HIS licence is suspended but yesterday Adam Marshall was back on the road determined to do his job around his large electorate in the wake of a scandal that sees him charged with drink-driving.
But the Nationals MP wasn’t behind the wheel as he usually is – his staff drove him instead to a date with a Rural Fire Service presentation and handover in Glen Innes, the same centre where Friday night saw one of the party’s young stars consumed in controversy after a few drinks at the pub.
The 29-year-old, first elected to state Parliament in May last year, faces a charge of mid-range drink driving when he faces court in Glen Innes in two weeks.
Until then, he’s without a licence to drive, an automatic suspension that could ultimately see him off the road for 12 months, if he’s convicted.
Mr Marshall has gone to ground since releasing a media statement on Saturday, admitting he’d been ‘a bloody idiot’ by deciding to drive after meeting some local farmers and constituents at the pub earlier on Friday evening.
Police will allege the 29-year-old blew 0.112 – more than twice the legal limit – when pulled over in Glen Innes about 10.45pm on Friday.
It is believed he was travelling a short distance of a couple of blocks from the pub to a motel where he was staying.
A short, seven paragraph statement hit media inboxes with a clunk on Saturday – and publicly, there’s been nothing since.
It is known that he is devastated at the chain of events – but he is also swearing to continue his parliamentary duties around the electorate in the time between his court appearance on July 15.
Before the events of Friday night unfolded, the MP had declared he’d be in Inverell Monday for a major sporting announcement.
He is still expected there but presumably it will be as a passenger with his staff at the wheel of his car.
Until he fronts court and learns his fate, he is also expected to rely on other family and taxis to get around his electorate.
That won’t be an easy task; he has one of the largest in the state.
Northern Tablelands extends over nearly 45,000 square kilometres – by comparison the Tamworth state electorate is just under 16,500sqkm.
Mr Marshall’s drink-driving charge is not the first by an MP or a political figure, but the fact that one of the party’s rising stars has stumbled is the surprise.
The former Gunnedah mayor and the youngest NSW parliamentarian when elected just on 13 months ago, he’s led something of a charmed political life; hard working, focused on policy and strategy rather than just the politics of his party.
Now, he faces a criminal conviction, even a maximum penalty of imprisonment, at least a fine of 20 penalty units and maybe a few thousand dollars, and automatic loss of licence for 12 months.
Mr Marshall’s statement was the first public acknowledgement of the incident to local media just before 5pm on Saturday.
“Last night in Glen Innes after an evening with locals and friends I was stopped by the Glen Innes police for a mobile random breath test, which subsequently proved positive in the mid-range prescribed concentration of alcohol (PCA),” he said.
“I deeply regret my actions.
“Although I thought I was ok to drive, I wasn’t. I drank and drove – I was a bloody idiot.
“I would like to sincerely apologise to the community, my friends and family for my actions.
“This mistake was of my own doing, and if any good comes from it, I hope it is a clear message to others – if you drink and drive you will get caught.
“This is now a legal matter before the court and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions. I have informed the premier and deputy premier that I will be resigning my positions as temporary speaker of the Legislative Assembly and deputy chair of the State and Regional Development Committee.
“In the meantime, I will continue to work as hard as ever for the people of Northern Tablelands and carry on my work advancing our issues and needs.”
Minutes later, a press release came from Mr Marshall’s party leader, the deputy premier Andrew Stoner.
It was a blunt acknowledgement of the facts and echoed his anger.
“Earlier today, I was informed that the MP for the Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, was last night caught driving under the influence of alcohol,” Mr Stoner said.
“I have since expressed to Adam my disappointment with his actions, and reiterated the high standards that I expect of all our MPs.
“Adam has offered to resign his positions as temporary speaker and the deputy chair of the State and Regional Development Committee, which I have accepted.”
Social media has been vocal in condemnation of the MP’s action and behaviour, including demands he should resign his seat in parliament, but there has also been some sympathy or affinity with other “humans” who have made a stupid call in getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.
He can also expect to be the butt of plenty of jokes and snide comments before he goes to court.
The sentence will also be seen as a test of strength.