Peter Slipper
Peter Slipper Warren Lynam

No confidence vote unsuccessful

THE Opposition said "the erosion of Labor's moral core now has a public face" as it unsuccessfully moved to suspend beleaguered Speaker Peter Slipper from chair permanently.

Manager of Opposition Business Christopher Pyne also sought to have Deputy Speaker Anna Burke stood down and former Speaker Harry Jenkins reinstated.

He said the Coalition believed the "clock should be restarted" from when Jenkins stepped down on November 24 to "repair" the House of Representatives for the "good of the people".

"We believe the integrity and standing of the parliament has been damaged," he said.

Mr Pyne said the move would demonstrate the "necessary first steps to restore the integrity of the parliament" after "backroom deals" to allow "the single-minded determination of this Prime Minister to gain and hold power at all costs".

He linked the government's refusal to make Mr Slipper step down permanently to "sleaze, greed and power at all costs".

Deputy Opposition leader Julie Bishop seconded the motion, asserting the public was "right royally sick of the trashing of our national institution they are seeing on a weekly basis under this government".

Manager of Government Business Anthony Albanese said the motion was against the standing order, the House of Representatives practices and Australian constitution provisions.

"They do it on the day that is the most important day of the year," he said.

"We on budget day, of all days, should have been having a debate about the economy."

After a division, the House was split evenly at 72-all.

The Deputy Speaker decided not to vote and because the question was not carried by the majority, the motion was not carried.

The Opposition also criticised the government's treatment of suspended Labor MP Craig Thomson who took his place on the cross-benches, a day after the release of a Fair Work Australia report alleging he misused Health Services Union funds.


Peter Slipper steps aside

Embattled speaker Peter Slipper took a swipe at the media as he stepped aside when parliament resumed today.

The beleaguered Sunshine Coast MP took the opportunity to formally deny the fraud and sexual harassment allegations against him in the House of Representatives.

He said he believed he was entitled to the presumption of innocence and to have them dealt with by "proper process".

"This is the first opportunity I have had to confirm to the house that I deny the allegations that have been made," he said.

"It is unfortunate that trial by media seems to have become the order of the day in this country."

Mr Slipper, who had to leave the chamber straight away and cannot participate in proceedings, said he had introduced numerous reforms as Speaker which were "supported by all sides" to ensure the house worked "the way intended".

He said he looked forward to continuing that role and meeting his goals when he was cleared of the allegations.

"There is general appreciation from the general community as to what I am hoping to achieve as speaker," he said.

Mr Slipper then invited Deputy Speaker Anna Burke to take the chair and stepped aside.

The Member for Fisher indicated he would step down from the Speaker role a week ago after a phone call from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

He is under investigation over fraud allegations he misused Cabcharge vouchers.

He also faces a civil suit over sexual harassment allegations from former staffer James Ashby.

There is speculation the Opposition will try to move a motion of no confidence against him this afternoon.

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