Open letter to the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign

Dear proponents of the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign

I know your hearts are in the right place, honestly I do. I share your concern about 2013 ending with Tony Abbott installed as Australia’s 28th Prime Minister. I’m uneasy about Abbott’s ascendancy and what it could mean for equality, equal opportunity and protection of the disadvantaged in Australia.

I also share your concern about the state of Australia’s conventional media, which more often than not descends to lowest common denominator populism to attract eyeballs and earholes rather than serve the public good through objective reporting and unbiased analysis.

It’s because I share many of your concerns that I say you’re seriously mistaken if you think the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign will prevent Tony Abbott from becoming Prime Minister.

That IS the purpose of your campaign, isn’t it? It’s not really about Ashby and Brough colluding to entrap  Slipper in a nasty pre-selection stoush for the seat of Fisher. We already know they did (and don’t need an inquiry to tell us) because it was exposed by the Rares judgement. Nor is your call for an inquiry really about the role that journalist Steve Lewis played, because Justice Rares found that Lewis was simply doing his job.

The #AshbyInquiryNow campaign is really about pinning the whole sordid mess on Tony Abbott – isn’t it? – in the hope that …. well, what do you hope to achieve?

  1. Maybe the inquiry would find Abbott favoured someone running against a sitting Liberal candidate? That’s not a sackable offence and has plenty of precedents.
  2. Perhaps it would show that Abbott had knowledge of Brough/Ashby’s plans to undermine Slipper in the preselection contest for Fisher? If irrefutable proof was produced this would certainly blunt Abbott’s capacity to accuse Gillard of complicity through prior knowledge in the AWU saga. It would be unlikely however to sway undecided voters not already turned off by Abbott’s other unsavoury characteristics such as wall-punching and anachronistic views of women.
  3. It’s likely you’re hoping an inquiry would find Abbott actively participated in the Brough/Ashby scheme. But why would he? Why would Abbott get personally involved in one of the 150 preselection battles that will have occurred before the 2013 election? Remember, Slipper was not Speaker when Ashby set his plan in motion and there was no inkling the current Speaker Harry Jenkins would retire from the position.
  4. Some campaigners also seem keen to prove Abbott was involved in treason/sedition. Firstly, see 3 above. Also, Ashby’s plan was to bring Slipper down for Brough, not to bring the Speaker and the government down for Abbott. The government was never at risk, having gained a spare vote when Harry Jenkins stepped down from the chair. So there was no act of treason or sedition.

Now perhaps I have misunderstood your campaign, and you’re calling instead for an inquiry into the parlous state of Australia’s conventional media. Well we already had one of those and you’re unlikely to get another media inquiry soon or a different outcome.

In short, you can call for an #AshbyInquiryNow until you’re blue in the face but there’s nothing to be achieved by it. The Government would have already established one if they saw it as a way to get  at Abbott.

Instead, the Government may be pondering whether charges can be laid against Brough/Ashby for the “abuse of process of the court” identified by Justice Rares. This may be the most effective way to get justice for Peter Slipper.

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. That’s not to mention the shameful way in which News Ltd media dropped the story once it diverged from their political narrative.

Nevertheless, the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign does nothing to address those wrongs. It is nothing more than an empty campaign, a hysterical witch hunt, driven by a single-mindedly desperate wish for Abbott’s downfall. As a result, #AshbyInquiryNow is seen as nothing more than tweet-spam; the left’s equivalent of #JuLIAR. While chants, hashtags, ranty blogposts and automated tweets may reinforce the views of your campaigners, it’s simply annoying for others and puts off any potential new supporters.

Social media prides itself on being what the traditional media is not – focussed on substance not political dramas, conducting analysis not witch-hunts, and being objective not pig-headedly partisan. Unfortunately, the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign meets none of these criteria and I’ll be filtering it from my tweetstream from now on.

But if you find a way to challenge Tony Abbott with substance, analysis and objectivity, be sure to let me know. I’ll be one of the first to join the campaign.

Regards, Drag0nista

Author: Drag0nista

Political columnist at The New Daily | Editor of Despatches & AusVotes 2019 | Author of On Merit, a book on the Liberals' *women problem*. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989.

90 thoughts on “Open letter to the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign”

  1. Hi Paula. Serendipity is in play. Just before this post lobbed in my inbox I sent an open letter to the Sunshine Coast Daily asking them to question Brough on the Ashby judgement during their extended interview next week. Included was a long list of questions Brough should answer.

    I signed up for an Ashby Inquiry in sheer desperation, after the MSM dropped the investigative ball before even picking it up! In my day they would have been all over what Richard Ackland rightly called Rare’s smoking gun judgment. They would have chased down the people named and the people implicated and got the bloody truth. Yet nothing. Nothing.

    So, how to get the truth? That is what I want. I don’t care if Abbott is i implicated, I just want all those who participated in this shameful, indefensible abuse of our judicial system to be expelled from Australian public life and from the legal or any other profession. And I don’t want this method of destroying a political, commercial or personal enemy to be tried ever again.

    The truth is out there, but how to get to it without the MSM? In my opinion, a police investigation won’t get the truth because the key players will clam up. So how?

    In general, I think your piece is right. But how else do you propose to get to the truth of this political conspiracy and hold its participants to account?



    1. Hi Margo

      Yes, I agree the complicating and frustrating factor in this saga is the complete unwillingness of conventional media (or at least News Ltd media) to ask the obvious questions and follow the obvious leads that arise from the Rares judgement.

      IMV, the pressure should be placed on Brough, Ashby and Doane (to perhaps a lesser extent). Having read the SMSs and Rare’s judgement again, the staffers should be held as much to account as Brough. We both well know how young staffers think they’re demigods wreaking immense power and I guess this is an example of how it become dangerous.

      Brough needs to be brought to account and, if charges can be laid for the abuse of process then this should be pursued. That would fix his preselection.

      As for ensuring that this sort of thing doesnt happen again, I’m not sure how that can be achieved. How to stop political opponents both within and across parties plotting to pull each other down? I’m not sure that is even possible!



  2. “All it takes for evil to reign is for a few good men to do nothing…” So while you sit there with your finger in your twitter ears going ‘la, la, la, la,’ saying it won’t do anything to continue to keep raising the Ashby matter, and adding that to your anti-petition stance ‘because it won’t achieve anything’ I prefer to vocalise, protest and investigate. True, it may not achieve anything, but then again, it just might!

    I have noticed that you have set yourself up as judge and jury on twitter behaviour like some philosophical intellectual of late. Judge all you like, but if you don’t like what you are seeing and hearing mute, block or don’t participate. But for someone who got active enough to weed out the rubbish in media and present the best (an action I admire and respect), don’t sit on your high horse and rubbish those who do something, hell anything, to improve the state of their nation.

