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Oct 11, 2012

Australian parliament's Speaker resigns

"They look like a mussell (sic) removed from its shell. Look at a bottle of mussel meat! Salty C . . ts in brine!" – Tweet from The Honorable Peter Slipper, (then) Speaker of the House of Representatives, on female genitalia.

Cartoon: by Pickering 

The long and embarrassing saga of Speaker, Peter Slipper has at long last ended with him resigning the role.  Unfortunately for the Gillard government, this came after they were forced by the opposition to defend him against a motion to fire him as a disgrace to the office.  Slipper was a dead man walking from the political angle within the Liberal Party owing to his profligate use of taxpayer’s money
Since resigning from the party to accept the Speakers role from Labor, matters have gone from embarrassing to disgraceful, from the cab charge fiasco to sexual harassment of a male staffer, through to the case in Federal Court where the above quote came to light.
It seems incredible that the government, which must have known that the Speakers position was no longer tenable, fought to the last drop of blood on the floor to defend him against Abbott.  There was nothing but a pyrrhic victory in the offing for Labor in defending him, and the entire credibility, or what was left of it of the Labor Party to lose in this effort. 
They achieved the Pyrrhic victory, owing to the support of ‘independents,’ Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott despite their reported efforts to ‘hold the government to a higher standard’.  Sometimes the specter of being dead meat after the next election has a sobering effect on matters of ‘principle’.
Both now claim to have been the heroes of the moment by persuading Slipper to resign after the vote in the time leading up to it.  This would be a strange way to go about it as the vote, which forced their government to express support for the indefensible could have been avoided completely by simply telling him he no longer had their support, but giving him a chance to resign prior to it.  Nothing these two do ever makes much sense.
Normally in an event such as this, one would expect the ‘handbag hit squad’ of Finance Minister Penny Wong, Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, and Attorney General Nicola Roxon, and Community Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, whose major responsibility in the government seems to be that of exposing the ‘sexism and misogyny’ of Tony Abbott, to have some difficulty with the Speaker’s comments. 
This was not the case; comments from one of their own are OK no matter what.  All they can concentrate on is Tony Abbott and his ‘War on Women’ (US readers will be familiar with this term).
Gillard for her part made a dramatic speech in which she dragged the memory of her deceased father across the floor of the House while blaming Abbott for all of the government’s decisions going right back to federation.  Still; the ABC and Fairfax thought it was great, almost as good as Obama’s performance in the Presidential debate.

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