Brandis under new pressure over WA deal

Colin Brinsden
Greens want inquiry into Brandis conduct

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis is under renewed pressure, with calls for his sacking over whether he directed the solicitor-general to "run dead" on a High Court case.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has demanded a please explain from Senator Brandis, according to Sky News, while Labor has repeated calls for him to be sacked.

The Greens will on Monday seek support to hold a Senate inquiry into the "trouble-prone attorney-general" when parliament sits for the final sitting week of the year.

The latest issue concerns Senator Brandis' handling of a supposed deal with Western Australia to allow the state, rather than the Australian Tax Office, to claw back $1 billion from Alan Bond's collapsed Bell Group earlier this year.

The WA legislation was then challenged in the High Court in May, with then solicitor-general Justin Gleeson running a submission against on behalf of the ATO.

According to the West Australian newspaper, that was despite Senator Brandis assuring WA there would be no federal government involvement.

The West Australian said it is understood Mr Gleeson's submissions were critical in events that led to his resignation last month.

"The allegation that Senator Brandis instructed the solicitor general to effectively run dead in the High Court are the most serious he has faced," Greens justice spokesman Senator Nick McKim said.

"We need to get Senator Brandis out of witness protection and into an inquiry where he can be questioned about these extraordinary allegations."

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers labelled Senator Brandis "the walking scandal magnet" and repeated shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus' call for the prime minister to sack him.

"If these latest very serious allegations are true, then they amount to at least moral bankruptcy and probably corruption," Dr Chalmers told reporters in Brisbane.

"Every time George Brandis comes up with a sackable offence - and there have been many - excuses have been made for him because the prime minister is too weak to sack him."

West Australian senator and government frontbencher Mathias Cormann said he was not aware of the ins and outs of any involvement that the attorney-general may have had in this matter.

WA Premier Colin Barnett said on Sunday any inquiry would be "a pointless waste of money" while his attorney-general Michael Mischin said he was angry and disappointed in the way WA was treated.

"I'm not going to identify personalities. I was very disappointed with the commonwealth's failure to abide by the initial indications that it would have no problem with the legislation," he said.

"I was disappointed that there was an intervention by the commonwealth."