Joyce takes Brough to task over meeting with Slipper's accuser
Peter Slipper … vacating the Speaker's chair today. Photo: Andrew Meares
THE Nationals' Senator Barnaby Joyce has turned on his prospective colleague, Mal Brough, saying he had no business meeting and counselling Peter Slipper's accuser, James Hunter Ashby.
Senator Joyce said Mr Brough, a fellow member of the Liberal National Party, should have twigged when Mr Ashby came to him that it would be improper to help him given Mr Brough was seeking to unseat Mr Slipper to re-enter federal Parliament.
Senator Joyce said once Mr Brough did decide to get involved, he should also have spoken with Mr Slipper to hear his version of events.
''If you are going to play marriage guidance counsellor, you've got to hear both sides of the story,'' he told the Herald.
Senator Joyce is sceptical of Mr Ashby's claim, saying on Sunday Mr Ashby ''seems only slightly less dodgy than Slipper''.
Mr Ashby has accused Mr Slipper of rorting his taxpayer-funded taxi entitlements and has also lodged civil claims of sexual harassment in the Federal Court.
Mr Slipper says he is innocent of all allegations.
After first denying any prior knowledge of the legal case against Mr Slipper, which was lodged last month, Mr Brough admitted on Friday that he had met Mr Ashby three times.
Mr Ashby had come to see him to discuss his concerns. Variously, Mr Brough advised him to go to the police, get a lawyer, and offered to arrange legal representation for him.
Mr Brough, a former Howard government minister who lost his seat of Longman in 2007, is seeking preselection for Mr Slipper's Sunshine Coast seat of Fisher. He is the frontrunner to win preselection and could find himself running against Mr Slipper, now an independent after quitting the LNP late last year when Labor offered him the job of Speaker.
Mr Slipper has stood aside as Speaker pending the resolution of the claims against him.
Today, when Parliament resumes, Mr Slipper will make a brief statement before vacating the chair for the deputy, Labor's Anna Burke.
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, declined to front the media for the third successive day yesterday .
The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, had coffee with Mr Brough and the LNP benefactor Clive Palmer on the Sunshine Coast at Easter.
Mr Hockey said Mr Brough talked about Mr Slipper but never mentioned Mr Ashby nor any of the claims he was making against Mr Slipper.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, has been using Twitter to question the bona fides of Mr Ashby's claims.
Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU