Brough remains candidate despite damning judgment
Mal Brough. Photo: Andrew Taylor
Former Howard government minister Mal Brough will remain a Coalition candidate at next year’s federal election despite a damning Federal Court judgment that found he was involved in actions to discredit the former speaker Peter Slipper.
Labor is calling for Mr Brough, who is the Liberal National Party candidate for Mr Slipper’s Queensland seat of Fisher, to be disendorsed saying his candidacy was ''untenable''.
Despite the court’s finding the Queensland Liberal National Party said on Wednesday it would not comment on matters before the court because the decision was subject to appeal.
''Mal Brough will provide a strong voice for the people of Fisher in Federal Parliament and help deliver the change of government in Canberra that Australia needs,'' the party said in a statement.
Mr Brough said the judgment ''changes nothing in relation to Mr Slipper’s vile text messages''.
''I am sure the people of Fisher are looking forward to their opportunity to have their say on Mr Slipper’s behaviour,'' Mr Brough said.
''I reiterate that I have at all times acted appropriately in relation to this matter and given the decision is subject to appeal I do not intend to make further comment.''
But the federal government said Mr Brough was unfit to run for Parliament.
''He of all people should have known the wrong that he was engaging in in seeking to bring down the government,'' parliamentary secretary Mark Dreyfus said.
Justice Rares found Mr Slipper’s former staffer James Ashby worked with fellow staffer Karen Doane and Mr Brough to ''inflict damage on Mr Slipper’s reputation and political career in order to assist the LNP and Mr Brough''.
Mr Brough was unlikely to have been assisting Mr Ashby and Ms Doane ''out of pure altruism'', Justice Rares found.
''Realistically, his preparedness to act for them was created and fed by their willingness to act against Mr Slipper’s interests and assisting Mr Brough’s and the LNP’s interests in destabilising Mr Slipper’s position asSpeaker and damaging him in the eyes of his electorate.''
From late March this year Mr Brough was in contact with Mr Ashby and News Ltd journalist Steve Lewis about Mr Slipper’s diary.
Mr Brough later obtained preliminary legal advice about Mr Ashby’s sexual harassment claims against Mr Slipper.
Mr Brough then went on to offer assistance to Mr Ashby and his colleague, Karen Doane, in finding work in the newly elected conservative Queensland government.
He also sent Ms Doane’s resume to Coalition donor and entrepreneur Clive Palmer.
Mr Slipper resigned his membership of the Liberal National Party last year after being made Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Mr Brough was subsequently preselected as the party’s candidate for the Gold Coast seat ahead of next year’s federal election.