The day the Premier resigned

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has been found to have received a $3,000 bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange as a gift, which he failed to declare, and failed to admit to ICAC, conveniently suffering from memory failure, and has accordingly resigned this morning.

Before all thoughts move to who will move on up into the top spot, our anti-lockout friends at I’m Not The Problem Barry – No Lockouts NSW have been taking advantage of this scintillating story to have a bit of a laugh. The full gallery is here, but some of my favourites are below!

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chrisnewman

 

 

 

Rudd finally goes—the modern day Hannibal.

EXCLUSIVE:

by Bertel Torsten in Canberra

KEZ

Perhaps the greatest military strategist of the ancient world was Hannibal, the Carthaginian general who famously crossed the Alps—elephants and all—in 218 BC and invaded Italy routing Roman armies and never loosing one significant battle for fifteen years.

He was recalled to Carthage in 203 BC to defend the city state against the vengeful Romans but met with complete disaster and the ancient Mediterranean power was smashed to smithereens. It was said of Hannibal that he won the battles but lost the war.

Much of the same could be said of Kevin Rudd. His 2007 victory over John Howard, the most formidable conservative leader since Sir Robert Menzies, was a major triumph but when he was recalled to try and defend a tottering and shambolic regime, his previously sure touch deserted him. The ALP regime came crashing down as Carthage did—the vote nationally was the lowest in a century.

And when it came to quit Parliament, Kevin proved—for the final time—that he could be the utter bastard that so many of his former colleagues had said he was after the poll defeat. He gave his Leader Bill Shorten a scant ten minutes notice of his farewell speech because, it seems, he couldn’t trust him not to leak it.

Shorten was reportedly heard swearing and cursing Rudd as he left the Chamber and one Labor insider was quoted as saying, “He was furious.”

Yet Shorten has every reason to be thankful. It is Rudd’s own new leadership rules that he enforced during his brief return to the prime ministership that will ensure that Shorten cannot, in reality, be challenged before the next election. If Rudd ever entertained some fantasy about a third go as Leader, the realisation that his own rules made that impossible would be the supreme irony.

Predictably, there were the usual outpourings of affection and appreciation from both sides of politics, although many—including those from Labor ranks—sounded confected. His successor/predecessor Julia Gillard tweeted, “Best wishes to Kevin, Therese & their family as they embark on the next stage if their lives. JG” which wasn’t gushing affection or sincere best wishes. It wasn’t meant to be.

Most, if not all, public utterances from Labor people sounded like the sort of cursory comments people write on “Happy Retirement” cards for a colleague they hardly knew or didn’t like—things like, “Good luck Fred from Mary in Accounts Payable.” 

To the bitter end, Rudd tried to defend his legacy. It was he, according to himself, who saved the ALP from a cataclysmic defeat. It recalled his concession speech on election night in September—a self-justifying self-pitying rant that went on for twenty-two minutes, twice the time of Abbott’s victory speech.

PM Abbott said some nice things about his predecessor that, if not wholly sincere, did show good taste and a sense of occasion. However, when asked if his government would give Rudd ajob, he delivered a very quick and emphatic “NO”.

It is likely that the people of Griffith will have to trudge back to the polls for the by-election next February and the outcome is far from certain for the ALP.

The well-informed Chief Political Correspondent for The Age, Mark Kenny, has already written, “ALP hard-heads are conceding defeat is likely if the Liberal-National Party’s Bill Glasson runs again.”

And it is virtually certain that Glasson will run. On election night he said he would consider running again if Rudd quit and the LNP is praying that he will. An appeal for campaign donations has already been launched and the money is pouring in.

It was on election night that Rudd showed his natural arrogance by sneering, “It would be un- prime ministerial of me to say, ‘Bill Glasson, eat your heart out’ so I won’t.”  

The final result showed that Glasson scored 36,481 votes to Rudd’s 34,878—a margin of more than 1,600. A novice candidate against a sitting Prime Minister who managed to achieve a two-party preferred swing of 5.45%, Glasson is in a strong position for the by-election if he runs.

Front runners for ALP selection include left faction lawyer Terri Butler and former State MP Di Farmer who managed to lose her Bulimba seat which is in the very core of Griffith in the 2012 State election to an unknown LNP candidate. Previously Bulimba had been a rock-solid Labor seat since Adam was in shorts.

Rudd rides into the political sunset with an annual indexed pension of $155,000, an office, an official car and security arrangements.

It is a rather better fate that that of Hannibal who, driven into exile after the destruction of Carthage, finally took poison saying, “Let us relieve the Romans from the anxiety they have so long experienced, since it tries their patience too much to wait for an old man’s death.”

Perhaps Kevin might reflect on those words before he tries a new career of being a commentator on the Labor Party or worse, more dead wood on the UN gravy train.

Toby’s Sunday light

TobyParliament House Canberra. The sale yards of the nation where there is no auctioneer, just political animals buying and selling each other for the polling booth slaughterhouse.

The atmosphere is electric as the final dice will be rolled this week and those who know what’s going on won’t say and those that don’t know what’s happening are eager to predict. Jockeying for position, betraying faiths, embracing moral bankruptcy, it's par for the course in this political barnyard of revulsion.

Our man Toby Jug is well connected in Canberra and given the confusion and fear about political careers, most of which dangle on fractured limbs like “rock-a-bye-baby-in-the-treetops” waiting for that fabled bough to break, Toby decided to use his connections.

Disguising himself as a zombie he passed unnoticed among the members of the Labor Caucus.

Carrying a hi-resolution spy camera disguised as a bunch of flowers, borrowed from a terrorist organization based in Australia, Toby declared himself as the official parliamentary, Labor appointed photographer for a sort of, end-of-school-year photo. Like they do with kindergarten.

Government spin doctor John McTernan approved Toby’s plan to snap random shots of MPs making vital decisions and steering the country toward prosperity. The masterpiece would be a panorama of Labor ministers in a mournful setting emulating the atmosphere of suspicion reminiscent of The Last Supper.

While the camera in floral disguise of a Banksia had limitations, Toby captured a shot in a way no one else has managed. It was the dead-pan smug superior look of a two-time loser concealing his bitter raging, while catching the frustrated look of a winner who knows that history has judged and pronounced her just a two-timer.

Gilard-and-muppet21Photo courtesy Toby Jug on his pin-hole Daguerrotype glass plate camera using a magnesium flash pod

Always looking for that perfect shot Toby now disguised as a French Sommelier went to the dining room hoping for a candid shot of Peter Slipper pouring anchovy oil into a snifter of Napoleon Cognac but found someone quite different entirely. Still wearing a blue tie.

Howard1Photo courtesy Toby Jug taken on his LPG powered polaroid relic.

While waiting for the main event, ministers dressed in togas sporting sharp knives in their waistbands, somebody spat the dummy and the shoot was cancelled. Apparently, Bob Carr's sandal thongs were too long for his skinny legs. However, an insider said that Bill Shorten, son-in-law of the governor general insisted his place at the table must be as the son-of-god at the right hand of Julia. The Louvre in Paris will have to wait, perhaps until Clive Palmer takes the "pilot" seat.

The following day, back at Menzies House photographic studios under the National Gallery of Australia, technicians discovered a most unusual photograph on Toby's Kodak Box Brownie. Our photo editor believes the the film was defective as the use-by-date was March 21, 1927 and might well have been an old trick of a double exposure.

Gillrudd1Photo courtesy Toby Jug, taken on his Great Grandfather's KodaK Box Brownie.

APOLOGY.

After receiving an acid message from the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary and author of “Ridiculous Taxes and How to Sell Them to the Public.” Dennis Diopter, our photo editor ascertained that the above photo is actually a double exposure of perhaps two people. Therefore, the identity of either person is unsure.

UPDATE: Toby has been detained in Canberra by authorities and is now in his 12th day of a hunger and alcohol strike.

GC.Ed.@L.

VOTE ‘NO’ TO LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFERENDUM GROUP FORMED MEDIA RELEASE

“Australians opposed to the local government referendum have officially formed and welcome the support of any Australian opposed to Canberra’s power grab”, said spokesperson Peter Reith.

