ABC Online has the recording and transcript of the interview with Archbishop John Hepworth on Peter Slipper.
Also with ABC:
The head of the Australian Anglican Catholic Church says Speaker Peter Slipper is a “complex” man who has taken a “strong” stand on “conservative moral issues” but has another side to his character.
Mr Slipper, who is facing allegations he rorted Cabcharge vouchers and sexually harassed a male staffer, is an ordained priest in the Traditional Anglican Communion.
Earlier this week, Archbishop John Hepworth asked Mr Slipper to stand aside from his role as a priest and legal adviser to the synod until the harassment allegations are resolved.
So far Mr Slipper has failed to do so.
This morning, Archbishop Hepworth told AM Mr Slipper was “in the tradition of the Australian larrikin MP … that is, people who are interesting, have bad patches and very good patches”.
“He’s a daily mass Christian when he’s in Canberra. And his speech-making and voting record in the House, over many years, has been consistent on the life issues, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, on religious freedom issues,” he said.
Archbishop Hepworth said he had been “surprised” by the recent allegations which have forced Mr Slipper to stand aside from the Speaker’s job.
“I’ve heard rumours,” he said.
“I’ve pursued some of these rumours in connection with Peter Slipper and I have been satisfied that there was no proof existing, so I carry on.
“There are a number of Peter Slippers. There’s the very devoted husband to [wife] Inge, and she is a strong defender of Peter, [a] strong Liberal woman you’d say in the Menzies tradition.
“I’ve also seen Peter drink too much. I’ve spoken to him about this. I’ve seen the arrogance that comes about when that happens.
“So I’ve seen the complexity of Peter Slipper. And what we’re seeing at the present time is one of those sides, although he, let it be said, denies the moral and sexual wrongdoing in the harassment case and also denies the criminal matter.”
Archbishop Hepworth repeated his calls for Mr Slipper to stand down from his church roles while the allegations against him are investigated.
“I’ve said to Peter that I think it is not appropriate to stand aside from the speakership and not stand aside from an important office in a church position,” he said.
“We’re having an exchange of texts. I’m meeting him later in the week in Brisbane and his wife. They’ve both actually got flu at the moment, so I’m not pursuing that until Friday when I’m in Brisbane.
“He’s obviously quite shattered by this. I think he had – well I know that he had made a very significant personal effort to improve the standing of Parliament, and particularly Question Time.
“I’m just trying to qualify the good with the bad and to note that Peter Slipper is a complex character.
“I have an open mind about the current things because I’m in no position to make a judgment.”