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Oct 10, 2012

Gillard fires up, Slipper fired: the pundits' verdict

Julia Gillard's impassioned attack on Tony Abbott and Peter Slipper's resignation fired up political pundits. Who won the politics on a dramatic parliamentary day?


Yesterday was a day like no other in parliament, with Julia Gillard’s impassioned attack on Tony Abbott and finally Peter Slipper’s resignation from the speaker’s chair. So who won the politics? The nation’s opinion writers have their say …

Jennifer Hewett, The Australian Financial Review:

“This is dangerous and desperate territory for Labor and Gillard as much as it is for the Liberals and Abbott. There is already a bizarre new emphasis on sexual politics in Australia, with Margie Abbott belatedly coming out last week to defend her husband’s attitude to women and condemn Labor for playing the gender card to shut down policy debate. Relief over Slipper’s resignation will be temporary.”

Geoff Kitney, The Australian Financial Review:

“Yesterday Gillard made a terrible error: she made a passionate and angry speech attacking Abbott for double standards and misogyny. But then she offered a weak and dissembling explanation as to why it was not the time to take any action to deal with Slipper despite his appalling language, which reflected attitudes beyond anything Abbott has ever indicated … Despite Slipper’s resignation last night, yesterday Gillard’s judgement failed her.”

Dennis Shanahan, The Australian:

“Gillard’s parliamentary presentation was brilliantly ferocious, emotionally stirring and evocative of a wronged and injured party. But the substance and argument fell well short of an acceptable political strategy and risked only alienating more voters disenchanted with the grubby, hypocritical and personal abuse from both sides of parliament.”

Peter van Onselen, The Australian:

“Is it possible for a political party and a prime minister to have more egg on their collective faces than Labor and Julia Gillard do right now? … The Greens and the independents who sided with the government to defend Slipper’s right to retain the speakership should also be embarrassed.We are in for an extremely brutal period in Australian politics between now and the next election if yesterday’s question time was anything to go by. “

Phillip Coorey, The Sydney Morning Herald:

“With Labor’s Anna Burke to replace Mr Slipper as the Speaker, the government will need the support of five of the seven crossbenchers to win a vote by 75 to 74. The Coalition needs just three.”

Peter Hartcher, The Sydney Morning Herald:

“The moment Gillard rose to defend Slipper and keep him in office, she chose to defend the indefensible, to excuse the inexcusable. The government had spent a month vilifying Tony Abbott for having ‘a problem with women’. But when one of the bulwarks of the government was exposed as having a problem with women, it was suddenly acceptable.”

Michelle Grattan, The Age:

“The government is well rid of Mr Slipper, but the sequence of yesterday’s events was a bad look for it. Julia Gillard and other government speakers were forced to defend on dubious grounds Mr Slipper continuing in his job, when his situation had become indefensible.The Prime Minister threw everything into her argument, which revolved around trying to pin the ‘misogynist’ label on the Opposition Leader. It was perhaps the only weapon available to her, but it sounded more desperate than convincing.”

Tony Wright, The Age:

“The screeching of the most senior members of the Gillard government and the Abbott opposition yesterday was the sound of Australia’s Parliament scraping the bottom of its barrel … Mr Slipper, of course, wasn’t there to see the vote or to hear the Parliament scraping its barrel. But he heard it from a distance, and ended up making it all a ghastly mistake.”


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24 thoughts on “Gillard fires up, Slipper fired: the pundits’ verdict

  1. Hamis Hill

    How many more Slippers are there hiding in the conservative ranks?
    While the MSM prefer to screech about governmemt screeching Slippers Mark I, II,III etc will continue to escape scrutiny.
    All the way into government seems to be the plan.
    Oh the hypocrisy!

  2. Holden Back

    Well I reckon . . . .

    Independent of any facts of the matter, or any nuance of resignation versus being forced from an office,our glorious fourth estate at work.

    Only Jennifer Hewitt seems to get what has been wrought in this. Now no private utteranaces – which the text messages were- is now off limits to judge ‘character’. The quotes are because it’s not about fitness for office any more, it’s about playing on personalities and foibles for political points. This means anyone with any kind of past (or character or charisma) will now think longer and harder about running for elected office.

    At least it clears the way for the party hacks – we defenitely need more of them in parliament.


    The media have lost any standard of objectivity when they compare some private badinage with the relentless public sexism that Abbott has unleashed with the aid of the Murdoch stable.

    Slipper’s salty language did not ridicule any woman or question her legitimacy, and yet journalists have all suddenly been ‘shocked’ by his private ‘front bar’ comments, and happily trumpeted the cynical and opportunistic line of the Opposition.