    1. Interestingly you’ve taken both this post and my anti-petition stance to mean “do nothing” – which couldn’t be further from the truth. I am saying “do something that matters” rather than doing empty symbolic things that feel good but ultimately achieve nothing.

      I do not see myself as judge and jury but as opinionated. The whole point of having a blog is to explain why I have a certain opinion. I have no more power to enforce my view than you do.

      1. “Drag0nista ‏@Drag0nista

        These AshbyInquiryNow shrieks are giving me the irrits. I may have to blog… ”

        “In short, you can call for an #AshbyInquiryNow until you’re blue in the face but there’s nothing to be achieved by it.”

        “Nevertheless, the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign does nothing to address those wrongs. It is nothing more than an empty campaign, a hysterical witch hunt, driven by a single-mindedly desperate wish for Abbott’s downfall. As a result, #AshbyInquiryNow is seen as nothing more than tweet-spam; the left’s equivalent of #JuLIAR. While chants, hashtags, ranty blogposts and automated tweets may reinforce the views of your campaigners, it’s simply annoying for others and puts off any potential new supporters.”

        Your words… think your message is pretty clear. You don’t think it will achieve anything and your sick of hearing about it and think everyone should just shut up.

          1. “But if you find a way to challenge Tony Abbott with substance, analysis and objectivity, be sure to let me know. I’ll be one of the first to join the campaign.”

            No you are actually saying you are a ‘do nothing’ who is mocking others for doing ‘something’ and mocking the ‘something’ they are doing.

            I’ve never known a single issue to be resolved in a vacuum of silence. Just ask Peter Fox!

  3. Dragonista

    It has nothing to do with Abbott, or the government whether Labor or Liberal. An inquiry is sought because an illegal attempt has been made to defraud the electorate of Fisher of their rightful vote and to alter the numbers in the house by abuse of process. At the very least it is theft of The Speaker’s diary notes (a serious offence) or it amounts to organised collusion (by those already named and others unknown) to bring down a government… (our government) and this is tantamount to sedition. As an Australian I demand that this obnoxious affront on our democracy be investigated and those responsible be prosecuted with the the full force of the law. Trivialising this issue as simple politicking serves only to aid and abet.

    1. If what Brough and Ashby did was illegal then they should be charged and prosecuted. I hope they are. I think you are mistaken in thinking Brough’s goal was the bring down the Government – for one, the Government could not be brought down because they had a spare vote, and secondly Brough’s goal was to get preselection for Fisher. If you are offended by people plotting to get / prevent preselections, then best you not get involved in politics. It happens all the time and in most parties.

      1. There is no ‘if’ in the illegality of what Ashby and Brough did with regard to the Speaker’s diary. Justice Rares brought down a judgement not an opinion over tea. This is fact not conjecture.
        You assume too much and, given the Coalitions tactic of trying to bring down an ‘incompetent’ government everyday since 2010, you are also naive.
        If Slipper was forced to resign from parliament as a result of criminal charges how do you think it would have played out on the floor of the house?
        The media have been overtly complicit in their campaign to bring about the downfall of Sipper and their silence now is telling. Am I to believe there is no connection in News Ltd’s Steve Lewis breaking Godwin Gretch’s false ‘Utegate ‘ claims and his breaking of the false Slipper/Ashby allegations? Who is paying for Ashby’s legal fees? Who is paying for his media adviser? Who else knew? Who else was involved? Until these questions are answered your simplistic ‘nothing to see here’ contributions are not only hard to fathom but beggar belief.
        A simple pre-selection stoush? Give me a break, everybody knew that Slipper was going to be replaced by Brough as the LNP’s favourite for Fisher long before the Ashby claims… it’s why he took the Speaker’s chair in the first place.

        1. And before you go off on your usual diatribe about the government not being at risk … think first about the Coalition’s belief at the time that Thomson was a goner and think second about Wilke and his perceived betrayal over the gambling bill.

          1. Thomson has a 5% margin in his seat – if he was forced to resign the ALP would have rewon it and still kept its numbers. Wilkie would not have brought down the government – even though Gillard revoked her undertaking, Wilkie still has a better chance of getting gambling reforms with an ALP Government than a Coalition one.

            In relation to your other comments about Ashby/Lewis/Gretch I really only have one question – are those tin-foil hats scratchy?

          2. What are the chances that the Coalition would bring on a motion of no-confidence between Thomson resigning and the subsequent by-election? Pretty high IMO.

  4. I’m in agreeance with Margo, in that the purpose of an enquiry should be to investigate the machinations of this tawdry affair, not necessarily to pin the blame on Abbott as such.

    This, I think is where you (Dragonista) have it wrong. The enquiry should be about who, and why the was involved, and not to preemptively make assumptions. Funny … one side has done that over and over.

  5. Not interested in an Abbott assasination as much as an expose of the manipulation of the press. As Margo Kingston so aptly points out in her article at IA, the big story isn’t the conspiracy, it’s the complete lack of coverage post Rare’s judgement.

    The ONLY explanation for the lack of coverage, the abscence of front page articles discussing acts of sedition, is a collective editorial directive to run dead. A situation I find alarming.

    If the press isn’t free then what kind of system are we living under? If the forces controlling the press are attempting to herd us towards a particular political outcome is that likely to be in our best interest, or theirs?

    Whatever it is it bloody stinks and no good will come from letting the corruptors get away with it. #ashburyinquirynow

      1. Whether or not it amounts to sedition is a decision that can only be made by the judiciary. It is the abcence of tabloid outrage suggsting it is that deserves our attention.

        1. Well no, you need to have evidence first so that you can charge someone with sedition. There is no evidence because the government was never at risk.

          1. Well maybe, whether or not an assertion qualifies as evidence is a matter for the judiciary but conspiring to facilitate calls, and pressure, for an election to be called and coercing independents to support arguably represents grounds.

            Seditious intent, OTOH, is a lay down misere.

          2. Thankfully no. The question however is whether coercion of independents was attempted. I’m not saying it definitely was but I wouldn’t rule it out either.

          3. There is no way the Coalition tried to put pressure on the Indies. If so Windsor and Oakeshott wld have spilt the beans – no love lost between the Indies and the Coalition.

            As for your other point, there wouldn’t have been an election called because even without Slipper, the government still had the numbers.

          4. The point being sucess is not a requirement for conviction on sedition, it is just the attempt. Pressure on indies doesn’t need to come from LNP, a public whipped into a false hysteria perfectly ablt to exert pressure. Sedition not only the overthrow of govt.

            What makes you so determined to dismiss sedition conjecture?

          5. Because it’s hyperbolic nonsense. I’ll say it again – there was no sedition because the government was not at risk of falling. It still had a one vote majority, even without Slipper’s vote.

