Peter Slipper should stand aside from the Speakership until both the matters he currently faces have been resolved.

Slipper has appropriately stood aside while issues relating to his use of travel expenses are resolved. But he should not return to the Speakership until allegations made about his behaviour toward a staff member are finalised.

This is not to call for a blanket rule that any MP involved in litigation should stand aside from their political or parliamentary role; that would plainly be problematic, particularly given the possibility that vexatious litigation could then be used as a political weapon.

But the allegations made against Slipper by a staff member, which he rejects, relate to his performance as Speaker, not to issues involving his private life or outside interests. In addition, the Speakership is a key role in Australian democracy and in the Constitution. A higher standard should apply to it than other parliamentary or governmental positions.

It might also shed further light on the issue of bullying and harassment in political workplaces, an issue that politicians of all parties have an incentive to sweep under the carpet. Even if the allegations are not proven, Slipper’s standing aside during their  investigation would send a signal to people in politicians’ offices everywhere that claims of office bullying will be taken seriously — more seriously than they currently are.