Mr Reith’s comments follow the introduction of the Referendum Alteration (Local Government) Bill into the House of Representatives last week. Former Councillor, Julian Leeser, will be Convenor of the Vote ‘No’ campaign, with the support of Mr Reith, Dr Gary Johns, Nick Minchin and Tim Wilson.

“We welcome any Australian who wants to stand up to Canberra’s power grab”, Mr Reith said.

“Anyone opposed to this local government referendum can register their interest at:

www.nopowergrab.com.au

“We’re building a broad-based coalition of people, regardless of their political background, to defeat this Canberra power grab. We want organising committee members, activists, donors, anyone prepared to play a part – big or small – to defeat this Canberra power grab”.

“If you want local communities to provide services based on local need, not Canberra priorities, you will want to sign up”.

“The Constitution isn’t just any old piece of paper, it’s the document that limits the power of Canberra politicians and bureaucrats and outlines the very structure of our democracy”.

“Canberra politicians and bureaucrats are trying to change the Constitution that limits their power using every trick in the book at their disposal”.

“The Vote ‘No’ group is standing up against Canberra’s power grab”.

“$21.6 million of public money is being used to campaign for this referendum. The Australian Local Government Association is amassing a $10 million ratepayer-funded campaign war chest. The Federal government has appropriated $11.6 million for a campaign that they have admitted will be a defacto ‘yes’ campaign”. Under questioning, Senator Jacinta Collins stated in the Senate:

“Certainly we will be looking at a broad education campaign, but a component of that campaign will be a position where the government seeks to advocate that there are strong benefits in accepting what is proposed in this case”. – Senator Jacinta Collins, 15/05/2013

“Defeating this referendum will require every Australian standing up for their community and services being delivered on local need, not Canberra priorities”, Mr Reith said.

Media contact Peter Reith: 0408 803 891, Dr Gary Johns: 0438 290 852, Tim Wilson: 0417 356 165, Nick Minchin: 0427 462 469, Julian Leeser: 0419 630 955

‘Articulate morons’ says Bob Katter

Who could argue with Katter's outspoken, as usual, assessment? GC. Ed.

BOB KATTER has clocked up nearly 40 years as a parliamentarian but he can't remember the standard of political debate being as low as it was in 2012.

Mr Katter, the Katter's Australian Party leader, said 2012 had been a year of unprecedented vitriol, the result of ''a complete lack of ideology and a complete lack of intellectual content''.

''I can't ever remember a year as bad as this,'' he said. ''You've got a bunch of people who quite frankly are very articulate, but very articulate morons. I couldn't have a lower opinion of both sides of the Parliament. There is not the slightest shred of thought process in there since Rudd was removed from the frontbench.''

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-news/articulate-morons-mps-call-for-better-public-debate-20121228-2bz9r.html#ixzz2GOKa24K8

Toby has connections in high places


TobyDiscovered under Freedom of Nonsense, Julia Gillard wrote a speech accepting the Prime Ministership long before Kevin Rudd ever felt a burning sensation, between his shoulder blades, one that his doctor could not explain. That revelation immediately sent hackers to Tony Abbott’s computer.

And there, in a folder marked “Apology”, was his intended speech for the Opening of Parliament following the Coalition’s landslide election predicted for 2013. Toby was given permission from WookieLeaks to publish the document, under a strict condition that he will not reveal the source unless asked to.

Speaker: Order. Order. The Prime Minister has the call.

Omnes. [Hear hear – loud cheering – give the opposition the finger – keep it up for about three minutes.]

Speaker: Order. The Honourable Members on the Opposition benches will stop mooning the Prime Minister immediately. [Whether they are doing it or not – just say it. It will look good in Hansard] Order. Order. The Prime Minister.

Tony: Madam Speaker, I rise to congratulate you on your appointment, and presume that you won’t be poncing and flouncing like the turncoat that Labor appointed to your position. Now, as Prime Minister…


Omnes: [more cheering, throw papers in the air, burst of Advance Australia Fair, but only for a few minutes.]

Tony: It is with a heavy heart, a heart burdened with the knowledge of the many sins, of others I mean, that I advise the House it is my painful duty to begin on this otherwise happy occasion with an apology. When the Honourable Leader of the Opposition, that demented misanthrope—I withdraw and apologise—that backstabbing manipulator—I withdraw and apologise…. Bear with me, my heart is in the hospital bed there with Australia. [Hanky]

Speaker. Silence! Beautifully put. Continue Prime Minister, you have Australia’s undivided attention.

