each other along the way in our journey in politics.”
The member for Hawkesbury said the photos had followed her for years, and she wanted to move on.
“This is something that’s been brought up for decades now and I wish that we would respect the opportunity to put it to bed,” she said.
Mr Perrottet deemed Mr Poulos‘ actions as “incredibly inappropriate” but said the MLC had made a “mistake”.
“People make mistakes,” the premier said.
“No one is perfect. I’ve made a number of mistakes in life.
“The main thing is when you do (make mistakes), you stand up, you take responsibility for it, you apologise.
“That’s what Peter has done.”
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