By Ian Neubauer
Federal MP Belinda Neal allegedly threatened to use her influence to revoke the licence of a NSW brasserie and verbally abused staff, employees and witnesses said.
Neal and her husband, NSW Education Minister John Della Bosca, became involved in a verbal altercation with staff at Iguanas Waterfront Bar in Gosford on Friday night after they were asked to change tables, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“I will have your f***ing license… You will not be trading in three months time… Don’t you know who I am,” the newspaper reported Neal as saying to Iguanas operations manager, Jared Golla. It was also reported that Della Bosca pointed his finer in Golla’s face and accused him of serving underage customers and encouraging binge drinking.
Neal and Della Bosca have denied the allegations, saying staff were extremely rude and abusive and that at no stage had they acted in an illegal or improper fashion.
The story gained momentum over the weekend when Iguana general manager, Steve Twichin, retracted his statement and offered an unequivocal apology to Della Bosca.
“I am sorry there was a disagreement at Iguanas Waterfront on Friday night and that you and your wife were not happy with the service,” Twitchin said, adding that the media had “totally distorted the version of events”.
However, a number of staff and witnesses have stood by the original telling of events, claiming Iguana’s had reversed course under threat of legal action.
The Opposition has called for Neal and Della Bosca to be sacked. However, NSW Premier Morris Iemma said disciplinary action would not be taken as there were no allegations of criminal behaviour.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said he was unable to say if Neal’s alleged threats represented an abuse of parliamentary regulations.