News

I don't know Slipper that well: PM

Peter Slipper returns to Brisbane after an overseas trip into a political storm.
Peter Slipper returns to Brisbane after an overseas trip into a political storm. Seven News

UPDATE: PRIME Minister Julia Gillard says she did not know Peter Slipper "personally or well'' when she appointed him as Speaker.

Ms Gillard today spoke publicly for the first time since allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of taxpayer-funded travel surfaced about Mr Slipper.

Mr Slipper announced on Sunday he was standing aside as Speaker while allegations he misused Cabcharge dockets were investigated.

But the Member for Fisher, who was elected Speaker in controversial circumstances in November, plans to return to the role once those inquires conclude, even while one of his former staffers, James Ashby, pursues compensation in the Federal Court over alleged sexual harassment.

Click here to read the original court documents.

Ms Gillard  told journalists in Singapore Mr Slipper's decision to stand down as Speaker "was the right one".

But she attempted to sheet home responsibility for Mr Slipper's alleged behaviour to the Coalition.

"I expect Mr Abbott to be negative about everything," she said.

"If he's going to be negative about everything he's going to be negative about this.

"(But) as he spews forth with that negativity (he) would need to recognise that Mr Slipper was pre-selected by the Coalition on nine occasions.

"There is a relationship with these pre-selection matters and Mr Abbott's leadership - that is, Mr Slipper was pre-selected as recently as the last federal election and was a candidate ... under Mr Abbott's leadership."

Ms Gillard said she did not know Mr Slipper "personally or well" when she supported his promotion to Speaker.

"I formed a professional judgment about his ability to do the job," she said.

Ms Gillard said Mr Slipper had done a good job as Speaker during a "raucous" time in the Parliament.

And she said his elevation to the role, which brought with it a significant pay rise, had been good for the country.

"Having Mr Slipper be speaker has enabled the government to do some important things on behalf of Australian families," she said.

Albanese talked to Slipper on role

THE Leader of the House of Representatives Anthony Albanese says he spoke to Member for Fisher Peter Slipper before he stepped aside from his role as Speaker.

Mr Slipper on Sunday announced he would step aside from his role as Speaker, after criminal allegations of fraudulent cab charges were levelled against him by a former staffer.

Leader of the House and Infrastructure Minister, Mr Albanese on Monday confirmed he had had numerous conversations with Mr Slipper in the past 48 hours.

"I have spoken to Mr Slipper; I don't detail my conversations with any of the independent members of the parliament as a matter of course," he said.

"But as Leader of the House, yes, I have had conversations with Mr Slipper."

Mr Albanese said he did not try to influence Mr Slipper's decision to step aside, and that it would have been inappropriate for him to do so.

I'll be back in the chair soon, says Slipper

THE Federal Government is under mounting pressure to re-open the books on Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper amid new allegations he has misused his expense entitlements.

Mr Slipper yesterday stood aside as Speaker of parliament but indicated he was confident he would soon be back in the chair, despite allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of cab charges.

The Daily understands new questions will be raised today about Mr Slipper's expenses including taxi fares being incurred while the MP was in another location.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph has today detailed an alleged breach of Commonwealth laws which prevent MPs from spending entitlements on party business.

Mr Slipper claimed more than $3000 for a trip to Hobart to speak at a fundraiser for a good friend in a Tasmanian state seat. She lost.

Mr Slipper also claimed more than $3000 for a trip to interview a electorate officer, the newspaper reported.

The Australian Federal Police have confirmed they are investigating what have been described by observers as "clear cut breaches of entitlements".

Last year, the Daily reported how in just five weeks after federal parliament rose for its winter recess in 2010, Mr Slipper clocked up more than $20,000 in airfares, taxis and Commonwealth car use.

In the past, Mr Slipper, who flew home yesterday after yet another overseas trip, has been ordered to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in expenses.

In January, Mr Slipper claimed he had been cleared of wrongdoing over his 2009 spendathon but refused to release the official report by the Department of Finance.

The Daily has since lodged a Right To Information request that the full details of the investigation into his expenses, be made public.

Last week, this newspaper was notified the report may be released.

A ruling by the department's legal affairs unit found that "release of the documents could promote the Australian community oversight of public expenditure information".

