You might recall I said in my rant about the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign that:

“there is much that is just plain wrong in the Slipper/Ashby saga: the Coalition turned a blind eye for many years to Slipper’s suspected abuse of entitlements; the Government chose him as Speaker despite similar knowledge; Ashby deceived and manipulated, giving little mind to the potential personal cost on others; and Brough has not yet been called to account for his involvement in Ashby’s scheme.”

Many comments followed the post, here and on Twitter, and there has been a genuine attempt to identify ways to address the latter points.

While we might disagree on some things, Margo Kingston and I do agree that the Federal Court’s judgement raises matters for which Ashby and Brough must provide explanations. While the procurement and provision of Slipper’s diary might attract legal charges, it seems unlikely that any will arise from the abuse of court processes that was identified by Justice Rares.

Margo has already challenged the Sunshine Coast Daily to tackle Brough on his involvement with Ashby’s complaint.

But where is Ashby? Is his announced appeal against Rares’ findings actually a strategy to deflect media attention until some other political drama arises? Or is the media avoiding him anyway, in the same fashion they avoided anything other than scant coverage of the Federal Court judgement?

I’ve said I’d support actions that have substance and deal with known rather than suspected protagonists. In response Margo suggested I join her in challenging journalists to find the elusive Mr Ashby and get some answers.

And so I have. Consider it the inaugural D&M Newshound Challenge.

There’s plenty that we need to know, and only one person who can tell us. Why did Ashby accept a job in December 2011 with Slipper when he was already uncomfortable with texts he’d received from the then Deputy Speaker as early as October? Why did he not use other avenues of complaint/redress rather than going straight to courts? Why turn to Brough after describing him in considerably negative terms to Slipper? Who’s paying his legal bills? And was he encouraged to turn against Slipper in January 2012 and for what incentive?

So that’s the challenge. Find Ashby and find some facts. We’d love to read, hear or watch reports from fourth and fifth estate journalists on their strategies and progress in meeting this challenge. Surely there’s someone among Australia’s many talented investigative journalists, professional and amateur, who can succeed.

Join the conversation! 12 Comments

  1. Hi Paula. Was wondering, how about a challenge for a pro or amateur photojournalist to get the first non-stage pic. Of Mr Ashby?

  2. What a great idea. We all want the truth and some justice in this situation and the main stream media don’t have the guts to go after it. We need a lone wolf or a couple of young guns to search it out.
    Do it. Australian democracy will thank you for it.

  3. A good starting point 4 finding Karen Doane might possibly be SC Destinations Steve Cooper or Michael Berry who wrote following article for Hinterland Times. Just a thought. C article http://www.hinterlandtimes.com.au/2010/12/02/karen-doane%e2%80%99s-new-role/

  4. Well done guys. It will be interesting to see who takes up the challenge, assuming someone does.

    I wonder whether the promise of Twitter adulation and hashtag fandom is a motivator.

  5. There is something rather disturbing about journalists challenging journalists to uncover the truth – why don’t you all stop talking about it and investigate?

  6. Where, oh where, are our Woodward and Bernstein?

  7. I think you raise some good questions that, although we can speculate with some accuracy/inference, need concrete answers. My fear is though that whatever those concrete answers are, they will surely incriminate or embarrass all concerned.

  8. Just for kicks, I’ve emailed two private detective agencies (specialising in location of witnesses & “missing persons” Australia-wide) asking for quotes on 1) locating Ashby, and 2) covert surveillance of Ashby for 1 week including real-time updates on his movements via sms/email, with photo evidence as well. (Not sure about the ethics of the covert surveillance, but what the heck). Will post back if/ when I get a response.

    Hopefully the above isn’t too creepy. But how else to find him? How do the paparazzi find their prey? Perhaps there should be a brief discussion on the ethics of all this. I suppose there is a chance that someone who knows him – family member, ex-friend, ex-lover – might provide a tip off. But they’d need to know about this challenge.

    Has anyone simply messaged his Facebook or Twitter account requesting an interview? Who knows – maybe he’s ready to talk? :)

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About Drag0nista

Opinionista and political blogger on the interwebs. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989. Otherwise known as Paula Matthewson.

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