|27th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives|
24 November 2011 – 9 October 2012
|Preceded by||Harry Jenkins|
|Succeeded by||Anna Burke|
|Deputy Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives|
28 September 2010 – 24 November 2011
|Preceded by||Anna Burke|
|Succeeded by||Anna Burke|
|Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration|
21 October 1998 – 22 October 2004
|Prime Minister||John Howard|
|Preceded by||New position|
|Succeeded by||Sharman Stone|
|Member of the Australian Parliament|
13 March 1993 – 7 September 2013
|Preceded by||Michael Lavarch|
|Succeeded by||Mal Brough|
1 December 1984 – 11 July 1987
|Preceded by||Evan Adermann|
|Succeeded by||Michael Lavarch|
Peter Neil Slipper|
14 February 1950
Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Palmer United (May 11, 2013)
|Liberal National (state level, 2008–2011)|
Lyn Hooper (divorced)|
Inge-Jane Hall (m. 2006)
|Relations||Max Hooper (father-in-law)|
|Alma mater||University of Queensland|
|Occupation||Politician, barrister, farmer, priest|
Peter Neil Slipper (born 14 February 1950) is a former Australian politician who served in the House of Representatives from 1984 to 1987 and from 1993 to 2013, representing the Division of Fisher in Queensland. He was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2012.
Slipper is originally from Ipswich, Queensland, and studied arts and law at the University of Queensland. He worked as a lawyer and farmer before entering politics. Slipper was first elected to parliament at the age of 34, standing as a member of the National Party. He was defeated after one term, but reclaimed the seat at the 1993 election as a member of the Liberal Party. During the Howard Government, he served as a government whip and a parliamentary secretary.
After the 2010 election, Slipper fell out with his Coalition colleagues over moves to disendorse him. He was elected Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in September 2010, with the backing of the Labor Party. In November 2011, he was elected Speaker of the House in place of Labor's Harry Jenkins, thereby giving the Labor minority government an additional number on the floor. Slipper resigned from the Liberal Party upon taking office, pre-empting moves to expel him. He was the first independent to serve as speaker since Frederick Holder (1901–1909).
In April 2012, Slipper took a leave of absence from the speakership in order to deal with an Australian Federal Police investigation into his alleged misuse of Cabcharge vouchers, as well as sexual harassment allegations from a former staffer, James Ashby. He eventually formally resigned in October 2012; he was unsuccessful in his bid to be re-elected as an independent at the 2013 federal election. Slipper was convicted of defrauding the government in July 2014, but successfully appealed the charges and had his conviction overturned in February 2015. Ashby dropped his sexual harassment lawsuit in June 2014.
Slipper was born in Ipswich, Queensland, and was educated at Ipswich Grammar School and the University of Queensland, where he graduated with Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. He has worked as a solicitor, barrister, farmer and businessman.
Slipper first won Fisher as a National candidate in 1984. The once safely conservative seat had become somewhat more marginal after a redistribution pushed the seat into the outer suburbs of Brisbane. During his first term, Slipper was a staunch supporter of the "Joh for Canberra" campaign. He was defeated in 1987 by Labor's Michael Lavarch. However, a redistribution in 1993 made Fisher notionally Liberal. Slipper sought to retake his old seat, this time as a Liberal, and won.
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.
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 Chairman (2004 to 2007), 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), the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Privileges and the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
Alleged abuse of travel entitlements
In 2010 Slipper drew significant local and national media attention over the alleged overuse of his parliamentary travel entitlements. 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." The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, initially backed Slipper, perhaps due to fact that Slipper had voted for Abbott for the Liberal leadership in December 2009 which Abbott had won by one vote, but later publicly stated that it was up to each member to adhere to the rules regarding entitlements.
Slipper has said that he has been cleared of these allegations.
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.
By this time, it became apparent that Slipper would lose his LNP endorsement for the next election. With this in mind, Labor believed that Slipper was a potential "weak link" in the Coalition, and sought to use him to bolster its parliamentary standing. 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. In December 2010, Brough confirmed his intention to seek preselection, by running against Slipper.
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.
