Whatever you may have thought of Harry Jenkins’s performance as speaker — from the regular malapropisms to the red-faced outburts of exasperation — he was known across the political spectrum as a man of integrity and decency.

Peter Slipper does not come to the role with such high regard. His time in parliament, which extends over two decades, is chiefly noteworthy for his moving from the Nationals to the Liberals, a series of undignified incidents inside and outside parliament and for a series of problems around his travel expenses, which have often needed to be repaid to the taxpayer.

Labor understands this perfectly, of course, but it has not deterred the government from seizing on moves against Slipper within his own party and elevating Slipper to a role that is supposed to be both representative of Australian parliamentary democracy and a critical component of the day-to-day functioning of the House of Representatives. It may have been smart politics, but in terms of preserving the standards of public life, it is a poor outcome.

And whether Slipper can be an effective speaker must be open to question. The speaker must be respected, at least to a degree, by both sides. Judging by the cries of “shame” from the opposition benches when Slipper was dragged to the chair yesterday, his ability to command respect from those on his left is in grave doubt.