Australia's deputy PM fights bribery claim


Why does this come as no suprise?

Australia's deputy PM fights bribery claim

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson was fighting claims he attempted to bribe an independent MP not to stand for election in a marginal seat after the legislator raised the issue in parliament.

Anderson immediately denied the claims made late Wednesday by MP Tony Windsor under the protection of parliamentary privilege and Prime Minister John Howard said his deputy had his full support.

In a statement to parliament, Windsor claimed the bribe was offered to him in May at a meeting in the town of Tamworth, in New South Wales state, by a local businessman and a senator from Anderson's National Party.

Windsor said businessman Greg Macguire and Senator Sandy Macdonald had been sent by Anderson to find out "what it would take" to get him not to stand for re-election in the seat of New England.
The seat was held by the National Party until Windsor took it from them in 2001.

A suggestion was made that he could gain a senior diplomatic posting if he chose not to stand, Windsor said.

Anderson said he had met Maguire but in a statement to parliament denied making any inducements.

"I completely repudiate the member for New England's allegations of improper inducements offered indirectly by Senator Macdonald and me earlier this year," Anderson told parliament.

Windsor retained the seat in last month's election.

Howard said Thursday he retained full confidence in his deputy, whose party is the junior partner to Howard's Liberal Party in the ruling conservative coalition.

"I have total confidence in John Anderson. I believe fully his denial," Howard told commercial radio in Sydney.

The matter, which Windsor first raised in September during the campaign for last month's election, has been referred to police who are investigating.

It is a crime under Australian electoral laws to attempt to induce a candidate not to stand for election.

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This page was last updated Fri Nov 26 21:07:20 2004 Pacific time