AMELIA ADAMS: Well there have been more dramatic events in the Peter Slipper saga this afternoon. James Ashby, the man accused of sexual harassment, has made a formal complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission against two more Federal politicians: Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Coalition frontbencher Barnaby Joyce. For more on this, we're joined by Trade Minister Craig Emerson in Brisbane. Dr Emerson, good afternoon to you
CRAIG EMERSON: Hi Amelia.
ADAMS: Now, lawyers for James Ashby say the Foreign Minister and Senator Joyce made public negative remarks about him. And they also claim the men shouldn't use their office to demean Mr Ashby for their political ends or otherwise. Is that fair?
EMERSON: Mr Ashby has now made complaints against Mr Tony Nutt, Chief of Staff to John Howard; Mr Slipper; Mr Carr; and Senator Barnaby Joyce. I think I'll just leave that to your viewers to make their own judgement. It's not for me to make judgements in the midst of these legal complaints.
ADAMS: All right. If we move on to the Craig Thomson scandal then: you've been a defender of Mr Thomson. We're now hearing that he's tipped to blame a phone hacker over those allegations that he called escort services. What do you know of his phone hacking claims, and how confident are you of his innocence?
EMERSON: I'm not judge and jury of Craig Thomson. Nor do I believe that Tony Abbott and the Coalition should appoint themselves as judge and jury. There are police processes; there are investigations. And I just happen to have the view that those processes, those investigations, should take their course. And if any matter ends up in the courts, then the proper processes should be followed there. If there's a judge, the decision should be made by the judge. It's not up to Mr Abbott; it's not up to me. It's not up to any politician to pass judgement on Craig Thomson - that's my view. People in the community will have their own opinions, but as politicians I think it is both wrong and quite scary and dangerous for politicians to appoint themselves over the top of the courts as judge and jury, which is what Mr Abbott is seeking to do.
ADAMS: All right. Dr Craig Emerson, we will have to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.
EMERSON: Okay. Thanks, Amelia.
- Minister Emerson's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555