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Federal

Dec 12, 2012

Brough justice: Mal can't slip the net on Slipper campaign

What if the standards invoked by the opposition in regards to Julia Gillard were applied to themselves? Surely they would not let Brough, who a judge has found was a willing party to an abuse of process, continue as its preselected candidate for Fisher.

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The judgment of Justice Rares in dismissing the s-xual harassment case of James Ashby against former speaker Peter Slipper is profoundly damaging for Mal Brough, former Howard government minister and preselected Liberal-National Party candidate for Slipper’s seat.

Brough, along with Ashby and Karen Doane, has been found to have been part of a “combination” to bring proceedings determined to have been “an abuse of the process of the Court”, one designed “for the predominant purpose of causing significant public, reputational and political damage to Mr Slipper”.

Another LNP member who does not emerge from this matter with his reputation particularly enhanced is shadow attorney-general George Brandis. It is Brandis who in October insulted government officials and claimed a Commonwealth attempt to have Ashby’s case struck out was motivated by politics and was “plainly preposterous”.

Justice Rares, clearly, disagrees.

There’s been much discussion of accountability for politicians involved in legal matters of late. Brandis himself used the protection of parliamentary privilege to call Julia Gillard a “crook” — a claim he refused to repeat outside the Senate — and insist she had broken the law 20 years ago. The Opposition Leader has variously advanced and retracted similar claims. Christopher Pyne, a man with some involvement in the Ashby case, demanded the Prime Minister resign.

What if the standards invoked by the opposition in regards to Julia Gillard were applied to themselves? Even the most serious claims made against Gillard by the febrile minds at The Australian and within the opposition are trivial compared to what a judge has found to be the case about Brough: that he was a willing party to bringing litigation that was an abuse of process — not 20 years ago, but earlier this year.

And abuse of process in an area where not merely the legal system but Australian society still remains painfully ambivalent — the right of people to workplaces free of harassment, s-xual or otherwise.

By even a pale shadow of the accountability demanded by the opposition in recent weeks, Brough cannot continue as its preselected candidate for Fisher.

As for George Brandis, his habit of declaiming, he appears to think ex cathedra, on any legal issue it is in the Coalition’s interests to pursue, raises real doubts about his suitability to be attorney-general in a Coalition government.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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17 comments

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17 thoughts on “Brough justice: Mal can’t slip the net on Slipper campaign

  1. bernard nothing will be done about brough mark my words, there are 2 sets of rules in this country one for the rich powerfull right wing born to rule elite, of which the liberal party are there lackeys and servants, and one for every body else who does not share there views or belong to there club

    witness what has been said about julia gillard and her involvement with setting up the so called slush fund and the SLUSH fund that abbott set up a few years ago to get rid of pauline hansen, and the fact that he probably lied and broke the law with the answers to the austrlian electoral commision when asked about it

    none of the major news organistations will chase up this story, even crikey, margo kingston could not even get the article that she wrote about it many years ago republished on the abc site the drum

    since the last election when julia managed to hold on to power with the aid of the independants the abbott and his lackeys have behaved in the same way as malcom fraser did when he conspired with kerr for gough whitlams dismissial

    what is driving there anger lies and vitriol more and more is the fact that julia gillard is still pm

  2. Why wont there be a forensic investigation by the MSM into the Brandis, Brough, Murdoch, LNP confection connection? Oh I see…….. they are the mob who are in trouble for lying in the first place.
    I wonder if the press gallery will fill the national press with days and days of baseless, factless, rubbish until guilt is inferred and justice demanded for the unproven but obviously guilty? No?

  3. Now that Brough is showing some tarnish he should consider a career outside politics – perhaps the gig as backup host for 7.30 whilst Leigh Sales is on the Christmas break.

    The stench of questionable behaviour certainly hasn’t stymied the post-politics career of Liberal Party heavy and former Howard minister, Peter Reith. A mobile phone bill of $50K and an egregious and controversial ‘children overboard’ chapter qualified him for a role as commentator on our national broadcaster’s ‘The Drum’. Oz taxpayers are still funding him.

  4. In that case Jeremy, the electorate of Fisher must be full of people with questionable morals/ethics, or those with only half a brain!
    I cannot believe that the voters seem to have swallowed the cr+p put about by the Coalition on the PM, but still see the LNP as “lily white”. Defies the imagination!!

  5. We need to coin a new term called the Reverse Brandis Ratio. Whenever the Shadow Attorney General ponderously propounds on the legalities of any particularly issues – the ultimate outcome and dispositive legal rule shall be precisely opposite to his prior pronouncement. This rule equally true for administrative law, constitutional law, statutory interpretation and general torts.

    Unbelievable that Peter Martin picked this clown in his dream cabinet as AG.

  6. ‘Brough, along with Ashby and Karen Doane, has been found to have been part of a “combination” to bring proceedings determined to have been “an abuse of the process of the Court”, ‘

    That sounds to my non-lawyer self as a civil equivalent of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    ‘In that case Jeremy, the electorate of Fisher must be full of people with questionable morals/ethics, or those with only half a brain!’

    They’re Queenslanders – the bunch whose government has just voted against fluoridation under local pressure!

  7. Will; we apply that same theory to all msm publications; if they say one thing. you know the opposite to what has been said contains more facts, is closer to the truth, and may reflect the original intention of the source. The Terracrap in nsw immediately becomes more than rough comic toilet paper.

  8. Bernard, to be fair to Mal Brough, while his purpose and that of many others was to damage Slipper and the government and ensure Slipper lost his seat, he almost certainly thought that the court would not find Ashby’s application was an abuse of process because, as Justice Rares notes, it is important that possibly genuine victims of harassment be given a ready hearing and that every effort is made to ensure that their case can be put without fear of retribution.

    But yes, if only the same standards were applied to Abbott and Co. Of course, the MSM has to be fair to them.

  9. Pathological hatred festers in the hearts of many on right of politics. Hatred of Julia Gillard, who using womanly wiles won the approval of the independents; hatred of the disposed, who illegally approach our shores; hatred of unions defending the rights of workers;the list goes on and displays both illogicality, xenophobia and bigotry.
    But it will it stop the Coalition from being elected? Most unlikely, but it is a sad condemnation of opinion in Australia.

  10. Did the judge in Ashby’s case actually hear Brough or counsel representing him before saying highly derogatory things about him? If so, isn’t that a serious scandal?

  11. CML, PEDANTIC: So long as the MSM continue to be the exclusive preserve of the Coalition; so long will the public believe every lie and half-truth put out by Rupert Murdoch’s minions, and to a lesser extent, Fairfax.

    Even if George Brandis, Mal Brough, James Ashby, Tony Abbott, and all the R/W hoons of the Opposition were to offer a genuine apology, it would appear along with the wanted ads.

    No wonder the internet is killing the printed media.