Opposition Leader Luke Foley has insisted he will lead Labor to the New South Wales election, despite a claim he harassed an ABC journalist two years ago.
Mr Foley has denied the allegation, made under parliamentary privilege two weeks ago by Corrective Service Minister David Elliot.
“There is no complaint. All there is, is a smear under parliamentary privilege,” Mr Foley told reporters at the Gymea Tradies Club, according to an audio recording of the press conference.
The claim relates to a press gallery Christmas function at a Martin Place bar in 2016. The journalist in question has not commented, and the ABC last week told the Senate it was investigating.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Foley agreed anybody with an allegation should make a complaint.
“I’m unaware of any such example, and as I keep saying, all we have is a smear by Mr Elliott under parliamentary privilege,” Mr Foley said.
He shrugged off suggestions his colleagues were plotting a leadership spill, saying he was “absolutely confident” he will remain Labor leader.
“And I’m absolutely confident we’ll win the election.”
He described the allegation as a cynical personal attack, stemming from the Liberal Party’s embarrassing loss in the Wagga Wagga by-election earlier this year.
“That won’t dissuade me standing up for working people, for their take-home pay, for their rights, and for the millions of people in NSW for whom life’s got tougher under this government over eight years,” he said, speaking in front of an audience of hospitality workers.
Parliament should not be a “race to the bottom”, he said.
“I don’t think our parliaments ought to be a place of personal smear.”
Mr Foley last week singled out four government MPs during Question Time, in response to the allegation.
“We would welcome such a debate [about harassment] but we would move to amend it to talk about you and you and you and you,” Mr Foley said while pointing at specific coalition MPs.
The NSW state election will be held March 23 next year.