Wednesday, October 10, 2012

quisnam est dignus?

Two ongoing scandals collided in the Australian Parliament today -
  • a scandal regarding the House Speaker, and
  • muck from the mouth of a shock jock.

The first seed of today's events was sown in 2011 when Peter Slipper - a Liberal MP for many years - accepted the position of Speaker in the House of Representatives.
This move indirectly supported Labor's right to claim government, and rule the country without a clear majority.

Peter Slipper: Liberal MP; Speaker of the House; alleged pervert

The Coalition were delighted, some months ago, to hear that a former staffer had made allegations of sexual harassment against Peter Slipper, and have been baying for his blood ever since.

When the staffer first complained, Slipper stepped aside without actually resigning while the allegations were investigated. Labor was able to keep governing.


The second seed was planted not so long ago by a radio shock jock, Alan Jones. Amongst his many excessive comments he had said the Prime Minister should be put in a chaff bag and dropped out at sea.

The Prime Minister's father had only passed away a short time before when Alan Jones told a Sydney University Liberal Club function that Julia Gillard's father had died of shame:

This time he had gone too far. A massive public backlash has forced many major sponsors of his radio show to withdraw their advertising.

One man who attended the function donated a chaff bag jacket for auction.
Ha Ha, but not a smart move for someone who was a Public Relations executive for a major corporation: He has since resigned and taken pains to reassure us he was not representing Woolworths at the function but was there in a private capacity.

The Liberal Party leader and would-be Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, conceded the comment about Gillard's late father were not in good taste, but effectively dismissed them as an exercise in free speech.

Tony Abbott Leader of the Opposition

The shock jock, Jones, has been relentlessly misogynistic in his radio performances for a very long time.
Government Ministers started to raise the issue of Tony Abbott's own sexist and/or misogynistic attitudes.
Mr Abbott's wife spoke up on Tony's behalf:

Outsiders might be tempted to think that Australian politicians can be pretty low and personal, and they would be right. God forbid they should start to behave and actually concentrate on running the country instead of running non-stop election campaigns.


Things warmed up when details of the Speaker's sexual harassment investigation were made public. Specifically, the content of some fairly unsavoury text messages between the Speaker, Peter Slipper, and the staffer who alleges sexual harassment.

Messages like this one:

"Brough is a c..t,'' Mr Slipper said in a text on October 10 last year. Soon after, he said: ''Funny how we say that a person is a c..t when many guys like c..ts."

That's a mild example. If you have the stomach for it, you can find more info here

Personally, I don't think anyone's perfect, and I certainly don't care what consenting adults do in private. I do, however, wonder about the intelligence of some of our representatives. Which part of the Prince Charles /Camilla /Tampon phone text hacking did Mr Slipper miss?


In a moment of righteous indignation, Tony Abbott used these messages as an excuse to state that his former Liberal ally was not a fit and proper person to be in Parliament.

Whether Abbott was just being opportunistic, or sincere, or even both, he made a big mistake when he spoke in support of his motion to remove Peter Slipper. Consciously or unconsciously, he paraphrased the radio shock jock's offensive remarks about the Prime Minister's father dying of shame.

What Mr Abbott said can be found at 2.00 minutes into this clip:

Mr Abbott made several references to the content of the text messages, at one stage talking of "truly gross references to female genitalia".

“This Speaker has failed the character test but the Prime Minister failed the judgment test” he went on to say, referring to Prime Minister Gillard's decision to do nothing about Peter Slipper until his case had been fully investigated.

Whatever one thinks of her policies, or the fact that she can't afford to lose any more votes in the house, the Prime Minister finally betrayed a hint of personal outrage when she spoke against the motion to remove the speaker.

One of the clips above gives some indication of just how fed up she was.
For those with the time and the inclination, this longer clip provides the full context as well as content of her reply. It's an unusually impressive performance.

At 13:37 in the tape above, Tony Abbott's head appears to be shaking. It reminded me a great deal of the way it shook in this clip below, from an incident some time ago: [start 2:00 minutes in]

No wonder voting is compulsory in this country.


  1. That was SO rude of Abbott to say that.

    Gillard had a strong response; though I wouldn't have blamed her if she started sobbing.

    1. It was more despicable than the original comment by Jones, I think. Nobody expects decency from a shock jock like Jones, but it would be nice if we could expect some kind of decency in the parliament.
      I think she came very close to breaking down, and I wouldn't have blamed her either.

      An interesting contrast to the polite debate between Romney and Obama though, don't you think?

  2. I saw that on the news too FC and I don't think I've ever seen Julia quite so upset and angry, I don't blame her she has to put up with so much crap from every direction, and with her father just passing she had to crack..As for Tony Abbott, he reminds me of one of those 'head nodding' dogs that people sit on the back seat of their cars. He is UNbelievable, PLEASE people don't elect such a twat, we will be the laughing stock of the world!

    1. Hahaha Grace. Wouldn't that make a great gift for Christmas? A Nodding Tony doll to sit in the car?
      Love it.

  3. Peter Slipper has resigned or was he pushed?. As for Mr. Shock Jock he deserves eveything he gets from now on after that appalling comment and is to arrogant to say sorry.

    1. I can't believe Slipper's chutzpah. He has resigned as Speaker but not as an MP.
      As for Jones, he certainly can dish it out but is not very good at taking criticism that is fair and justified. Pity he doesn't have a wife he can hide behind?

  4. Labor is down in the polls a couple of percent and Liberals are up. I think this unedifying display might reverse that.

    1. If Abbott's comments were not a Freudian slip they are at least an indication that he is going to be a massive embarrassment to himself and this country if he becomes PM. He will make Reagan [post dementia] and Bush Jr look like Einsteins.

      No matter how displeased I am with too many of Gillard's decisions, the worst have always had the support of the Coalition. If the polls don't improve, I might have to turn to God.

  5. Slipper is disgusting yet he was selected to stand by the Liberal Party. They were trying to get rid of him when Julia very cleverly used him for the Speaker. a masterstroke for her voting balance situation.
    But really, after that Pr Charles call broadcast and the warnie*sexting, you'd think that all public profile people would be very very careful with their phones. doh.

    1. Oh Ann, I'm having trouble deciding whether I could even trust Turnbull.
      What intrigued me about Julia's speech was that it sounded scripted [uh, oh, it's hit the fan and they are going to stick it to us big time] yet Abbott walked into it by feigning disgust at the text message contest... and Gillard probably delivered well because on this occasion she was right to be pissed off.

      In the meantime Bailleau is relying on my very own member for Franger - Shaw - to prop up his own numbers.

      They all make me sick, but ten hours in ED at the Franger hospital probably wouldn't help.