Liberal Minister Mal Brough has apologised over claims he misled the House of Representatives on Tuesday, over his role in the Ashby-Slipper affair.
Mr Brough apologised this morning saying: “Yesterday during question time I said, ‘Mr Speaker my recollection of the interview was that the question was put to me in a somewhat disjointed manner and I answered without clarifying precisely what part of the question I was responding to.
“‘This is confirmed by the tape provided by 60 Minutes and that was the reason for the answer yesterday.’
“Mr Speaker, I have taken the opportunity to review the tape and transcript and apologise to the House if my statement yesterday unwittingly added to the confusion rather than clarifying the matter.”
Labor had earlier used parliament to demand Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sack the Special Minister of State Mr Brough over his role in the Ashby-Slipper affair.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus sought to censure the Prime Minister for his “atrocious judgment” in appointing Mr Brough and accused the minister of misleading parliament.
Mr Brough had suggested the 60 Minutes program selectively edited a TV interview in which he admitted asking James Ashby to obtain copies of ex-Speaker Peter Slipper’s diary.
The program released raw footage of the interview, showing journalist Liz Hayes stumbling at the start of the disputed question.
“Um why then also did you um assist, seek well, did you ask James Ashby to procure um copies of Peter Slipper’s diary for for you?” Hayes asked.
Mr Brough replied: “Yes I did”.
However, the minister told parliament “what was put to air was not the full question”.
Labor frontbencher Tony Burke challenged Leader of the House Christopher Pyne to defend Mr Brough.
“A minister is now allowed to lie in parliament,” he said.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is investigating Mr Brough for any role he played in getting former staffer Mr Ashby to obtain copies of the then-speaker’s diary in 2012.
The ABC reported a police search warrant says that procuring someone to disclose those documents (Peter Slipper’s diaries) and provide them to third parties without authority would be a breach of the Crimes Act.
There are only two days of parliament left before the end of the sitting year and a short time for the Opposition to claim a scalp, but enough time to put pressure on Mr Turnbull to address the issue.
— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) December 2, 2015
– with ABC and AAP