“To claim that the Member for Scullin was hankering to return to the backbench … is to practice on our credulity.”
By Gary Scarrabelotti
Speaker “Slippery Pete” will make for an unhappy House in 2012.
You have to admire PM Julia Gillard and the manager of government business in the House of Representatives, Anthony Albanese. To cling to power they will bring an already not very reputable House of Parliament into greater disrepute with the public.
“Brilliant political move!” the gallery applauds.
No doubt about it. As politics goes, it’s stunning. Labor up one vote; Coalition down a vote. Hugs and kisses for Julia. A smack in the eye for Abbo. Wilkie side-lined. Politics as a contact sport at its best.
One of the few things that the current House of Representatives had going for it was its illustrious former Speaker, the Member for Scullin, Harry Jenkins.
For my part, I do not believe suggestions that Harry Jenkins had wearied of his task and had become jaundiced by presiding over a House in which the government was in a minority.
Nor do I believe, it grieves me to say, that his letter of resignation explains his going. To claim that the Member for Scullin was hankering to return to the backbench and to re-join the political fray on behalf of Gillard Labor is to practice on our credulity.
Anyone who has watched the House of Representatives in action, especially in recent times, would have observed, right up to the day before his resignation, a Speaker at the top of his form. By his bearing and his judgements Harry Jenkins added lustre to the Speaker’s chair and to a frequently unimpressive chamber.
It was a class act – and, notwithstanding his regular expressions of frustration with the absurd ritual antics of the Honourable Members, to both his left and right, Jenkins was clearly master of the House and at ease in the chair.
Few words will slip my pen on the subject of “Slippery Pete” who now presides in Jenkin’s place. Others have told, and will tell again, the tale of Peter Slipper. For my part I wish only to make a prediction.
Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese will rue the day when they put the Member for Fisher in the chair.
A Speaker whose elevation to the pivot of parliamentary life combined shameless attraction for perks with the deepest political cynicism will be respected neither by one side of the House nor by the other. Those whom he deserted will loath him. Those who seduced him will despise him.
In 2012 the House of Representatives will become ungovernable.
Brilliant, Julia! Great work, Albo!