Issues: 2013 contest for Fisher; LNP conspiracy
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be here at beautiful Alexandra Headland on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, and I’m here with Bill Gissane, the Labor candidate for Fisher at next year’s 2013 federal election.
Today is an opportunity for us to begin what will be a concerted campaign with Bill, with many regular visits to the Sunshine Coast by senior members of the Federal Government.
It’s our view that the Coalition have taken this area for granted, and nowhere can that be seen more than the fact that they remain of the view that Mal Brough is an appropriate candidate for the LNP at the next election.
I read with interest over the last couple of days articles by people like Phil Coorey and Malcolm Farr, respected journalists in the Canberra press gallery from both the Murdoch stable and the Fairfax stable. They both talked about the cricket match a few years ago where Mal Brough was given out by the umpire but refused to accept the umpire’s decision and refused to walk. When eventually he did leave, he threw a tanty, threw his bat and ball literally, and went home and disappeared for a number of hours.
This is typical of a bloke who thinks that he has a right to rule. This is typical of the arrogance which saw him lose the seat of Longman which he had previously held as part of the Howard Government.
Now, we also saw an umpire’s decision last week. Justice Rares has delivered an absolutely damning indictment of Mal Brough and his involvement in a conspiracy – a conspiracy that was prepared to use the issue of sexual harassment and treat it as a plaything in order to have an abuse of the court processes. The judge has determined to dismiss this as an abuse of process because it would bring the legal system into disrepute.
Justice Rares outlined in great detail the way in which Mal Brough was engaged in an entirely inappropriate way, not just to try and disadvantage the current Member for Fisher and then Speaker of the House of Representatives, but to try and alter the make-up of the House of Representatives and change the Government. It went to motives, which the judge of the Federal Court found were simply not fair dinkum.
And Mal Brough since then, of course, has had not that much to say. But we know that when Mal Brough was asked by Samantha Maiden what was his involvement with James Ashby and Karen Doane, and others, in bringing this court case forward, he said that it was “nonsense” that he was involved. He said that the journalist was “going up a dry gully”, to quote Mal Brough, as told by Samantha Maiden, another well respected journalist from the federal press gallery and reporter for The Sunday Telegraph.
So Mal Brough tried to hide his involvement. Not only was he involved in discussions with Mr Ashby, he was involved in encouraging Mr Ashby to steal copies of Mr Slipper’s diaries – he was up to his neck in it.
For Mal Brough it’s about him. It’s actually not about making a difference to people’s lives.
Bill Gissane is about running for Parliament.
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BILL GISSANE: [break in audio]
…in the court decision. Where were the interest of the people of Fisher being talked about? When do we talk about the hospital? When do we talk about the needs of people here who are in the tourism business who are suffering? Where are the small businesses being protected?
I want to make a clear distinction between what’s happening with the LNP’s candidate, Mr Brough, and what I offer, which is a better way; a better way that’s going to involve people, talk to them, understand their needs and then put it to any forum – federal, state, local – to make sure that their needs are heard and they get some real representation at last.
BILL GISSANE: The Labor Party has some areas that I absolutely support. After talking to people around the traps here, they are telling us that they want representation with health, that they like the idea of the NDIS. I’ve met a number of parents who are worried about their disabled children not being cared for in the future. They are really welcoming that sort of focus. That’s one area that I’m particularly interested in. Support for the Sunshine Coast University and education is another clear area. And, in particular, small business and its lack of representation is what’s worrying and concerning, particularly as I’m a small businessperson myself.
QUESTION: So are there any specific policies you’ve got, dot points? I mean, they’re all [indistinct] areas.
BILL GISSANE: They certainly are and we’ll be working – we’ve got a long way to go before the election and I’ll be doing something that hasn’t happened here for a long time and that is listening to people and actually putting answers to them that reflect their needs.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Can I add that today we’ve seen the announcement of $790 million – joint funding between us and the State Government – for Cooroy to Curra Section A of the Bruce Highway. We’re seeing on the ground practical, real investment in infrastructure which will benefit the residents of the Sunshine Coast and of this part of regional Queensland.
