This article was published on the Liberal Party of Australia website but was deleted on 17 August 2015 amidst the furor surrounding incumbent Speaker Brown Bishop over her misuse of entitlements relating to using here parliamentary travel allowance for a helicopter trip from Melbourne to Geelong to attend a Liberal Party fundraising event.
The Speaker is the guardian of parliamentary standards. The Speakership is one of the most important offices in the Parliament. The Speaker is there to uphold the integrity of the Parliament and now we have very, very serious allegations against the incumbent Speaker, allegations of sexual harassment and allegations of potentially criminal misuse of entitlements. These are very serious allegations indeed. Yes, the Speaker is entitled to the presumption of innocence but he does have quite a lot of explaining to do.
It’s also very important that the Prime Minister act to ensure the integrity of the Parliament. The Speaker is only in that office because the Prime Minister used her numbers late last year to install him. The Prime Minister, to uphold the integrity of the Parliament, needs now to require the Speaker to step down until these matters are resolved. It’s also incumbent upon the Australian Federal Police to swiftly investigate the potentially criminal allegations that have been made against the Speaker.
I can’t underestimate the seriousness of this. The Speaker is required to maintain parliamentary standards and yet there are now these extremely serious allegations against the Speaker himself. So in order to maintain the respect and the reputation of the Parliament, in order to preserve the integrity of the Government and our institutions, it is very important that the Prime Minister act swiftly to require the Speaker to step aside and it’s very important that the Australian Federal Police quickly investigate these matters so that they can be resolved as soon as is humanly possible.
So these aren’t the first allegations against him. Should this have been dealt with a long time ago?
Well these are matters that have been referred to a court. These are matters where legal documents have been lodged. These are matters that are now to be the subject of proceedings in court, so these are of a vastly more serious and substantial nature than anything that has been alleged against Mr Slipper in the past.
After everything that’s been going on with Craig Thomson, I suppose the question is, you know, where to from here? Does she need to make a stand now?
Well this does go to the integrity not just of the Parliament but of the Prime Minister and of the Government. The Prime Minister cannot wash her hands of this business the way she has tried to wash her hands of the allegations concerning Mr Thomson because Mr Slipper is no mere backbencher. Mr Slipper is the Speaker of the Parliament. Mr Slipper occupies a very, very important office. He is the guardian of the standards of the Parliament, the protector of the reputation of the Parliament and now there are these extremely serious allegations against him and that’s why the only proper way forward is for the Speaker to step aside while these allegations are being dealt with. If he doesn’t do so voluntarily, the Prime Minister should indicate that she will require him to step aside until these matters are resolved.
Do you have any thoughts on who should take his place while the investigation is ongoing?
Well, as a matter of ordinary parliamentary procedure, if the Speaker is unable to take the chair, the senior Deputy Speaker automatically would take the chair.