The timing couldn't be worse. On the day after Mal Brough won preselection to contest Peter Slipper's seat at the next election, ABC's 7:30 reported that Slipper's accuser, James Ashby, is himself under criminal investigation, accused of having sex with underage boys.
James Ashby will likely now regret his accusations against Slipper, because it was these that indirectly led to the new allegations against him.
The extent of Brough's involvement with James Ashby in the Slipper affair is unclear, although we know he had at least three meetings to advise Ashby before claims were lodged against Slipper, as well as several text messages and phone calls. Brough allegedly also received copies of Slipper's diary extracts from Ashby.
Mal Brough, Christopher Pyne and other LNP figures will now be regretting any involvement with Ashby, because this episode clearly has a long way to run.
"James Ashby, the political aide who accused Speaker Peter Slipper of sexual harassment, is now facing a police investigation into allegations he had sexual relationships with two 15-year-old boys … The claims come from a Queensland man who contacted Mr Slipper after Mr Ashby launched his case."
"Allegations that James Ashby had sex with underage boys have been dismissed by the federal Opposition as having no relevance to Mr Ashby's claims that he was sexually harassed by the Speaker, Peter Slipper. The shadow attorney-general George Brandis cautioned that the reports about Mr Ashby's previous relationships were allegations from an anonymous source. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves," he told Sky News this morning."
"Deportations of failed asylum-seekers have dried up as new arrivals flood the system in record numbers, causing a backlog the opposition warns will take a decade to clear. Despite calls by foreign governments, including Sri Lanka, to return bogus refugees as a deterrent, fewer than 2 per cent of the 21,000 asylum-seekers who have arrived since 2008 have been deported."
"Julia Gillard may be unpopular, but that doesn't make her silly – at least not so silly that she can't tell when she is being sold a dump. So she was absolutely right to reject the plea by the premiers that she should fund the National Disability Insurance scheme by instituting a tax levy, in the manner of those imposed for Medicare or flood relief."
"How broke is Queensland, actually? The state's money troubles are certainly significant. According to the recent Commission of Audit, Queensland is running a $1.8 billion deficit, a figure estimated to widen to nearly $4.9 billion in 2012-13 … But despite the sea of red ink, Queensland's public finances are nowhere near as poor as Premier Newman is trying to suggest."