    Die MSM, die, die of shame, as Tony Abbott and his parrot would say.


    Ok, rephrase that: the MSM just ignore the unrelenting sexism (which they amplify daily) of the Opposition but go feral over a couple off ‘off colour’ remarks by Slipper.

    Really, we have reached peak stupid in our media, and time for the dinosaurs to crawl off and die.

  5. drmick

    Funny how the MSM commentators are the only ones trumpeting Abbots brilliant tactics again. Normal, real people are talking about someone else getting what they deserved.
    Ironic how the same trash parading as churnalists created, wrote the scripts for and then sold the unspeakable disgrace that is the loto. Talk about defending the indefensible; Still, with their head up their Abbotts and Joneses, they are not going to be able to see what is going on in the real world.
    The hypocrisy is definitely breathtaking

  6. Stephen Paul

    gee, the australian MSM barracking for the Liberal opposition, that’s unusual. The issue is about misogynism, abusive language and the growing vitriolic & personal attacks that occupies the social and political spaces of our society, not the alledged hypocricy of the women’s movement and the left. I suggest people look at the international take on PM Gillard’s put down of Abbott.

  7. paddy

    I’m actually wondering if the ‘Slipper text message fallout’, might just give the Govt pause for thought re: The data retention act.
    When *all* your electronic communications are available for future scrutiny, and they *will* be hacked at some point. No one is safe.
    Not politicians, journalists, celebrities, police officers or just plain ordinary folks, who’s lives, for what ever reason, come to the attention of any of the above.
    We are increasingly living in a fishbowl and there are endless ‘helpful’ types polishing the glass.
    I’m sure there are plenty of pollies who sat in parliament yesterday, thinking ‘will I be next?’

  8. jennatilz mckrackin

    Very disappointing to see the ABC’s Emma Alberici, Sabra Lane, Latika Bourke and Fairfax Rags going so hard at Ms Gillard. The speech was so devastating and historically important and all the MSM can focus on is the private messages of a 20year long liberal MP. Regardless of their offensiveness (Sophie Mirabella insults the intelligence of most people on a daily basis), the link that they are the fault of the PM is absurd and the let off Abbott received for calling for the government to die because of it really shows how pathetic the media in this country are.

  9. gloria bennett

    interesting to hear pyne try and rationlise why slippers vote isn’t “tainted”. the difference is, mr pyne, that you can secure slippers vote easier than you can thomson’s. if anyone can’t see through this then they’re a fool, plain and simple.

  10. Savonrepus

    Why does Julia have such a problem with men? Not so long ago it was gentle Kevin she was roasting. My heart goes out for poor ol Tim. One can only imagine.

  11. gloria bennett

    “Mr Slipper is awaiting a decision on the allegations by the Director of Public Prosecutions.” (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/slippers-private-entry-to-court-slammed/story-fn3dxiwe-1226487972856)

    um, so remind me what the difference is again mr pyne? misuse of cabcharges are a criminal offence, are they not?

  12. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    The term ‘mainstearm pressitute media’ is gaining
    currency in the online world.
    Thanks Crikey for lining up these donkeys all in a row.

  13. Damien Walker

    Deeper thought on this turns up double standards and hypocrisy on both sides, but the unwashed masses will really only remember Abbott’s suicidal “dying of shame” gaff.

    Here’s my take: http://theunderwhelmingblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-to-bury-opposition.html

  14. kickin in the front seat


    The public can see this, obviously the global media can see it. But a press gallery that spends more time getting “briefed” by spinners and reading each other’s copy completely misses the story. Again.

  15. Edward James

    It is up to public trust journalist those who operate in their grass roots communities to get the job of change done. Bought and paid for or MSM are used to being fed by politicians with media releases like chooks, they know no better! Edward James

  16. Aliar Jones

    I can barely believe such incoherent blinkered drivel is being written about the PM’s speech…

    No wonder their business is going down the gurgler at light speed..

    After today I’ll be glad to push the flush button.

  17. Holden Back

    The New Yorkerseems to think Obama could learn a thing or two from Gillard’s speech. But if the Australian press gallery thinks otherwise, I know who I’d trust . . . .

  18. Moloch

    Yep – The New Yorker every time!

    What an utter revelation of the misogyny in Australia. So despite TA’s relentless belittling of women, his approval of terms exactly like Slipper’s ‘b*tch’ we’re to be disgusted at the PM – WTF?

