Peter Slipper Stands Down
Peter Slipper has stood down as Speaker of the House of Representatives after being hounded by allegations of sexual harassment and mounting calls for him to step down.
In a statement he released today, Slipper continues to deny the allegations made against him by former staff James Ashby. He also explained that because the allegations are criminal in nature, he believes that it is not appropriate for him to remain as Speaker.
Labor MP and Deputy Speaker Anna Burke is set to temporarily replace him as Speaker.
Former staff James Ashby filed a formal case again the Speaker. He accused Slipper for making unwanted sexual advances against him, including sending him inappropriate text messages, asking him to massage Slipper, and hiring him specifically to pursue an intimate relationship with the Speaker.
Calls have been growing for Slipper to resign. Earlier, Opposition leader Eric Abetz said Slipper must be removed from parliament. Treasurer Wayne Swan, however, was quick to pacify disgruntled quarters. Swan said that everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. He told the ABC Television that there is a need to respect the legal proceedings.
Swan also fired back at the Opposition, saying the group is using the issue to distract the public from the economic debate.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott, meanwhile, echoed Abetz’s sentiments, saying Prime Minister Julia Gillard should be proactive in restoring the parliament’s integrity. He added that the Prime Minister should make it clear that Slipper that he needs to resign.
Abbot added that Gillard has been washing her hands especially in the case of Craig Thomson, who is under fire for alleged financial mismanagement in Health Services Union.