CANBERRA • Two ministers in Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's government resigned yesterday, with one standing down after a female public servant complained about his behaviour in a Hong Kong bar during a recent official visit.
Mr Jamie Briggs said he was resigning as Minister for Cities and the Built Environment after the unnamed woman raised concerns about his "inappropriate" behaviour towards her at a "popular and as it transpired very crowded bar" last month.
Speaking in his hometown of Adelaide yesterday, Mr Briggs said he had invited the woman and several other officials out to a private dinner. He said he believed the evening was an "informal" occasion but, in the days after, the public servant made a complaint.
"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," Mr Briggs, 38, told reporters. It was "an error of professional judgment", he said, refusing to comment on the specific nature of the incident or to name the bar.
The Adelaide Advertiser said it understood the woman had been told by Mr Briggs she had "piercing eyes", and that he put his arm around her and later kissed her on the cheek as they left.
Just minutes after Mr Briggs' announcement, Mr Turnbull said in a statement that Special Minister of State Mal Brough was standing aside while police investigate his role in the downfall of former Speaker Peter Slipper. Mr Brough, who lost the seat of Longman in 2007, re-entered Parliament by defeating Mr Slipper in the seat of Fisher in 2013.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS