Cartoon: By Pickering
For long suffering taxpayers, there seems to be no ending to the long and expensive saga surrounding the disgraced former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Today we find that not only have we been saddled with a $700,000+ bill for the federal intervention in a civil case against him, but also have to fork out for an official portrait of him to hang in parliament house.
In a desperate bid to save Slipper, the Attorney General Nicola Roxon decided to intervene in a civil case brought by staffer James Ashby over sexual harassment by him. This resulted in the use of some seventeen lawyers until the issue between the commonwealth and the plaintiff was settled for a figure understood to be in the area of $50,000.
Estimates of costs start at in excess of $700,000 to $850,000, which may not include the settlement. As the original case is still being heard it is more than likely that the government is still represented and the lawyer’s meters are still ticking over.
The second is the official portrait, which is to be hung in the house despite the brevity of his tenure in the job, during most of which was under suspension for personal misconduct over the sexual harassment matter and an investigation into fraudulent use of entitlements. While it may be a tradition of parliament to do this, it seems incredible that an exception cannot be made in a case like this.
There is nothing wrong wit a member leaving his party over a matter of principle, even though parties tend to be outraged by such actions. In this case though, Slipper was about to lose his endorsement for his seat over being a profligate embarrassment to it. Gillard saw the opportunity to shore up her support by offering him the Speakers role, which he accepted.
Most people resigned themselves to waiting for the next election to see the back of him, thinking that the worst he could do was already done. Little did they know what was in store. He is poetic justice for the Labor Party.
RWL is recommending that Larry Pickering, whose artwork above seems to capture the essential Peter Slipper, be selected for the commission.