  6. Paula, a proposal.

    The government calls a judicial inquiry to be conducted in camera with full legal representation for witnesses. It would report after the election, nullifying any political advantage.

    The inquiry would examine and report on what happened and how and why, including the behaviour of Ashby’s lawyers.

    It would have power to recommend law reform to prevent abuses of our legal system to destroy political, commercial or personal opponents. Shock and awe tactics to bury defendants in overwhelming negative publicity with false or irrelevant claims, and/ or choosing the most expensive legal way to seek redress against a less wealthy opponent could be targeted for reform. Perhaps a new criminal offence of seriously abusing the courts for improper purposes?

    What do you think?

      1. You reckon Labor would run because of the precedent it would set? I’m so pissed off with the system acting against its own health and the people it is supposed to serve. Wonder if any legal elders would run a people’s inquiry!

        1. Yes, exactly. It would expose bully boy tactics employed by unionists and Labor factions in preselections as well as the internal warfare in the Libs, Nats and Greens (who even have their own preselection machinations).

          To my mind, the simplest way to progress this is to ping Brough and Ashby. Then a legal precedent is set. Then again, it may well just drive the behaviour further underground.

  7. As you know, I really could not give a rats about Abbot. I do think there is a bit more to it, particularly considering the timing of when Doane & Ashby both joined Slippers staff, though as you know, it is Brough I want answers from and wonder if he had any sort of relationship with these 2 before they joined Slipper?

    This is in my backyard, so the fact that too many people I speak to think that Mal Brough must be ok because they are not seeing anything about him in the local paper or on the news is a real worry. I know that an LNP person will still get in that seat as that is just the way that electorate rolls. Though, they have already had Slipper, who may be slimey as hell but still did not deserve the persecution he got, as my grand-dad would say, even a grub deserves ‘justice’, so to blithely replace Slipper with the likes of Brough who ‘may’ be just as disreputable offends my sense of democracy, particularly when the poor punters are not being serviced correctly by the media 🙂

    On a totally different note, I do like the way you can present an argument fairly and concisely get to the heart of various issues that all belong to the one issue. Maybe you should be working for the media instead of private enterprise?

    1. Noely – I think you are right to be focussing on Brough and asking questions about when this really did begin. Brough had been circling Slipper for some time, planning to knock him off for preselection in Fisher. There have been some pretty despicable things done in preselection battles over the years, but I’ve never heard of one involving entrapment. It wouldn’t surprise me though if there were other cases.

      I wrote at another time that Slipper was a ticking time bomb – everyone knew it and yet everyone decided to use him for their own purposes: Gillard, Ashby, Brough and Abbott. That is the worst bit. We just accept that politics eats its own young. Maybe this is the turning point when similar behaviour will be frowned upon. Although I doubt it.

      P.S. Thanks for your kind words about my writing. Writing is my job and my hobby. I just need to work out how to get someone to pay for the writing that I do for a hobby 🙂

  8. A good piece here MissD. I agree that the call for a formal enquiry push is a bit too much (certainly the treason line is waaaay OTT) for all the reasons you’ve stated. People will likely have formed an opinion on who was involved, particularly in light of who did or didn’t to ground (or what was said) immediately after the Rares judgment was handed down. Putting people up on a stand may be able to tease out who was actually involved, and to what extent, but for what purpose really? Highly dubious things appear to have occurred and certainly some of those involved look like paying a high price in terms of $$ and reputations. That’s the real damage done and probably the best revengeMr Slipper can hope for.

    Unfortunately for Mr Slipper he may have already moved into that category of persons who reputation is already so damaged in this regard that further damage is only a matter degree rather than being actionable.

    I did read through the Rares judgement at the time and it does appear that Ashby’s main motivation was for preferment in the Qld LNP. However, from some of his texts to his friends it does seem that he did see something more in it (doing the ‘nation’s work’ or something?) but it that may just have delusions of grandeur. Again it doesn’t really matter as opinions are all pretty set.

    That said I would like a little more action from the MSM into who knew what just for the fun of watching pomposity being skewered (I’m a L&R equal opportunist in this regard) and any character illuminations that might surface. Then there’s the possible deterrent factor that some sort of MSM rock turning over exercise might provide, noting that some people will likely keep doing whatever they think they can get away with. The ends justifying the means and all that.

    The outcome of both the pending leave for appeal petitions will be interesting as I imagine Ashby’s costs bill will be quite large and the potential for professional sanctions against Harmers shouldn’t be discounted if the judgement stands.

    The perfect description of a tawdry affair if there ever was one.

  9. Tony Abbott has said there should be no inquiry because it would be a witch hunt, and Craig Emerson has said that there should be an enquiry, but established in such a way that it is not a witch hunt. Which one do you agree with, Paula?

  10. I agree with you on the part that Abbott personally had no hand in this shabby affair.

    There are however, others high in the LNP hierarchy who are implicated, such as Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey.

    Given the seniority of these people, its very hard to believe that Abbott had “no specific knowledge” of it.

    With the exception of Ackland, Kingston and the team at Independent Australia, the media has been suspiciously silent on the aftermath of Justice Rares findings.

    The silence of News Limited may (or may not) be understandable, the silence from the other outlets though is something which they should be ashamed of.

    1. As far as I can see, Bishop and Hockey are red herrings. Bronwyn Bishop (not Julie) happened to be at the dinner that Slipper held (while still a Liberal member) which Ashby also attended. Hockey met with Brough once he was the pre-selected candidate but did not discuss Ashby. Pyne was interested in Ashby for other reasons.

      I too am curious why the non-News Ltd media have not run hard with this.

  11. It depends what your understanding of the whole Ashby-Slipper-Brough thing is, really.

    First of all, let me reiterate that I don’t think Tony Abbott will become Prime Minister. Pragmatically, I share your doubt a formal inquiry will come to fruition, and there would rightly be questions about how big a showstopper this affair would really be for proponents of an Abbott Government.

    That said, I agree with Margo Kingston that an inquiry wouldn’t hurt anyone that didn’t deserve it. I know it’s anathema to call an inquiry without its outcome being foreordained, but perhaps you could look at the boomerang effect that befell the Costigan Royal Commission in the 1970s and ’80s and have some hope.

    Your fourth paragraph lets you down, and veers into straw-man territory. Bugger LNP preselection. We are talking about a campaign that sought to force Slipper to resign the seat to which he was elected, and which would have brought Brough into parliament before – not after – the next general election was due, with a change of government before rather than after that event. That’s where the anti-democratic, foul-play aspect comes in.

