The battle lines were drawn today in Federal Parliament as Tony Abbott led the charge to dump the Speaker immediately.
Julia Gillard then launched a blistering counter attack and Peter Slipper survived – to fight another day.
Verity Stone reports.
It was a fiery question time.
Tony Abbott launched a motion to have Mr Slipper immediately removed, allowed under section 35 of the Constitution.
Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition: “ Not only has the Speaker failed the character test, but the Prime Minister has failed the judgement test.”
His Deputy, was particularly concerned about the sexist nature of text messages sent by Slipper.
Julie Bishop, Deputy Opposition Leader: “How the women in this house are expected to show respect to the Speaker when we are now aware of the views he holds of women is beyond comprehension.”
The Prime Minister counter attacked firing both barrels.
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not.”
And labelling Mr Abbott a hypocrite.
Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “Because if he wants to know what misogyny in modern Australia looks like he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror, that’s what he needs.”
The Nationals tried to bring the debate back on course.
Warren Truss, Leader of National Party: “It is not a satisfactory defence of this person who holds the office of Speaker to just indulge in a tirade of abuse against the Leader of the Opposition.”
The government has agreed the comments are offensive but will not be bullied into removing Mr Slipper.
Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary: “The allegations have to be dealt with and then the situation is able to be assessed.”
Independent MP Tony Windsor previously supported Mr Slipper’s reinstatement as Speaker.
But his position has changed expressing doubts about his capability.
Tony Windsor, Independent MP: “I think it might raise other issues in terms of his capacity to maintain that position.”
Regardless, he voted with the Government ensuring Mr Slipper’s future is safe for now.
The Opposition’s motion was defeated 69 votes to 70.
Verity Stone, QUT News.