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Gillard concerned at Lib's 'mates call'

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is deeply concerned about reports the Coalition contacted a NSW minister who then called the police minister about the investigation into embattled Labor MP Craig Thomson.


There are reports today that Liberal Senator George Brandis phoned NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher, who in turn contacted NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, to discuss calls for an investigation into the Labor MP.

Ms Gillard said today that if the report was correct, it was concerning.

"Our system of democracy, our system of government relies on the fact that office bearers, like police commissioners, independent of political processes, exercise their independent judgement,'' she said.

"The Sydney Morning Herald report that a member of Mr Abbott's team, Senator Brandis, has dialled up a Liberal Party mate ... and then that person has dialled the Police Commissioner, when it is known that the police are involved in an assessment process ... I am very concerned about the conduct of Senator Brandis in this matter,'' she said.


Senator Brandis issued a statement this morning confirming he called Mr Gallacher on Friday.

"I said that I was ringing to tell him, as a matter of courtesy, that I was intending to write to the New South Wales Police Commissioner, Mr Scipione, to place before him material concerning the Craig Thomson affair.,'' he said.

"Mr Gallacher told me that he would let Mr Scipione know that I would be writing to him. He rang me the following day at about 1pm to tell me that he had told Mr Scipione that he would be hearing from me.

"I have never had a conversation with Mr Scipione. Mr Gallacher's statement reported in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning accords with my recollection of the conversations.

MS Gillard also repeated her comments that she stood by previous statements of confidence in Mr Thomson, although declined to use those words again saying she would not be involved in any semantic games.

"I have expressed full confidence in the Member for Dobell. I said I stand by the statements I have made,'' she said.

She reiterated that Mr Thomson was facing a proper process, through a Fair Work Australia investigation, and that this should be allowed to be completed, and noted that he did not face criminal charges, unlike Liberal Senator Mary-Jo Fisher. Senator Fisher has been accused of assault and theft, but denies the allegations.

"It would be completely inappropriate for me to volunteer a view on whether the Liberal senator charged is guilty ... and I will bring the same standard to the Member for Dobell. I am taking a consistent approach with every member,'' she said

This was in contrast to Mr Abbott, who she said would do and say anything.