MAL Brough has taken a $108,000 pay cut and moved to a back bencher's office after standing down late December pending completion of an Australian Federal Police investigation into his involvement in the "Ashbygate" affair.
The Fisher MP requested the Speaker Tony Smith cut his $307,329 salary as Special Minister of State back to $199,040 - that of a back bencher - and that he shift to a backbencher's office on December 29, immediately after the announcement he would stand aside.
Labor shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has praised Mr Brough's decision to have his salary and accommodation reduced to reflect his current responsibilities. But he has also predicted Mr Brough will never return to the ministry.
Mr Brough would not reveal the factors that motivated the request, whether or nor he has received any indication when the AFP investigation would be completed, nor whether Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had given any indication his return to the ministry would be automatic if it was found he has no case to answer.
"While Mr Brough has no intention of providing a running commentary of the issue I can confirm that on the 29th December 2015 when he stood down as a Minister he took the appropriate action and wrote to the Speaker and requested that the Ministerial component of his salary not be paid from that day and that an office be provided so he could continue his duties as the Member for Fisher.,'' a spokesperson said.
The Australian Federal Police are investigating allegations Mr Brough procured former Speaker of the House Peter Slipper's staffer James Ashby to obtain copies of his ministerial diary that were subsequently forwarded to a News Limited journalist.
Mr Brough acknowledged his involvement in affair during a 2014 Sixty Minutes interview but subsequently claimed the full transcript had gone to air.
That claim led to Channel Nine showing the unedited segment which confirmed the context was accurate.
Mr Dreyfus has told ABC Radio National that Mr Brough's tenure as a minister should be ended, regardless of the outcome of the AFP investigation.
"He should not have been appointed to the ministry in the first place," Mr Dreyfus said.
"Yes, it's appropriate that Mr Brough no longer accept that ministerial salary, but it's also appropriate that he never again appear in the Turnbull ministry."
He said that regardless of whether the AFP decided to lay charges or not it was already apparent from what Mr Brough had disclosed and what was in the public arena that he should never have been appointed.
"So I will say it again, yes it's appropriate that Mr Brough no longer accept that ministerial salary, but it's also appropriate that he never again appear in the Turnbull ministry," Mr Dreyfus told media.
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