11 December 2015
by Primrose Riordan
Wyatt Roy 'can't remember' if he played role in Ashby affair
Innovation Minister Wyatt Roy has questions to answer over what role he played in leaking Peter Slipper's diary, Labor say, after Mr Roy said he could not remember if he instructed Mr Slipper's staffer to make copies of it.
Mr Roy's comments to Sky News on Thursday saying he could not recall if he did tell Mr Slipper's staffer to get copies of the diary has resurrected the scandal that has so far put pressure on Special Minister of State Mal Brough to resign, and along with Ian Macfarlane's defection the the Nationals, cast as shadow over Malcolm Turnbull's political honeymoon.
Mr Brough is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police after making an allegedly incriminating admission on the Nine Network's 60 Minutes program about helping Mr Ashby procure Mr Slipper's diaries, which is a criminal offence.
Then under a barrage of questions in the last weeks of Parliament Mr Brough claimed the program edited the interview, which was promptly refuted by the network, and then said he did not help procure the diaries.
Following the controversy which saw Mr Brough face external and internal calls for him to stand aside, Mr Ashby intervened and instead said Mr Roy gave him instructions under Industry Minister Christopher Pyne's advice to get a copy of the office diary.
Australian Federal Police officers have raided the homes or offices of both Mr Ashby and Mr Brough.
Mr Roy said he met with an "agitated" and tearful Mr Ashby in 2012 in the mural hall in Parliament house, and listened to Mr Ashby read out text messages from Mr Slipper and his allegations of sexual harassment.
"It was in the mural hall in Parliament. He sat down with me and read those awful text messages from Peter Slipper, he was in tears.
"I said to him I don't know how you make a complaint. Let me find out how you make a complaint," he said.
Mr Roy said he then went to Mr Pyne for advice, but did not tell him who it was about.
"I went and saw Christopher, I don't think I said who the person was, I said to Christopher if someone had been sexually harassed in this building how would you make a complaint," he said.
Asked if Mr Ashby was right in claiming that Mr Roy then returned afterwards to give him a sheet of instructions on what to do including getting a copy of the office diary, Mr Roy said he did not remember.
"This was a conversation years ago I don't remember that specifically but as I said I sat down with him.
"I said make a complaint, talk to the Department of Finance, diarise the events that are happening, keep those text messages, those are the things when you are making a complaint," he said.
Labor's Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the comment's indicated he was involved.
"There's now no doubt that Wyatt Roy was up to his neck in this. It's time for Mal Brough and Wyatt Roy to come clean about their involvement and tell the whole truth," he said.
Labor MP Nick Champion said the explanation did not cut it.
Mr Roy characterised it as "a couple of conversations over a couple of days" and said he never heard from him again.
Mr Roy said he believed he had done nothing wrong and was motivated by concern about Mr Ashby's welfare in light of the allegations of sexual harassment.
"I tried to help somebody who said that they'd been sexually harassed," he said.