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Demands for Malcolm Turnbull to front up over Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough

Labor is demanding Malcolm Turnbull explain to the public why he waited so long to force the departure of Mal Brough from the frontbench, timing the announcement just minutes after junior minister Jamie Briggs quit in disgrace.

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Plibersek: 'the Prime Minister is nowhere'

After the resignation of federal ministers Jamie Briggs and Mal Brough, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has gone missing, says acting opposition leader Tania Plibersek. (Vision courtesy ABC News 24)

Mr Briggs resigned on Tuesday for acting unprofessionally towards a female public servant he invited out to late-night drinks at a bar in Hong Kong, where he was on an official visit with his Chief of Staff Stuart Eaton late last month.

Labor has written to the former minister and the public service commissioner seeking further details of the incidents and reassurances that there will be no adverse consequences for the public servant involved.

The Prime Minister used the cover of Mr Briggs' shock resignation to issue a statement in the minutes after, announcing Special Minister for State Mal Brough was also standing aside because of the ongoing police investigation into whether he helped procure copies of former Speaker Peter Slipper's diary.

Crucially, there had been no developments in Mr Brough's case since his house was raided by AFP officers in November, triggering Labor's calls for his resignation.


Mr Turnbull held a media conference earlier on Tuesday morning in Victoria, where he was visiting fire-ravaged towns. He made no mention of Mr Briggs' and Mr Brough's impending departures and has only commented of their resignations in a written statement.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister's office informed the media there would no opportunity to question Mr Turnbull at an event in Sydney to mark the departure of HMAS Darwin.

Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Turnbull was a Prime Minister who went missing in times of bad news.

"It is phenomenal that the Prime Minister thinks that having said that he wants to have a conversation with the Australian people, that he wants to treat the Australian people like adults, he thinks he can get away with treating them like mugs [by releasing the bad news in the Christmas break]," Ms Plibersek told reporters in Sydney.

"I think its imperative that the Prime Minister stand up today and answer some very serious questions about those resignations yesterday.

"The first question Mr Turnbull has to answer is why he appointed Mal Brough in the first place when these allegations were already public,

What new information has come to light that Malcolm Turnbull a month ago was saying that Mal Brough shouldn't step aside and yesterday welcomed him stepping aside? What has changed?

Acting Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek

"What new information has come to light that Malcolm Turnbull a month ago was saying that Mal Brough shouldn't step aside and yesterday welcomed him stepping aside? What has changed?"

The Shadow Special Minister for State, Gary Gray, has written to the Public Service Commissioner and Mr Briggs seeking further details of the incident.

"It is particularly alarming that a public servant should have been made to feel concerned," Mr Gray said.

Labor has also sought assurances from the government that the woman, whose identity is being kept secret, does not suffer as a result of lodging her complaint about a Minister.

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