NSW MP takes leave after rape allegation

·3-min read

A senior NSW government figure has accused the state opposition of "politicising" a police investigation after a Labor MP told parliament a government MP raped a sex worker in 2019.

Police Minister David Elliott was asked in Question Time on Thursday when he first heard of the accusations against National MP Michael Johnsen, who maintains his innocence.

"Not long after the member for the Blue Mountains decided to politicise a police investigation...the Police Commissioner called me to advise me that the investigation...was an active investigation," Mr Elliott said.

Labor MP Trish Doyle, who represents the Blue Mountains, on Wednesday evening told parliament under privilege that an MP raped the woman in the Blue Mountains in 2019.

Mr Johnsen issued a statement later that evening, announcing he was taking leave while a police investigation is underway.

NSW Nationals leader, John Barilaro, and Premier Gladys Berejiklian say they did not know about the rape allegation until it was raised in parliament.

Ms Doyle said she was contacted 18 months ago by the sex worker, who told her she had responded to an advertisement placed by a man. She claims he raped her when she did not consent to penetrative sex.

"It is all the worse that this man who raped her is a government member of this chamber ... his power and privileged position as a civic leader make that fear, anger and hurt all the worse," she told the lower house.

On Wednesday night, Mr Johnsen said he had - "without admission" - stepped aside from his role and would not sit in the party rooms.

"I am devastated by these allegations," he said.

"I have voluntarily spoken with NSW Police and I have and will continue to fully co-operate with their inquiries.

"I am confident any investigation will conclude that I am an innocent party."

Opposition Leader Jodi McKay said the woman making the allegations had given permission for her case to be publicly disclosed.

Ms McKay first learned of the allegations 18 months ago, she said on Twitter.

"We made a decision that our job was to support the woman involved, not politicise the allegation. Our job is to create a safe place for women to disclose and allow them to control the outcome," the opposition leader wrote.

Ms McKay said the revelation was another blow to the Berejiklian government, which had become embroiled in "scandal after scandal" during its 10 years in power.

She noted Ms Berejiklian had indicated she would have expected to be informed about the police investigation.

"Why would you disclose any misbehaviour to this government when the premier herself didn't disclose to ICAC what she knew and didn't disclose a relationship with Daryl Maguire," she said.

"She sets the standard."

Ms Berejiklian said in parliament on Thursday she was relieved the matter was being investigated by the police.

The premier earlier said she had no advance warning of the police investigation.

"I joined everybody else in being absolutely shocked at the serious allegations that were raised," she said.

Mr Elliott directed a veiled threat towards the opposition in Question Time.

When a Labor MP yelled "Who else is under investigation?" he responded: "You really want me to talk about that? That's not in your best interest, trust me."

Mr Johnsen was elected to NSW parliament in 2015 in the now-marginal seat of Upper Hunter.

He was appointed parliamentary secretary for agriculture and a member of the committee of parliamentary privilege and ethics in 2019.

NSW Police confirmed they are investigating an allegation of sexual violence against a woman in the Blue Mountains in September 2019.