Slipper denies speech snooze

Liberal MP Peter Slipper closes his eyes during the historic speech in Parliament.
Liberal MP Peter Slipper closes his eyes during the historic speech in Parliament. Contributed

SUNSHINE Coast MP Peter Slipper has denied that he fell asleep yesterday in Federal Parliament during an historic speech by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Liberal MP was spotted by journalists in the Canberra press gallery, who jumped to their mobile phones as he appeared to doze off.

A journalist from a Sydney radio station announced on her Twitter account: “There’s a Liberal MP dozing quite publicly through SBY’s speech ...”

A second journalist then identified the snoozing politician as the Member for Fisher.

Another reporter responded with: “Peter Slipper woken by the applause by SBY”.

A photograph of Mr Slipper, taken from a mobile phone on the Opposition side of parliament, was sent anonymously to the Daily yesterday afternoon.

The president’s speech was the first by an Indonesian leader in the Australian parliament.

The speech included indications that the country was hardening laws against people smugglers, condemning them to prison for up to five years if convicted.

The president also touched on how both Indonesians and Australians were guilty of unpleasant stereotypes of each other, an obstacle he felt needed to be overcome if both countries were to improve relations.

Mr Slipper denied he was sneaking in beauty sleep during the international leader’s speech, but conceded he may have closed his eyes.

“I’m not saying that I didn’t close my eyes,” he said.

“But I’ve been a very strong supporter of Indonesian and Australian relations.

“I thought it was a great speech.

“I did not sleep. I’m not saying that I didn’t close my eyes.

“If I’d known there was a camera, I wouldn’t have closed my eyes.”

Mr Slipper said he welcomed any cross-examination of what was included in the speech, saying he thought the president “reinforced that Australia and Indonesia were neighbours and friends and that we should share a synergy”.

“He very strongly reinforced the fact that when we need them, they’re there, and when they need us, we’re there.”

Mr Slipper said he was “privileged” to have been able to hear the first speech in parliament by an Indonesian leader.

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