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Federal Government

THE SLIPPER DROPS: But conservative dreams of an early election go unfulfilled

GillardslipperWhen Peter Slipper resigned, the former Speaker demonstrated a dignity and a vulnerability that many would say had been missing from both his career and this hung Parliament.

Will Slipper the crossbencher vote with the Government on key motions? [EDITOR: He voted with the government this morning on the election of a Deputy Speaker, with the Opposition criticising the government for taking his vote while not ruling out taking it themselves]

Probably. A motion of no-confidence in the government to test Slipper’s loyalty and the House’s numbers is surely imminent.

Hypothetically, Wilkie and Slipper could bring this Parliament to an orderly end with 76-74 vote.

Wilkie is unlikely to participate in this and is considered highly likely to re-visit his anti-pokie policies on the Gillard Government.

An honourable course of action for Slipper would be to vote against the Government and let Anna Burke make the casting vote.

But even that is unlikely.

Slipper, who has been the fairest Speaker in living memory, will want to sit out this term and hope he is exonerated in court.

Is that possible?

Yes. The texts are blue and unbecoming. However, there seems to be sufficient reasonable doubt for a judge to dismiss Ashby’s claims of harassment.

Slipper’s reputation has paid a very high price for this covetousness for the Speaker’s chair. In the meantime, he and the government will hang on to recover some of his wounded pride. And that it is a pity.

This Federal Parliament has been a dreadful farrago of hypocrisy and hyperbole, of cant and contempt. This Parliament is despised.

Note here that I don’t say the Prime Minister is despised. She is not. In punter land, Julia Gillard is another merely untrustworthy politician leading a directionless government.

It is no more complicated than that.

The new paradigm of this hung parliament has assisted this directionless.

As a vanity project for the cross-benchers Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, these former embittered Nationals have personally mishandled its integrity of the new paradigm.

Windsor, in particular, has indulged in unconvincing slurs against the Leader of the Opposition. He has taken the Opposition’s … well … opposition to his choice of government way-too personally.

A new era of deference and civility has been elusive because Windsor and Oakeshott did not know how to even pretend to be honest brokers. They became open apologists for Gillard’s broken promise regarding the carbon tax. They sold their neutrality to an unhinged anti-Abbott campaign.

The new paradigm was a lost opportunity because of their behaviour, not the Coalition’s.

The media, largely sympathetic to Gillard, has egged on by a thinly veiled focus grouped strategy to besmirch Abbott’s reputation, has sidelined the following issues in the last two weeks:

■ The resignation of a Defence Secretary because of the under-funding of our armed forces;

■ The deteriorating health of the Great Barrier Reef;

■ The economy in the context of a post-peak mining boom, a rapidly easing Chinese economy, subsequent job losses and an interest rate cut to shore up consumer confidence;

■ The risks to the multi-million live exports of sheep and cattle to the Mid-East by animal rights activists;

■ The ongoing three-way tug of war between the Government, the High Court and people smugglers;

■ The growing adventurism of the Chinese government in North and South East Asia;

■ The loosening of alcohol restrictions in the NT and Queensland for vulnerable Aboriginal communities; and

■ The cornucopia of opportunities for our services and financial sectors in a booming Indonesia and other near northern economies.

The Alan Jones or the Ashby-Slipper controversies should not have eclipsed none of these issues, but it did.

The blame in undermining national priorities lies primarily with the petty vengeful and salacious journalistic juggernaut. The Australian mainstream media confuses itself with the national interest; it believes it has a vital role in polarising the electorate against Abbott’s leadership in the name of a gender war, laced with ugly sectarianism; and yet it believes that it is a qualified arbiter on all that is sweetness and light.

The Gillard Government has been feeding this self-righteous group-think by framing aggressive negativity of Opposition attacks with sexism and now misogyny.

Not one current Labor frontbencher that endured the Latham years ever complained about aggression or negativity or colourful idioms, let alone specific and obscene attacks at least one female columnist, either at the time or subsequently.

The Government should be alive to the fact that the Australians are not buying vexatious claims against Abbott.

On the day the Speaker resigned for derogative and demeaning vulgarities towards female genitalia, it is not credible for the Prime Minister to claim zero tolerance towards the great contemporary of blasphemies against the womanhood, when she just voted to protect him.

As November 2011, Gillard owned the opprobrium that went with offering him the second highest office in the House of Representatives to Slipper. It is simple as that.

In the public’s mind, the Prime Minister has ‘jumped the shark’ with these claims, no matter how genuinely personally offended she may be.

A stateswoman should rise above it and should have ceased indulging in the personal attacks against Abbott.

