Somebody’s lying. That’s the only conclusion to be drawn from an extraordinary interview with sacked NSW minister Matt Brown in this morning’s Daily Telegraph in which the member for Kiama flatly denies he had ever danced in his underwear at a post-budget party at NSW Parliament in 2008.

Brown told the Tele‘s state political reporter Angela Kamper that “it never happened — I never danced in my underpants” — about as unequivocal a slap down as you could get. This adds to Brown’s previous rejection of the allegations shortly after he was sacked by former-Premier Nathan Rees:  “I want to state categorically they are lies, they are not true. They did not happen.”

Curiously, Kamper fails to contrast Brown’s fresh claims with Rees’ comments after Brown’s sacking was announced on September 11. At the time, Rees said that Brown had admitted the allegations in a phone call shortly before the former premier pulled the trigger.

“I subsequently put it to former minister Brown late last night that there were too many reports of you in your underwear for me to ignore.

“He conceded he’d been in his underwear and that gave me no option but to demand his resignation.”

The contents of that call are now hotly disputed. Crikey contacted Brown this morning who confirmed he had spoken to Rees but never specifically admitted to dancing in his jocks.

“I spoke to Nathan but I only confirmed the existence of the rumours. I never said that to anyone, I can understand amid all the media pressure how the sequence of events could be misunderstood,” Brown told Crikey.

On the related issue of whether he “t-tty-f-cked” the member for Wollongong and NSW Right powerbroker Noreen Hay,  Brown reiterated his previous denials.

“That just didn’t happen, and it wouldn’t have happened.”

Asked whether Rees was a liar, Brown suggested to Crikey that we draw our own conclusions. At the time, the then-Premier said he ousted Brown after a flurry of calls to “20 or 30” MPs present at state parliament, some of whom attested to their veracity.

The acrimony between Brown and Rees continues to bubble away more than 18-months after the alleged post-budget shindig, that according to reports featured “Oxford-street style music” as members were preparing for a 1am vote on Frank Sartor’s planning guidelines. When Rees was knifed by Kristina Keneally last year, Brown and fellow Rees casualty Tony Stewart eagerly moved the spill motion.

Brown, who told the media he was depressed for months after the allegations were made public and has battled media reports that routinely refer to him as “Captain Underpants”, said he had avoided revisiting the incident to halt the flow of negative publicity haunting the government. But an expected wipeout in next year’s poll appears to have inspired the 10-year parliamentarian to wipe the slate clean to safeguard his chances in Kiama, which he holds by12%.

The original story, by ex-literary critic Imre Salusinszky, appeared in The Australian just three days after Brown was appointed Police Minister and its source remains murky. Speculation the rumours emanated from the office of planning minister Frank Sartor were strongly denied by Salusinszky at the time in a blizzard of follow-up media appearances. But there is now fresh talk over the role played by ex-Police minister David Campbell’s staffers.

“A couple of days before the incident, Matt Brown suggested he wasn’t going to keep all the staff from David Campbell’s office”, one source told Crikey this morning.

Salusinszky continued to back his story when contacted by Crikey:

“All the claims in my story were put to Matt Brown, in the most explicit terms, on the evening prior to publication. The only element he denied was the lewd remark to Ms Hay’s daughter — and this denial was recorded in the story.

“Mr Rees made his own confidential enquiries, canvassing a number of those at the party, and dismissed Mr Brown.”

Crikey contacted Nathan Rees for comment but were told he was unavailable.

Peter Fray

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