Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston

Co-publisher and editor-in-chief at No Fibs
Margo Kingston is a retired Australian journalist and climate change activist. She is best known for her work at The Sydney Morning Herald and her weblog, Webdiary. Since 2012, Kingston has been a citizen journalist, reporting and commenting on Australian politics via Twitter and No Fibs.
Margo Kingston
- 10 hours ago
Margo Kingston

By Margo Kingston
22 January 2013


Two days ago Paula Matthewson, who tweets and blogs as @Dragonista, posted an open letter to the #AshbyInquiryNow campaign people challenging them on their strategy and aims. A stimulating discussion ensued in comments to her piece which showed that engaged citizens on the right, centre and left agreed that it was essential that the truth behind this matter be exposed and its perpetrators brought to account. But how?

After the discussion, I tweeted my idea for a judicial inquiry, endorsed by Paula, to three federal politicians I follow and who follow me – Craig Emerson (ALP), Rob Oakeshott (Independent) and Richard DiNatale (Greens). I had no expectation any would reply. Perhaps due to the refusal of the mainstream media to explore the smoking gun handed to them by Justice Rares in the Ashby judgement,  all expressed interest. As you’ll see, Rob has concerns at how terms of reference could be drafted, and promised to listen to people’s ideas.

The Geek and I feel Twitter has a special opportunity to constructively contribute to getting the truth behind the Ashby court case, a goal worthy of bipartisan support. No matter what your politics, under current law and practice we all are in danger of wealthy, unscrupulous people who want to destroy our lives abusing the legal system to do so. In politics, the use of this weapon could even destroy a Liberal or Labor government.

So AFHP would like to host a conversation on the form and terms of reference of an inquiry into the #Ashby matter, and hopes that lawyers and others with expertise in the area will participate in comments to this post or anywhere else they fancy.

If you are interested, the following conversations and tweets will explain the background.


Margo Kingston:

Hi Paula. Serendipity is in play. Just before this post lobbed in my inbox I sent an open letter to the Sunshine Coast Daily asking them to question Brough on the Ashby judgement during their extended interview next week. Included was a long list of questions Brough should answer.

I signed up for an Ashby Inquiry in sheer desperation, after the MSM dropped the investigative ball before even picking it up! In my day they would have been all over what Richard Ackland rightly called Rare’s smoking gun judgment. They would have chased down the people named and the people implicated and got the bloody truth. Yet nothing. Nothing.

So, how to get the truth? That is what I want. I don’t care if Abbott is i implicated, I just want all those who participated in this shameful, indefensible abuse of our judicial system to be expelled from Australian public life and from the legal or any other profession. And I don’t want this method of destroying a political, commercial or personal enemy to be tried ever again.

The truth is out there, but how to get to it without the MSM? In my opinion, a police investigation won’t get the truth because the key players will clam up. So how?

In general, I think your piece is right. But how else do you propose to get to the truth of this political conspiracy and hold its participants to account?



Drag0nista says:
January 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Hi Margo

Yes, I agree the complicating and frustrating factor in this saga is the complete unwillingness of conventional media (or at least News Ltd media) to ask the obvious questions and follow the obvious leads that arise from the Rares judgement.

IMV, the pressure should be placed on Brough, Ashby and Doane (to perhaps a lesser extent). Having read the SMSs and Rare’s judgement again, the staffers should be held as much to account as Brough. We both well know how young staffers think they’re demigods wreaking immense power and I guess this is an example of how it become dangerous.

Brough needs to be brought to account and, if charges can be laid for the abuse of process then this should be pursued. That would fix his preselection.

As for ensuring that this sort of thing doesnt happen again, I’m not sure how that can be achieved. How to stop political opponents both within and across parties plotting to pull each other down? I’m not sure that is even possible!




January 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Paula, a proposal.The government calls a judicial inquiry to be conducted in camera with full legal representation for witnesses. It would report after the election, nullifying any political advantage.

The inquiry would examine and report on what happened and how and why, including the behaviour of Ashby’s lawyers.

It would have power to recommend law reform to prevent abuses of our legal system to destroy political, commercial or personal opponents. Shock and awe tactics to bury defendants in overwhelming negative publicity with false or irrelevant claims, and/ or choosing the most expensive legal way to seek redress against a less wealthy opponent could be targeted for reform. Perhaps a new criminal offence of seriously abusing the courts for improper purposes?What do you think?

I like it – and think both sides would run a mile from it. Which is why it would be powerful.

January 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm

You reckon Labor would run because of the precedent it would set? I’m so pissed off with the system acting against its own health and the people it is supposed to serve. Wonder if any legal elders would run a people’s inquiry!


Yes, exactly. It would expose bully boy tactics employed by unionists and Labor factions in preselections as well as the internal warfare in the Libs, Nats and Greens (who even have their own preselection machinations).
To my mind, the simplest way to progress this is to ping Brough and Ashby. Then a legal precedent is set. Then again, it may well just drive the behaviour further underground.
  1. @OakeyMP @craigemersonmp @richarddinatale @drag0nista So Labor not accused of/seen as calling inquiry to help it win this year’s election.
  2. “@CraigEmersonMP: @oakeymp @richarddinatale … I agree with your comments, Margo.” So #Ashby inquiry on the cards?…
  3. @RichardDiNatale @craigemersonmp @oakeymp @drag0nista You’ve made my year, Richard. So you & Craig like it – any chance it might have legs?
  4. @margokingston1 @CraigEmersonMP @RichardDiNatale Sounds like you’ve Emmo DiNatalie on board so you’re moving.I’m still concerned about ToR.