Yesterday’s 15-minute speech against Abbott delivered by Gillard was rehearsed outrage. It was market-tested by Albanese at a doorstop yesterday morning. Here is the doorstop transcript – it is a close facsimile of Gillard’s speech that the usual suspects in the media thought was a spontaneous tour de force.

Surprisingly Michelle Grattan, press gallery doyenne, even described Gillard’s speech as ‘desperate’ on RN this morning.

Labor has tried almost everything to shake the Coalition’s lead in the polls, including the aforementioned confected gender war. As a tactic and as a strategy, it is wrong because it is divisive and personal and unedifying. It hurts Labor’s reputation.

My advise is to try resembling a half credible government with purpose – the single thing the public craves.

Hating Tony Abbott and ‘the Tories’ is not a purpose; it is a pathology. Windsor, Gillard, her staff, Albanese and most of the press gallery have no insight into their own disease.

Whatever principles they are trying to defend is now lost in the fog of anti-Abbott hate.

Tony has not strangled a cat. He wants to be an alternative PM. Go after his policies.

Slipper’s demise is a significant milestone in for the new paradigm. The numbers in the House are closer and more complicated yet an early election is no more likely. It remains the stuff of Liberal staffer fantasy, already booking in appointments with their tailor for a few new suits to celebrate.

Abbott wanted an early election. Instead the government with the cross-benchers’ support is stewing itself slowly into ignominy and electoral defeat.

Only Rudd’s second coming – a seriously dysfunctional administrator with serious character flaws – will bring about an early election.

Not even I could recommend that as a solution.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. An Abbott led Government would provide ……..?

    Posted by Reggie | October 10, 2012, 14:02
  2. some

    Posted by logic, basic morality | October 10, 2012, 15:42
  3. An abbott government is exactly what the labor party needs. the sooner it is in opposition the sooner a Shorten led recovery will eventuate. An early election is just what everyone needs.

    Posted by wtf | October 10, 2012, 17:00
  4. I doubt the Governmnent would be taking your “advise” any time soon Nick. As for Abbott, he needs to pull his plonker out of his CoS and start acting like a leader, or the party room might turn to Turnbull.

    Posted by voice of reason | October 10, 2012, 18:24
  5. Australian politics has reached the s bend with this gender bullshit.Get on and govern you motons

    Posted by the scribe | October 11, 2012, 8:10
  6. The party room will never turn to Turnbull, but keep dreaming.

    Posted by Moi | October 11, 2012, 10:28
  7. I don’t know who or what a Nick Mack is but surely this column belongs as an Opinion piece in The Australian. Mate, at least try and be objective and If you can’t bring yourself to do that then try and not lie too much. Oh, and as to the gender wars, if you cannot see it then I would keep your Labrador well fed.

    Posted by Rivoboy | October 11, 2012, 10:50
  8. This unedifying mess has seen labor sink lower than i even i thought they would resort to, crawl up their own arse. This was a disgrace and gillard has lost the male votes1

    Posted by cynic | October 11, 2012, 10:52
  9. It just gets worse. At least in places like Malaysia there are full-blown punch-ons in Parliament rather than the focus group-tested tripe that is spewed forth in Canberra.

    Posted by The Truth | October 11, 2012, 12:04
  10. Tes, Julia showed her true mussels in Parliament yesterday. Perhaps Craig Emerson can send us some pics.

    Posted by Moi | October 11, 2012, 12:16
  11. The Herald Sun echoes Vexnews:

    ONE thing has become clear in the aftermath of the Peter Slipper affair – Australia cannot endure another 12 months with a dysfunctional Parliament.

    It was always likely that a minority Gillard Government would struggle to be effective… But the toxic nature of debate, the poisonous character assassinations and the absence of any positive intent has gone on long enough. The Australian people deserve better and they deserve to be heard.

    The Slipper debacle has been an enormous embarrassment for Labor but not even the party’s most ardent supporter could pretend that it is an isolated incident. Take your pick: the tensions with former PM Kevin Rudd, the leaks, the infighting and the Craig Thomson affair all stand alongside the appointment of Mr Slipper as Speaker, a move that had nothing to do with good government and everything to do with propping up a shaky administration…

    At home, the economy demands a firm hand but instead we have a Government that expends so much energy on simply staying in power that it is distracted from confronting issues such as jobs, housing and infrastructure….

    More than ever, Australians need to feel that their politicians are in command, but instead we have a Parliament that has become a poisonous place, riven with fear, accusations and suspicion. Labor’s attacks on Tony Abbott, claiming he is a misogynist, have been as ineffective as they have been demeaning, while the Coalition’s sniping at Julia Gillard has not been much better.