    You’ve framed the issue in a way that you can deal with, and while that’s the basis of public relations it doesn’t really help understand what this issue is about. Your first two points are completely invalidated by having wrongly framed this as a preselection tussle (in which the rules of the LNPQ, such as they are, become the final arbiter of this matter rather than the law of the land).

    Your third point is too cute. Abbott didn’t interfere in 150 preselections in the same way that Richard Nixon’s henchmen did not burgle every office building in Washington, nor even every Democratic party office – just the head office, in the Watergate building. One little burglary. I mean, geez, magistrates courts let people off such charges without so much as a slap on the wrist, amirite?

    The final sentence in that point was telling. It was a genuine bolt from the blue when Slipper was nominated for Deputy Speaker in 2010. His subsequent ascent should have surprised nobody: it should be covered by the provisions of the If They’ll Rat On You Once, They’ll Rat On You Twice Act, but you’ll have to check. You’re saying that Coalition strategists are blind as well as stupid, and hoping that will stand as a defence to the complex mendacity we see in this case.

    ‘Treason’ and ‘Sedition’ are legally-defined terms, and your reference to ‘some campaigners’ is more straw-man business; leaving that stuff aside what do we have in your fourth point? The prospect that a sitting MP should be forced from office on legally questionable invalid grounds to the benefit of political parties that could not convince voters that they should govern them is worth investigating – but as I said, don’t like the chances.

    Let us dispense with two points you raised that don’t help your case at all.

    “Now perhaps … you’re calling instead for an inquiry into the parlous state of Australia’s conventional media”. Umm, nope.

    “The Government would have already established one if they saw it as a way to get at Abbott”. Do you know what will “get at” Abbott? Endless appeals and stunts that see Ashby returning to the public eye, highlighting the fact that Slipper was overwhelmingly a Coalition man for decades, and that any opprobrium arising from him, Ashby, Brough, McArdle, Abbott, anyone else you like, will rebound to the discredit of the Coalition rather than the government.

    The proof of just how bad the Coalition have been at managing this issue will come when it has been shown to have lost them more votes than it lost for Labor. I also predict that the LNP organisation on the Sunshine Coast will hemmorrhage badly.

    Margo Kingston has made an important link between the shenanigans behind Ashby and those that saw Pauline Hanson imprisoned a decade or so ago: the shadowy funding and questionable legal structures. That is worth investigating, and not just as a matter of history. It would make it hard to support Marx’s quip about history repeating, as it’s hard to tell which would be the tragedy, which the farce.

    Kingston and Richard Ackland’s piece in Friday’s SMH, to name two, put the lie to your assertion that substance, analysis and objectivity are absent from the push for an inquiry into this matter. Filter as you please, but having been caught flinging precious live infants around it is idle for you to proclaim that it’s all bathwater.

    But you show your analytical capabilities are shot in your final paragraph:

    But if you find a way to challenge Tony Abbott with substance, analysis and objectivity, be sure to let me know. I’ll be one of the first to join the campaign.

    What do you mean, if? Do you pretend that Abbott has never been challenged from that basis? Do you pretend that any and all criticism of the man has been insubstantial, non-analytical and subjective – just deranged rambling by those without the nation’s best interests at heart? And if not, where the hell have you been?

    Your criticisms of Abbott have been muted feeble and belie this whole ferocious dragon pose in your online persona. After he goes down I’m sure you’ll be happy to say “I never liked him”, but the idea that you’d do a single thing to bring about such an outcome strains credulity.

    1. *Sigh* Your dismissal of my post as PR-dolly spin says it all really. Yet again I wonder why you even bother.

      Just a couple of corrections to your “facts”.

      Ashby started courting Slipper when Slipper was still the Liberal member for Fisher and likely to face competition from Brough for preselection. So yes it was about preselection.

      If Slipper had resigned and Brough won the by-election the government would still have had a one vote majority so there would not have been a change of government following Brough’s election.

      I said that Harry Jenkin’s stepping down was unexpected, not the Slipper becoming Speaker was.

      1. Preselection of Slipper’s seat was a consideration, yes, but as others have highlighted, it was but a side benefit. The real goal was to bring down the Governement, or have them so weakened in the pubics’ eyes that they were unelectable.

  12. “That’s not to mention the shameful way in which News Ltd media dropped the story once it diverged from their political narrative.”

    this one sentence is at the nub of why a judicial inquiry, however constituted, is necessary. #NewsCorpse is a player in this attempt to sully our democracy, and also control 70% of print media and frame the news of the day for resource strapped broadcatsers like the ABC.

    Steve Lewis “We will get him (Slipper)”; and “Hey James, just get me the pasge of Slippers diary for these dates…” – not to mention the coordinated front page character assisination, followed by the page 17 reporting of Rares in the Faily TelaLie. A clear perpetuation of what Leveson has uncovered in the UK.

    Nothing to do with Abbott.

    1. There has already been an inquiry into the media (but really News Limited). There is a link to it in my post. Just on a point of accuracy – 70% of the papers that Australians buy are NewsLtd papers. This is different from NewsLtd owning 70% of all papers.

  13. So much earnestness and energy invested is what is now seems to be largely considered outside the Twitter echo chamber to be political trivia chatter – a bit like that silly AWU nonsense. While I agree that it is an important matter and should be investigated – I think the one being discussed by Margo is good – what needs to be remembered is that there is a group of megaphones on Twitter droning on about it with the one note. It’s like what happens with megaphone cries at a rally outside a picketed worksite – it has become white noise. But if you say this, the response you get is often abuse. It’s not helping the cause at all.

  14. If citizen campaigns prompt journalists to join in and start asking questions and if those journalists prompt Labor to start campaigning for answers and that campaigning gives Labor a poll boost and that poll boost gets Labor an election win then more power to the citizen campaigners. But that’s a whole lotta “ifs”. Which I think might be Dragon’s point.

    Of interest to me is the bigger question about why the likes of News and Fairfax give the LNP such a free run on substantial issues like this while flogging Labor over non-issues like the AWU rubbish. What’s motivating them to attack a government with a focus on reform and outstanding economic results? Why do they choose to so openly support an opposition existing in a policy vacuum?

    I read someone suggest recently it’s about the LNP opposing the NBN which will in turn somehow protect the MSM business model (could I fit a few more acronyms in that sentence? o_O). Maybe. Whatever the reason, there’s a Walkley waiting for the first journo to get to the bottom of it.

    1. Very good questions. It’s beyond me why the SMAge isn’t pursuing this.

      I hadn’t thought of the NBN angle – I shall ask around about that one.

  15. Aren’t you arguing from a wrong premise to begin with?

    The repeated assumption you make is that the whole shebang was part of the preselection battle for Fisher.

    But that had already been lost for Slipper; that’s why he took the Speaker’s position, because he knew he wasn’t going to be preselected by the Liberals.

