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"It's a sad day": Phil Donato quits after fallout with leader

December 12, 2022

By Peter Holmes

'It's a sad day," said Orange state MP Phil Donato after he sensationally quit the NSW Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party just months out from the state election, after saying it had been "brought into ... disrepute".

Donato has said he could no longer work with party leader Robert Borsak, following comments made by Borsak about fellow SFF Helen Dalton. Borsak reportedly said that Dalton should be "clocked".

“[I] will continue to represent the good people of the Orange electorate as a true independent,” Donato said.

In March this year Dalton resigned from the SFF to become an independent MP.

A statement from Donato said this was "for reasons which are believed include the way she was treated by the leader of the Shooters Party".

Since Borsak made headlines in September over the Dalton comments, Donato and fellow SFF Roy Butler have been working behind the scenes to get Borsak to resign.

“For 22 years as a police officer I stood up to protect women from threats of violence, intimidation and mistreatment,” Mr Donato said.

“I’m a man of integrity; I will never compromise my principals. I’ll always call out wrong-doing, and stand up for what is right – no matter who it involves.

“Mr Borsak was completely unrepentant about his statement, and when he failed to adequately address the issue, Roy Butler and I laid down the ultimatum – step down from his position or we leave the party to go as independent MPs.

“Mr Borsak refused to step down, so the issue rested with the outcome of the party’s AGM, held at Singleton last Saturday.

“The party chose to circle its wagons around the leader, and when I raised the issue with Mr Borsak’s hand-picked executive team at the AGM, I asked them regarding Mr Borsak’s threatening comment in parliament – do you find Mr Borsak’s comment acceptable behaviour? Following a lengthy pause, a committee member replied that the issue had not been discussed amongst the committee and therefore they had no comment about it.

“The party executive did not address the issue with Mr Borsak, nor did Mr Borsak provide any excuse or apology for his remarks, which, I believe, have brought the party into disrepute; It’s clear that not all Shooters are of the same calibre.

“The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party response to this serious issue was grossly inadequate, and failed to hold Mr Borsak accountable for his inexcusable comments towards a woman and fellow MP, rendering my continued association with a party which promotes prehistoric behaviour completely untenable.

“I will continue to vigorously advocate for the communities of the Orange electorate, always representing them and their best interests. Being independent of a political party now provides me increased political agility and uninhibited negotiating power.

“I will now recontest the 2023 State election as a true independent candidate for the seat of Orange."

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