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Director of Public Prosecutions claims there is no evidence to charge Nationals members with offering a bribe to Independent MP, Tony Windsor; Senator calls for him to resign.

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Tuesday 23 November 2004

Director of Public Prosecutions claims there is no evidence to charge Nationals members with offering a bribe to Independent MP, Tony Windsor; Sena tor calls for him to resign


TONY EASTLEY: Police say no charges will be laid against either the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, or National Party Senator, Sandy MacDonald, over the allegations that they were involved in a corrupt offer to the indepe ndent MP, Tony Windsor. The Director of Public Prosecutions says there's no evidence to sustain a charge.  


Tony Windsor's claims have completely destroyed any relationship he had with the National Party. And now Senator Macdonald says Mr Windsor should quit the Federal Parliament for raising the matter in the way he did, and says he will be of little use to his constituents because the Government will be reluctant to deal with the independent MP. 


The Opposition, for its part, says it doesn't intend letting the issue rest. It wants to probe further into the way Mr Anderson made funding decisions for a big horse centre at Tamworth, which Mr Windsor had been involved with. 


Louise Yaxley reports.  


LOUISE YAXLEY: Police have now finished their inquiry into the claim that Mr Anderson and Senator Macdonald asked Tamworth businessman, Greg Maguire, to offer whatever it would take to get Tony Windsor not to run in the election. Mr Windsor says it happened; Mr Maguire told police it did not. 


So the Director of Public Prosecutions says:  


"None of the versions of the conversations related by any of the witnesses can amount to an offer to give or confer a benefit. Further, there is no evidence in this material of Mr Maguire having conspired with any other person to make an offer to Mr Windsor." 


LOUISE YAXLEY: John Anderson say she feels vindicated but he's angry at the way Tony Windsor used Parliamentary Privilege to make his claim before the police inquiry was over. 


JOHN ANDERSON: What really gets me about this was the pre-empting of what I would see as natural justice - the police inquiry should have been allowed to be completed first. Being judged by another politician with an axe to grind is never a pleasant experience. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: John Anderson wants Mr Windsor to explain why he made the claims and why he used Parliament, but Mr Anderson says ultimately Tony Windsor will be judged by his constituents. 


JOHN ANDERSON: Well, I don't see how you could have any confidence in a member who just blackens another person's name… other people's names in that way and then is, if you like, completely repudiated by the responsible authorities for having made that claim. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Senator Sandy Macdonald goes much further and says Tony Windsor should quit Parliament. 


SANDY MACDONALD: But unless Mr Windsor can explain himself, I consider he's unfit to represent the people of New England. I think he's unfit to be a Member of Parliament.  


I cannot think of a worse action to have done at the time that the AFP were carrying out an investigation… to go into the Federal Parliament and to make such terrible allegations about John Anderson, Mr Maguire, and myself, I really think is unforgivable and unforgettable. 


I don't think that he's earned the respect of anybody now, and I don't think the Government will have very much time for him, but that's for the Government to determine.  


I just want my reputation to be restored, and I want an apology, and I want him to think very seriously about whether he's an appropriate person to represent the very fine area of Australia in the Federal Parliament, because I think there's a question about that now. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: If the Government doesn't have much time for him, what will that mean for the people of Tamworth? 


SANDY MACDONALD: Uh well, it's a sad thing for them, I would say. We'll just have to wait and see. I don't think that he's going to have very many ministerial doors open to him now. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: The Labor Leader, Mark Latham, says despite the police inquiry being over, there are still questions about whether Mr Anderson behaved properly when he agreed to a proposal for a national equine centre in Mr Windsor's electorate.  


MARK LATHAM: There is the suggestion that it was made conditional on Tony Windsor getting out of the way. That's not the way to do things. If you're going to fund a project, do it on its merits. So we want to have a look at that.  


That wasn't a criminal matter, a matter for the police, it's more about ministerial standards and ethics, and that's obviously something that the Parliament should be scrutinising. 


TONY EASTLEY: Labor Leader, Mark Latham.