Peter Slipper

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The Honourable
Peter Slipper
Peter Slipper.jpg
27th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
In office
24 November 2011 – 9 October 2012
Deputy Anna Burke
Preceded by Harry Jenkins
Succeeded by Anna Burke
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives
In office
28 September 2010 – 24 November 2011
Preceded by Anna Burke
Succeeded by Anna Burke
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration
In office
21 October 1998 – 22 October 2004
Prime Minister John Howard
Preceded by new position
Succeeded by Sharman Stone
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Fisher
In office
13 March 1993 – 7 September 2013
Preceded by Michael Lavarch
Succeeded by Mal Brough
In office
1 December 1984 – 11 July 1987
Preceded by Evan Adermann
Succeeded by Michael Lavarch
Personal details
Born Peter Neil Slipper
(1950-02-14) 14 February 1950 (age 64)
Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Independent
Other political
affiliations
National (1984–1987)
Liberal (1993–2008)
LNP (2008–2011)
Palmer United Party (May 11, 2013)
Spouse(s) Lyn Slipper (divorced)
Inge Jane-Hall Slipper (2006–present)[1]
Children Nicholas Slipper
Alexandra Slipper
Alma mater University of Queensland
Profession Politician, barrister, priest
Religion Anglican Catholic Church in Australia

Peter Neil Slipper (born 14 February 1950) is a former independent member of the Australian House of Representatives, representing the Division of Fisher, Queensland, a seat he held from 1993 until his defeat in 2013. He previously represented the same division for the Nationals from 1984 to 1987. Slipper was affiliated with the Liberal Party's Queensland division from 1993 until its merger with the Nationals' Queensland division to form the Liberal National Party of Queensland in 2008, continuing to sit in the federal Liberal Party room until he became an independent upon his election as Speaker in 2011.

Slipper served as the 27th Speaker of the House of Representatives from 24 November 2011 to 9 October 2012, after serving as Deputy Speaker following the 2010 election. Previously, he had served as a Parliamentary Secretary, Whip and Committee Chairman in the Howard government. In April 2012, he stepped aside as Speaker while charges of fraud and sexual harassment were investigated. On 9 October 2012, a motion of no confidence in Slipper as Speaker of the House was narrowly defeated. He resigned as Speaker several hours later.[2][3] In December 2012, Slipper successfully argued that sexual abuse charges levelled at him were vexatious, and the case was dismissed.[4] However this decision was successfully appealed before the full bench of the Federal Court,[5] so the case appeared in 2014. In January 2013, Slipper was summonsed to appear before court facing charges of dishonesty relating to alleged use of Cabcharge vouchers during 2010.[6] On 28 July 2014, Slipper was found guilty of dishonestly using taxpayer funds to visit Canberra wineries for his own enjoyment. He will be sentenced on 22 September 2014.[7]

On 11 May 2013, Slipper joined the recently formed United Australia Party (now the Palmer United Party). However, his membership ceased within seven hours of him joining the party.[8][9]

Early life[edit]

Slipper was born in Ipswich, Queensland, and was educated at Ipswich Grammar School and the University of Queensland. He has worked as a solicitor, barrister, farmer and businessman.

Parliament[edit]

Slipper was government whip from 1997 to 1998, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration from 1998 to 2004 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister from 2002 to 2003.[10]

In both Government and Opposition, Slipper served on a number of parliamentary committees including the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, where he was Deputy Chairman (2007 to 2010), the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works, the House of Representatives Standing Committees on Family and Community Affairs where he was Chairman (1996 to 1997) and the Legal and Constitutional Affairs (2007 to 2010).[10]

Alleged abuse of travel entitlements[edit]

In 2010 Slipper drew significant local and national media attention over the alleged overuse of his parliamentary travel entitlements.[11][12][13][14][15] Slipper denied any claim of abuse and it was reported in the local newspaper, Sunshine Coast Daily, that ".... (Slipper had said) nearly every incident was a consequence of either a misunderstanding or a disputable interpretation of the rules."[16] The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, initially backed Slipper,[17] but later publicly stated that it was up to each member to adhere to the rules regarding entitlements.[18]

Slipper has said that he has been cleared of these allegations.[19]

Attempted disendorsement[edit]

