In Peter Hartcher’s op ed, which may have been written by Oakeshott and Windsor, we are told that Slipper’s demise is due entirely to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Windsor and Oakeshott, because
Slipper would not be forced out by a vote of Parliament, a signal dishonour. But their support was on condition that he announce his resignation by the end of the day.
A dishonour that was entirely appropriate – Slipper should not have been allowed to resign, he should have been sacked as Speaker.
On the other point, due process.
They [Oakeshott and Windsor] had thought the opposition would respect the processes of the Federal Court, which had reserved its judgment in the sexual harassment matter. But politics has a long and inglorious record of riding roughshod over the courts. … The principle of “due process” commonly is treated as a matter of political convenience rather than jurisprudential principle in the Federal Parliament
I do not accept the due process argument. Section 35 of the Constitution gives the power to select the Speaker to the House of Representatives
35. The House of Representatives shall, before proceeding to the despatch of any other business, choose a member to be the Speaker of the House, and as often as the office of Speaker becomes vacant the House shall again choose a member to be the Speaker.
The Speaker shall cease to hold his office if he ceases to be a member. He may be removed from office by a vote of the House, or he may resign his office or his seat by writing addressed to the Governor‑General.
In other words, the Speaker serves at the pleasure of the House.
Imagine if a Speaker was charged with murder or paedophilia, but was pleading not guilty. Does anyone think that the House should not then remove the Speaker?
But that would then be a breach of ‘due process’ surely? Then it comes to a matter of judgement: how serious is the crime which the Speaker has been alleged to have committed. A judgement which must be exercised by the House of Representatives.
Now I don’t hold to the due process argument. But those that do must accept, surely, that a Speaker charged with murder or paedolphilia who is pleading not guilty should be allowed to remain as Speaker if he or she does not resign.