Ex-federal speaker Peter Slipper has been forced to apologise to two international students over the content of a text message he blamed on jet lag.
The former Liberal National MP who left politics in 2013 apologised to the students after suggesting he might have them deported over a fees dispute.
The Legal Profession Board of Tasmania upheld their complaint against Slipper over the “indirect threat” and ordered a formal apology.
The students hired Slipper for legal work relating to a restraining order but after a dispute about a $650 fee, they parted ways with the now Hobart-based lawyer.
“He is very unprofessional, he messages at odd timings and threatens us that he will take action,” the students complained to the legal authority.
Slipper sent a text to the uncle of one of the men about the $650 fee after 10 p.m. on July 15 last year.
“I’m inclined to write to the Minister for Home Affairs as I’m not convinced we need people like these guys in the country. I have to check whether it is ethnically [sic] appropriate for me to do so. If it is I will and if it’s not I won’t,” Slipper wrote.
He followed up at 3.36 a.m. the following day.
“I thought I would let you know that I have decided not to write to the Minister for Home Affairs even if it is ethically appropriate for me to do so,” he said.
Slipper told the board he was suffering jet lag at the time of the first text message, adding he’d later retracted what he said.
The board questioned when he thought it might be ethically appropriate for him to send that message.
“I was completely uncertain of the ethics of it,” he said.
He also received a formal reprimand from the legal board.
Slipper’s texting habits have got him into trouble before, ahead of his resignation from parliament seven years ago.
While an MP he allegedly sent crude and expletive-laden text messages about others and once described then Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella as an “ignorant botch” (sic).
By Karen Sweeney