A “key” aide to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has resigned, after a picture of him in blackface from a 2007 party has surfaced, in what some are calling a result of factional infighting.
A long-time staffer to the Labor leader, Steven Michelson stood down over the weekend in an announcement that surprised many, claiming the classic “wanting to spend more time with family” spiel, saying in a Facebook post:
After almost six incredible years I’ve decided to hang up my staffer boots to spend more time with my family. Working with Bill Shorten and the entire Labor team has truly been a privilege however the time has come for two little kids to see a bit more of their Dad.
The shock resignation comes after so-called “factional enemies” within the Labor party started internally passing around a ten-year-old photo of Michelson, in full black-face makeup and curly afro wig.
Michelson tells The Australian, he regrets what was a “terrible decision”:
I was young when this photo was taken and made a terrible decision. In the more than 10 years since then I’ve learnt why this type of behaviour is completely inappropriate.
The former aide was supposedly a front-runner for a go at the federal seat of Isaacs in the future, but now says he will only continue to work for Labor and Shorten by helping out with letterbox dropping and manning stalls.