Tony: [Bravely] I firstly apologise for Labor’s cowardly abandonment of Israel at the UN. [Pick up strength now] They overturned a bi-partisan policy that has stood for over sixty years. And they did it to try to squeeze in the Muslim vote. Fat lot of good it did them.

 Madam Speaker, the opposition had the choice between self-serving political advantage or dishonour. They choose the first and got the second.

Omnes: [Hear Hear. Gutless wonders. Hear Hear. Ad lib.]

Tony: I apologise for Labor turning the massive surplus we left them into four years of increasing deficits. How in the name of Heaven was this achieved, Madam Speaker? Mad schemes was part of it, Madam Speaker. Green Loans, Grocery Watch….

Omnes: [Unrestrained laughter, "Grocery Watch!"]

Tony:…. Fuel Watch!

Omnes:[hysterical laughter]

Tony:… cash-for-clunkers, Pink Batts—not only billions down the crapper, but injuries and death as well because of the slipshod execution (no pun intended). Well, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Then there was the colossal increase in the public service, the Work for Nongs Program …. Madam Speaker—if it was not for the mining sector, we would be broke—flat busted. Perhaps I should have begun by apologising to Australia for the nonsensical Carbon Tax that played its part in making Australia look like buffoons. Billions squandered to achieve worse than nothing—a crippling downturn in manufacturing. Then the Fair Work Ombudsman—the political wing of the para-military unions.

Omnes: Shame! Shame!

Tony: I can understand the outrage in the Coalition benches. But it cannot be helped. The Opposition has a .22 calibre intellect in a .357 Magnum world.

I apologise for Labor’s tireless and endless promotion of green tape that strangles every human endeavour. I apologise for the way Labor banjaxed the cattle industry with live cattle exports and I apologise for that trouble caused by the dopey senator Ludwig. I apologise for the ABC and the Fairfax press who have so deserted integrity and ethics to repeatedly terrify this country with absurd scenarios of death, floods, drought, famine, pestilence and plagues in their demented partisan support of Labor’s discredited man-made global warming fantasy. I apologise for their relentless promotion of republicanism, homosexuality issues, denigration and mockery of religious institutions except Islam, and all other far-left causes that are not part of Labor policy—yet.

Effective today, Madam Speaker, I have taken the first step. I have cut the ABC’s budget in half.

Omnes: [Cheers, tears of joy, cries of At last!]

Tony: The market will take care of slanted media, Madam Speaker. It did it to Newsweek, the New York Times and Time is circling the drain as I speak. There is no need for my government to get involved.

[Note to self. Must come up here with some stirring lines like JFK's inauguration speech to finish, or maybe a bit of Latin.]

Thank you Madam Speaker.


Why I don’t care about the Gillard-Abbott sexism war and neither should you

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Cross-posted from Major Karnage.

As regular readers of Major Karnage will probably have figured out, I like to follow Australian politics. As you may have guessed (and those who know me would know), I also like to talk about Australian politics. People I associate with know this, so they tend to engage me whenever an issue in Australian politics catches their attention — I even have some friendships based around these conversations. Crazy, I know.

So when there is a huge scandal in Australian politics that the whole world is talking about, I expect that it will come up somewhere. Sure enough, a lot of people have been asking me about Julia Gillard’s now world-famous speech calling Tony Abbott a misogynist. My answer has surprised a few people, so I now feel the need to write a post and justify it. Simply put:

I don’t really care.

It just doesn’t really interest me. I watched a recording of the speech and got bored after a couple of minutes. Since it was such a big thing, I went back and watched the rest later, but now I just want that 10 minutes back.

So why this uncharacteristic apathy? Well, I don’t really see this as anything new. The issue that was much more important/interesting was the resignation of Speaker Peter Slipper because of the revelation of lewd and offensive text messages that he sent his former staffer.

The Slipper issue I care about. In fact, I might care enough to write a whole post on the right to privacy and the dilemmas that this kind of situation brings up (ie should someone be forced to resign over what were really private comments, no matter how offensive they were?)

