THE state opposition has accused Waverley Liberal MP Michael Gidley of an “outrageous abuse” of office after a confrontation over the distribution of protest leaflets at Parliament station last Wednesday morning.
Mr Gidley later denied he acted inappropriately but apologised for any offence given.
The incident involved Mr Gidley and two Labor volunteers from opposition spokeswoman for public transport Fiona Richardson’s office. They were handing out leaflets attacking the government’s public transport investment.
During Wednesday’s sitting of parliament, Ms Richardson attacked Mr Gidley, saying he targeted a female volunteer, demanded her name, contact details, details of where she worked, and said she had to comply because he was a member of parliament.
Ms Richardson declared it an abuse of power. “This is an outrageous abuse of his office, an outrageous abuse of power and may even be unlawful,” she said. “He did this by standing a mere foot away from her.
“He then started filming her, following her around the station exit, continuing his tirade and intimidatory tactics.”
In a statement, Mr Gidley provided a different account, stating he acted appropriately at all times. He said that after receiving a pamphlet from one of the volunteers when getting off the train, he approached station staff to see if they were allowed to hand the leaflets out.
“[They] advised me that it was inappropriate for the information to be distributed in the station precinct,” he said.
He said he asked the two volunteers to identify themselves, and both refused to do so.
“After identifying myself as a member of parliament, I again asked these people for their names, which they again declined to provide.
“As I was concerned at the information being distributed, and the way commuters were being approached by these people who had refused to provide their names, I attempted to photograph their faces.
“While attempting to do this, the people did everything they could to shield their appearance and conceal their identities.
“During my conversation with these people I did not raise my voice or behave in any inappropriate manner.
“While I remain concerned at the inappropriate distribution of material, I apologise for any offence.”