    Ashby was employed after Slipper became Speaker, so any plotting that went on had nothing to do with the preselection battle.

    Rares’ inference was that Ashby was willing to sell his boss down the river when he realised that other job prospects might open up for him within the Queensland Liberal party, but only if he disassociated himself from Slipper as much as possible.

    Brough appears to have been his port of call in this process.

    The timing says the affair had nothing to do with the preselection process.

    It seems pretty clear that it was about forcing an elected MP to resign his seat, triggering a by election which would (most likely) see Mal Brough elected and (potentially) lead to a vote of no confidence in the government.

    Even if it didn’t do that, Brough would be in Parliament at least six months ahead of schedule.

    The deliberate targetting of a sitting MP, with the apparent aim of forcing their resignation, is what needs to be investigated – so we can talk about facts and not suppositions.

    1. If you read either the text messages or Justice Rare’s decisions you will see that Ashby met and quickly ingratiated himself with Slipper when he was still the Liberal member for Fisher. This was in July 2011 (link to text messages here).

      There is no reason to think that even if Brough was elected in a by-election that the government would fall. It still had a one vote advantage, which is the basis on which it had been operating since it formed the minority government after the election.

      1. That Ashby was already in contact with Slipper before Slipper became Speaker does not mean that his subsequent actions had anything to do with the preselection.

        The texts demonstrate that Ashby was happy working for Slipper and loathed both Brough and Lewis …until after the QLD election.

        Rares thus concluded that the trigger event for Ashby’s switch from friend to complainant was that new opportunities opened up for employment … If Ashby proved his loyalty was to the LNP and not Slipper.

        The timeline makes it pretty clear it had nothing to do with the preselection, a battle Slipper knew was already lost.

        1. Well no, Slipper asserts that (taken from Rares J judgement)

          (4) from at least 2 February 2012, Mr Ashby’s conduct towards Mr Slipper was duplicitous and deceitful because Mr Ashby:
          • had conceived, or begun to conceive, plans to bring proceedings and make allegations of the kind in the originating application that would inflict damage on Mr Slipper and empower Mr Slipper’s political opponents, including Mr Brough and the LNP;
          • met secretly with Mark McArdle ( who was a lawyer and then a senior shadow Minister in the Queensland LNP State opposition) and discussed those plans;

          The Qld election was in March.

  16. There is only 1 issue here and that is Brough using the legal system to bring down an opponent. Please enlighten me of any other instance of this happening. The appalling silence of the MSM on this matter seems to be reflected in 1 of your responses ” If you are offended by people plotting to get / prevent preselections, then best you not get involved in politics. It happens all the time and in most parties.” As above using the legal system is a whole new level above mere plotting. Real investigative journalists should be all over this like a rash.

    Abbott’s only undisputed involvement so far is supporting a preselected candidate that has been found by a federal court judge to have used a contrived sexual harassment case to eliminate an opponent. Candidates have lost their endorsement for less than favorable comments about race or gender or dancing in their underpants, surely this has to disqualify Brough from running for our parliament or have our standards slipped so far that this is just now seen as normal politics.

    The proposed inquiry is vital to stop this sort of behaviour in its tracks. Do we want to become a country like Singapore where the court system is used to deny the opposition any voice at all. If the LNP gets away with this and gets into power don’t you think they would then use this tool as their new main weapon to stay in power.

    1. I agree with everything you say here except for the final paragraph. This behaviour should be eliminated. But don’t for a moment imagine similar behaviour doesn’t exist in the ALP/unions: if Craig Thomson is telling the truth then his own union did something similar to him.

      I believe charging Brough and Ashby for abuse of process is the best way to deal it.

        1. Yes, that was my point. If Thomson is telling the truth (and I dont know one way or another if he is), then it is the same scenario.

          1. It’s more than just the same scenario, it’s the same people using the same tactics. Please read Peter Wicks’ description of the LNP connections to the pursuit of Thomson (link above).

            I completely agree with Sco Sellers last paragraph, The LNP behaviour of using the courts as a political play thing needs to be stopped. It makes a mockery of the legal system.

    2. Pyne and Bishop met with Ashby. It was in Abbott’s interest to have Slipper forced to resign. Ashby’s team was leaking the texts that were before the court to embarrass Slipper, and Abbott was using them to try to embarrass both Slipper and Gillard. Of course Abbott was in on this up to his neck. Of course Pyne and Bishop were keeping Abbott apprised of the situation. You’d have to be stupid or biased to think otherwise.

      1. You mean Bronwyn Bishop was at a dinner that Ashby also attended? That’s quite different. Julie Bishop is on the record saying she has never met or spoken to Ashby. As for Pyne’s interest in Ashby, well I’m not going to go there. Suffice to say it didn’t have much to do with Slipper.

        Undoubtedly Abbott used the situation once it became public, my argument is that it’s unlikely he participated in Ashby/Brough’s plan to bring down Slipper.

        You’d have to be a one-eyed conspiracist not to see that.

  17. I accept your point that the initial aim of Brough was to compromise Peter Slipper, so Brough could get pre-selection ahead of Slipper. As others have written, Ashby wasn’t employed by Slipper until Slipper became Speaker and resigned from the Coalition, so it seems unlikely that Ashby was involved at that point. After Brough was pre-selected, then the aim became to get Slipper to resign and cause a by-election so Brough could sit in the HoR before a general election. This may have been where Ashby became involved. However, when Slipper became Speaker (and Brough’s pre-selection was guaranteed), the original plan would have been amended, due to the changed circumstances.

    Would the Government’s “one seat majority” in the absence of Slipper be dependent on Craig Thomson’s vote? The Coalition can have more than one plot at the same time – they can multi-task!

    I wonder too, if the relative silence of the MSM is because of the involvement of one of their own – Steve Lewis. While Rares was careful not to include Lewis in the conspiracy, perhaps “professional privilege” meant that no journalist wanted to be seen sticking the boot into Ashby and Brough, in case any blowback took out Lewis as well? I assume Lewis has friends in the press gallery – he did co-write a novel recently with one of them?

    The state of the media industry may make journalists less likely to rock the boat. With News Ltd owning most of the print media, journalists have to consider their future employment prospects. Fairfax is shedding staff, there are only limited positions at the ABC – where is a journalist going to get work if News Ltd is off limits? There are no jobs for life for journalists now, unlike when Watergate hit the news.

    Regardless, there is a need to change the law so that allegations cannot be “laundered” through being lodged as part of a court case, and then withdrawn before trial, as happened here. Either disallow the publication of court-lodged documents until the case is proved, or impose a high penalty on plaintiffs who withdraw allegations after lodging them as part of a court case. Harmer should be asked questions about his use of this process in order to embarrass defendants into settling their case, which Rares said was an abuse of the court.

