The Labor opposition leader in NSW, John Robertson, has quit following the revelation that he wrote a reference letter for Man Haron Monis, the gunman behind the Martin Place siege in Sydney that ended in the deaths of two hostages.
Robertson’s position became untenable after the letter, in which he made a representation on behalf of Monis in a child access case, became public. Monis had an apprehended violence order (AVO) in place against him at the time.
“It has become clear to me that I’ve lost the support of some of my senior colleagues,” Robertson said.
He said that as it was critical for the party to be united ahead of next year’s election, “as life-long Labor man, I’ve decided to step aside as Labor leader,” he said. He said he was “proud of the way labor has led the way of cleaning up politics in NSW”.
Robertson’s deputy, Linda Burney, will act in his role as Labor leader until a ballot is held. The candidates being mentioned are the shadow treasurer, Michael Daley, and the Labor leader in the Upper House, Luke Foley, who would need to find a lower-house seat.
Robertson had failed to gain traction with voters after becoming leader when Labor was routed in the state election in 2011.
The nation was shocked to learn of Monis’ chequered background in the days after the siege, which ended with police storming the Lindt cafe on Martin Place and shooting Monis dead. Two hostages, Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, were killed.
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