Should the NSW Labor Party be handing out bromide tablets in state Parliament, or perhaps sending all the honourable members out for a daily jog? At the very least, someone should be drawing up a new consent form for anyone vaguely connected with politics. This morning in Sydney’s Local Court, two politically tangled hearings will no doubt provide fodder for Sydney’s chattering classses.
The first politically related matter heard involved a complicated situation currently tying the NSW ALP up in knots.
Labor staffer Stefanie Jones, 27, has accused NSW Labor general secretary Jamie Clements of pushing her against a wall and trying to kiss her in Parliament House earlier this year, and the police are now investigating. The police have also, on Jones’ behalf, taken out an interim order preventing Clements from contacting her. This morning, the magistrate extended that interim order until August 26, as the police investigation is ongoing.
No charges have been laid, and Clements’ lawyer said in court this morning that any charges would be defended. It’s convoluted: Jones is engaged to be married to one of Clements’ employees, Labor’s state organiser David Latham, and she is the former Labor candidate for the seat of Cronulla. It’s been reported that Jones and Clements, a married father of three, had a brief relationship two years ago. Clements has been reported as saying that this is a stitch-up by his enemies — he is the state convenor of the Labor Right faction — and has taken leave pending a resolution. None of the parties appeared in court.
The second matter involved former NSW premier Nathan Rees, a woman with whom he had a brief relationship in 2013, and a leading reporter at The Daily Telegraph. The Tele, under the byline of newshound and state political reporter Andrew Clennell, produced an “exclusive” in November 2013, in which we learned that Rees, who is married, had “hooked-up” with constituent Fiona Field over a period of five months, meeting up in various locations including his office and local parks. In fact, Field, a single mother of two in her early 40s, had been offering the story around for weeks to various media outlets. Fairfax had passed on running the story, as had other media organisations. The story the Tele ran reported Field had sent threatening texts to Rees after he broke off their relationship, although Field had denied this.
Field and the Tele’s reporter now aren’t speaking to each other — by legal decree. Yesterday afternoon, both Field and Clennell applied for apprehended violence orders against each other*. Neither party attended the court, and the matter was set down for a hearing on October 28. It’s unknown what prompted their applications for AVOs.
*Clarification: this article originally said “both Field and Clennell applied for apprehended violence orders against each other – both orders were granted on an interim basis.” In fact, Field’s AVO has not been granted on an interim basis. Clennell’s AVO against Field was granted on an interim basis on July 22. A spokesman for News Corp Australia told Crikey: “Police applied for an AVO on behalf of Andrew following genuine concerns for the safety of his family. We are confident that the courts will back police concerns.”