    1. Ashby’s text messages show he was cosying up to Slipper in July 2011. But his connection with the LNP goes back to connecting with McArdle in 2010. Brough was not preselected until July 2012. Ashby lodged his complaint on 20 April 2012.

      1. Slipper made an allegation of branch stacking” in the Fisher electorate by Mal Brough on ABC Coast FM on the 18th of November 2011. There had already been a lot of Brough vs Slipper dramas prior to that with Brough bringing in new member prior to the AGM. But November 2011 was when Brough openly showed his hand to the Newspaper, Sunshine Coast Daily.

  18. I’m just posting this for Aguirre, who couldn’t get access to the Comments for some reason:

    If I may make one suggestion, Dragonista: you state:

    “If you read either the text messages or Justice Rare’s decisions you will see that Ashby met and quickly ingratiated himself with Slipper when he was still the Liberal member for Fisher.”

    That is true. But as you would also know, he declined invitations to take the position on Slipper’s staff until December. He wasn’t interested in working for Slipper until after he became Speaker. Then he suddenly got a taste for the job.

    You’re arguing against the assumption that Ashby was planted from the start, that his friendship with Slipper was manipulated from their first meeting.

    My reading of the situation is a little different. Ashby’s ties to the Queensland LNP were very close, and I think that’s where his ambitions lay. I think he genuinely got on well with Slipper from the start, and would have reasoned that it wouldn’t harm his prospects. You can see plainly from the texts that they had a strong rapport. Ashby makes friends easily when he wants to. But his other main trait is that he happily sacrifices loyalty for ambition.

    It was this close relationship that the LNP chose to exploit. I’m guessing here, but it looks to me as if he was encouraged to accept the position (by someone in the Qld LNP who could see an advantage in it), then realised some time in January that allying himself with Slipper was a mistake. It was from that point on that his actions were dictated by the LNP. Not earlier.

    I’d say the game was run almost entirely out of Qld,but that federal Coalition MPs took a keen interest. Ashby wouldn’t have known the way it was heading from the start. He either figured it out when he decided to work for Slipper, or more likely early in 2012.


    If that’s the case, then it’s more about what the federal Coalition MPs knew, rather than what they did. In my view, that still makes them complicit. If Slipper had remained a Liberal MP, the Coalition would likely have exploited Wilkie’s dissatisfaction with the ALP, and used that to put pressure on the Government. The Slipper deal nullified that approach, so they saw him as a traitor to their ambitions. So they have a motive already – revenge. They couldn’t get Slipper’s vote back even with an ALP Speaker, so removing him was key to putting pressure back on the ALP on the floor. There’s another motive.

    The Ashby saga may have had something to do with preselection, but I think it was much bigger than that.

    1. I don’t agree that knowledge of Ashby’s complaint makes federal Coalition MPs complicit in Ashby’s deception and manipulation.

      Sure it was of interest to them and they exploited the drama to generate maximum angst for Slipper. As you say, Slipper’s resignation would have taken the government’s majority back to one. But benefiting from it is not the same as initiating it.

      I do find it hard to believe though that Ashby’s original intentions were good. He’d been close to McArdle and the LNP since 2010. He’d have known that Slipper’s pre-selection for 2013 was in doubt. And if you look at the text messages, Slipper was getting quite suggestive even as far back as October. If they were making Ashby uncomfortable then, why did he take the job in December?

  19. I must also correct the assumption I was in any way aiming at Abbott. I want an Inquiry to find out who was involved including who might have funded this attempt at subverting the democratic process.

    Whether the government would be brought down by resignation of Slipper isn’t the point – Ashby clearly thought it might. It certainly had the potential to replace an MP by misusing the courts. At the time this was only one of three actions in pursuit of sitting Labor members including Julia Gillard. Look closely at people involved in all three and it’s a web with many intersecting threads and thorough investigation might shed light on these and on common factors in actions against Pauline Hanson and the WA democrats. If this sort of thing happens often, as you suggest, all the more reason to try to bring it to light.

    The way in which the MSM political narrative in this country is being written by MSM with little to balance it needs investigation and the way this prosecution was shaped for those media, which then went silent is probably the strongest illustration of this control.

    Just consider your own position; While the mentions on Twitter are described as white noise, with nothing new, you apparently missed the NBN suggestion that’s figured there. Others believe it’s possibly because of a fear of media regulation under Labor.

    Rather than expect what is still the narrow audience of Twitter to read exhaustively, I want this pursued and brought out into the open, whether by the media or formal inquiry I don’t care. I signed the petition because it was put up and I agree with it. If it’s possible to ‘petition’ journalists, I’ll do that too.

    Watergate happened to collect information that might be used later in an election. Politicians including the President lied. ‘Ashbygate’ was a direct action against someone already elected and politicians lied about their involvement. Watergate was front page here for months – yet we’re expected to ‘move on’ and stop ‘hyperventilating’, accept that it’s relegated to p.17 with a misleading headline.

    If Ashby is charged there will be little publicity. Brough didn’t bring any action, so I don’t see that he can be charged other than for requesting theft of the diaries. As things are this would probably be relegated to page 21.

    I just believe more need to know about more of what went on. There’s evidence of new people on Twitter learning of it from the excellent sites set up – it’s a conduit not the end. I’ll continue to help the ‘megaphones’ where I can until more is done.

  20. Dear Margo and Dragonista,

    I am on record of being a shamelessly devoted fan of you both but this is what I think. I think the whole Ashbygate thing is more an indictment of our media. How they do not think this is news worthy is beyond me. I feel an investigation would show the country how badly they are being informed by ALL the news outlets.

    As I said, I love you both and I agree with you both (if that’s possible)

  21. I agree with the broad thrust of this article: That the #AsbhyInquiryNow brigade is tilting at windmills.

    However, regarding the third point; you have to acknowledge that getting Brought ‘back into his rightful place in parliament’ is an obsession of many operatives within the Queensland LNP.

    His preselection was never going to be similar to the battles fought for the other 150 places on the 2013 election ticket.

    I still however want a full account of what occurred however, because the circumstances which force a Speaker to resign, particularly when embroiled in legal controversy, should be examined completely by any functioning democracy.

  22. Words can be used in lots of ways, but not to explain away what Ashby was up to: a stitch-up, in co-ordination with what seems to be most of the Sunny Coast LNP community, and a good deal of the Canberra Coalition set, developed opportunistically over time, to bring down Slipper and thereby the government.

    Ashby, by his own text messages, knew the consequences of what he was doing. He was trying to entrap Slipper in going one step too far, got close, but ultimately failed.

    Mr. Justice Rares paid particular attention to the request by Ashby to accompany Slipper to Hungary, even offering to pay his own fare. Ashby and Slipper in the same foreign hotel? Honey trap material!

