In light of a number of “lewd” claims made against him in the past week, Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen officially resigned from the NSW Parliament today.
The local member, who had been caught in a sexting scandal and accused of raping a sex worker, admitted he’d made the tough decision with a “heavy heart”.
Despite the assertions levelled at him, which he strenuously denies, Mr Johnsen believes he served the Upper Hunter well, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of government investment into the region during his tenure.
“It’s been a great privilege to serve the electorate,” he said.
“But, a serious allegation has been made against me via the process of parliamentary privilege and the immediate leaking of my name to the media associating it with the speech.
“It was an action with clear political intent by that member of Parliament and her support team to politically and personally damage me outside of the due process already underway.
“I vehemently deny this allegation, which is devastating, unfair and unfounded.
“And, it has significantly impacted on my mental health and overall wellbeing.
“Given the harassment of some sections of the media, which has gone beyond that which could considered professional, the only way of navigating this situation has been to withdraw from public life.”
Mr Johnsen stated he was an “imperfect human”.
“I own that,” he said.
“I’ll fight the allegation and expect to have my name cleared, as it just didn’t happen.
“However, the needs of the electorate come first and that is the approach I have always taken, often at great personal sacrifice such as the role of a member of parliament demands and many may not fully realise.”
Mr Johnsen also reflected on his time in the role.
“As the representative for Upper Hunter, myself and the community working together have significantly enhanced the electorate with new, upgraded and/or funded yet-to-be-built infrastructure including bypasses, roads, bridges, schools, TAFE NSW campuses, hospitals, sporting facilities and kids’ playgrounds, and improvements to community halls, rural showgrounds, public spaces and arts and culture as well as the delivery of health, education and community services,” he said.
“Together we’ve worked through damaging floods, drought, bushfires, pandemic and all manner of personal issues that many of the constituents in my electorate have faced and sought the help of my office with.
“I am proud and privileged to have been in a position to help, and to improve many of their lives and that of the overall community as a result.
“I pay tribute to my skilled and loyal staff.
“This situation has not been easy for them and I cannot thank them enough for their unwavering support.
“I will sincerely miss working alongside them for the benefit of our shared community.
“I also thank the NSW Nationals members and parliamentary members for the opportunity to have been a part of their dynamic teams whose focus is always on improving the lives of people living, working and investing in rural and regional NSW.
“I sincerely thank the many colleagues, government and business associates and friends that have sent so many messages of support, too.
“This has been extremely humbling and I am forever grateful and thankful.”
Mr Johnsen said his partner and family were his priority now.
“I also thank them for their incredible love and support, without which, at this stressful time, I could not do without,” he stated.
“I will make no further statements and ask that our privacy is respected now and in the future.”
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay was also scheduled to host a media conference in Singleton on 30 March to discuss the situation.