Peter Slipper, priest, altar boy, seeks to woo church vote
CONTROVERSIAL Sunshine Coast MP Peter Slipper sought to woo the church vote last night talking fondly of his days as an altar boy.
The once ordained Anglican priest spoke at length about the importance of Christian values at an Australian Christian Lobby candidates' forum at the KawanaLife Baptist Church.
He went head to head with LNP candidate Mal Brough who surprised many by declaring he had not made his mind up on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Mr Slipper, who made national headlines after being accused of the sexual harassment of a gay staff member, said it was very important that the Parliament stood up for Christian values.
"It is important to remember the basic, fundamental Christian values on which this country was founded,'' he told about 150 people at the forum.
"When I was about 13 I was asked to join the cathedral choir but I pretended my voice had already broken even though it hadn't,'' Mr Slipper said.
"When Inge and I were courting I used sing to her on the phone and she would hang up because my voice was so bad,'' he joked.
"But I became an altar server at St James Cathedral in Townsville and I can remember carrying the processional cross and I sort of managed to hit the sanctuary lamp which swung from left to right.''
His wife, who has revealed she wants to run in Fisher at the end of the term, was at the back of the forum supporting her husband, who arrived late, dressed casually in jeans, sneakers and a green striped business shirt.
Nine of the 10 candidates turned up for the forum fielding questions on everything from coal seam gas to whether they would support ongoing funding for school chaplains.
Mr Brough said he supported school chaplains, an initiative that he pointed out started under the Howard government, of which he was a Minister.
Mr Slipper, along with most candidates, said they supported marriage remaining between a man and a woman.
"I support the current definition of marriage under the Marriage Act,'' Mr Slipper declared.
"I will vote to ensure marriage remains a relationship between a man and a woman.''
"That is not to say there are not other sorts of loving relationships in our community but I would not support legislation to allow same-sex marriage.''
Clive Palmer candidate Bill Schoch said his party's stance was to leave it to a conscience vote of MPs, based on community standards.
"I have said I swear on the Bible. My conscience is personally against changing the definition… however I would listen to what the electors of Fisher wanted.''
Mal Brough agreed with the Palmer United Party's position and said he had not made up his own mind.
"That will surprise some of you.
"I actually don't think it is my right.
"I have come to this position because I have been bombarded by same-sex marriage supporters. I don't think that is representative of my community.
"If I just took every email that comes in I would have to say the whole community just about wants it, well I don't think that's true.
"I would not just do a poll,'' Mr Brough said of how he would determine his vote.
He said he would engage with the community, see where they were coming from and the reasons for their position and come to a view to try to reflect the view of the majority of the electorate.
"My conscience tells me that on this issue my role is to represent the majority of those people who wish to take the right to tell me and talk to me in a constructive manner,'' Mr Brough said.
Family First candidate Tony Moore said he would continually oppose same-sex marriage but said he never wanted to see gay people ostracized or victimized by the community.
Mark Meldon from the Katter Party also supported the definition remaining.
ALP candidate Bill Gissane said he was a 'progressive' and he believed the state should take a minimal role in how 'we conduct ourselves one to another''.
"For that reason I support gay marriage.''
Greens' candidate Garry Claridge said he supported marriage equality.
Rod Christensen, Rise Up Australia Party candidate, said he could not support gay marriage at all.
"The question we should be asking ourselves is what happens after we legalise it. Go and have a look at Massachusetts and see what's happened in that state since 2004.
"Once it is in and its legalised you can't complain any more.''
The youngest candidate Jarreau Terry said he believed marriage between a man and a woman was important for maintaining Australia's young population.
"I grew up with marriage between… Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve,'' he quipped.
"However, my aunty is a lesbian so there's nothing wrong with that.''