That’s real and it follows on from today’s opening of Section B. This is a project that has created 650 direct jobs and 1000 indirect jobs. Section A will create jobs directly and indirect jobs through contractors and suppliers. This economic activity will occur as a result investment by the Federal Government and the State Government. You compare our investment; $3.1 billion now into the Bruce Highway, compared with $1.3 billion from the former government over 12 years. And that’s in spite of the fact that the National Party held the transport portfolio for that entire time. Warren Truss, the local member, who described the Cooroy to Curra section as the worst section of road in Australia, didn’t do anything about it.
We’ve provided the funding. We had the first sod turned. We’ve had the opening today of Section B. We’ve now provided the funding so that construction can commence on Section A.
That’s the difference between Labor federally and the Coalition. The Coalition, the LNP, have taken communities in Queensland for granted. And, even when they’ve had the transport portfolio over a road in the local seat of the Transport Minister, progress wasn’t made. I think that stark contrast and our delivery of real solutions is indeed a better way for regional Queensland.
QUESTION: Do you think that people of Fisher would support Mal Brough for trying to work against Peter Slipper?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Mal Brough’s engagement here goes well beyond a dispute between him and Peter Slipper. It goes to how seriously someone takes the issue of sexual harassment. It goes to how seriously people respect the role of the court. It goes to whether someone has the integrity to when asked a direct question -“were you involved? – to fess up to that involvement. It goes to whether someone respects democratic outcomes. It goes to a character issue of Mr Brough.
Can you name five of the main issues [indistinct]?
BILL GISSANE: The big issues are, number one, cost of living. Everyone is concerned about how they’re going to make ends meet. There’s also issues to do with the NDIS. There’s a small but critical area of people who are struggling looking after their disabled children. Education is an issue. I also point out something that the Sunshine Coast Business Council revealed which is we have a flight of people away from this area, particularly young families, who cannot find work. We’ve got to do something about that. We’ve got to get support for our business sector so we can get people back to work and make the region prosperous again because at the moment we’re not anywhere near where we should be in terms of regional competitiveness with the rest of Queensland.
QUESTION: Have either of you spoken with Peter Slipper since last week’s court hearing?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, I have.
QUESTION: And do you know if he’ll run again as an Independent?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t know. That’s a decision for Mr Slipper. I’ll be supporting ALP candidates in every seat around the country.
QUESTION: What did you say in you conversation with him?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It was a private conversation between two people. I’ve been concerned – as has the Prime Minister, I noticed expressed it recently – for Mr Slipper’s health. He’s been under enormous pressure, enormous pressure, as a result of people, as the judge outlines, putting forward allegations that were made in the newspapers, then withdrawn but after they’d already been reported. So people have made what the judge has called scandalous allegations and they were made using the court process in a way that is entirely inappropriate.
QUESTION: How is Mr Slipper holding up?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Mr Slipper, when I spoke to him, was certainly relieved as to the result, as you would expect, of Justice Rares’ decision, which was comprehensive and very strong.
QUESTION: Do you think Mr Slipper is completely innocent of all the allegations?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: The judge went through the allegations that were made. The judge has made a decision to throw this out on the basis of it being an abuse of process, and has made that decision very, very clear and emphatically in what is a damning judgement for those associated with this abuse of process, whether it be Mr Ashby, whether it be Mr Ashby’s PR agent or the army of lawyers. I mean, there are still many questions to answer here. Who paid for the army of lawyers, PR consultants, and everyone else who was engaged in what the judge has found involved a combination of people, which is legalese for a conspiracy, determined to change the make-up of the House of Representatives which is a democratically elected body and the foundation of our democracy.
QUESTION: That cricket article you were referring to earlier about Mal Brough, they also say that you’re using this – Judge Rares’ findings the same way the AWU was being used by the LNP. Is that right? Do you agree with that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: I don’t know that that’s what the articles say. But certainly it is the case that what you have here is a finding by a Federal Court. This isn’t speculation from some shonky character brought back from overseas about something that happened almost two decades ago. This is a finding of a judge about contemporary events in real time out there for all to see. The judge is condemning of Mal Brough’s involvement in this. I believe that Mal Brough’s position is simply untenable, and he should accept the umpire’s decision, take a walk. Or option B, his captain, Tony Abbott, must dismiss him as the LNP candidate.
Thanks very much.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.