Cabinet ministers have rallied around Prime Minister Julia Gillard, defending her decision to support Peter Slipper as Speaker of the lower house up until the moment he resigned last night, sparked by the publication of explicit and crude text messages he sent to a former staffer.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said Ms Gillard and Labor did not know about the text messages to James Ashby at the time Mr Slipper was nominated to the chair.
''We don't make judgments based on rumours,'' she told ABC Radio.
''The Parliament is not a kangaroo court, it's not a star chamber.''
When asked why the government stood by Mr Slipper in Parliament yesterday, she only replied: ''He resigned.''
In extraordinary scenes in the House of Representatives last night, Mr Slipper announced his resignation after an unsuccessful attempt by the Coalition to have him sacked earlier in the day.
Families Minister Jenny Macklin said Ms Gillard's stirring defence of Mr Slipper during yesterday's parliamentary debate was an opportunity to respond to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's ''outrageous personal abuse'' of her.
''He calls her names across the table, repeatedly,'' Ms Macklin said.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith argued Mr Slipper sent the text messages before he became Speaker.
''It is not what he did in the chair,'' he told ABC Radio, speaking from Brussels where he is attending a NATO meeting.
Mr Smith said the government had not choice but to defend Mr Slipper because the opposition move to remove the Speaker was an ambush that ''came out of the blue''.
Trade Minister Craig Emerson has condemned text messages sent by Mr Slipper as ''completely unacceptable'', but also commended the outgoing Speaker for having ''done a good job''.
''It was not an edifying day, nor were the text messages exchanged edifying,'' Dr Emerson told the Seven Network.
''We have to do better as a parliament.''
Dr Emerson said it was the ''height of hypocrisy'' for Mr Abbott to be lecturing on the treatment of women, especially to Ms Gillard.
''All he does is operate on the basis of aggressive negativity. Let's try to lift the tone of the joint, instead of destroying the joint to which Mr Abbott is fully committed,'' Dr Emerson said.
However Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said the women of Australia had expected more from Ms Gillard.
''Instead of being remembered as Australia's first female Prime Minister, she'll be remembered as the Prime Minister who let down the women of Australia when she was put to the test,'' she said.
Ms Bishop added that Mr Slipper's decision to resign was ''yet another grubby political deal''.
''The independents agreed only to support the government in the house in return for Peter Slipper's resignation after the vote,'' she said.
Leader of the House Anthony Albanese would not confirm if he had played a role in Mr Slipper's resignation.
''He (Mr Slipper) took responsibility for his actions,'' Mr Albanese said.
''He resigned because he didn't want the Parliament to be dragged through this day after day.''
When pressed again, Mr Albanese said: ''It was his decision, and I don't discuss private conversations that I have, with either the Speaker or anyone else.''
Independent senator Nick Xenophon said this morning he had known Mr Slipper for many years and felt for him, as he had been used for a political purpose.
''Let's put this into context,'' he said.
''The prime minister installed Peter Slipper into that role with a specific view to stymie (independent MP) Andrew Wilkie and poker machine reform.''
Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the whole Slipper affair highlighted Ms Gillard's lack of judgment.
''Despite the affected outrage of the Prime Minister and her female ministers constantly on this issue of sexism and misogyny, when it was undertaken by Peter Slipper they didn't worry about it,'' she said.
Mr Slipper's resignation restored dignity to the office of Speaker, according to Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.
''We can all get on and do the job,'' she said.
Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said Labor had demonstrated they were ''complete and utter hypocrites, one day banging on'' about misogyny and the rights of women and the next, voting against them.
Senator Joyce tackled the tricky subject of Mr Abbott remarking the government was ''dying of shame'', saying he doubted the Opposition Leader would not repeat the phrase if he had his chance again.
Senator Joyce denied Mr Abbott was echoing the controversial remark broadcaster Alan Jones made about Ms Gillard's late father.
''I think it was a statement that was part of an unscripted speech,'' Senator Joyce said.
Senior Liberal Eric Abetz said the government was going from bad to worse.
''We had Ms Gillard defending Peter Slipper all day yesterday until Peter Slipper came to his own conclusion that his position was untenable,'' he said.