'Ship her back for all I care', says Brogden

SYDNEY - Disgraced NSW Liberal John Brogden said former Labour Premier Bob Carr could "ship his mail-order bride back to where she came from, for all I care", Australian newspapers have reported.

The context of Brogden's racial slur against Malaysian-born Helena Carr was revealed by News Ltd, which also claimed he harassed three women at the function where he made the comments, rather than two.

The state Opposition leader resigned and apologised for the slur and for behaving inappropriately towards two female journalists.

The comments were made, he said, after he had drunk six beers at a Hotels Association function in Sydney on July 29.

News Ltd papers also said Brogden had sexually harassed three women at the function, including the Sunday Telegraph's Justine Ferrari and the Sun-Herald's Angela Cuming.

In an article in the Sun-Herald, Cuming said Brogden didn't seem to realise she was a journalist. Brogden "slipped one arm around the small of my back, leant down and said, 'Are you available?'

She said then Brogden "must have clicked".

"Brogden froze. I wasn't a young girl he might try to chat up. I was a newspaper reporter."

Brogden earlier said that his comments were "absolutely and completely inappropriate".

Opposition transport spokesman Peter Debnam and deputy Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell said yesterday they would run for Brogden's old job.

Liberal Party members were still in shock over Brogden's resignation, Debnam said.

"The rate at which this issue exploded and the speed with which John resigned has left everybody traumatised. There was no feeling that it would lead to an immediate resignation.

"I don't think anybody had a sense that it was about to erupt like a volcano and that John would so quickly make a decision in the interest of the party to resign."

Brogden's resignation came a month after Carr's retirement gave the Liberals hope of victory in the 2007 state elections.

- AAP

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