Opposition accuses Australia prime minister of abusing power

June 21st, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Kevin Rudd Sydney, June 21 (DPA) Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Sunday stood accused of abusing his office to help a used-car salesman and shielding Treasurer Wayne Swan from parliamentary scrutiny over his dealings with him.
Opposition Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull alleges the prime minister urged special treatment for John Grant, Rudd’s friend, neighbour and benefactor. Turnbull alleges Swan helped Grant get government finance for his car dealership.

In parliament coming week, Rudd may face the stark choice of sacrificing Swan to limit the damage to his administration or of raising the stakes by backing his embattled treasurer.

Rudd’s toughest test since ousting the Liberals 18 months ago centres on an email allegedly sent from the prime minister’s office to senior Treasury official Godwin Grech seeking help in arranging finance for Grant.

Grech told parliament last week that he remembered receiving the email, but a search of Treasury files and the premier’s office failed to find it.

Rudd insists the email doesn’t exist and is demanding Turnbull resign if it can’t be found. Turnbull argues the existence of the email is immaterial.

Turnbull is calling on Swan to resign for allegedly lying to parliament. If Rudd continues to back Swan, Turnbull said, they should both go.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Turnbull said that “what Mr Rudd is doing is seeking to use the matter of this email to distract the attention of the Australian people from the fact that his treasurer had unquestionably misled parliament, there is no doubt about that.”

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