Tasmania’s newly appointed Labor opposition leader has stood down pending the party’s investigation of allegations he sexually harassed a woman more than a decade ago.
The ABC reports David O’Byrne is accused of kissing and sending unwanted text messages to a junior employee while he was head of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union in 2007 and 2008.
“I have read … the media reports concerning a complaint which has been made to the Tasmanian Labor Party secretary which will be the subject of an investigation,” he said on Wednesday.
O’Byrne said he was yet to receive a copy of the complaint but acknowledged his behaviour did “not meet the standards I would expect of myself”.
“I also acknowledge that I have let down my wife and family,” he said.
The woman claims O’Byrne sent her sexually suggestive and unwanted text messages and kissed her twice outside of work without her consent.
“At the time of the reported events I genuinely believed the kiss and text exchanges to be consensual,” O’Byrne said.
“However, I now understand that this was not the case.
“The matter has caused me to reflect deeply on the nature of consent and I have come to appreciate why the person concerned says our interaction was not consensual.
“I have written to her to offer my unreserved apology for the unwanted contact and texts.”
O’Byrne thanked the woman for having the strength to bring the issue to light.
“I will be standing aside as opposition leader for the duration of the investigation into this matter,” he said.
O’Byrne, who was elected Labor leader earlier this month after Labor’s loss at the 1 May state election, did not take questions from the media.