POLITICS

Q&A: Tanya Plibersek Lashes Out At Attorney-General, Calls Him An 'Incompetent Minister'

She has called for his sacking following claims he misled parliament.

24/10/2016 9:43 PM AEDT | Updated 24/10/2016 11:53 PM AEDT
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'This man is an incompetent Minister and he should have gone long ago,' Plibersek said on Monday's Q&A program.

Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek has labelled Attorney-General George Brandis an "incompetent minister" and called for his sacking, following Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson's resignation on Monday.

Speaking on Q&A on Monday night, Plibersek said the ongoing dispute between Australia's top legal officers has pushed the wrong man out of the job.

"Out of the Solicitor-General and the Attorney-General, certainly one of them should have resigned but it was the wrong one that resigned," Plibersek said on the program.

"This man is an incompetent Minister and he should have gone long ago.

"If Malcolm Turnbull wasn't so weak in his own authority within the Liberal Party, he would be able to insist on better standards from his ministers."

The dispute between the nation's top legal officers began in early October when Brandis claimed the Solicitor-General had approved his decision to make all ministers, including the Prime Minister, request written permission from Brandis before seeking Gleeson's legal advice.

If Malcolm Turnbull wasn't so weak in his own authority within the Liberal Party, he would be able to insist on better standards from his ministers.Tanya Plibersek

Gleeson has repeatedly refuted this, claiming Brandis misled parliament. The public stoush culminated on Monday in a strongly-worded letter of resignation from Gleeson to the Attorney-General -- which you can read more about here.

Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos was also on the panel, and he spoke out in support of his fellow minister Brandis' judgement, claiming that the media coverage of the dispute created irreparable damage.

"If the Attorney-General had done something wrong which necessitated his dismissal, the Prime Minister would have dismissed him," Sinodinos said.

"People were forced into positions which made a potential reconciliation more difficult. It's a bit like a marriage where it ends up being played out on the front page of the paper and it's much harder for people to retreat from certain positions.

"I know George Brandis quite well, and my impression is that George honestly believes that the issue over which they fell out was not quite as big as it seemed to be portrayed."

In his letter of resignation delivered on Monday afternoon, Gleeson said his relationship with the Attorney-General was "irretrievably broken" and it was in "the best interests of the Commonwealth" for him to resign.

"I also make perfectly plain that I reject absolutely each and every attack and insinuation that has been made in recent times upon me personally, or upon my office, by Government members of Parliament, including you, in Senate Committee processes," Gleeson wrote to Brandis.

The resignation will take effect on November 7 while a Senate committee is due to decide whether Brandis did mislead parliament by November 8.

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