The Northern Territory’s attorney-general is seeking an investigation into claims Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and his NT counterpart tried to bribe a candidate not to run in the 2010 federal election.
NT Attorney-General Delia Lawrie has tabled in the NT parliament her letter asking the Australian Electoral Commission to investigate allegations that Tony Abbott and NT Opposition Leader Terry Mills had offered Country Liberal candidate Leo Abbott a job if he withdrew from the election.
Ms Lawrie’s letter referred to a recent report in the Alice Springs News alleging the job offer came during a bitter party dispute over Leo Abbott’s candidacy due to his domestic violence record.
(2) A person shall not, with the intention of influencing or affecting:
(b) any candidature of another person; or
give or confer, or promise or offer to give or confer, any property or benefit of any kind to that other person or to a third person.
Penalty: $5,000 or imprisonment for 2 years, or both.
No doubt governments frequently make such offers to induce lame-duck MPs or candidates to walk away quietly, but they’re invariably done behind closed doors with only loyal insiders present. However in the current situation there’s a disaffected former CLP Management Committee member by the name of Steve Brown who apparently claims to have been present during the phone hookup when the offer was made. Brown is gunning for the political carcass of the party’s current parliamentary leader Terry Mills and seems prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Brown is rumoured to have significant support within CLP ranks in Alice Springs though less so in Darwin.
The possibility that these yokel machinations might even inadvertently pull down Tony Abbott as collateral road kill should not be completely discounted. Some may remember that former NSW Liberal Premier Nick Greiner lost his job in not dissimilar circumstances in 1992, though corruption charges against him were later dismissed. Terry Mills has kept his head down to date, and as far as I can tell the story hasn’t yet registered with the Canberra Press Gallery so Abbott hasn’t been questioned.