Federal Parliamentary Speaker Peter Slipper has arrived back in Australia to face a barrage of questions over fraud allegations and claims he sexually harassed a close aide.
Mr Slipper was overseas when former staffer James Ashby launched legal action in the Federal Court on Friday.
Mr Slipper had been due to touch down in Sydney, but fog diverted his flight to Brisbane airport, where a media pack waited for him to clear Customs.
It is unclear whether Mr Slipper is allowed to disembark or is required to continue on.
A spokeswoman for Qantas says passengers are generally required to complete their ticketed journey, but she says it is not impossible for them to get off at another destination, depending on their baggage.
Documents filed in the Federal Court on Friday under the Fair Work Act detail alleged explicit text messages, unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate comments by Mr Slipper toward Mr Ashby.
The speaker is also accused of misusing taxpayer-funded Cabcharges.
The Sunshine Coast MP denied the accusations on Twitter and at Los Angeles Airport before boarding a flight back to Australia yesterday.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says Mr Slipper must step aside until the allegations are investigated, and is calling on the Australian Federal Police to intervene.
“These are of a vastly more serious and substantial nature than anything that has been alleged against Mr Slipper in the past,” he said.
But the Government has given the strongest indication yet it will not attempt to get Mr Slipper to stand down.
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan has told ABC TV’s Insiders program it is up to Mr Slipper to decide whether to stand aside.
“I’ve been in Parliament a long time. I’ve seen allegations come and go. These are now allegations that are in legal proceedings,” he said.
“I think we should respect those legal proceedings, we should respect the processes.”
But Scott Prasser, a professor of public policy at the Australian Catholic University, says Mr Slipper should stand down until the allegations are fully investigated.
First published: 2012-04-22 09:44 AM
• Andrew Wilkie, Independent Member for Denison, Tuesday: I am of the strong view that Peter Slipper should not resume the Speaker’s Chair until all of the allegations against him are dealt with, including the allegation of sexual harassment.