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Senator Fisher to defend shoplifting charge -

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Senator Mary Jo Fisher from South Australia was charged by police after an incident in a
supermarket on December 15 last year.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: The Federal Government has welcomed Malcolm Turnbull's latest contribution to
the debate over climate change; with the Opposition front bencher saying the science should not be
abandoned and that statements about not pricing carbon until the rest of the world does are
embarrassing.

Also in federal politics, a South Australian Liberal Senator, Mary Jo Fisher, has been charged by
police with what's believed to be a shoplifting offence.

Political correspondent Tom Iggulden reports from Canberra.

TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: Mary Jo Fisher's been one of federal parliament's more entertaining
performers.

MARY JO FISHER, LIBERAL SENATOR (March 02): They jumped to the left and said we'll never have a
carbon tax.

TOM IGGULDEN: But behind the scenes the senator's life's been in turmoil, charged on December 15 on
two counts after an incident at this Adelaide supermarket.

The senator refused to leave her Adelaide home to front the media tonight, but released a statement
confirming she'd been charged.

(Reads statement)

"I reject the charges and will vigorously defend them" she says.

"They are listed for a contested hearing on 1 September, when I will present my defence."

Senior liberal sources have told Lateline the senator has been struggling with depression for
around a year, for which she's been taking medication.

The exact details of the incident that lead to the charges are unclear, but one Liberal source says
the senator changed her medication on the day in question and suffered a panic attack. Tony
Abbott's been aware of the senator's medical condition for several months but it's unclear whether
she told colleagues about the charges laid against her. Another source said the senator's
continuing to struggle with her condition.

News of the senator's legal problems came as the Government charged the Opposition of being split
on climate change.

Malcolm Turnbull's described as "embarrassing" the argument that Australia shouldn't lead China and
India on climate action, arguments a bit like this one.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: The Chinese aren't going ahead with one, the Americans aren't going
ahead with one, the Indians aren't going ahead with one.

You know Malcolm puts things in his own way and he's entitled to do that.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Turnbull's denying that he and Mr Abbott are at loggerheads.

MALCOLM TURNBALL, SHADOW COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: I'm not going to make an admission of that kind
because I can only rely on what is our stated policy. And Tony has repeated it, you know, every day
pretty much, is to cut our emissions by that five per cent mark.

TOM IGGULDEN: But Opposition MPs have told the ABC they're angry with Mr Turnbull's latest
outburst.

One former colleague is telling him publicly to pull his head in.

NICK MINCHIN, FORMER LIBERAL SENATOR: Well, it's important all shadow ministers focus concentrate
on their own portfolios, I think that's a general rule in politics.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Government's making the most of an opportunity to get the opposition on the back
foot.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: It's absolutely clear that within the Coalition there are very
different views about putting a price on carbon.

WAYNE SWAN, TREASURER: Mr Turnbull has got stuck right into Mr Abbott again on the question of
climate change and the science of climate change. Mr Turnbull knows that Mr Abbott is a climate
change sceptic.

TOM IGGULDEN: No wonder some opposition MPs want Malcolm Turnbull sacked from the front bench.

Tom Iggulden, Lateline.