Bill Hoffman
Bill Hoffman

Slipper can easily resolve issues

THE Peter Slipper affair is being deflected by politics and for that reason alone there remains a very real danger that he may never have to provide the simple answers he's been asked to provide for the past two and a half years.

James Ashby's allegations have finally caught the national media's attention, but the real issue surrounding the Member for Fisher is and has always been the accountability of his use of public money.

The civil matter has been filed with the courts and will eventually be resolved.

The Speaker has stood aside on full pay at the request of the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader sensing blood in the water is, as usual, at the height of pious attack.

His accusations of poor judgment on the part of the Prime Minister could as well be made of himself. Mr Abbott simply didn't want to know when asked by this newspaper in 2010 whether Mr Slipper's spending patterns raised cause for concern.

Nor was the LNP leader anywhere to be seen when the Sunshine Coast petition hit Parliament asking for a full examination of Mr Slipper's entitlement claims.

What remains a mystery is why, if his spending has truly been inside the entitlements, Mr Slipper simply doesn't just accept the offer, first extended to him by this paper on August 12, 2010, and sit down and take us through his diary to explain why, as his expenditure would suggest, he was one of the busiest Members of Parliament.

The offer was made in the midst of an election campaign. For the purpose of simplifying the exercise we suggested a period from July 14 to August 9, 2009.

It was late the following afternoon before we received a defensive response that totally ignored what was a perfect opportunity for the Member for Fisher to detail the extent of his efforts on our behalf.

Attempts since to have him explain the electoral or parliamentary business which required the expenditure of public money have been dismissed with the statement that his spending was within entitlements.

In the process of our investigations the issue of Mr Slipper's private life has been raised.

It is not, and has never been in itself of any interest. Mr Slipper's private affairs are rightly his own business.

What is of interest is that he has properly used the public money he has claimed for parliamentary or electoral business.

Mr Slipper has always had it in his absolute power to resolve these matters by explaining exactly the nature of that business.

If he won't, it is more than time that he is required to do so by either the Parliament or the courts.

The game of politics may ultimately settle for considerably less, but the broader body of Australian taxpayers, demands nothing less.