1 September 2003

Sydney Morning Herald | Sharples to sue Abbott for defamation:
Mr Sharples today said there were three slush funds set up.

And he said he planned to sue Mr Abbott for defamation and release diary entries and tapes showing Mr Abbott was not telling the truth.

'It is correct, whether it happens today or tomorrow or Wednesday I'm not sure,' Mr Sharples told the Nine Network.

'I've got documents that prove that Tony Abbott is not telling the truth.'

He said his records of conversations would show Mr Abbott was saying one thing privately and another publicly.

'It will prove exactly what Tony Abbott was saying to me during this critical two months when we first joined forces, if you want to put it like that, and then he dumped me...,' Mr Sharples said.

'There was a lot of communication, luckily I recorded a reasonable amount of it and it's just totally contrary to what Tony's currently saying publicly.'

Mr Sharples said he could also prove the existence of three anti-Hanson slush funds involving Mr Abbott.

'Yes I can certainly prove that, otherwise I wouldn't have made the statement and in fact the proof is to some degree already in the transcripts of the tape that was heard just recently before Justice (Patsy) Wolfe,' he said.

The saga of Tony Abbot and the Slash Funds of Doom gets curiouser and curiouser. The Road to Surfdom has blogged that it would have been better to win the argument than to use the courts to beat One Nation. That is true, but it's an effort neither major party really tried at the federal level.

The Coalition could not take on One Nation because they were too busy running dog whistle campaigns like Tampa to acquire One Nation voters. Labor could not do it because Labor seems to be incapable of doing anything that might frighten the horses. Both should have taken a leaf from Queensland Premier Peter Beattie's playbook on how to deal with One Nation in and out of parliament.

If Sharples can prove the existence of undisclosed slush funds then I suspect Tony Abbot is history, but the slush funds are not the main game. If the federal opposition really wants to make something of this, they should be asking a very basic question that goes to the heart of the Howard government.

Why was John Howard campaigning for One Nation's vote while his favourite minister and chief headkicker was gunning for their destruction? And what does that say about Howard's real attitude to the battlers, the 'ordinary Australians' on whom he has built his prime ministership?

No comments: