The Labor party has cancelled a fundraising dinner for Luke Foley’s reelection campaign after he resigned as NSW Labor leader over allegations he put his hand inside ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper’s underpants and rested it on her buttocks in 2016.
The “Auburn campaign fundraising dinner with Luke Foley and Chris Bowen” was scheduled for Saturday November 24 at the Himalaya Restaurant in Granville.
It was expected to raise a significant amount for Foley’s reelection campaign.
Tickets started at $80 a head. For $300, guests could purchase a “VIP” ticket, which gave you access to Foley and sat you on a table with a Labor politician.
Bowen’s office confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Friday morning that the event had been cancelled.
During his resignation press conference on Thursday afternoon, Foley said he would not be quitting parliament and planned to remain as the member for Auburn on the backbench.
This has angered many within the party, who believe he should have apologised and left politics completely.
Senior Labor figures are now calling for Foley to be disendorsed as the Labor candidate for Auburn at the March state election. NSW Labor’s candidate review committee is meeting next Friday to decide his future.
An emergency caucus meeting will be held on Saturday to elect a new Labor leader. BuzzFeed News understands Michael Daley is the frontrunner to replace Foley, with Penny Sharpe to take the role of deputy.
Foley maintains the accusations made against him are “false” and said he has hired solicitors and a senior counsel and planned to take legal action in the Federal Court.
In a statement released by the ABC on Thursday, Raper said she never intended to go public with the allegations.
Raper said it was time for her “voice to be heard” because the public debate had escalated after corrections minister David Elliott aired the matter in parliament without her permission.
“In November 2016 I attended an official Christmas function at New South Wales Parliament House for state political reporters, politicians, and their staff,” Raper said.
Raper said the party moved from NSW Parliament House to a bar at Martin Place.
“Later in the evening, Luke Foley approached a group of people, including me, to say goodnight. He stood next to me. He put his hand through a gap in the back of my dress and inside my underpants. He rested his hand on my buttocks.
“I completely froze.”
Raper said the incident was witnessed by another journalist, but she chose not to make a complaint for a “number of reasons”.
“It is clear to me that a woman who is the subject of such behaviour is often the person who suffers once a complaint is made,” she said. “I cherished my position as a state political reporter and feared that would be lost.
“I also feared the negative impact the publicity could have on me personally and on my young family.”
But that impact was now “being felt profoundly”, she said.
Raper said Foley called her on Sunday to apologise and said he planned to resign as NSW Labor leader on Monday. She said he changed his mind the next day, and told her he’d received legal advice not to quit.
Raper said Foley told her, “I’m not a philanderer, I’m not a groper, I’m just a drunk idiot”.
White Ribbon has stripped Foley of his status as a ambassador, pending an investigation.
"White Ribbon Australia has zero tolerance for disrespect, abuse and violence of any kind towards women," the anti-domestic violence charity said in a statement on Thursday.
"White Ribbon acknowledges Ashleigh’s courage in making a public statement about an incident that women should never experience.
"We will never excuse or defend violence towards women of any kind. No matter who you are, what part of the community or organisation you are from – including if that person is an ambassador or connected to our own organisation – wherever disrespect and abuse against women occurs then the perpetrators must always be held to account."