    Where we need vision and drive, we have name calling and petulance, and where we need decisive administration we have fecklessness…
    This is no time for political expediency and, while it’s the toughest decision she will make, Ms Gillard must put her trust in the people and go to the polls.

    Posted by Nick Mack | October 11, 2012, 13:46
  12. Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review echoes Nick Mack:

    Desperate to cling to power, Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s minority government is bringing out the worst of Australia’s political culture rather than the best. Both sides of politics have been guilty of bad behaviour that is undermining the whole purpose of government and distracting national attention from the serious issues at hand such as the waning of Australia’s mining boom, the need to revive productivity growth and the federal budget’s stubborn structural deficit.

    Ms Gillard installed Mr Slipper in the Speaker’s chair in late 2011 after the government dudded independent MP Andrew Wilkie on promised poker machine reforms, which threatened to remove one vote from Labor’s already wafer-thin majority.

    Negotiation is widely agreed to be one of the Prime Minister’s strengths but the Slipper deal confirmed, following her ­carbon tax reversal, that Ms Gillard is also prepared to ruthlessly break promises to stay in office… The decision treated our nation’s parliamentary standards with contempt, again calling into question the credibility of her government and her judgment…

    This unseemly episode is likely to turn voters away from debate and lower their opinions of both sides of politics. Many will increasingly figure that the only way to end this failed experiment with minority government will be through fresh elections to give one side proper authority to govern.

    Posted by Nick Mack | October 11, 2012, 13:46
  13. Great minds and all that – Bunyipitude:

    The proof is in the cookie-cutter indignance displayed by both Albanese and his leader. Not only do they use the almost the same words, they list their charges against Abbott in identical sequence.

    Albanese kicks off by quoting and referencing a 1998 Abbott round table with Michael Costa. So does Gillard.

    Next, each mentions the “abortion is the easy way out” line.

    Then comes the “ironing” remark in doplered stereo, followed by a re-capping of Abbott’s hope that the Prime Minister, “politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself.”

    At this point, Albanese and Gillard both do a little high-dudgeon vamping before slipping back to the talking points, which amount in total to the allegation that Abbott likes to make girls cry.

    Posted by Nick Mack | October 11, 2012, 13:52
  14. “Go after his policies.”


    name one…

    uuuummmmm….CCTV? lolollololol.

    Posted by the real wm | October 11, 2012, 14:41
  15. I note that the link no longer works

    Posted by dovif | October 11, 2012, 14:42
  16. Julie was like a CLAM not a muscle yesterday. Initially I thought she was hopeless (when she took Govt) but she can now give it to The Woman Hater Abbott with the best of ’em

    Posted by Barry | October 11, 2012, 15:51
  17. The Truth, think you will find the big blues are in Taiwan not Malaysia. There the PM accuses the Opposition Leader of sodomy and jails the poor bastard for yeears

    Posted by Barry | October 11, 2012, 15:53
  18. What has been blown out of the water by the publication of Ashby’s texts between May 2011 and April is the Vex News sliming of Ashby which must say was inexplicable to moi at the time?

    It’s unimaginable how the former speaker could present himself for cross examination if the case is heard.

    Posted by Lucy Diamond | October 11, 2012, 21:53
  19. Wayne Swan is telling lie after lie on LateLine this evening.

    Posted by Egg on the face | October 11, 2012, 22:55
  20. We can but hope that Shaw tops himself, he is a sheer waste of oxygen and deserves to be harassed until he breaks down.

    Posted by anon | October 11, 2012, 23:27
  21. We can but hope that Slipper tops himself, he is a sheer waste of oxygen and deserves to be harassed until he breaks down.

    Posted by Moi | October 12, 2012, 8:39
  22. Moi
    you are a classic piece of shit – to say that about anybody is terrible – it would be like saying someone hopes you get breat cancer or prostrate cancer or both your parents and dying a terrible and painful death

    Posted by Barry | October 12, 2012, 11:24
  23. anon – disgraceful comment from a low life – you should seriously look at yourself and not wish that result on anybody – your kids, parents, wife or husband

    Posted by Barry | October 12, 2012, 11:26
  24. I am a proud homosexual.

    Posted by Moi | October 12, 2012, 23:41
  25. Sorry I agree Shaw should top himself and make the world a much nicer place.

    Posted by Barry | October 12, 2012, 23:43
  26. The “texts are blue and unbecoming”? What are you smoking? There must be over 2000 texts in the documents Ashby had to lodge with the Federal Court and maybe a dozen of these are sexual comments directed to Ashby. The texts reported in the press were made before he was even Speaker. I would score the Slipper/Ashby texts about 1/100 for sleaze. Vexnews contributions are vastly more sleazy and psychologically warped than anything in the Slipper/Ashby texts.

