The NSW Premier says former minister David Campbell made the “right call” in resigning amid claims he had used a ministerial car to visit a gay sex club.
“David came to me and told me directly that this was a secret he had been carrying for over two decades,” she told journalists.
Ms Keneally said the events had been very distressing for Mr Campbell’s wife and children.
“I think David has made a decision that is right for him and his family,” she said. “He has been living with a secret about his sexuality for over two decades.”
Ms Keneally said the way his secret was revealed was “most devastating”.
No blackmail threats
Ms Keneally said Mr Campbell had told her he had not been subject to any blackmail or intimidation.
“He has clearly and unambiguously said ‘no’,” she said.
The Seven Network on Thursday aired footage of the married Mr Campbell allegedly visiting the self-described intimate sex venue in the city’s east.
According to Seven, the 52-year-old father of two adult sons visited Ken’s at Kensington on Tuesday night for about two hours.
The MP is alleged to have used a taxpayer-funded government car to drive himself to and from the club, after giving his driver the night off.
Less than half an hour before the Seven report was aired, Mr Campbell issued a brief statement saying he had handed his resignation to Ms Keneally.
Revelation ‘a total shock’
Ms Keneally said her thoughts “are most strikingly” with Mr Campbell’s wife and family.
She said “this has been a total shock to all who know David”.
“This is a very human tragedy, it brings with it some very human emotions,” she added.
Ms Keneally said her cabinet was shocked by the revelations and by the manner in which they became public.
She said she and her colleagues were concerned about the effect on Mr Campbell’s wife.
She said Mr Campbell was with his family in Wollongong, on the state’s south coast.
‘Distinguished’ political career
“Human beings have complex and messy lives and sadly sometimes those situations have negative consequences for those around them,” she said.
Ms Keneally said Mr Campbell’s political career had been a distinguished one.
In his statement, Mr Campbell, who was transport and roads minister, said he would remain in parliament as the member for Keira.
Former unionist John Robertson will now take on the portfolio of transport while David Borger adds roads to his portfolio of minister for western Sydney, but drops housing.
Ms Keneally said the events – which had “stunned and shocked” her – raised questions about the media and how the community responded to such revelations.
“What we have here is a unique case… I think it is disappointing, particularly for his wife, the way in which this secret was revealed,” she said.
‘Lack of judgement’
Ms Keneally said ministers are allowed to use their taxpayer-funded ministerial cars for personal use, noting that she used hers to attend church, go the grocery store and her children’s soccer matches.
Even so, she said Mr Campbell had perhaps shown a “lack of judgment”, but stressed he was living with a long-held secret.
Asked if Mr Campbell’s situation would affect the state government’s chances at the election to be held in March 2011, she said: “Every election is winnable and every election is losable”.
“What I do is to… focus on delivering services, like [the new transport ticketing system] MyZone and… delivering new directions for the state,” she said.
In his statement announcing his resignation as minister on Thursday Mr Campbell did not directly address the allegations, citing only “personal reasons”.
“I apologise to my wife, family, colleagues, staff and the community for letting them down,” the statement said.