SENTIMENTS at Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen's emailed resignation were precisely the type you hope people don't have about you when you leave the room.
Leader of Mr Johnsen's former party and NSW deputy premier John Barilaro described it as welcome news, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was relieved and Labor leader Jodi McKay declared she was "glad to see the back of him".
Mr Johnsen described his departure as "with a heavy heart".
A police investigation into allegations he raped a sex worker at a Blue Mountains lookout in 2019, a claim he has rigorously denied but which last week prompted him to move to the crossbench, continues.
It was an ABC report about alleged lewd texts, including an invitation for sex at Parliament House, that led to bipartisan opposition to him retaining his seat for another day.
Mr Johnsen simply had to go for parliamentary standards to have any semblance of meaning.
His statement, released on his website yesterday, focused on the rape allegation he vehemently denied.
"I am an imperfect human," Mr Johnsen wrote, deeming it "devastating, unfair and unfounded".
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The need for due process resulted in him retaining his position, if not his party alliance, as police began exploring the sexual assault allegation raised under parliamentary privilege.
Mr Johnsen may be right that its airing had political motivation, but the point is that the behaviours alleged in parliament and later by the ABC report, if true, are unacceptable regardless of affiliation.
Given what has come to light, even where what is alleged has yet to be proven, Mr Johnsen's departure from the halls of power reassures us that there are consequences for such behaviour in modern Australia, as there must be.
A byelection is the natural result, but it appears unlikely to leave NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian in a tenuous position even as her numbers shrink.
Even so, questions abound.
Their answers may carry through to the next general poll.
Will the Nationals pay for the actions of a man who was one of their own until recently?
Mr Johnsen last held the seat by a 2.2 per cent margin, offering ample reason for other parties to eye the seat even beyond recent events. That said, double-digit leads for the Nationals were a fait accompli during George Souris' tenure.
Mr Barilaro was eager to make amends to voters, addressing Upper Hunter constituents directly in confirming Mr Johnsen's resignation.
What comes next is the true question, and only voters can decide.
May they choose wisely.
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