NEWSREADER: Well the Trade Minister Craig Emerson says Mr Slipper has done the right thing in stepping aside but he's accusing the Coalition of double standards in demanding something of Mr Slipper that is never expected of any Coalition frontbenchers. Dr Emerson spoke to Alexandra Kirk.
CRAIG EMERSON: Obviously Mr Slipper has stood aside in respect of the criminal allegations against him. In relation to the civil allegations against him I seek only one thing and that is consistency on the part of the Liberal Party. We can't have in the conduct of the Parliament one set of rules for the Liberal Party and another set for everyone else. There were civil cases against Malcolm Turnbull when he was a minister and when he was the Opposition Leader. There was a civil case against Michael Wooldridge. At no time did we call for or did the Liberal Party say that it was appropriate that Mr Turnbull or Mr Wooldridge should stand aside from their duties during those civil cases.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: Do you think in hindsight that it was a good move to get Harry Jenkins to step down in favour of Mr Slipper?
EMERSON: Well let's not rewrite history. Mr Jenkins said that he would step down and Mr Slipper by any measure has been a very fair Speaker and that's what matters. He's been a fair Speaker of the House of Representatives. There has been a set of criminal allegations against Mr Slipper – appropriately he has stood aside.
KIRK: The Government has now lost another vote with the Labor Deputy Speaker stepping into the chair, your numbers now more precarious. Do you really think that you can keep on governing with the confidence of the House of Representatives?
EMERSON: Well one thing is absolutely clear and that is Mr Abbott is desperate for an election under any circumstances, under any guise, under any pretext, under any excuse.
KIRK: Are you worried that an Opposition-initiated motion of no confidence while Peter Slipper is out of the chair could in fact succeed?
EMERSON: My answer to that is that day after day, week after week, there are threats of no confidence motions. There are threats that the Parliament won't run its full course; that there'll be a snap election; that there'll be a no confidence motion. It's never transpired. I think even Christopher Pyne conceded a few weeks ago that this is a stable parliament; it will run its course. That's what's going to happen and Mr Abbott will just have to stop sooking, put the dummy in his mouth and actually start putting up some decent alternative policies for the next election in more than a year's time.
NEWSREADER: That's the Trade Minister Craig Emerson speaking to Alexandra Kirk.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555