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Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Page: 9648


Senator LUDWIG (Queensland) (15:14): What is clear from Senator Brandis's contribution to this debate is that it has now moved to a charade, by Senator Brandis, to argue an irrelevancy. This is, fundamentally, not the issue. What is clear from Senator Brandis's contribution is that there is not a word in support of Mr Brough, not a word to defend Mr Brough. What is clear from Senator Brandis's contribution is that he is hell-bent on doing everything to explain his circumstances—that is, Senator Brandis's circumstances—and how he may feel slighted but, in the course of doing that, he has thrown Mr Brough under the bus.

It is now abundantly clear that Mr Brough should do the right thing. Unfortunately for the PM, it does not appear that he will. The result is it now reflects very badly on the PM's judgement in both promoting Mr Brough and by continuing to stand by him, in this circumstance. The jury is not out on this matter. The court of public opinion has found against Mr Brough on this matter. Senator Brandis's poor performance in question time and during take note of answers, today, simply highlights the fact that Senator Brandis's defence of Mr Brough was left wanting. Mr Brough does need to make a full explanation of his role in the Ashby affair. However, it is now apparent that in every turn Mr Brough does not seem capable of making a full account to parliament of the circumstances of his involvement in, what is being called, the Ashby affair.

I will address the broad issue, again, which was raised yesterday and also raised by Mr Dreyfus this morning. His note went on to say that as a consequence of the minister clearly misleading the House of Representatives during question time yesterday, and not taking the opportunity of correcting the record in parliament, despite the House of Representatives sitting until 9.30 pm last night, the minister has failed in his obligation—under clause 5.1 of the Statement of Ministerial Standards—to correct the record as soon as practicable. I know everyone in this place takes that role very seriously. At the first available opportunity, if you think you have misled parliament you should immediately take that opportunity to correct the record. We now have a clear indication from Mr Brough that he had to be—literally, it seems—pushed back into the chamber to make another poor explanation of what his circumstances were.

The Sydney Morning Herald belled the cat in this respect. It states Mr Brough said:

"Yesterday during question time I said: 'In relation to the 60 Minutes interview, what was put to air was not the full question.'

"Mr Speaker, my recollection of the interview was that the question was put to me in a somewhat disjointed manner, and I answered the question without clarifying precisely what part of the question I was responding to.

"This is confirmed by the tape provided by 60 Minutes and that was the reason for my answer yesterday.

"Mr Speaker, I have taken the opportunity to review the tape and transcript, and apologise to the House if my statement yesterday unwittingly added to the confusion rather than clarifying the matter."

It went on to say that this in itself created the confusion.

Mr Brough should make a full explanation rather than use those words. What is really telling in all of this that transpired this morning is that the government's Leader of the House, Mr Christopher Pyne, did not try to defend Mr Brough. Instead, they gagged the debate rather than let it run through. This government has a lot to hide and they ought to encourage Mr Brough to do the right thing—more importantly, do the right thing by this parliament—and make a full explanation. (Time expired)