Gillard’s speech? Well, the reaction says it all really. Below are a few responses from friends on my Facebook and Twitter feeds (for obvious reasons, I am not mentioning any names and have slightly edited some of the comments for length):

Wow go Julz! She schooled Abbott #likeaboss

 

Julia Gillard strikes me as the sort of university feminist who screams “chauvinist pig!” when you hold the door for her and “woman-hater!” if you just let it swing back in her face.

 

Look, I just had to post it. Fucking brilliant. I could watch this over and over again. … There should be a whole channel devoted to this one video.

 

I look forward to the rude shock that the lefties who are currently engaged in self-congratulation and saying how amazing Gillard’s performance yesterday was will receive when they realise voters havn’t fallen for her BS…

 

Yes, Tony Abbott, you were just destroyed.

 

Gillard stands by Thomson after prostitute revelations. Now stands by Slipper after texts. Yet says Abbott is misogynist. #chutzpah

 

Amazing speech by our PM. Showing some serious leadership.

And so on.

What was really remarkable about these comments were that there was a very clear divide, but it was not on gender lines, nor was it even on the lines of people who are generally feminist versus people who aren’t. The responses that I have seen were split exactly down party lines. Labor supporters loved it, Liberal supporters mocked it.

And there is the reason why I find the whole thing boring.

Gillard’s speech was not a scathing attack on Abbott to expose his deeply held sexism, and neither was it a blatant display of hypocrisy in defence of a real misogynist.

What was it? An uninspiring partisan response to a successful partisan power-play. It was smart PR — a very clever way to divert the public conversation away from the Slipper debacle.

Abbott was trying to embarrass the government while also taking away the vote that they had from Slipper being speaker, Gillard was trying to defend her majority by recycling old allegations at Abbott.

I have annexed a breakdown of the arguments that Gillard used at the end of this post, but more important than what was there is what was missing: there was absolutely nothing about Abbott’s record in office or any policies that he has proposed which harm women, it was a purely personal attack on Abbott’s character. There is no real policy issue at all and it contributes little to the Australian debate, it’s just boring.

That is why its effect will never be anything other than to provoke cheers from Labor supporters and jeers from Liberal supporters. It was not aimed at ‘exposing Abbott’, so much as spurring-on people who already don’t like Abbott. The Liberals had a bit of a coup when Slipper’s text messages were made public and Labor countered with a clever diversion to mitigate the damage. Yawn.

Until I started this post, I had been filtering out the discussion around this issue. It has joined the categories of things that set-off my mental killswitch — like the carbon tax, Gillard “backstabbing” Rudd, and anything that uses the phrases: “clean energy future”, “working Australians”, “great big lie”, there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”, “
fair go”, “getting on with the job” etc etc.

Now that I am done, I am free to go back to not caring. Trust me, that’s a relief.

Major Karnage is a Sydney-based blogger and can be followed on Twitteror Facebook. This article was originally posted on majorkarnage.net

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PS: Gillard’s arguments.

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s speech.

He has said, and I quote, in a discussion about women being under-represented in institutions of power in Australia, the interviewer was a man called Stavros. The Leader of the Opposition says “If it’s true, Stavros, that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?”

And then a discussion ensues, and another person says “I want my daughter to have as much opportunity as my son.” To which the Leader of the Opposition says “Yeah, I completely agree, but what if men are by physiology or temperament, more adapted to exercise authority or to issue command?”

Then ensues another discussion about women’s role in modern society, and the other person participating in the discussion says “I think it’s very hard to deny that there is an underrepresentation of women,” to which the Leader of the Opposition says, “But now, there’s an assumption that this is a bad thing.”

I have looked for a full transcript of this discussion and I can’t find it anywhere online. Abbott was not expressing a viewpoint in those comments, they were inquisitive and hypothetical. In context, they could well be completely innocuous. Then again, they may not be, but I will not make up my mind until I am shown a full transcript. A couple of soundbites extracted from a whole conversation is not sufficient to condemn anyone.

