Gillard Distances from Slipper and Thompson Scandal
After weeks of avoiding the issue, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has finally acted and asked Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson to move out of the way.
The Prime Minister was in Canberra this morning when she made the announcement. She said the controversies hounding Thomson and Slipper have cast a dark cloud and Australians are becoming more concerned about how the two have conducted themselves in public.
Gillard said she spoke to Thomson over the phone and suspended him from the party. She, however, clarified that she has not consulted the cabinet about it. She added that Thomson said he is mulling things over and moving to the cross-bench may be the best move.
The Prime Minister, meanwhile, said she asked Slipper to vacate his post as Speaker for a longer period as an act of respect for the Parliament. Deputy Speaker Anna Burke has temporarily replaced Slipper.
The embattled Speaker has accepted the Prime Minister’s recommendation and said he is looking forward to resuming his post soon.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott was quick to criticize Gillard, saying that the move is meaningless. He said that Gillard continues to count on Thomson’s vote so that Gillard can maintain control of the Parliament.
Abbott added that both Thomson and Slipper should not be eligible to vote in the Parliament.
Thomson is facing accusations for allegedly using the Health Services Union credit card to pay for the services of prostitutes. Slipper, meanwhile, is facing allegations of sexually harassing a former staffer. Both politicians have denied the claims.