    Slipper declined it on ethical (costs-related) grounds, and must be thanking God he did! I have to say his text back to Ashby didn’t sound like he was too disappointed at not having to take this pest along.

    Rares didn’t put it as a honey trap, of course, but did note that Ashby’s request was hardly likely to have occurred if he had an apprehension of homosexual harassment from Slipper.

    Not that he seemed to worried about it in general. Rares also found Ashby hardly mentioned the substantive aspects of his “case” in private conversations with friends on the subject. No hurt, no outrage… just excitement at being a player at last!

    This wasn’t about pre-selection. Ashby hardly knew Brough until well into 2012, after the conspiracy was well and truly hatched.

    By the time Slipper was Speaker, there was no way he could have regained Liberal preselection. His only hope would have been a personal vote, one for a sitting Speaker. Slim hope, I would have thought, particularly after he had demonstrated a willingness to go hard on the Coalition in QT.

    All the to’ing and fro’ing by Dragonista (and others) is designed to muddy the waters.

    A “combination” was found by Rares, to get Slipper through the newspapers by laundering documents (rendering them “defamation-proof” via Court privilege), and in general to abuse the Court process.

    There is no possible reason for going to the Federal Court – with its attendant huge costs to the litigants, including the taxpayer – over such a trifiling matter as a bit of queer argey-bargey in the Speaker’s office. Ashby’s excuse that he was afraid of assassination was regarded as absurd by Rares, and was plainly ridiculous.

    No “genuine steps” to resolve the matter by standard means were taken, allegedly because of Ashby’s professed, but hysterical fear of “victimization.” The judge found this to be poppycock also. Rares imputed that the real reason was so that Ashby could Ambush both Slipper and the government by giving them no warning, indeed waiting – in the most cowardly of fashions – until Slipper was overseas. And Ashby did so, very successfully.

    Who can forget the perp-walks by slipper through half the airports between here and New York? Tired. Jet-lagged. Disappointed. Looking seedy and – most important – looking guilty.

    The media’s co-ordinated response (including a much-publicised call for Gillard’s resignation by her Hater-In-Chief, Michelle Grattan), and the Coalition’s point by point reaction were all swung on everything being set up a looking pat.

    I am still amazed that Rares found Steve Lewis to be just a newshound after a story. Lewis was an absolutely essential part of the “combination” – co-ordinating Brough, Doane and Ashby, obtaining documents by devious means, shepherding Ashby in a motel in Sydney while he arranged lawyers and blurted out the whole story – but there you go, you can’t win ’em all.

    You can split hairs all you like on this one, waffle on about time lines and such as a distraction from the main game, but the Ashby saga was a rolled-gold stitch up, designed to bring down the government, developed on the fly from the germ of an idea via a conspiracy between News Ltd, the Coalition and the shady individuals involved.

    The only thing they didn’t reckon on was that Mr. Justice Rares wasn’t in on the scam.

  23. Andrew Elder makes most sense as far as I’m concerned (apart from his personal remarks).
    The Ashby matter is much more than a pre-selection squabble and while the NBN might be a periphal issue, it is not the main game. The main game was, and still is, to get to Government before the coming election by whatever means and then to deal with the running sores, in the eyes of conservative politicians and business operators, of the Mining Tax, the Carbon Price, the NBN and the health and welfare systems.
    As far as I’m concerned what is a major issue, outstripping all others, is the manipulation of the democratic process in pursuit of political, economic or personal goals for power.
    One contributor here has mentioned the parallels with other so-called “scandals” and the similarities among the players. I believe it is no coincidence that the same lawyer who acts for Kathy Jackson also acts for Ashby. He is obviously a very generous person, devoting so much of his time on a more or less pro-bono basis in pursuit, coincidentally, of two Members of Parliament!
    It is a remarkable coincidence also that Russell Q.C. was primed so early in his interview with Ashby to ensure he elicited the famous “One Dollar Consultation Fee” which put the conversation on a client-confidential basis. I’d love to see whether he actually opened a file and whether the money was booked into the firm’s Trust Account. Reading his evidence before Rares, J. is very revealing since he was so diligent in ensuring his words were carefully measured. It makes me wonder why at that point, since presumably he was only giving advice, he so carefully crafted the setting and the interview. Surely he didn’t think it might come to light in the future?
    Choice of words betrays many people and it pays to sift what is said for its true meaning, for example what is the true meaning of the words “specific knowledge”?

    I don’t recall that there has been an adequate media inquiry as Dragonista suggests and again, I think that although it’s worthwhile to wonder why the media is so silent on these issues that pursuing a media inquiry has the potential to become a big red herring, the main game is an inquiry into the attempted corruption of the political process and the Constitutional implications of denying citizens their democratic vote.

  24. I don’t believe that Abbott was directly involved in the Brough/Ashby/Slipper affair. He *may* have been aware that somebody was trying to nail Slipper, but for his own protection, he would not have known any details. Remember what he said: “no specific knowledge.” Exactly the same process was used by John Howard in the “children overboard” case – the staffers deal with the matter at arms-length from their principals. Plausible deniability is key.

    However, Rares found that Brough was clearly involved. I support an enquiry to discover what Brough, Ashby and others did, and how they abused the court process, particularly laundering documents for the press by claiming privilege.

    There are also serious questions, raised by sortius, regarding when Abbott’s office (not Abbott himself) knew about the matter. The press statement which was apparently written after it was released is simply one of the side issues. If Abbott was involved, it was peripherally, and I doubt that he would be the primary focus of any inquiry.

    1. Yes I agree with the plausible deniability angle – at the time I also took note of Abbott carefully using the words “not specific knowledge”.

      I support further examination of Brough’s role and the three named by Rares being brought to account.

      However I’m not convinced that an inquiry is the way to get to the information – particularly if it is focussed more on trying to find the smoking gun in Abbott’s hands than what Brough/Ashby did.

      On the sortius post – it has been shown to be not necessarily correct by another IT expert. In addition, the Department of Parliamentary Services have confirmed there was a time stamp issue.

      I have provided links to both of these for your perusal.

  25. Dear Dragonista,

    I can’t help but feel that this post somehow links to your last 😉

    This campaign is the product of passion. I rarely hear passion used in conjunction with realism or objectivity. If you want passion, then you want this campaign and the equivalent ones on the other side. As a plus, passion provides good material.

    Kind regards

    p.s. I’ll let it go now

  26. While there is apparently no current evidence of any involvement by Abbott, there is certainly a whiff around Pyne and Bishop. If Ashbygate does nothing else, it can help make citizens aware that Abbott’s continued support for Brough, despite Rares’ unambiguous findings, casts a very dark cloud over his judgement.