Anyway,

This is the man from whom we’re supposed to take lectures about sexism. And then of course it goes on. I was very offended personally when the Leader of the Opposition, as Minister of Health, said, and I quote, “Abortion is the easy way out.” I was very personally offended by those comments. You said that in March 2004, I suggest you check the records.

Doesn’t convince me. Whatever Abbott’s stance may be on abortion policy, there is no reason why he has to personally support it.

I was also very offended on behalf of the women of Australia when in the course of this carbon pricing campaign, the Leader of the Opposition said “What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing…” Thank you for that painting of women’s roles in modern Australia.

Gotta hand it to the PM, this one is pretty convincing. I am very reluctant to attribute anything to a “gaffe“, but this does show that Abbott harbours a degree of subconscious discrimination. But then, there is the whole “gaffe” issue.

And on:

And then of course, I was offended too by the sexism, by the misogyny of the Leader of the Opposition catcalling across this table at me as I sit here as Prime Minister, “If the Prime Minister wants to, politically speaking, make an honest woman of herself…”, something that would never have been said to any man sitting in this chair.

That I don’t agree with. I have no doubt that an unmarried male Prime Minister would be attacked on the grounds that he was unmarried.

I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition went outside in the front of Parliament and stood next to a sign that said “Ditch the witch.” I was offended when the Leader of the Opposition stood next to a sign that described me as a man’s bitch.

Now that is just spurious. So Abbott was photographed standing next to the wrong sign at an anti-carbon tax rally, what does that have to do with anything? I have seen several prominent Labor and Green MPs standing next to the flags of terrorist organisations and nobody batted an eyelid.

Ethical politics—is it?

Thursday-crocker

H.L. Mencken said: “If experience teaches us anything at all, it teaches us that a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”
RadioNational’s program, “Life Matters” hosted by Natasha Mitchell, recently aired “Civility, Sexism, and Democracy.” A cosy chat featuring guests, journalist Anne Summers, and federal Independent Tony Windsor.

In keeping with the ABC’s creed of balanced reportage, the three unanimously appealed ad misericordiam. Summers implored the community to cease the mountain of abuse and sexist attacks against the Prime Minister. Both Summers and Windsor said politics and politicians are being degraded by nasty quips on social media, and mainstream media. Both believed that Officers of the Crown deserve respect, consideration, decency, and civility.

 Summers exampled the denigration of Julia Gillard by cartoonist Larry Pickering’s work in which she wears a strap-on dildo. Facebook censored that and now Pickering’s work has added the now trademark-dildo hung over her shoulder, on the desk or somewhere in the cartoon. That may be repugnant to some while others find it hilarious.

Tony Windsor agreed with Summers in their collective disgust at unruly citizens that dare to share such cartoons and jokes with names like “Juliar” via social media. Windsor targeted radio 2GB’s broadcast personalities, Alan Jones and Ray Hadley as particular demons who have set their sights on Windsor’s, and other politico’s decisions. They wonder why?

Well, the answer lurks in the words, “ethics” and “politics.” Two meaningful words increasingly sullied; an oxymoron. Their use together in any sentence is laughable; suspicions driven by subconscious memories are immediately raised.

In lieu of the prescribed ABC-styled, stewed prunes and laxatives for interviewing party pets, Windsor should have been asked, “Tony, do you think politicians like you, and the prime minister, and so many others, have done anything to warrant all this rudeness from the voters?” Now that’s a question!

The disdain of politicians begins with Parliamentary Question Time. This stolen hour from a person’s life exposes our politicians at work—it’s on national television. Their behaviour is worse than a kindergarten of vile mannered delinquents bereft of all civility. It is a national embarrassment. Children visiting from far away schools remark as such. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”

National leaders should set examples of good citizenry. Their spoken words are to be measured with wisdom and recorded in Hansard for evermore, some as oratorical excellence, most as bickering drivel. They should be inspirational, especially to the young who might later aspire to the noble profession.

Windsor’s recent tirade against Abbott in parliament, on camera, is one example, ‘…I will do anything, Tony, to get this job. The only thing I won’t do is sell my arse,’ he alleged. Funny, Windsor’s defection to Labor was contrary to the will of his electorate, he sold them out, and he didn’t give a rat’s arse. What of his “fortuitous” land dealings, and his defence of Coal Seam Gas permit holders intent on raping the landscape? Will he face his electorate for another time? Ha!

