Mar 27, 2012

Trasncript of interview with Marius Benson – Newsradio

Issues: Peter Slipper

MARIUS BENSON:  Anthony Albanese, Peter Slipper last night released material relating to his travel with Cabcharge documents and so on, do those dockets clear him of the charges?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well clearly they show that the allegations that had been made, that he handed over blank Cabcharge dockets to a hire car driver on particular dates, are simply not correct.

The Cabcharge dockets that were released last night gave a range of dates over that period.  There are 13 of them.  Clearly they have been filled in, in terms of the details, such as city to the airport, with the amounts, including writing in the dollar amounts as well as in numerals the dollar amounts, and the date, in the same hand writing of Mr Slipper.

MARIUS BENSON:   So in your mind, does that clear Peter Slipper?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well certainly what that does is show that the criminal allegation is a fabrication.  It’s just not correct.   When you’re confronted by the facts, you have to determine that that is the case.

MARIUS BENSON: Although I saw in the Sydney Morning Herald, they’re reporting these dockets released by Peter Slipper relate to only two of three days that were the subject of the allegations against him.

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  That’s correct.  That’s because the Cabcharge dockets aren’t available from the Department of Finance and Administration.  There’s sometimes a delay in terms of processing of such documents.  But what’s very clear is that Mr Slipper’s statement at the time of the allegations, that they weren’t true, that he always filled in his own Cabcharge dockets in accordance with entitlements and in accordance with what he was supposed to do, is correct.

MARIUS BENSON: The Prime Minister has said several times that if the criminal charges relating to Cabcharges are cleared, Peter Slipper should return as Speaker.  Is that the Government’s view?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  It certainly is the Government’s view that you can’t have a situation whereby people are held to account because of civil proceedings.

MARIUS BENSON: So is it now the Government’s intention that Peter Slipper return as Speaker in time for the budget in what, a week and a half?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, those issues are of course a matter for Mr Slipper.  We see though that there is no impediment if the criminal matters are dealt with.

MARIUS BENSON: When you say there’s no impediment to him returning, three Independents on whose vote you depend, say that the other civil matters regarding sexual harassment, need to be resolved before he does return, will you put it to a vote in the House of Representatives, even in the face of possible defeat, with those three Independents not backing you?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s not up to me to put it to a vote, or the Government to put it to a vote.  I note that the Independents will examine these issues and determine their own view.

MARIUS BENSON: Mr Albanese, given the views that were expressed about Peter Slipper, the information that was around about him, was it a mistake to do the deal with him, to put him in the Speaker’s chair?

ANTHONY ALBANESE: I’ll make two points on that, Marius.

The first is that he has done a very good job, and has been an effective Speaker.

But there’s a second point to make here, which is that rumours go around Parliament House all the time, and there’ll be a few nervous MPs if we’re going to regard rumours about relationships with staff, or other inappropriate activities that are allegedly happening, as fact.

The fact is that rumours go around Parliament House all the time, including about inappropriate relationships or about behaviour.  What we shouldn’t have is a presumption that they are correct, and a belief that everything that goes around is true.

MARIUS BENSON: So just to clarify, if Peter Slipper decides to return as Speaker on Budget Day and a vote were called of confidence, the Government would back Peter Slipper as Speaker?

ANTHONY ALBANESE:  Well certainly it’s the case that the Government would support anyone in a situation whereby there were simply civil proceedings against them maintaining their position.

MARIUS BENSON: Anthony Albanese, I’ll leave it there.  Thank you very much.