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Emotion behind Conroy's secret resignation

AAP logoAAP 20/09/2016

Outgoing senator Stephen Conroy insists he secretly quit because he would have been too emotional to get out the words in his resignation speech.

And he's apologised "profusely" to his "dear friend" and deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek - who was blindsided by the resignation at a press conference the following morning.

In his first public appearance since silently tabling his resignation speech during a late night session of parliament on Thursday, Senator Conroy excused his stealth by saying he wouldn't have made it through a public address.

"Many of my colleagues and my closest friends would have taken bets on how far I would have got through the first page before I would have struggled to get it all out," he told Sky News on Tuesday.

"I actually really wanted it to be read as a piece, not with me struggling to get through the pages in a TV shot."

He's amused by media speculation about his shock resignation, including one theory he's running from police over raids on his office over NBN documents.

"You shake your head," he said.

A strong supporter of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Senator Conroy says his leader is disappointed over his departure but sent him off with "fond farewells".

The reason Mr Shorten wasn't afforded a heads up is "he was out of the country".

The opposition leader was on a work trip in Canada and the pair had missed each other repeatedly while trying to get in touch, Senator Conroy explained.

As for Ms Plibersek, he didn't mean to set her up for embarrassment on live television.

The acting leader appeared confused on Friday when asked about Senator Conroy's resignation, which had just broken in the media.

"I am embarrassed about poor Tanya," he said, insisting he didn't know she was holding a press conference.

"I have apologised profusely to my dear friend."

Senator Conroy was recently dumped from his defence portfolio to special minister of state and sport.

He maintains spending more time with his family was his motivation for quitting.

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