Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Government Goes to Ground over MP's Job

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Government Goes to Ground over MP's Job

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Hoffman

THE Gillard government ducked for cover yesterday over its appointment of Liberal Peter Slipper to the position of Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives.

Mr Slipper was in the chair when the first motion of the new parliament was lost by the government, the first time that had occurred since the 1940s.

But it was questions about the ongoing investigation by the Department of Finance and Deregulation into Mr Slipper's extravagant claims for parliamentary entitlements that had the government in a flap.

Neither Labor Member for Banks Daryl Melham, who nominated Mr Slipper for the Deputy Speaker's job, nor Chris Hayes, the Labor member for Fowler who seconded the nomination, would answer questions about whether they were aware of the expenses investigation.

Former Deputy Speaker, Labor's Anna Bourke, who also voted for Mr Slipper, said she had not been aware of the investigation but would have supported her party's nomination anyway.

Rumours are circulating in Canberra and have also been aired on the Sunshine Coast that Mr Slipper may have cut a deal to avoid full scrutiny of expense claims that rivalled that of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray refused to bring greater transparency to the investigation, saying that those who wanted greater detail could attempt to get it through the Freedom of Information process.

Mr Gray had been asked whether, in the interests of the ongoing public perception of the standing and integrity of the parliament and its processes, he was prepared to seek the suspension of existing protocols to allow full transparency in relation to the investigation into Mr Slipper's entitlement claims.

In response to inquiries from the Daily in August, Auditor General Ian McPhee pointed to the Australian National Audit Report No. …

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