On 14 August 2010, just as the travel abuse allegations were gaining momentum, it was revealed in the Sunshine Coast Daily that a move had been made to attempt to disendorse Slipper in favour of former MP Mal Brough for his seat of Fisher at the next election. However this move was rejected due to an agreement between the Liberal and National parties about guaranteed endorsement for existing candidates.[20] It is claimed that the Sunshine Coast Daily has led a "savage" campaign to remove Slipper from his seat since the 2007 election when the Coalition lost government.[citation needed]

On 28 September 2010, Slipper accepted Labor's nomination to serve as Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and was elected to that position by 78 votes to 71, defeating the Coalition nominee, Bruce Scott of the National Party.[21] In December 2010, Brough confirmed his intention to seek preselection, by running against Slipper.[22]

Concerned about the damage to the LNP's reputation in the electorate, in March 2011 a motion was moved at the party's Federal Divisional Council "that this Council notes the actions of the Member for Fisher in accepting nomination by the Labor Party for the position of Deputy Speaker and competing for this position in opposition to Mr Bruce Scott MP nominated for this position by the coalition parties and expresses its concern over the ongoing negative publicity directed at the Member for Fisher and the resulting damage to the Liberal National Party and requests the Applicant Review Committee to take note and take action as deemed appropriate". According to media reports, the matter was deferred without discussion to the party's state director.[23]

In September 2011, Slipper raised concerns of alleged branch stacking by Brough,[24] and there was growing pressure over how the LNP would determine preselection of candidates for the seat of Fisher,[25][26][27][28][29] with Slipper threatening to resign from the party if not re-endorsed.[30]

Speaker of the House of Representatives[edit]

In November 2011, Harry Jenkins, a member of the Australian Labor Party, unexpectedly resigned as 26th Speaker of the House of Representatives.[31][32][33] Slipper was nominated unopposed and installed as Speaker on 24 November 2011.[34][35] As a member of the opposition, Slipper's acceptance of Labor's nomination as Speaker was considered a "renegade" action and opposition leader Tony Abbott threatened to expel him from the Liberal caucus for his action. Slipper resigned from the Liberal National Party on taking the Speaker's seat and continued in parliament as an independent representative.[35][36]

Upon his election as Speaker, Slipper moved to restore various traditions of the office of Speaker such as wearing elements of the traditional speaker's dress by not only wearing the gown but also the QC's bar jacket underneath his business attire.[citation needed] Slipper has also taken to wearing a white long tie or bow tie, in a variation from the lace jabot or bands.[37] He also moved to reinstate the longer and more formal Speaker's procession into the House, involving the Serjeant-at-Arms and the Mace.[37] Slipper soon established a no-nonsense reputation in the house, cutting short Question Time questions and responses and expelling members from the house without warning.[38] Slipper then returned to wearing the wing collar with white bow tie and bands on the occasion of his first formal procession into parliament.[39]

Sexual harassment and further expenses allegations[edit]

On 20 April 2012, Slipper was accused of misusing Cabcharge vouchers—an allegation acknowledged as being investigated by the Federal Police,[40] with a summons issued in January 2013.[6] He was also accused of sexually harassing a member of staff, James Ashby. Ashby, a 33-year-old gay man,[41] alleged that Slipper sexually harassed him on a number of occasions, via mobile phone text messages and in private conversations. A sexual harassment case regarding these allegations was dismissed by the Federal Court on 12 December 2012, after Peter Slipper argued that the charges were "vexatious and an abuse of the legal process".[4]

The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, as well as other senior Opposition figures such as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Eric Abetz,[42] called for Slipper to resign until Ashby's claims were investigated.[43] The Government said it was a legal matter and that they would not be asking for Slipper's resignation. However, on 22 April 2012, Slipper stepped aside from the speakership, meaning he would not take the Speaker's Chair (and therefore not enter the chamber of the House), while investigations into the alleged travel-related misconduct were conducted.[44] The Coalition, as well as Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor,[45] called on Slipper to continue to stand aside pending a resolution of the sexual harassment claims.

On 27 April 2012, Slipper released copies of Cabcharge documents for at least two of the dates in question (a third group of documents contained illegible dates) along with a written statement saying they were clearly in his handwriting, therefore disproving the allegation he handed over blanks.[46] The Government initially agreed, but various questions about the documents, including whether the payments were inflated[47] and even whether Slipper signed them all,[48] were raised in the media. Julia Gillard announced on 29 April 2012 that she had spoken to Slipper and he had agreed to stay away from the House for "a further period".[49]

On 8 May 2012, Slipper resumed the chair as Speaker and read out a statement denying the allegations against him. He then formally requested that the Deputy Speaker, Anna Burke, take the chair in his absence.[50]

Federal Court Justice Steven Rares dismissed the sexual harassment charges against Slipper in December 2012, saying that he had "reached the firm conclusion that Mr Ashby's predominant purpose for bringing these proceedings was to pursue a political attack against Mr Slipper and not to vindicate any legal claim he may have for which the right to bring proceedings exists."[51]

On 8 January 2013 the Federal Police summonsed Slipper alleging three offences against section 135.1(5)/ Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) in relation to allegations concerning the use of Cabcharge vouchers. Slipper was due to answer these allegations in the ACT Magistrates Court on 15 February 2013. According to documents released by the court, Slipper is alleged to have used Cabcharge to pay for hire cars to visit a number of wineries in the Canberra region in January, April and June 2010.[6]

Resignation as Speaker of the House[edit]

Slipper announced his resignation in Parliament on 9 October 2012. Earlier in the day a motion of no confidence was defeated by one vote (69/70).[52] However, key independent members Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, despite voting against the earlier no confidence motion, later informed Slipper that they could not continue to support him as Speaker given the damning text messages.[53][54] Slipper later entered Parliament and, when announcing his resignation, said:[2]

I leave this position without rancour, with a great deal of sadness and, more importantly, with a great deal of regret because I believe that, given the controversy which has occurred in recent times, that it is in the interests of the Parliament that I should take the course of action that I have personally chosen to take.

He then moved to the crossbench as an independent member of the House.[55]

Priest[edit]

In 2008, Slipper was ordained as a priest of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, which is a member church of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) and considered part of the international Continuing Anglican movement.[56] He was also the chancellor of the TAC, having succeeded Michael Atkinson,[56] but resigned from this position in August 2012.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marriner, Cosima (3 June 2012). "Abbott let loose the dogs, says Slipper's ex-wife". Sun-Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Slipper resigns as Speaker". ABC News (Australia). 9 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  3. ^ Jones, Gemma; Farr, Malcolm; Benson, Simon (9 October 2012). "Peter Slipper resigns as Speaker after scandals trigger a tumultuous day in Parliament". The Herald Sun. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Cullen, Simon; Wells, Jamelle (12 December 2012). "Slipper sexual harassment case thrown out". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Wells, Jamelle (27 February 2014). "James Ashby wins appeal against Federal Court decision to throw out case against Peter Slipper". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Swan, Jonathan; Ireland, Judith (8 January 2013). "Slipper 'toured wineries at taxpayers' expense'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Peter Slipper found guilty of dishonestly using taxpayer funds". News.com.au. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Slipper's United Australia Party membership 'ceased'". ABC News (Australia). 11 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Kembrey, Melaine; Atfield, Cameron (11 May 2013). "Slipper booted from Clive Palmer's party". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Biography for SLIPPER, the Hon. Peter Neil". Parliament of Australia. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Kelmeny, Fraser; Passmore, Daryl (8 August 2010). "Member for Fisher Peter Slipper clocks up $640,000 in MP expenses". The Sunday Mail (Queensland, Australia). Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  12. ^ Bode, Mark (9 August 2010). "Slipper defends $640,000 expenses". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  13. ^ Hoffman, Bill (14 October 2010). "Slipper investigation kept secret". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Hoffman, Bill (2 November 2010). "Slipper to pay back expenses". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  15. ^ Lewis, Steve (8 July 2011). "Peter Slipper and family clock up $30,000 in travel expenses in six months". The Courier-Mail. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  16. ^ Hoffman, Bill (3 November 2010). "Slipper mounts expense defence". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  17. ^ Campbell, Keiran; Hoffman, Bill (20 August 2010). "Abbott defends Slipper's travel". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  18. ^ Hoffman, Bill (22 February 2011). "Abbott on Slipper's spending". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Peter Slipper cleared over MP expenses following investigation". Herald Sun (Australia). 30 January 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  20. ^ Hoffman, Bill (14 August 2010). "Attempt made to disendorse Slipper". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  21. ^ "Labor nominee Slipper elected Deputy Speaker". ABC News (Australia). 28 September 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010. 
  22. ^ "Ego trip: Slipper slams Brough's preselection bid". ABC News (Australia). 11 December 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  23. ^ Hoffman, Bill (16 March 2011). "Slipper off the hook after meeting". Sunshine Coast Daily. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  24. ^ Conyers, Sherine (8 September 2011). "Brough time for Slipper". Caloundra Journal. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  25. ^ Conyers, Sherine (22 November 2011). "Speculation grows over Fisher pre-selection". Caloundra Journal. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  26. ^ Atkinson, Bruce (22 November 2011). "Slipper unfazed by dumping calls". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  27. ^ MacCullum, Mungo (28 November 2011). "Slipper's style: Abbott should have seen it coming". The Drum (ABC News) (Australia). Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  28. ^ "Qld's LNP erases Slipper from records". ABC News (Australia). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  29. ^ "LNP denies driving Peter Slipper to jump ship". The Australian. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  30. ^ Hoffman, Bill (3 September 2011). "Slipper threatens to quit". Fraser Coast Chronicle. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  31. ^ Thompson, Jeremy (24 November 2011). "Parliament in turmoil as Speaker resigns". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  32. ^ Coorey, Phillip (24 November 2011). "Speaker's shock resignation may change balance of power". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  33. ^ Shannahan, Dennis; Packham, Ben (24 November 2011). "House Speaker Harry Jenkins resigns". The Australian. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "Peter Slipper has been formally elected Speaker of the House of Representatives". The Australian. 24 November 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "Renegade Liberal to boost Labor's numbers". ABC News (Australia). 24 November 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  36. ^ "How Labor lured Peter Slipper to Speaker's chair in Federal Parliament". News Limited (Australia). 25 November 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011. 
  37. ^ a b Miller, Barbara (8 February 2012). "Pomp-seeker Slipper told to get on with job". ABC News. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  38. ^ Massola, James (9 February 2012). "Dapper Speaker Peter Slipper puts his stamp on the House of Representatives". The Australian. Retrieved 10 February 2012. 
  39. ^ Griffiths, Emma (14 February 2012). "New procession ushers in Slipper era". ABC News. Retrieved 14 February 2012. 
  40. ^ "Slipper's unorthodox travel plans also under police inspection". The Sunday Telegraph (Australia). 22 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  41. ^ Willingham, Richard (23 April 2012). "Political insiders unsurprised at latest instalment in Speaker saga". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  42. ^ "Slipper should resign, says opposition". Sky News (Australia). 22 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  43. ^ "Calls for Slipper to stand down amid harassment claims". ABC News (Australia). 21 April 2012. Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  44. ^ "Slipper stands aside amid harassment claims". ABC News (Australia). 22 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  45. ^ "Tony Windsor wants Peter Slipper parked on sideline until travel rort allegations 'tidied up'". The Courier-Mail. Australian Associated Press. 25 April 2012. 
  46. ^ "Slipper's unusual Cabcharge use". Brisbane Times. 27 April 2012. 
  47. ^ "Speaker Peter Slipper faces further questions on handwritten taxi records amid concerns that travel costs were inflated and appeared out of sequence". Courier Mail. 28 April 2012. 
  48. ^ "Handwriting expert questions Slipper's Cabcharges". ABC News. Australia. 27 April 2012. 
  49. ^ "Prime Minister Julia Gillard has asked Peter Slipper to extend his time away from the post of Speaker of the lower House". Herald Sun (Australia). Australian Associated Press. 29 April 2012. 
  50. ^ Massola, James; Vasek, Lanai (8 May 2012). "Peter Slipper vacates Speaker's chair, attacks 'trial by media'". The Australian. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  51. ^ Shanahan, Leo (12 December 2012). "Judge throws out sexual harassment case against former speaker Peter Slipper". The Australian. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  52. ^ Packham, Ben (9 October 2012). "Emotional Peter Slipper tenders resignation". The Australian. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  53. ^ Vasek, Lanai (10 October 2012). "Slipper out, Burke in amid sexism brawl". The Australian. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  54. ^ Coorey, Phillip (10 October 2012). "Day of shame: Slipper resigns". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  55. ^ Peake, Ross (10 October 2012). "Uncertain times as mystery man takes his seat". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  56. ^ a b Livingstone, Tess (19 March 2010). "Anglican-Catholic union has a following". The Australian. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Evan Adermann
Member for Fisher
1984–1987
Succeeded by
Michael Lavarch
Preceded by
Michael Lavarch
Member for Fisher
1993–2013
Succeeded by
Mal Brough
Preceded by
Harry Jenkins
Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives
2011–2012
Succeeded by
Anna Burke