Senator Ricky Muir’s office has been decimated, following the Motoring Enthusiast Party MP’s sacking of a second staff member in five days.
Canberra-based adviser Peter Breen was fired on Tuesday by the Senator for taking a sick day, leaving only three of six initial staff members.
His sacking comes just days after the firing of ‘preference whisperer’ Glenn Druery, and follows the resignation of Susan Bloodworth, who worked in the Senator’s Melbourne office.
Mr Breen told The New Daily he was sacked for two reasons. The first was taking time off work on Friday of last week to recover from surgery to remove skin cancer from his face.
The second, Mr Breen said, was that he was “indirectly blamed” for the leaking of an incident report he admits was “grossly unfair” to Motoring Enthusiast Party founder Keith Littler.
The incident report, which contained details about a series of clashes between Mr Druery and Mr Littler, could have been leaked by Mr Druery as “payback” for his sacking, according to Mr Breen.
“The fact that the incident report finished up with the media – somehow I was indirectly responsible as the author of it,” Mr Breen said.
“Giving Mr Druery a copy proved to be a serious error of judgement on my part,” he said.
“In fairness to Ricky, it wasn’t an unbiased document, and I should’ve taken more care with it, but you never know where these things are going to finish up. You don’t expect they’re going to finish up in the Sydney Morning Herald.”
I hope he is saying that. I’ll sue him for defamation. That’ll be good.
In an earlier statement, Mr Breen said he regretted that Mr Littler did not have the opportunity to answer the assertions in the report before it was made public. “This was grossly unfair to Mr Littler,” read the statement.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I should have written the incident report in more balanced terms,” Mr Breen said in the statement.
In a statement emailed to The New Daily, Senator Ricky Muir made no mention of the incident report, commenting instead on Mr Breen’s sick day.
“Mr Breen advised he was too ill to work on Friday. He subsequently used Friday to travel to and attend a festival more than 700km from Sydney,” Senator Muir said in the statement.
Mr Breen confirmed to The New Daily that he attended the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival on Friday, but said this was “a spurious reason” for dismissal.
“Well, I did, but I had my head bandaged. I had a black eye and twelve stiches in my forehead, and if it wasn’t for the services of my good wife I wouldn’t have got there.
“I wasn’t well enough to go to work, that’s the real point, and I’d arranged to have two days off,” he said.
When asked if he thought Senator Muir was suggesting the sick day was dishonest, Mr Breen, a former defamation lawyer, replied: “I hope he is saying that. I’ll sue him for defamation. That’ll be good.”
In his statement, Senator Muir described the sacking of two members of his staff as “very upsetting”, and clarified that it was his decision alone.
“I now hope to rebuild my team and focus on the very important work of representing all Victorians and the motoring enthusiast community in the Senate,” Senator Muir said.
Mr Breen had a short stint as an MP in the Morris Iemma Labor government in New South Wales. He was forced to resign from the Labor Party in July 2006, less than three months after joining, because of statements made in his book about the murder and rape of Janine Balding.
Keith Littler was twice contacted by The New Daily, but declined to comment on both occasions.