Two Australian scandal-hit ministers resign

Canberra, Dec 29 (IANS) Two scandal-hit Australian members of parliament resigned on Tuesday from their front bench ministerial portfolios.

Liberal MP Mal Brough will stand aside, pending a police investigation, while Jamie Briggs has tendered his resignation, ABC reported.

Briggs has resigned as minister for cities and the built environment following a late-night incident involving a female public servant in a Hong Kong bar during an official overseas visit last month.

“At no point was it my intention to act inappropriately and I’m obliged to note for the record that nothing illegal has been alleged or did in fact occur,” he said in a statement.

“However, in the days following the evening the public servant raised a concern about the appropriateness of my behaviour towards her at the venue.”

“I’ve apologised directly to her but after careful reflection about the concerns she raised and the fact that I was at a bar late at night while on an overseas visit, I have concluded this behaviour has not met the particularly high standards for ministers,” the minister added.

Brough, the special minister of state and minister for defence materiel and science, has been under investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) over the alleged copying of the diary of former speaker Peter Slipper in 2012 at a time when Slipper was embroiled in a sexual harassment case, which was later dropped. Brough denies the charges.

In a statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Brough has “done the right thing” in stepping aside from his ministerial role pending the completion of inquiries by police.

In a letter to the prime minister, Brough said he made the decision because he has not been given any indication when the AFP’s investigation will be concluded.

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