LNP stands firm as Roxon in call for Brough to be dumped
ATTORNEY General Nicola Roxon has added her voice to calls for the Liberal National Party to sack Mal Brough as its candidate for the seat of Fisher.
However, late yesterday the LNP rejected the call.
"Mal Brough will provide a strong voice for the people of Fisher in Federal Parliament and help deliver the change of government in Canberra that Australia needs," an LNP statement said.
Mr Brough's name appears several times in the judgment handed down on Wednesday by Steven Rares in the sexual harassment case brought against former parliamentary speaker Peter Slipper by his former staffer James Ashby.
Justice Rares threw out the case on grounds it was an abuse of process.
"The evidence established that Mr Ashby acted in combination with Ms (Karen) Doane and Mr Brough when commencing the proceedings in order to advance the interests of the LNP and Mr Brough," the judgment reads.
Ms Doane also worked for Mr Slipper.
Speaking in Melbourne, Ms Roxon said Justice Rares's scathing judgment was "very embarrassing for the Liberal Party".
And she continued the government's attack on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and shadow attorney general George Brandis.
"Mr Abbott needs to come out now and explain why members of his political party took this action," Ms Roxon said.
"I think he would need to consider whether it's appropriate for Mr Brough to contest the next election.
"He should be calling for an explanation from Mr Brandis for comments that were quite outrageous and clearly not supported by the decision today that were made in Senate estimates and elsewhere."
Senator Brandis was highly critical of the government's decision to reach a $50,000 settlement with Mr Ashby just days before its abuse of process claim was to be heard in the Federal Court.
Mr Ashby was suing the Commonwealth for failing to provide a safe workplace.
Like Parliamentary Secretary Mark Dreyfus earlier, Ms Roxon defended the government's decision to settle the claim.
But she conceded the Commonwealth may have continued with its abuse of process claim had it known Justice Rares's decision.
"We settled our component of this case on legal advice. We complied with model litigant rules," she said.
"Of course it's easy to say with the benefit of hindsight … then maybe people would take different action.
"But what this decision today does is absolutely confirm everything the government said in its application. It found an abuse of process. It found an improper purpose for bring the claim and that is what the Commonwealth alleged, it is what Mr Slipper alleged and it is today what the Federal Court has expressly found."
It was revealed in Senate estimates in October the Commonwealth had spent more than $700,000 in defending the claim brought against it by Mr Ashby.
Ms Roxon said there was almost no chance of Mr Slipper returning to the Speaker's chair.