April 29, 2008 / 9:52 AM / 9 years ago

Australian politician admits sniffing woman's chair

SYDNEY, April 29 (Reuters Life!) - An Australian politician broke down in tears on Tuesday as he admitted at a news conference that he sniffed the chair of a female colleague.

Western Australia's state opposition leader, Troy Buswell, confirmed a newspaper report of the 2005 incident, but said he would not stand down as state Liberal party leader, a position he took up three months ago.

"These are difficult issues for me to deal with and they are very difficult issues for my family to deal with," said 42-year-old Buswell.

"It's hard dealing with these matters and having to face up to your responsibilities behaviorally, publicly, and it's harder to do it privately."

An unnamed woman told the West Australian newspaper that Buswell started sniffing her chair after she had been sitting in it in his parliament office in December 2005.

She said Buswell did it to get a laugh, that the incident took place in front of other staff members, and that she told him she was shocked and outraged.

Local media said Buswell has previously admitted to snapping a Labor party staff member's bra as a drunken party trick and has been accused of sexist remarks by a retiring Liberal politician.

The deputy Liberal leader, Kim Hames, said he stood by Buswell, describing him as a "rough diamond with a robust sense of humor," but adding he needed to change his behavior.

Hames also said there was no one to replace Buswell.

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