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Peter Slipper is not the sort of person I ordinarily support. Mostly because he’s a liberal, and I tend to lean a lot further to the left. However, something about the way he was treated on election day got my hackles up.
Peter Slipper was much maligned by the press from April, 2012 when he was charged with sexual harassment. While he was supported by Julia Gillard, this merely put him in Tony Abbott’s sights. Despite being a member of the Liberal National Party, he received no support for them at all.
Don’t get me wrong; sexual harassment is wrong. However, the case hadn’t been judged yet. One of the fundamental tenets of our society is that of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
This was completely ignored in the case of Peter Slipper. There was outcry for 7 months until the case against Slipper was completely dismissed on December 12, 2012 with Justice Steven Rares said that the case was launched for political purposes. He stated that the case brought by Ashby was done to advance the Liberal Party (one would assume by replacing Slipper with Brough).
Did public opinion swing back in favor of Mr Slipper after his innocence was declared? Did Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop apologise? Of course not.
Now, Peter Slipper has been accused of more than sexual harassment. He has also been charged with three counts of general dishonesty causing a risk of loss to the Commonwealth. This case will not be seen in court until December, 2013.
I have no idea whether he is innocent or guilty. I don’t particularly care to be honest. What I care about is that in both cases the media and society deemed him guilty without due process in a court of law. Frankly, I think that’s appalling.
Mr Slipper was not re-endorsed at this most recent election by The Liberal National Party despite him not having been found guilty of anything. Mr Slipper ran as an independent and received both abuse from voters and only 1.4% of the vote.
I wonder if the results would have been different if the media had respected the fact that Slipper is innocent until proven guilty.