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Apr 23, 2012

Gillard government reeking of political road kill.

Karma has come quickly for Tony Abbott and the opposition in relation to the defection of Peter Slipper to the speakership of the house and the embrace of the Gillard government. For years, he has been an embarrassment to the Liberal Party over his sense of entitlement, expense claims, and alleged drunkenness and was certain lose preselection for his seat. Last November he accepted the role of Speaker in a deal that extended the government to a two-seat advantage.
Now he has been forced to stand down owing to serious allegations of sexual impropriety in relation to a male staff member. These include:

  •  Possibly recruiting a staff member in the expectation of gaining sexual favours;
  • Sexual harassment of a male staffer, and; 
  • Fraudulent use of travel entitlements. 

 It is expected that the government will try to claim that the allegations are homophobic which is one of the current lines of attack on Tony Abbott being employed currently. It is reasonable to expect this line to come from Penny Wong.  The issue though is not homosexuality; the same activities with a female staffer would be just as serious.

 The government and its supporters in the Canberra Press Gallery were ecstatic on Slipper’s defection, hailing it as a brilliant tactical move by Gillard. Now it has come back to haunt them at the worst possible time with the government reeling from the result in Queensland and struggling to regain some traction with a skeptical public.

 What really causes trouble for Gillard is the fact that in the expectation of the safety of a two-seat advantage, she broke the troublesome agreement with Andrew Willkie on poker machine reform. He was until that happened, one of the votes she relied on to get her over the line. His support is no longer guaranteed.

 Labor has for considerable length of time chained itself to the stinking carcass of the politically undead Craig Thompson, who is alleged to have misused his Health Services Union credit card for prostitution services and huge cash withdrawals. Had it acted honorably when that one erupted, it may have survived an election with a loss of power but have remained relatively intact.

 By procrastinating and prevaricating on this issue it has gotten into the situation of appearing, and indeed being desperate to cling to power by any means. The Slipper issue will reinforce this impression. What seemed like a good idea at the time not only lifted a major embarrassment off Abbott’s shoulders, but placed it squarely on Labor’s.

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