The continuing controversy over electoral malpractices yesterday ended the ministerial career of Liberal MP Mal Brough before it even began.
Only hours before the swearing in of Brough as Employment Services Minister and other changes as announced by the Prime Minister last month, Brough withdrew because of allegations of electoral roll rorting by members of his electorate office staff.
A former staff member in his electorate office, Andrea Chitakis, has come forward, for reasons that are not yet clear, claiming that she was incorrectly enrolled in Longman, Brough’s marginal seat in Queensland. He won the seat in 1996 and was re-elected in 1998 with a margin of 0.92%, or 1289 votes.
Yesterday, Brough also lost another member of his electorate office staff, Helen Pearce, after it was revealed that her partner had been falsely enrolled in Longman.
The electoral rorts saga has now derailed the election year campaign strategy being pursued by the prime minister. It comes on the heels of the Innovations policy announced this week.
In Queensland, a judicial inquiry into false electoral enrolments has brought about the demise of several members of Labor Premier Peter Beattie’s government. Beattie lost his majority in Parliament and an early election will be held on February 17.
Historical Footnote: Brough’s political demise is reminiscent of Senator Glen Sheil, the would-be minister who was dismissed by Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser in 1977. Sheil made comments in support of the apartheid system in South Africa.
February 12 UPDATE: After being cleared of any wrong-doing Brough was sworn into the Howard ministry today.
- Liberal voting scandal brings down rising star
- Electoral scams pull politicians down to same low level