Mal Brough Stands Aside Pending Police Investigation

29/12/2015 2:03 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 03: Special Minister of State Mal Brough during House of Representatives question time at Parliament House on December 3, 2015 in Canberra, Australia. Mr Brough is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police any involvement in getting former staffer James Ashby to obtain copies of then-speaker Peter Slipper's diary in 2012. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

Controversial minister Mal Brough has stood aside as Special Minister of State, the announcement coming just minutes after fellow minister Jamie Briggs resigned.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday that Brough, embroiled in a saga over the alleged copying of former speaker Peter Slipper's diary, would step aside from his ministerial responsibilities while a police investigation into the diaries proceeded.

"The Hon Mal Brough MP and I have agreed that he will stand aside... pending the completion of inquiries by the police," Turnbull announced in a statement.

"In offering to stand aside, Mr Brough has done the right thing, recognising the importance of the government maintaining an unwavering focus on jobs, economic growth and national security."

The statement, titled "ministerial arrangements," also included more information on the resignation of Briggs.

Brough had been the target of days of Question Time drama earlier this year, after allegations he had asked former Slipper staffer James Ashby to procure copies of Slipper's diary. In 2012, Ashby alleged Slipper had sexually harassed him via text message, but a Federal Court case on the matter was thrown out. Slipper himself resigned in October 2012, after being found guilty of misusing taxi charge vouchers.

Many online criticised the timing of the two announcements, coming just days before the New Year in a traditionally quiet period. Some accused the Prime Minister of "taking out the trash," attempting to bury controversial announcements to avoid the media spotlight.

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