Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Former speaker Peter Slipper to stand for re-election in Fisher - The Australian

Inge Slipper stresses to reporters that she loves her husband, and will stand by him. Courtesy ABC News 24.

Peter Slipper and wife Inge announce that he will contest the seat of Fisher at the September 7 election. Source: News Limited

PETER Slipper's wife Inge has delivered an impassioned defence of the controversial former speaker, as he announced he would recontest the Queensland seat of Fisher.

The controversial former Liberal MP turned independent is up against Howard government minister Mal Brough, who is standing for the Liberal National Party.

"It is a David and Goliath effort, every election is a challenge," Mr Slipper said outside his Sunshine Coast office.

Mr Slipper's decision to fight for his seat follows a turbulent period during which he was accused of sexual harassment, charged with misusing expenses and resigned as speaker over offensive text messages.

Inge Slipper said the past 18 months had been difficult for the couple.

She said she had been disgusted by rumours that their marriage was a sham.

"Our marriage is real," Mrs Slipper told reporters. "I love Peter."

Rumours about the legitimacy of their relationship had been a "direct hit on our marriage".

"Our marriage is real, I have stuck by Peter, I love Peter, there is so many things you guys don't understand about him.

"He's made some mistakes, yes. But he is actually a really nice, decent, kind-hearted guy.

You just don't really understand him and I think that is really sad."

Mrs Slipper said her husband had continued to work for the people of Fisher even as the couple faced "hell".

Pressed about his "mistakes", Mr Slipper said: "We have all made mistakes, my friend."

"He was crazy enough to marry me," added Mrs Slipper.

Mr Slipper, who served as speaker from November 2011 to October 2012, said he had been urged to run by constituents but faced his toughest fight for the seat yet.

He said he was recontesting to provide "real choice" for voters.

Mr Slipper's decision to stand again follows claims against him of sexual harasssment by former staffer James Ashby.

The sexual harassment case was thrown out by Federal Court Justice Stephen Rares, who found Mr Ashby's predominant purpose for bringing the case was to pursue a political attack against his former boss.

Mr Brough was found by the court to have worked with Mr Ashby to undermine the former speaker.

Mr Slipper said the last 18 months had been extremely difficult for his family, but he was optimistic about his chances of holding on to his seat.

"I'm very confident to be judged by the people of Fisher," he said.

"The messages that I get back from the community, particularly since the Justice Rares decision, is that people have seen through the plot that was set up against me."

Mr Slipper will in December face trial over allegations he misused a taxpayer-funded Cabcharge card while visiting wineries and restaurants outside Canberra in January 2010.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Slipper delivered a "precautionary" valedictory speech to parliament before it rose for the election, saying he had yet to decide whether or not to run.
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