  27. It seems to me that the quickest way to get an inquiry, or at least some answers, is for a journalist to do their job properly. Moaning about the media’s failure is fair enough on this, and plenty else as well. But wouldn’t it be more productive to spend some effort finding a journo who is interested, and supporting the hell out of them when they do?

    That’s the approach Margo is taking. Worthy of support in my view.

  28. Nice article. I think this touches on the bigger theme of the left (which I identify as a part of) on twitter getting hysterically carried away with just about everything related to the LNP. I find it difficult to take #AshbyInquiryNow seriously not because it isn’t an important issue which the MSM appears to neglect, but because Tony Abbott could tweet “Hello Australia” and before you know it a bunch of @turnleft @Laborsupporter @progressive types have replied that he is complicit in George Pell’s peadophelia cover ups. The tweeting left has done too much harm to itself for me to ever take their new initiatives with any credibility.

  29. Unaccustomed as I am to firing off more than 140 characters, I’ll give it a crack only because you sent me a personal invite 😉

    I like your blog and am glad you share my concerns re Abbott in the Lodge and the crap state of our conventional press, (a person would be a nufty not to)

    You discuss your dislike of the #AshbyInquiry ‘campaign’ and offer some assumptions as to its aims that differ from mine but hey, thats why I like twitter, gives me new perspectives. It seems the white noise doesn’t bother me as much as it irritates you.
    As to the futileness of the campaign, it probably has little chance of a result but I’d never say that if I had three & a half thousand followers coz I couldn’t stand the ‘I told you so’s’ if an enquiry actually got up, though I’d reckon its got better odds than tattslotto (I have a ticket, I’ll let you know if I win). I probably would have picked a better comparison than the JuLiar insult to make that point too.

    The campaign has had at least one win so far in that you’ve written this blog and the twitter noise has increased markedly today, raises the odds of the conventional press giving it a run.

    As to the mechanics of the whole scandal, I wouldn’t really know but I enjoyed the responses of Margo, the semi naked Andrew Elder and Bushfire Bill. I know my bullshit detectors have been pinging away since the whole thing started and I’m looking forward to the eventual expose.

    You moved into my area of annoyance with your comments re NewsLtd, although of all the news outlets they’ve annoyed me the least coz, 1 I never read them and 2 they’re a known quantity… I expect partisan garbage from them. I do however, expect better from Fairfax and our ABC.
    I’m hoping the ABC has just had it’s feet up over Christmas like the rest of us public servants and 4Corners or 730 will rip Brough ‘a new one’ in a month or so. I guess we’ll have to wait and find out.

  30. Seditious Intention (from Wikipedia)

    The definition of “seditious intention” originally in Section 24A has become (as amended):

    An intention to effect any of the following purposes:
    (a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt; (b) to urge disaffection against the following: (i) the Constitution; (ii) the Government of the Commonwealth; (iii) either House of the Parliament; (c) to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth; (d) to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.

    1. On this definition, Joy, pretty much everyone on Twitter who discusses federal politics is guilty of sedition. I suspect though, when people fling it around in relation to Ashby/Brough, they actually mean “attempt to overturn the government”.

      1. I am no lawyer but as I understand it the above definitation is law bought in by John Howard. “Schedule 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill (No. 2) 2005,[5] passed by the Upper House on 6 December 2005, repealed Sections 24A to 24E of the Crimes Act (1914) and reintroduced them, along with several new classes of offence, in a Division 80—Treason and sedition. Crimes in this division now attract a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment.”
        Do you think “pretty much everyone” on Twitter who discusses politics has any of those intentions?
        Previous people were discussing if the Ashby case was sedition and others disagreed becasue the Government in their opinion could not be overthrown because of the lack of votes, but under the labove definitation (as I understand it) there could be a case for sedition. What do you think?

  31. Firstly I must commend you on an insightful and intelligent piece of writing. The whole unsavoury mess that is ashbygate is one of the greatest political circus acts this century. It has proved how low the political landscape has become in Australia. The whole frilly affair has all the hallmarks of a good political thriller with a smidge of comical relief. It’s all there; you just cannot make this stuff up; defection, homosexual overtones, smutty texts, entrapment, espionage, betrayal and a treacherous scheme to seize power. Then the whole thing plays out in a court room drama with victimisation of the accused. The only thing missing is “who done it?” I can’t wait for the Bob Ellis penned screenplay. Screen Australia would be a walk up start for this one.

    Preselections are always messy exercises when ousting a candidate as displayed by The Prime Ministers contempt for the process today. Both Labor and Liberal are far from pillars of democracy in this area. Our current foreign Minister turned it into an artform with the N40 rule.

    The thing that has become apparent out of this fiasco is the inept political strategy on both sides of the house. Grubby hands with not many answers to unasked questions. Twitter and the blogosphere have exploded in speculation based on what team they are barracking for. The who, where, what and why’s are all coming from citizen media.

    As you point out all too well, there is a trail that leads to the truth and the Murdoch press had gone mute. Why so much rancorous front page indignation then silence after the judgement?

    Margo’s Idea of a Judge Judy type event is great and could actually be profitable. Maybe sell off the rights to the highest bidder like the footy. Sadly I agree that both sides have Alan Jones size closets full of nasty truths that they would not care to air in public and especially not in a court.

    I concur with Damian Walker about NBN. It’s a threat to Murdoch’s control of information. The NBN business model is that of wholesaler providing very cheap infrastructure to new players which directly threatens Murdoch’s existing business model. News is radically restructuring its operation to cope with the new paradigm of information delivery. The future is convergence of services which is exactly what the NBN is providing. There is no question Murdoch has his eye on NBN Co as an asset, which given the current oppositions reminiscence for all things Howard means privatisation. Murdoch would be salivating over those big fat, fast pipes all over the country ready to deliver Bill O’Riley or his poor cousin Andrew Bolt on cheap Chinese made tablets free with every subscription.

  32. The discussion about an inquiry now is misconceived. The extent of that misconception is revealed in Margo entertaining some dumb idea that a matter of such public importance should be dealt with in camera. We live in a democracy with an open system of justice. A challenge to that system should not be dealt with in camera.

    There are other obvious problems.

    First there is an appeal which may overturn every finding Rares J made.

    Secondly people are now complaining to the police. Those complaints will disappear to the bottom drawer quickly if some other process such as an inquiry starts.

    Thirdly, there is a mistaken assumption that what Rares J found binds others such as a commissioner. It does not. It is one judge relatively low in the hierarchy making findings of fact which are important to the parties but serve no precedential value.

    Those in the know will tell you that you cannot have a proper open inquiry until the appeal is determined.

    Of course what would be worth pursuing is a Fed corruption commission akin to ICAC.

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