FORMER Howard government minister Mal Brough is on his way back to Federal Parliament, after winning Liberal preselection despite being embroiled in the Slipper affair.
Mr Brough secured endorsement on the first ballot for Speaker Peter Slipper's seat of Fisher, which he can be expected to win easily.
He turned out to be untroubled by a challenge from James McGrath, who was campaign director in the state Liberal National Party's election victory. Mr McGrath came second in the field of eight who faced about 330 preselectors.
In the sexual harassment case staff member James Ashby has brought against Mr Slipper, it has been said that Mr Ashby supplied Mr Brough with extracts of the Speaker's diary. The Commonwealth alleged Mr Ashby plotted with Mr Brough and other Coalition figures before filing his Federal Court claim. After his contact with Mr Ashby was reported in the media, Mr Brough said he had met the distressed staff member who had wanted advice.
He said yesterday: ''The public here, I think, are only too well aware that what I did was help somebody in need, no more no less.''
Mr Brough has had the support of Tony Abbott who said yesterday, before the result, that he was a ''friend and a distinguished former colleague''.
Mr Abbott said Mr Brough had been ''upfront about his involvement'' in the Slipper affair, where the only thing that ''really matters … is did Mr Slipper sexually harass a member of his staff?''
Mr Brough, who lost the seat of Longman in 2007, would put early pressure for a frontbench spot on Mr Abbott if he became prime minister.