Honesty is surely part of the “ethics” our ABC wants restored to politics—wouldn’t you think? For that exemplary we begin at the highest level. “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.” And, the still unanswered questions about her days with Slater and Gordon/Wilson, the “slush funds” and the AWU go begging despite the sham that she settled the matter. That rings of probity? So does her comradely stabbing of Rudd. Yet another off-key trill on the Wurlitzer organ of public rectitude is Craig Thomson. Union money, prostitutes, credit cards. What a guy! “I want to grow to be like Craig,” kids tell their Mums. Yeah?

However, the sermon on goodness would be remiss without mention of everyone’s darling, that king of parliamentary theatrics, Peter Slipper, that narcissistic buffoon and Liberal turncoat who exemplified inner beauty and virtue as an alleged rorter of privilege.  I wonder if his constituents share their benevolence with him at local coffee shop, or the booze shop? Do kids clamour for his autograph?

Yes, I know, I lecture about “balance” in reporting, but these matters are in the minds of most people now. My father once said, “Respect is earned, not demanded.” I later ran aground on that gem of wisdom in the military sense. “You are saluting the uniform, not the man,” I was reminded.

So, convention dictates we should respect the office of the prime minister along with other officers of the Crown without consideration of those who occupy those positions—this they would wish. Times have changed, however, and the electorate have wearied under relentless abuse of privilege and incompetence. The offices are tarnished, the profession of politics is soiled, and so is faith in leadership virtue.

It will be a long time requiring major change in attitude before respect is returned to such offices. In the meantime they should stop bleating and get used to public vitriol for it is they who earned it and it could get worse, much worse.

When the office itself is tarnished, what respect is now owed to that office?

Thought for today: All of the above.

Treasure the Regalia, Not the Rat


ChrisThe wig and formality add dignity to the office of Speaker, even where the present incumbant does not, writes Chris Ashton.

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph reported the imminent return of the Speaker’s wig and gown, but my hopes were dashed as I tuned in to Question Time to see Peter Slipper bedecked in a half-arsed set of regalia. He wore an academic gown, together with a court jacket over a business shirt and tie. Missing was the traditional wig, the stiff wing collar and the jabot or bands, although he perhaps imagines that deficiency will be offset by a weekly parade. But it should be all or nothing.

No doubt the irony of the former Liberal, turned “independent,” planning to robe up and process has not been lost on Julia Gillard, Harry Jenkins and the Labor caucus – probably not what they had in mind when they schemed to instal him in the speaker’s chair. And so it is easy to dismiss this as merely another instalment in the litany of bufoonery that is the life and times of Peter Slipper MP. But there is a sense in which it is precisely because of the current incumbent that the past formality of the Speaker’s office should be revived.
Screen Shot 2012-02-07 at 2.03.29 PM

The wig, gown and court coat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives were never intended to bring honour to the wearer, but rather to signify the dignity of the office, and indeed of the parliament over which he presides. And who wouldn’t want that? And who would suggest that our current parliament doesn’t need that?

But as I said, it should be all or nothing. In fact, it should just be all! Forget Slipper’s mix-and-match outfit that looks as if he read somewhere that robes wore worn in antiquity. Instead, he should be fitted for a new QC’s wig (leave the former Speaker’s wig in the Museum of Democracy), as well as the gown and all the appropriate accoutrements. Likewise, the clerks at the table, and other parliamentary officers should be in short wigs, robes, perhaps (indulge me here) with white bow ties. In  light of recent events, no one would suggest that this apparel is about the dignity of the wearers, but the Speaker, the Clerk and the other officials should be seen to be more than mere functionaries, rather they are present holders of high and historic offices that will outlive the names we currently associate with them.

Slippery Pete (or the Rat, if you prefer) will probably be a decent speaker and as impartial as any recent incumbent, but I couldn’t care less whether he lost the job tomorrow. The point of the regalia and the pageantry is to point to something beyond the man or woman in the robe, and that something should be retained, treasured and reinstated.

Chris is a postgraduate student in Arts and Theology. He is the Religion Editor for Menzies House and occasionally tweets @ChrisAshton