MARCH 1: Kevin Rudd’s three meetings with disgraced former West Australian Premier Brian Burke in 2005 hit the national headlines and parliamentary question time. Prime Minister John Howard says that by going to dinner with Burke, Mr Rudd has put himself in the position where he could owe Burke something which was not yet fully explained. Treasurer Peter Costello attacks Rudd in parliament and lays down the future rule of law re anyone’s brush with Burke.
Main Mud Slinger: John Howard
Mud: “Mr Rudd has got to come clean with the Australian people. Mr Rudd has got to give a proper account of the way in which he appears to have put himself in debt to Mr Burke in relation to favour and influence.”
Main Mud Slinger: Peter Costello
Mud: “Anyone who deals with Mr Brian Burke is morally and politically compromised.”
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MARCH 3: Human Services minister Ian Campbell resigns from Cabinet over his 2006 meeting with disgraced former WA premier Brian Burke. Campbell admits to a 20-minute meeting in his Perth office with the WA Turf Club to discuss a proposal for an indigenous cultural centre, which Brian Burke attended. Campbell says his resignation is in the Government’s best interests but says his dealings with Mr Burke were not like those of Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.
Main Mud Slinger: Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek
Mud: “People will always see John Howard as a clever politician, but I think they expect a bit more from their prime minister than someone who’s prepared to act in such a short-term political fashion.”
MARCH 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Keating speaks out in support of Kevin Rudd, who’s under increasing pressure from the Government over his three meetings with Mr Burke.
Main Mud Slinger: Paul Keating
Mud: “The little desiccated coconut is under pressure and he is attacking anything he can get his hands on…”
MARCH 5: Deputy Labor Leader Julia Gillard challenges Howard to call an early election on integrity.
Mudslinger: Deputy Labor Leader Julia Gillard.
Mud: “He’s using his office as prime minister to be a very clever politician but is not using his office of prime minister in the interests of the nation and where we are going to be as a country ten years from now.”
MARCH 9: Shadow Attorney-General Kelvin Thomson resigns from his position after it’s revealed that he provided a reference to convicted drug trafficker Tony Mokbel in 2000. Coalition ministers attack Thomson as “grubby” and accuse Kevin Rudd of poor judgement in appointing him as shadow A-G.
Main Mud Slinger: Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer
Mud: “I’ve always thought Kelvin Thomson was a pretty grubby sort of character…He’s one of those people who is quite happy to make all sorts of pretty base allegations against people in the Government.”
MARCH 12: Minister for Ageing Senator Santo Santoro admits to a technical breach of the ministerial code of conduct after failing to declare his ownership of shares in the biotechnology company, CBio. The Senator admits to paying $6,000 for the shares in 2005 and doubling his money after selling them. Santoro says he donated the profit of $6,000 to a charity. Howard refuses to take action against Santoro. Labor accuses Santoro of not declaring a potential conflict of interest and accuses the Prime Minister of not adhering to the Ministerial Code of Conduct having pulled it “out of the bottom just the other day, to use as a basis for sacking Ian Campbell.”
Main Mud slinger: Queensland Premier Peter Beattie
Mud: “The Liberal Party is involved in the shonkiest arrangements of all time. Is it any wonder that the Australian Electoral Commission … is making an assessment of various matters within the Liberal Party?…The reality is that the once proud Liberal Party is as corrupt as is humanly possible.”
MARCH 13: The government begins to question Kevin Rudd’s version of events surrounding his retelling of his family’s eviction from their farm and the death of his father as an 11 year old. Piers Akerman introduces the line in a column “Childhood memories need scrutiny”: “the official coronial record makes it clear that Bert Rudd was involved in a single car accident in late December, 1968, after spending an afternoon playing bowls and drinking beers and whiskies and a dinner at which he had more beers before he attempted to drive the 120km home.” Health Minister Tony Abbott questions the accuracy of Rudd’s story in a column in The SMH and Vocational and Further Education Minister Andrew Robb refers to Rudd as “the pretender.”
Main Mud Slinger: Tony Abbott
Mud: “As well as the slippery way he handled the Burke business, the Sunday TV program ten days ago cast doubt on his oft-related account of medical neglect contributing to his father’s death. On Sunday The Sun-Herald questioned the much-told story about eviction from the farm, with the landlord’s daughter claiming that the Rudds were offered up to six months’ free accommodation. Rudd seems convinced of his version of events drawn, no doubt, from family folklore. The problem with his story is that it now sounds too self-serving to be true.”
MARCH 15: The Courier-Mail reveals that John Howard was the guest of honour at a lunch attended by notorious p-rn king Scott Phillips. Howard attended an intimate fundraising lunch with the “violent Brisbane pornographer” in the lead-up to the 2004 federal election. Phillips was facing charges of torture and grievous bodily harm at the time. Labor treasury spokesman Wayne Swan says the lunch highlighted the Prime Minister’s double standards in the political storm surrounding Brian Burke.
Main Mud Slinger: Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan
Mud: “The Prime Minister has got to the absurd situation of criticising the Leader of the Opposition, for which the Leader of the Opposition has given a full explanation. But on this occasion, he appears to have been at a dinner with someone who was convicted of being a violent criminal and a p-rn star. The Prime Minister, once again, has been exposed for his double standards.”