Slipper not guilty as the political wind changes

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Peter Slipper wins his appeal against a conviction relating to $900 worth of cabcharge vouchers, while the Federal Police continues its investigation into Mal Brough. The Ashbygate Trust reports.

The matter was listed as Slipper v Turner and heard in the ACT Magistrates Court.

The prosecution alleged Slipper had misused Commonwealth funds when he toured Murrumbateman wineries with staffer Tim Knapp back in 2010.

On 22 July 2014, Megan Gorrey of the Canberra Times, wrote:

The court had heard the initial investigation into Slipper’s travel entitlements was prompted by allegations brought by former political staffer James Ashby about car trips in 2012.

In his evidence, Detective Sergeant Michael Turner, a federal agent with the AFP, told the court he had recommended the scope of an investigation into Slipper’s alleged misuse of his travel entitlements be widened to cover a period of more than two years.

He said his decision was prompted by Mr Ashby's claims, as well as Finance Department documents released under Freedom of Information laws and related media reports about the allegations.

Detective Sergeant Turner said his recommendation had been endorsed by senior police, including AFP Assistant Commissioner Ramzi Jabbour and Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin

He said he did not have any discussions with members of the government about the investigation, and was not aware of other senior police having such conversations.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Jonathan Swan had previously noted:

The former speaker, Peter Slipper, risks losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement benefits if he is convicted of using his government Cabcharge card to tour restaurants and wineries.

When he retires, Mr Slipper can expect a yearly pension of about $157,000 for the rest of his life. But if found guilty of the alleged fraud, he is likely to lose everything besides a refund of his superannuation contributions (without interest).

On 28 July 2014, Slipper lost. He appealed.

The darkest hour, they say, is just before dawn.

In this case, dawn was 26 February 2015 when Burns J decided the Magistrate had erred in law:

Unless the DPP appeals, that’s it. Slipper’s legal team have triumphed. Ashby’s allegations lie strewn in the ruins of surrender, AFP allegations lie strewn in the ruins of stupidity and malice.

The political wind is changing. The days of Brandis are drawing to a close.

If Abbott hangs on the Coalition lose. If Turnbull takes over we’ll take a collective small step towards the centre. If Bishop takes over, her lightweight inabilities will become evident to all and the Coalition will lose.

Anyway you turn it, the AFP top echelon, smarter by far than any of the above-named, see the writing on the wall.

The only thing that could spoil this is Scott Morrison getting the PM gig; Sportsbet have him at 11:1, compared with Turnbull at 1.2 and Bishop at 4, so unlikely.

Even more unlikely, according to Sportsbet, is Mal Brough — currently attracting odds of 34:1.

Our friends at the Sunshine Coast Daily are, as usual, on the ball. On 27 February Kathy Sundstrom, if you ask us one of Australia’s up and coming journos, noted:

The Australian Federal Police was also continuing its investigation of Mal Brough - the man who replaced Mr Slipper and was accused of helping mastermind his downfall.

The dawn chorus has begun.

Catch up on the full Ashbygate saga here.

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