Political pressure is building in Canberra and Sydney for the scalps of Labor’s “golden pair” — John Della Bosca and Belinda Neal. Some senior ALP sources are suggesting that one or both of them will be forced to resign in the next few days to stem the damage from Iguanagate.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and NSW Premier Morris Iemma are furious that the June 6 incident is still making front page headlines.
Meanwhile as Crikey goes to press reports are trickling out about a confrontation between Neal and A Current Affair reporter Ben Fordham.
The SMH is reporting that police have been called to an “angry confrontation” between beleaguered Neal and a current affairs television crew.
Fordham, said he confronted the MP this morning in the car park outside her Gosford electoral office on the NSW Central Coast.
Della Bosca and Neal assured their respective parliaments last month that they would “fully cooperate” with the police investigation into the fracas with staff at the Iguana waterfront restaurant at Gosford. These brief statements were designed to bring a curtain down on the notorious incident but as one NSW backbencher said today: “Things have just got worser and worser.”
Neal is alleged to have assisted some of her staff in compiling their sworn statements which are now part of the police investigation — but she doesn’t appear to be willing to follow the same course herself. It smacks of double standards in which she is virtually saying: “You give statements to the police and be interviewed by them — but I won’t.”
Yesterday, Della Bosca said he would supply the police with a written statement and Iemma appeared ready to accept that amounted to “full cooperation”. But after a media outcry, the premier changed his mind and “ordered” his former education minister and old friend to be interviewed by the police.
The result? Della Bosca looks a reluctant, sad and sorry party to this affair, and Iemma appears a dreadful ditherer… again.
As Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell told a press conference at 11.30am today: “Mr Della Bosca said full co-operation. Full co-operation means fronting up and fully answering all the police questions. He resisted that until ordered to.”
The police dossier on Iguanagate will be sent to the commonwealth and NSW directors of public prosecutions at the end of this week or early next week. A decision on whether any criminal charges should be laid will be taken within two to three weeks.
Della Bosca has been stood down from the Cabinet and he will face indefinite exclusion from the ministry if the DPP finds that he has breached the law.
His wife has been dropped as parliamentary secretary and she will face the loss of ALP membership and pre-selection for the seat of Robertson if charges are brought against her.
To bring the nightmare to an end, she or Della Bosca (or both) might fall on their swords “for the sake of the party”. Senior Rudd and Iemma advisers are working on that solution.