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Nov 24, 2011

More about that new Speaker of the House.

Cartoon: By Pickering.

The new Speaker of the House of Representatives Peter Slipper, or Slippery Pete as he is better known, has something of a mixed history, most of it on the downside. He is almost guaranteed to be a mixed blessing to Labor who now have to own him, Abbott having demanded and got his resignation from the Liberal Party. It is very likely that the only thing keeping the Liberals from doing so before would have been the tightness of the political situation.

Here are some excerpts from an article in the Age:

Sometimes, the social and political embarrassment blur - three years ago, a patron of the national capital's well-known drinking hole The Holy Grail dumped Slipper on his behind at 3.30am, apparently because he'd failed to butt his cigarette before sauntering inside.

Slipper has been the Liberal Member for Fisher on the Queensland Sunshine Coast since 1993. What is less remembered is that he served an earlier term - 1984-1987 - as a National Party MP. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the weird Joh for Canberra campaign in 1987, which blew away John Howard's chances of winning the election that year. Slipper was also blown away by the voters of Fisher, only to rat on the Nationals and re-emerge six years later as a Liberal.

In December 2002 Slipper felt the need to visit a toilet during a parliamentary sitting. Somehow, he found himself in the disabled toilet - and when he had completed his business, he couldn't get out. He pushed and pulled at the door before hitting the panic button. Four parliamentary attendants hurried to his aid. Disabled toilets, it was gently explained to him, have sliding doors. When reporters sought comment, his office responded, apparently straight-faced: ''He can't talk to you because he is in the House on chamber duty.

The following year, he couldn't get on a plane. Qantas flight attendants refused him permission to board a plane in Darwin, claiming his behaviour wasn't acceptable. It was all down to dental medication, a couple of drinks and ''a flight attendant's bad day'', he later explained to the Sunshine Coast Daily, which has compiled an amusing file of stories on Mr Slipper's varied adventures. ''I wasn't in any way, shape or form drunk,'' he declared.

Old-timers remember Slipper's past efforts to change the words he had spoken in parliament in the Hansard record. Way back in March, 1986, he was bitterly critical of a decision by the Hawke government to increase aid to the Philippines. It was, he told the parliament, ''to the detriment of the Australian taxpayer.''

Later he apparently thought better of this rush of blood to the head and persuaded Hansard to expunge the words. When it was revealed that a tape-recording indeed had him saying these precise words and the Labor Party tried to have him investigated by the privileges committee for contempt, he swiftly asked that Hansard correct the record.

Last year his phone bill alone was $14,764 - larger even than then prime minister Rudd's. Then there was $16,000 in cabs, $3000 on chauffeur driven cars and $8600 on private-plate cars - for the six months between July and December, 2009. All up, his six-month bill - including keeping his electorate office running - was $640,562 - which was rather more than fellow Queenslander Treasurer Wayne Swan's $491,236.
And a little more from the Sunshine coast daily:
PETER Slipper is no stranger to alcohol and trouble. Most famously, in 2003 Qantas staff refused to allow him to reboard a Darwin-bound plane at Gove, where it had stopped for refuelling, because of his behaviour towards staff.

In 2004, on the weekend he survived a pre-selection challenge from Alexandra Headland barrister Glen Garrick, he copped a black eye after an unexplained scuffle at a Mooloolaba nightspot.

Last year he was in more hot water over a satellite phone calls made to his family and office from HMAS Stuart in the Arabian Gulf. Mr Slipper was accused of disclosing key security information which led to the abortion of the war ship's planned boarding of a tanker.
Be grateful he’s gone, Tony.

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