CRAIG EMERSON: [first sentence inaudible]
Politicians should not sit as judge and jury on these matters. That would be a very big risk to our democracy to have happen what Tony Abbott wants to happen, and that is he seeks to appoint himself as judge and Coalition MPs as jury and to find Craig Thomson guilty. He's not actually been charged with anything, but Mr Abbott has decided that he's guilty and he wants to evict him from the House of Representatives. If we go down that path, then our democracy is under very serious risk because politicians should not be making the judgements that police and properly appointed judges make. Mr Thomson hasn't actually been charged with anything but Mr Abbott has not only considered the evidence and decided that Mr Thomson is guilty and he wants the support of….[break in audio]
It is inappropriate for me as a politician to make a judgement about Mr Thomson's evidence. That is the role of the investigators; it is the role of judges and juries if indeed charges were ever laid – it is not the role of politicians. There is a fundamental principle in this country called the Separation of Powers and it should be left to the investigators and to the proper legal processes to take their course without pressure; without interference and without replacement by Mr Abbott and the Coalition appointing themselves as judge and jury.
JOURNALIST: What do you expect to hear from his parliamentary statement?
EMERSON: Well, I think Mr Thomson should be allowed to make his parliamentary statement in due course, which I understand will be upon the resumption of parliament.
JOURNALIST: He's no longer a Labor minister though – sorry, a Labor member. Do you feel that you keep having to defend him even though he's no longer a part of your Party?
EMERSON: I believe fundamentally in these principles: the Separation of Powers, where we have judicial processes and we have political processes and they should not become the one thing. The day that the politicians of any country appoint themselves as judges and jury is a very bad day for our democracy – that should not happen.
JOURNALIST: Minister, there were also two polls out this morning taken just after the Budget. Are you concerned that perhaps this cash splash didn't actually work?
EMERSON: Well, opinion polls will always be conducted immediately after the Budget, I understand that this one was Wednesday and Thursday night. The proof of this Budget will be in the living; and the living experience of the Budget will be that this Government is easing cost of living pressures in a modest way and we're doing that through the Schoolkids Bonus and increases in family payments, both of which Mr Abbott has said that he will abolish. He will abolish the Schoolkids Bonus and he will not proceed with the increases in family payments. He will grab them back from Australian mums and dads – why? Because Mr Abbott has said publicly that he can't trust the mums and dads of Australia to spend the Schoolkids bonus and family payments on the children of Australia. He says that they will go and splurge it on the poker machines. That is a disgusting indictment by Mr Abbott; it's a disgraceful comment and he should apologise to the mums and dads of Australia.
JOURNALIST: So, are you worried about this poll and do you think it will further destabilise Julia Gillard's leadership?
EMERSON: We do what we need to do and that is govern in the national interest. We are bringing the Budget to surplus; a surplus is a sign of a strong economy and it gives us a buffer against global uncertainty. And at the same time, in bringing the Budget to surplus, we are making a contribution to easing cost of living pressures. Good policy is good politics – this is good policy.
Thanks very much.
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