The Daily has been investigating Mr Slipper for more than two years, amid outrage from residents about tens of thousands of dollars being spent on limousines, taxis and Commonwealth car travel.

Questions have been particularly raised about why the MP continues to travel to Canberra via Sydney.

In that time, politicians on both sides have continued to cover for Mr Slipper, despite rumours swirling around Canberra about alleged inappropriate behaviour and misuse of expenses.

Allegations of sexual harassment and misused cab charges were filed in the Federal Court against Mr Slipper, 62, by his former aide James Ashby, 33, on Friday.

Mr Slipper has emphatically denied the claims which include that he hired Mr Ashby to pursue him sexually, that he asked Mr Ashby to shower with the door open, and exchanged suggestive texts with him.

Mr Ashby claims Mr Slipper insisted he stay with him at his Canberra flat.

Mr Slipper allegedly said his adviser Tim Knapp and other staff usually stayed there.

Australian National University Professor of Politics Dr John Uhr said the Peter Slipper scandal highlighted the "lack of a code of conduct for Federal parliamentarians".

"The Federal Parliament is still a bit old-fashioned, almost all of the states have devised a code of conduct or members' conduct guide, so that's one of the problems."

Dr Uhl said he was not aware of any previous Speaker in Australia being the subject of similar allegations.

In a written statement, Mr Slipper said he believed it was appropriate to stand aside while criminal allegations of cab charge fraud were resolved.

"Once it is clear they (the allegations) are untrue, I will return to the Speakership," he wrote.

With Mr Slipper standing aside, he will not be able to vote on the floor of the House.

Crucially, it means the Labor Government's majority is further reduced, and the government's agenda could be more easily threatened by minority groups and independents.

Independent Andrew Wilkie and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott both called for Mr Slipper to stand down.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard refused to comment before Mr Slipper's statement was released.

But after his announcement, the Prime Minister's office released a statement saying that it was appropriate that Mr Slipper stood aside during the criminal investigations.

Independent MP Tony Windsor said Mr Slipper was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

"We do have a judicial system. We don't try people in our parliament," he said.

"The allegations are serious, there's no doubt about that but they are not proven and everybody has that right of due process."

Topics:  mp parliament peter slipper sexual harassment speaker



Mumma Mia to give you a cheesy grin

ALL ABOUT THE BASE: Bianca and Mark Fordham, the owners of Mumma Mia Pizzas, which has recently moved from Junction Hill to Prince St.

New Grafton home fit for a Pizza Queen

Backward glance leads to reunion 51 years in the making

ACROSS THE YEARS: The story of Paul Commerford helping save a woman from a cow   50 years ago helped the two reunite after it came up in Backward Glances.

Pair reunited after heroics 51 years ago

Wanted man who frequented northern beaches arrested

ARREST MADE: A man wanted on warrants, who frequented Coffs northern beaches, was arrested in Hornsby.

Man wanted on warrants who frequented the Coffs beaches arrested

Local Partners

Stars line up for writers festival

JOHN Safran, Deng Thiak Adut and Dava Sobel among the names in first announcement.

MOVIE REVIEW: King Arthur - Legend of the Sword

Charlie Hunnam in a scene from the movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Why the critics have got Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur all wrong.

Concert death toll revised up to 22, tour suspended

There have been multiple confirmed deaths after 'explosions' heard at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

"We saw blood on people when we got outside."

Casual Keanu says fame is ‘cool’

Keanu Reeves in a scene from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

NOBODY expected much of John Wick when it was released in 2014.

Hemingway unearth another dimension to Yamba stage

UNIQUE SOUND: Hemingway will be at Yamba's Pacific Hotel next Saturday night.

Brothers' "do or die” pact to make a career out of the music

Ariana Grande breaks her silence after fatal blast

According to reports quoting witnesses, a mass emergency evacuation was prompted after explosions were heard at the end of US singer Ariana Grande's concert in the arena.

The entertainment industry is in shock after attack on concert

Maclean High brings the colour to blonde production

Saskia Ramsey is fabulous in her role of Elle in a scene from rehearsals for Maclean High's production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Maclean High puts on high energy show

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

REVEALED: Where it's cheaper to pay off a mortgage than rent

6/190 Ewing Rd, Woodridge, is listed for offers $215,000. Picture: realestate.com.au

Brisbane suburbs where it is cheaper to buy than rent

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!