BREAKING NEWS: Greens NSW MP Breaks Ranks, Calls For Buckingham To Stand Down From 2019 Election

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Greens NSW MP Jenny Leong has broken ranks with her party and issued a joint call with federal Senator Mehreen Faruqi calling for colleague Jeremy Buckingham to resign from parliament and not contest the upcoming March 2019 state election.

Ms Leong stood to make the speech in the NSW Legislative Assembly shortly after midday.

“Our response to recent allegations about one of our own MPS has to date been completely unsatisfactory. It is for this reason that I am calling for Jeremy Buckingham to resign from his position as a member of parliament, and take himself off the ticket for the 2019 state election.

“If he doesn’t do this then I am urging the party to act so that he is no longer a representative or member of the Greens because we cannot advance our agenda for a more just, more sustainable and more equitable world when so much energy, effort time, resources and pain has been exhausted trying to manage one man and his unacceptable behaviour.

“There is a need for decisive action to bring this to an end, which is why NSW Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi and I have now issued a joint statement calling for Jeremy Buckingham to step aside and to not contest the next election.”

It follows allegations in August that Mr Buckingham sexually assaulted Greens staffer Ella Buckland in 2011.

Ms Buckland alleged that a drunken Mr Buckingham grabbed her “roughly on the vagina” and kissed her neck outside his inner-west home in Sydney, following drinks at the NSW parliamentary bar.

Mr Buckingham continues to strongly deny the claims, and an internal Greens investigation found insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. That same investigation heard false allegations Ms Buckland was a ‘promiscuous intravenous drug user’.

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It also follows last week’s resignation of Labor leader Luke Foley, over allegations he sexually assaulted ABC journalist Ashleigh Raper in December 2016, at a parliamentary Christmas Party.

Mr Foley resigned within hours of Ms Raper issuing a statement on the matter, mounting pressure on the Greens NSW to deal with the growing internal and external anger at how it handled the allegations around Mr Buckingham.

Greens NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham and former NSW Labor leader Luke Foley.

Since the allegations broke on ABC’s 7:30 program in early August, Mr Buckingham has commenced defamation proceedings against several party and former party members, and threatened legal action against at least another half dozen people or organisations. Ms Buckland also received legal threats from Mr Buckingham.

A short time ago, Ms Leong and Senator Faruqi issued this statement on their Facebook pages.

“The culture of sexism, sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances in society in general and in politics in particular must change. Survivors must be listened to and believed. No more excuses. No more delay.

It is vital that members of the community have confidence that our elected representatives stand up for, and embody, these principles.

Today we are calling on Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham MLC to step aside and not contest the next election. This is in the best interests of the complainant, members, supporters and volunteers.

We are both very proud of our collective progressive movement – the Greens and its wonderful members and supporters. But at the moment, both this project and the people who are part of it are suffering.

We share the concerns of survivors and members about sexual harassment. The community has the right to expect that elected representatives about whom a sexual harassment complaint has been made will respond respectfully, and in ways that do not leave survivors feeling let down and unsupported, or cause hurt or harm.

Survivors are feeling let down and unsupported, and hurt and harm has been caused while members and staff work their way through a process under pressure and in difficult circumstances.

We both feel strongly that for this project to move forward with the momentum it deserves a few changes need to be made urgently. We have made this decision as independent women and have not taken it lightly. Our actions seek to rise above internal political divisions. These matters are simply too important.

We commit to continue working both inside our own party and in parliament to ensure that women who come forward and share their very distressing and sometimes traumatic experiences are supported fairly and sensitively.

We know that office bearers and members have worked hard to put in place some of these mechanisms and strengthen our complaints handling procedures but more can and should continue to be done. At the end of the day, we must have zero tolerance for such behaviour.

Both of us know the impact that discrimination, harassment and intimidation can cause. We will continue to do everything we can to make sure our party is a safe place for everyone.

We want our party to be a shining example of eliminating any sort of bullying, intimidating or harassing behaviour, and if the unfortunate need arises we should have the best practice anti-harassment policies and practices.”

In a joint letter by Ms Leong and Senator Faruqi, circulated to party members earlier this morning, a copy of which has been obtained by New Matilda, they outlined their motivations behind the call for Mr Buckingham to stand down, urging party members not to dismiss it as ‘factional politics’.

“We are writing to let you know that we have informed our fellow NSW Greens and Federal Greens MPS that we plan to issue a joint statement via our Facebook at 12:30pm today calling for Jeremy Buckingham to step aside and not contest the next election.

We urged Jeremy to step aside before this point and also urged our NSW Greens MP colleagues to support us (please note that Jamie Parker is not in parliament today due to him having a brand new baby!)

Please know that we have made this decision as independent women and we have not made this decision lightly.

We urge you all to respect that we are acting on our own decisions – and not dismiss our actions as pawns in a damaging and tiresome factional personality battle. We are as sick of that as so many of you are.

We ask that you read our statement and listen to our words. We ask that you take them in good faith.

We respect that some members would prefer us not air internal matters publicly, and we also respect that others wanted us to speak out much earlier.

MORE TO COME

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Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. Chris has won a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards for his reporting. He lives in Brisbane and splits his time between Stradbroke Island, where New Matilda is based, and the mainland.

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