PETER Slipper is a "complex character" and a "larrikin" who should relinquish his role as an ordained priest in the Traditional Anglican Communion while allegations of fraud and sexual harassment hang over his head.
That was the assessment of Archbishop John Hepworth, who confirmed on ABC radio yesterday that he had also asked Mr Slipper to stand down as the church's senior legal officer.
"I've said to Peter that I think it is not appropriate to stand aside from the speakership and not stand aside from an important office in a church position," Archbishop Hepworth told the AM program.
Mr Slipper, the Member for Fisher, stood down as Speaker in the Federal Parliament on Sunday after allegations surfaced he misused taxpayer-funded Cabcharge dockets, a potentially criminal offence.
He is also being sued by former staff member James Ashby, who claims he was sexually harassed by the Speaker between January and March this year.
Mr Slipper denies all the allegations detailed in Federal Court documents lodged last Friday, and has vowed to return to the Speaker's chair pending the outcome of the Cabcharge matter.
Archbishop Hepworth, the primate of the breakaway Anglican church in Australia, described Mr Slipper as a "larrikin ... in the tradition of the Australian larrikin MP".
"And we have very few of them these days so they tend to stand out - that is, people who are interesting, exciting, have bad patches and very good patches, and Peter is a complex character," he said.
The Archbishop added there was a "number of Peter Slippers", revealing there had been occasions where he had spoken to the former Liberal MP about his drinking.
"There's the very devoted husband to Inge and she is a strong defender of Peter - strong Liberal woman, you'd say in the Menzies tradition," he said.
"I've also seen Peter drink too much. I've spoken to him about this. I've seen the arrogance that comes about when that happens.
"So I've seen the complexity of Peter Slipper and what we're seeing at the present time is one of those sides ..."
He said he hoped to meet with Mr Slipper and his wife tomorrow in Brisbane.