South Australian MP Mark Brindal will quit politics after fallout from a gay affair -“ but is not ruling out a possible lawsuit against media outlets he claims unfairly reported the same-sex relationship.
In August, Brindal withdrew as a Liberal candidate for the next SA state elections after admitting to an affair with 24-year-old Paul Graham earlier this year.
At the time, Brindal did not rule out running as an independent at the election next March.
By last week the 57-year-old had changed his mind.
I wish to advise this house that I will not be seeking election in any capacity at the next election, Brindal told SA parliament last Tuesday.
Brindal, who is married but has said he is bisexual, told Sydney Star Observer this week the wash-up from the revelations about my sexuality was a key factor in his decision.
It isn’t that I particularly mind [that my sexuality is now public], he said.
But the damage was done, I believe, by the media insisting on raising the question of the mental competency of the man concerned.
Graham’s financial affairs are under the control of the SA Guardianship Board.
The man concerned is 24 years old, and he has no guardianship orders at all in respect of his social competency, he said.
Therefore to suggest that -¦ somehow he couldn’t make up his mind is a matter that I think the courts might like to test out.
Brindal has yet to decide what to do when he leaves politics after 16 years.
He believed his private member’s bill put forward earlier this year proposing civil unions for people in non-traditional relationships, including same-sex relationships, would find a sponsor among progressive MPs.
But there was no indication of support from SA’s Labor government.
Labor has already proposed separate legislation to recognise same-sex relationships, but its bill remains before parliament. At present, South Australia is the only state or territory without laws recognising same-sex partners.
A spokesperson for SA gay rights group Let’s Get Equal, Ian Purcell, said Brindal’s departure would be a setback for the community.
He is one of our few supporters who are willing to put their reputations on the line and say what they think, Purcell told the Star.
SA Liberal leader Rob Kerin released a statement praising Brindal’s significant contribution to public life.
He has been a very good local member -¦ and I know he will continue to play an energetic role in parliament and in his electorate until his retirement next March.