Speaker Peter Slipper has unreservedly apologized for sexist text messages he sent to his staffer James Ashby, saying that while they were private, ”nothing excuses their content”.
In a short statement this afternoon, Mr Slipper noted that ”in recent days, court proceedings have led to the public release of text messages reported to be between Mr James Ashby and me”.
The release of the messages, tendered as evidence in the Federal Court, have been condemned by both sides of politics and offensive and sexist.
Among the messages, Mr Slipper referred to female genitalia as ”shell-less mussels”.
Following their release, the Coalition today tried unsuccessfully to have Mr Slipper sacked from the speakership, with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott arguing he had ”failed the character test.”
Mr Slipper – who was in Canberra today – but not in the chamber for the vote, said that the text messages in question were intended to be private.
”It was intended at the time that text messages be private between Mr Ashby and me,” he said.
Nevertheless, Mr Slipper said that nothing excused the content of the messages.
”A number of these text messages refer to women and nothing excuses their content …. I understand why people, particularly women, would be offended by these statements and I unreservedly apologize for them.”
Mr Slipper’s statement made no reference to the motion which narrowly failed, 69 votes to 70, to sack him from the speakership this afternoon.