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Opposition claims to have more dirt on Fitzgi -

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Opposition claims to have more dirt on Fitzgibbon

The World Today - Friday, 5 June , 2009 12:10:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: The Prime Minister is contemplating who he'll anoint as the nation's new defence
minister but the Opposition is hinting it's not done yet with Joel Fitzgibbon.

Mr Fitzgibbon resigned as defence minister yesterday after revelations his brother had business
meetings with defence officials in Mr Fitzgibbon's office, breaching the Government's ministerial
code of conduct.

The Opposition is suggesting it might have more dirt on the scandal plagued MP and it's also saying
it won't give up pursuing the Prime Minister and his links to a Brisbane car dealership.

The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull says the Government needs to come clean on dealings between
ministers, officials and the Treasury Department over the government established OzCar finance

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Joel Fitzgibbon didn't go quietly - he lobbed a grenade on his way out.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: It is obvious, and it has been obvious over the course of the last few months at
least, that I have at least two or three Judases in my midst.

And they had the drip on me. They had nothing on me, because there was no evidence, because I
hadn't done anything wrong.

SABRA LANE: Mr Fitzgibbon tendered his resignation as defence minister yesterday after revelations
on Wednesday night that his brother who runs a private health insurance company, met an American
health company boss in Mr Fitzgibbon's ministerial office.

The minister's staff were present at the meeting. That breached the ministerial code of conduct.

Some believe Joel Fitzgibbon was lucky he wasn't asked to quit earlier over belated disclosures to
Parliament about free trips to China and accommodation.

After blaming "Judases" for his demise, Mr Fitzgibbon was asked to name them.

JOEL FITZGIBBON: I think if I knew who they were, I wouldn't be resigning.

SABRA LANE: But the Opposition says Mr Fitzgibbon is still shirking his responsibility.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Mr Fitzgibbon has been sacked because he did the wrong thing. And he should have
been sacked a long time ago.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: It says a lot about the culture of the Labor Party that the finger of blame is
being pointed not at the minister that did the wrong thing, but at people who the minister says
exposed him. He's blaming the whistleblower.

SABRA LANE: And the man who led the charge against the former defence minister, Senator David
Johnston, has told News Radio his source was not in the minister's office.

DAVID JOHNSTON: I have not been relying on anyone within his office talking to me directly. I have
been relying on the assistance of a number of people though that are not within the minister's

SABRA LANE: And the Senator has hinted he's not done yet with Mr Fitzgibbon.

DAVID JOHNSTON: Well there are a few more shots and you'll just have to wait and see what comes

SABRA LANE: The Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy believes the Fitzgibbon scandal will
be short-lived.

STEPHEN CONROY: It's a one day embarrassment. Joel did the right thing; he came to the conclusion
that he needed to resign for the good of the Government and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

SABRA LANE: It's expected the Prime Minister will quickly name a successor to limit the damage from
the Government's first ministerial casualty.

Candidates include the Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen, the former parliamentary secretary for
defence Greg Combet and the Special Minister of State John Faulkner.

Defence analysts say Senator Faulkner, a no-nonsense stickler for the rules, would be their top

Hugh White is the head of the ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and a former senior
Defence Department official.

HUGH WHITE: John Faulkner I think would be an outstanding defence minister. He's served in the
portfolio before under the Keating government. He is very well remembered, very well respected by a
lot of people in the defence portfolio.

And I'm sure he'd be a terrific person for the job, and his manner and style, if I can put it that
way, would certainly suit him very well. He has a certain gravity, which I think is very important
in the job.

SABRA LANE: Alan Behm, an independent adviser on security and risk who's also worked in defence,
told Radio National about his first-hand experience with Senator Faulkner.

ALAN BEHM: Well, I think that there is one outstanding candidate. I mean Senator Faulkner has
dissected me any number of times at Senate Estimates and there's nobody I think who knows the
internal workings of defence better. But the question is whether he's silly enough to take the job.

SABRA LANE: And apparently Senator Faulkner's not too keen to take the job.

As the Prime Minister nuts out his solution to that, he'll also be working on a strategy to counter
Opposition claims that he's pulled strings to help a Brisbane car dealer gain access to a
government trust fund set up to help car dealerships access credit.

Brisbane car dealer John Grant, who's a friend of Mr Rudd's, has donated a ute to the Prime
Minister which is used in his electorate as a "mobile office".

Mr Rudd has denied making representations to the trust fund OzCar and has previously disclosed the
donation to Parliament.

Yet Treasury officials say the fund has received representations from both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan's
offices on behalf of a car dealership.

Malcolm Turnbull says all ministers must now disclose all their dealings with the OzCar trust fund.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: If the Government has got to come clean, it's got to reveal all of the dealings
and communications between ministers and their offices and the Treasury about this OzCar finance

Because if ministers have been using their influence to encourage the Treasury to provide finance
to car dealers, we need to know - the public needs to know - what is the relationship between those
car dealers and those ministers.

PETER CAVE: The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull ending that report from Sabra Lane.