    Posted by wothers | October 13, 2012, 14:23
  27. If only Petey Slips stuck to eating sausage rolls like me rather than gobbling gorgeous guys he wouldn’t have these problems.

    On another matter, why hasn’t anyone complimented me on the joke I gave to the CFMEU comedian last week. I started the story in the first place and deserve some credit.

    Posted by Obese and Disloyal Jamie | October 14, 2012, 10:00
  28. Why is everyone always questioning my integrity?

    Posted by KOD | October 14, 2012, 12:10
  29. I note that the open wound with many lefties is when the “legitimacy” of this gumment is questioned, they respond with “we have the numbers” and “we have passed 548 Kgs of legislation – never mind the quality, feel the width”.
    Another tactic lefties are fond of trotting out when they want to stop legal, approved activities (eg Gunns pulp mill, any logging at all, James Price Point gas plant) is to question the “social licence to operate”.
    Well, let’s examine the “social licence” of Queen Jules.
    Her gumment is supported by:-
    – two “independents” who, according to booth-by-booth Senate figures have the lowest and third lowest ALP primary vote in the country
    – another “independent” who has been found by FWA to have lied and ripped off HSU funds for the purposes of rooting his way into the record books
    – and probably yet another independent elected by a conservative elctorate who is hanging on to gouge the last dollar he can out of the taxpayers and hopefully find a compliant young man to wiork on his electorate office staff …. strictly business

    Posted by the real wm | October 15, 2012, 13:03
  30. ” ….the party room might turn to Turnbull”

    Ahh … the recurring wet-dream of the Greens and the Twue Beweivers!

    I have five words for you
    “Godwin Grech and Climate Policy”

    Despite you awakening each morning with a slightly damp uncomfortable feeling in you ‘jarmies it ain’t happening.

    Posted by the real wm | October 15, 2012, 13:32
  31. When will Slipperace’s gowns go on e-bay?
    I hear he is short of cash and I would really love to pick one up before Halloween.

    Posted by the real wm | October 15, 2012, 13:34
  32. Why is that any time one of Juliar’s proteges fucks up and gets caught with their fingers:-
    (a) with their fingers in the till;
    (b) with their hands down a staff-member’s trousers;
    (c) writing phantom taxi vouchers; or
    (d) all of the above
    …. we put them on suicide watch.
    If they are such bloody girly jellyfish maybe they should just go over in the corner, assume the thumb-sucking foetal position and let a real man do the job.

    Posted by the real wm | October 15, 2012, 18:35
  33. reckon Pete is a bit dusty around the edges BUT he is a tough prick well versed in the hurley burley of the legal profession and politics – he will survive and become a priest in the Anglican Church or aklternatively go to the Bar ( barrister for you ignorant pricks)

    Posted by Barry | October 16, 2012, 9:07
  34. Hey, has anyone got Albanese’ transcript? He’s taken it off his website. I wonder why…

    Posted by Joseph | October 16, 2012, 11:45
  35. Slippery will probably … ahem …. die of shame.
    hopefully before his pension becomes too much of a taxpayer burden.

    Posted by the real wm | October 17, 2012, 12:29
  36. Barry I hope you’re right, we have witnessed a crucifixion.

    Posted by Sally | October 21, 2012, 21:48
  37. Abbott is genuinely committed to the very long tradition of catholic social teaching and his opposition to Workchoices (misguided as it is) and workplace reform generally springs from a deeply held belief in the dignity of each person and the moral requirement for an employer to pay a just wage.

    This is also the reason why his “conversion” to paid parental leave saw him adopt a remarkable position of support for a fully compensatory scheme rather than a social welfare safety net.

    I am somewhat bemused by the recent excoriation of his beliefs and the gleeful rendering of the litany of misdeeds he is alleged to have committed.

    I would much rather have Tony Abbott’s student political background than Julia Gillard’s. No doubt the very wise Peta Credlin and Brian Loughnane are keeping their expose of these issues to the actual period of the election campaign.

    The O’Connor/Gillard era of the Australian Union of Students was a period of decline and death of genuine student activism brought about by long-term left careerism rather than student concern for student matters.

    The Gillard/Tanner differences are not recent. They sprung from those original battles within the left between the broad mainstream ALP left epitomised by Tanner and the festering communist and radical feminist influence within the AUS left where Gillard derived her power base.

    VEXNEWS: I couldn’t find an appropriate place to post this. If you have somewhere more apposite, please feel free to move it there.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | October 30, 2012, 15:15