Foley: Senate asks ABC ‘was it sexual assault?’

THE ABC will be forced to reveal whether the harassment allegation engulfing NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley involves a claim of sexual assault as part of more than 40 questions lodged with the Federal Senate.

It comes as Mr Foley's colleagues are canvassing alternative leadership options as he faces growing pressure over allegations made under parliamentary privilege that the Labor Leader "harassed" an ABC journalist at a function after having "a little bit too much to drink".

News Corp Australia can also reveal that a full week after the allegations were raised sensationally in NSW parliament, no one from the ABC has contacted NSW minister David Elliott - the man who made the claims.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley fired up about the allegations on Wednesday. Picture: Justin Lloyd
NSW Labor leader Luke Foley fired up about the allegations on Wednesday. Picture: Justin Lloyd

 

There are claims he “harassed” an ABC journalist after having “a little bit too much to drink”. Picture: Justin Lloyd
There are claims he “harassed” an ABC journalist after having “a little bit too much to drink”. Picture: Justin Lloyd

This is despite ABC acting Managing Director David Anderson committing to an investigation of the matter three days ago.

Mr Foley has strenuously denied the allegations.

Federal Senator Eric Abetz lodged more than 40 questions in the Federal Senate yesterday to the Minister in charge of the ABC, Mitch Fifield, which will require a response within 30 days.

The questions for the first time raise the spectre of whether the Foley incident, which has previously been described as "harassing" an ABC reporter at Martin Place bar in 2016, pertains to sexual assault.

 

The Daily Telegraph can reveal no one from the ABC has contacted NSW minister David Elliott, who made the claims. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
The Daily Telegraph can reveal no one from the ABC has contacted NSW minister David Elliott, who made the claims. Picture: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

"Did they include an allegation of sexual assault," the Senator asked. He also asks if they include allegations of indecent assault, assault, improper physical contact or sexual harassment.

The Senator also asks whether "any suggestion that Mr Foley has behaved inappropriately towards an ABC journalist" will be "reported to police".

The questions also ask whether the reporter at the centre of the allegations was offered counselling or was moved "to another role out of NSW parliament in part as a result of this matter".

 

Federal Senator Eric Abetz lodged over 40 questions in the Federal Senate yesterday to the Minister in charge of the ABC. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Federal Senator Eric Abetz lodged over 40 questions in the Federal Senate yesterday to the Minister in charge of the ABC. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

 

The Daily Telegraph put a series of questions to the ABC yesterday about the nature of the inquiry committed to by Mr Anderson, including who would conduct the investigation and whether the alleged victim would be interviewed.

These were not answered, with a spokeswoman saying "no complaint has been received by the ABC".

"We are always mindful of our duty of care to our employees, their welfare is our first concern, and the ABC always provides full support to staff members who raise matters of harassment in any form."

It comes as Mr Foley's colleagues are canvassing leadership replacement options, specifically Deputy Labor Leader Michael Daley, Shadow Water Minister Chris Minns and Shadow Treasurer Ryan Park.

Shadow Transport Minister Jodi McKay has previously been raised by some members but is now seen as having little chance.

Multiple MPs want a circuit breaker in the scandal engulfing the leadership but there is also great concern about the transactional cost of changing leader five months out from an election.

"This is not going to go away," one MP said.

For this reason, many believe Mr Foley cannot be replaced without an official complaint from the ABC journalist at the centre of the allegations or more information emerging.