John Anderson was “incandescent with
sanctimony” answering Tony Windsor’s corruption allegations in
Parliament yesterday, reports Mike Seccombe in today’s SMH.

John
Howard wasn’t very impressed, either. As Kim Beazley took up the attack
in question time, the PM pointedly turned his back on his deputy for
the entire length of Anderson’s bombastic response. The body language
wasn’t pretty. When Anderson had finished his answer, Howard took him
aside for a few temperate words.

And when Beazley got up to ask
another question, the PM promptly shut down question time. Anderson had
damaged his own cause enough, Howard was clearly reasoning.

What
was the fuss about? Well, in the course of answering a series of
questions from Windsor and Beazley, Anderson managed to contradict
himself about an answer he gave to parliament on the issue last
November. Back then, Anderson denied discussing in a meeting with
Tamworth businessman Greg Maguire the sensitive political matter of
offering Windsor a job in return for quitting his seat. Yesterday, he
gave a different impression, while trying to squeeze out of his
slippery position by lashing out in all directions – Anderson accuses Labor of slur.

Labor will be back in parliament today, trying to increase Anderson’s angst. But in the long run, does it matter? As Shaun Carney has pointed out, this government is virtually scandal-proof.

In
some electorates, however, it does seem to matter. Since snatching the
Nationals heartland seat of New England from the ruling incumbents,
Tony Windsor has increased his majority at every election – including
last October’s poll, when his allegations first gained oxygen.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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