Malcolm Turnbull ditches problem drinker Jamie Briggs and Ashbygate AFP target Mal Brough while everyone is on holidays. Ross Jones reports.
THESE ARE the distracted days — the days between Christmas and New Year when there is little time for anything apart from some good old Australian self-indulgence. Downtime.
Last year, for example, the Sydney Morning Herald could only raise itself to a weak halal food beat-up. No politics at all.
And last year, like this, the SMH was dominated by its summer insert — pages of foodie frippery, mega crosswords and sunburn advice.
But this year — boom! Front page Rulz!
Jimmy Briggs did something "inappropriate" during a late night Hong Kong bar bender. Wouldn’t you love to know what "inappropriate" was? Jamie Briggs MP is not saying, so that leaves us free to speculate wildly as the cool waters of the holiday cottage lap at our feet or we watch the kids riding skiffle boards. How pissed was he exactly? Did he stumble, instinctively extend a hand to protect himself when, oops? Or was it more sinister? Or more innocent?
Whatever, it was enough to resign as minister — so go ahead, use your imagination.
Campers were still reeling from news of Briggs’ transgression – which actually happened back in November but was locked down until 29 December – when they were knocked from their thongs by news Mal Brough had resigned. Who? Mind how you bait that hook, mate, and pass us a Stella would ya?
Every commentator and their canine companion is of the view the timing of the two announcements is no coincidence and that both announcements, in a weird kind of PR way, might cancel each other out by creating a mutual smokescreen in the distracted holiday air.
But while the details of Briggs’ drunken antics might never be known, the far more sober activities of Mal Brough are. (Read the book)
In his letter of resignation as a Minister, Brough told Turnbull:
I have taken this decision at this time as I have not received any indication of when the investigation will be concluded.
In mid-December my lawyer again contacted the AFP informing them of my willingness to be interviewed at the earliest opportunity.
The AFP subsequently indicated the earliest they could arrange an interview was after the 5 Jan 2016.
Well, they are on holidays till then.
Mal Brough's letter to the PM saying he'd stand aside. pic.twitter.com/Jt5EtrmKiX— Lyndal Curtis (@lyndalcurtis) December 29, 2015
And don’t you love the way Mal is willing to be interviewed? He has a choice?
This process will not be pleasant for Mal. There are four people accused in the warrant – Mal, James Ashby, Steve Lewis and Karen Doane – and you’d have to think the four will be interviewed separately. Inconsistencies will be resolved.
The Federal Court documents contain a weight of evidence regarding Ashby, Lewis and Doane, but less regarding Brough — until the idiot put a noose around his own neck by going on TV.
What story are these four going to tell? Who will they dob in? What deals will be done?
Correctional facilities are most unpleasant places and the prospect of incarceration is enough to motivate most people to trade spilling the beans for avoidance thereof.
No-one has any idea how committed the AFP are or where they are prepared to go with this and for them it must be political dynamite. Invidious position is an understatement.
Ross Jones is the author of 'Ashbygate: The Plot to Destroy Australia's Speaker'. You can follow him on Twitter @RPZJones. Find out where you can buy the Ashbygate paperback or eBook by clicking HERE.
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