In September 2011, Slipper raised concerns of alleged branch stacking by Brough, and there was growing pressure over how the LNP would determine preselection of candidates for the seat of Fisher, with Slipper threatening to resign from the party if not re-endorsed.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
In November 2011, Harry Jenkins, a member of the Australian Labor Party, unexpectedly resigned as 26th Speaker of the House of Representatives. Slipper was nominated unopposed and installed as Speaker on 24 November 2011. 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.
Upon his election as Speaker, Slipper moved to restore various traditions of the office of Speaker. Most notably, Slipper took to wearing the traditional gown and bar jacket over his business attire. He also moved to reinstate the longer and more formal Speaker's procession into the House involving the Serjeant-at-Arms and the Mace, something that hadn't been seen in three decades. During his first formal procession into parliament, Slipper wore a gown, bar jacket, and a white bow tie with white bands. Slipper soon established a no-nonsense reputation; during his first Question Time, he expelled four of his former Coalition colleagues without warning.
Sexual harassment and further expenses allegations
On 20 April 2012, Slipper was accused of misusing Cabcharge vouchers—an allegation acknowledged as being investigated by the Federal Police, with a summons issued in January 2013 in relation to matters unconnected with the James Ashby allegations which were later withdrawn by Ashby. He was also accused of sexually harassing James Ashby who was a member of his staff. Ashby, a 33-year-old gay man, 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".
The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, and other senior Opposition figures such as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Eric Abetz, called for Slipper to resign until Ashby's claims were investigated. The Government said it was a legal matter and that they would not be asking for Slipper's resignation. However, in April 2012, Slipper briefly stepped aside from the speakership resuming the position shortly afterwards but announced to the House in May that he would not take the chair in the House for the time being (and therefore not enter the chamber of the House), while investigations into the alleged travel-related misconduct were conducted. The Coalition, as well as Rob Oakeshott, Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor, 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. The Government agreed, but various questions about the documents, including whether the payments were inflated and even whether Slipper signed them all, 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".
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.
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." However, in February 2014 Ashby successfully appealed against the decision to dismiss the case. Ashby abandoned his lawsuit against Slipper in June 2014.
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 was 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.
On 28 July 2014, Slipper was found guilty of dishonestly using taxpayer funds to visit Canberra wineries for his own enjoyment. On 24 September 2014, he was sentenced to 300 hours community service and ordered to reimburse taxpayers for the $954 total that was spent on the trips. Slipper appealed the sentence, and the case was heard in December 2014. Justice John Burns reserved his decision until 26 February 2015, when he ruled the appeal be upheld and the conviction and sentence be set aside.
Resignation as Speaker of the House
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). 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. Slipper later entered Parliament and, when announcing his resignation, said:
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.
On 11 May 2013, Slipper became the first lower house member of the Palmer United Party, also known as the (revived) United Australia Party. He joined the party on the morning of 11 May. This situation was short-lived however, because hours after announcing his membership had been accepted, the party released a statement on its website announcing members had decided to revoke Slipper's membership under clause D26 of the constitution of the party.
Slipper stood as an independent candidate in the Division of Fisher at the 2013 federal election, finishing seventh with 1,207 votes.
Slipper was married to his first wife Lyn (née Hooper) for 15 years, and the couple had two children together. They remained on good terms after their divorce. Her father Max Hooper was a member of the Parliament of Queensland. In 2006, Slipper married Inge Hall at a high-profile ceremony attended by many of his parliamentary colleagues.
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. He was also the chancellor of the TAC, having succeeded Michael Atkinson, but resigned from this position in August 2012.
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- Poll Budger: Fisher
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- Slipper v Turner  ACTSC 27
- Inman, Michael. "Peter Slipper conviction overturned by Canberra court".
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- "Tony Abbott claimed $600 to attend Peter Slipper's wedding". Brisbane Times. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- Livingstone, Tess (19 March 2010). "Anglican-Catholic union has a following". The Australian.
- Slipper's biographical information on the Parliament of Australia website
- Slipper's first speech to Parliament (28 February 1985) on the Parliament of Australia website
- Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia (No 4)  FCA 1411 (12 December 2012), Federal Court
- Prime Minister's Speech on No Confidence Motion
|Parliament of Australia|
| Member for Fisher
| Member for Fisher
| Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives