James Ashby 'extremely disappointed'
James Ashby addresses the media after a Federal Court judge dismissed his sexual harassment case against his former boss, Peter Slipper.PT1M28S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2b8rl 620 349 December 12, 2012
Surely now it's time to take stock of how politics is being conducted.
Peter Slipper's reputation has been dragged through the mud, he lost his job as speaker, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been accused of ''running a protection racket'' in his defence, and the federal parliament descended into a long debate about horrible references to female genitals in what were supposed to be his private texts.
And now the federal court has found the whole thing was an abuse of process, that James Ashby's sexual harassment case was brought ''for the predominant purpose of causing political damage to Mr Slipper''. It sure did that.
That finding raises big questions for the man who has been pre-selected by the Coalition for Mr Slipper's seat - Mal Brough, who was named in the judgment as acting with Mr Ashby to advance the interests of the Liberal National Party.
It raises questions for the Coalition about the vehemence with which it pursued the issue publicly and in the parliament, as part of its political campaign to delegitimise the ALP's minority government and the judgment and character of the Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
In his speech to the parliament arguing that Mr Slipper should be removed from the speakership - to which Ms Gillard replied with her now famous speech about misogyny - Coalition leader Tony Abbott said he was not arguing Mr Slipper should be disqualified ''by the mere fact of a legal action against him'' - but because of the text messages that had emerged during the legal action. But the court has now found the case should not have been taken in the first place.
The decision also raises questions for the government about why it settled its case and paid Mr Ashby $50,000 over allegations that have now been thrown out - a decision Mr Ashby has said he will appeal.
But most of all it raises questions about the vicious political climate of 2012, about rushing to judgment for political gain, about the personal consequences that can have and about all the other things we could have been talking about.