    Why because she didn’t pry – Roxon like – into his private correspondence before he got the job as the ABC implied? Perhaps because she decided that despite Slipper coming across as a creep she wasn’t going to let rumour and innuendo sway her?

    Oh yes, that’s right – because she wasn’t about to sack someone on 20 minutes notice on evidence in a court process that parliament has no business sticking its nose into.

    Give me a pair of secateurs I feel the only answer to this foul sexist tripe is the Bobbitt Solution.

  19. Sean O Finn

    Yes the hypocrisy of our Politicians is easily matched by the Nations opinion writers. If any of them was in the least bit interested in a better Parliament debating policies and actions to help Australia now and in the future they would long ago have called Abbott and his crowd of rabid dogs for what they have done and are doing ever since they lost the negotiations with the independents who saw right through him a lying populist hypocrite. God help us if he ever gets into Office.

  20. Kerry Lovering

    A Wonderful speech from our female Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
    The comments above identify the worst of the media commentators
    They fail to recognise that the women of Australia are fed up with the relentless sexism from many Australian men.
    This sexism has far reaching results where men of all persuasions think rape victims deserved it.
    The sexist behaviour of footballers is also encouraged by sexism from ordinary men.
    Alan Jones and even Tony Jones who did not control the rudeness of his panel towards Kate Ellis on Q&A are part of the problem This behaviour MUST stop.

  21. O'Connor Mark

    We can safely set aside any commentary from The Australian, so leaving their cheerleading out, the criticism from the somewhat more credible commentators seems to be not the Prime Minister’s message or delivery, but more about the Government’s lack of consistency in standing up for the standards that they are decrying in the Opposition.

    In fairness, that’s a reasonably arguable position, so that line of criticism is OK.

    Where the columnists have failed utterly is the bringing to account of the Leader of the Opposition for the parroting of the ‘died of shame’ insult. Where it has been mentioned, it’s been excused (or at least explained) on the basis of the Leader of the Opposition using the expression in the past. The last time I can find this expression on the record from Mr Abbott is in April, more than six months ago, so it’s hardly a well-worn expression for a man whose use of easy-to-remember catchphrases is well known and well executed.

    And even if it could reasonably be argued that Mr Abbott regularly says someone or something is or should be “dying of shame”, any human of decency and compassion would seek to avoid such a statement in the light of the last fortnight’s events.

    Instead, Mr Abbott uses it, directly at the Prime Minister, at the first available opportunity. At the very least, he has been extremely foolish to say so, and in my view he has done so deliberately, knowing the force and meaning of the expression in such a climate.

    It is this comment that should have been the subject of the condemnation of the press gallery. Instead, the Leader of the Opposition is once again let off the hook by the leading political commentators of the established media.

    If my conversations with numerous people are any guide, we can at least hope that the court of public opinion will remember and judge the comment, its context, and the character of the man who made it.

  22. Triskele Rey

    Just read this fluff peice on AWW re Ms Gillards speech. How anyone can put thier byline to that, I don’t know.
    Misses the whole point of the debate entirely AND the ranifications of ousting Mr Slipper in that way.
    Frankly, I found the premise behind the article aimed at WOMEN readers very sexist indeed. Assuming ignorance of facts and promoting it, blatantly.

  23. Hunt Ian

    Curious that there is such wall to wall support from media commentators for Tony Abbott’s move to have Peter Slipper thrown out of the Speaker’s Chair. Curious too that this domestic coverage is so at variance with international reactions and that Slipper’s vulgar, even prurient comments, are so uniformly interpreted as sexist of the same order as the swarm of commentary surrounding Tony Abbot’s campaign against Gillard.

    The chain of events is a bit too neat. First, on the weekend a story breaks about Alan Jones, followed by public outrage at his disrespect for the grief of Julia Gillard on losing her father. On the following Wednesday, Ashby’s lawyers rather surprisingly release emails that initially were not released and which, from looking at them, are hardly relevant to the charge of sexual harrassment against Slipper (if anything, they suggest excessive familiarity but make it more surprising that Slipper abused power to pressure Ashby to have sex with him). Then on Friday the Murdoch tabloids, for no apparent reason, give an across the country front page splash treatment to a fairly ordinary defence of Tony Aboott, given by his wife, who could hardly be expected to have lived with him for thirty years or so if she thought he was a male chauvinist pig.This is then followed by Abbott’s move to have Slipper thrown out as speaker.
    Mainstream media figures, such as Emma Alberici, then get stuck into the Labor Party for not supporting this motion, as if it is self-evident that Slipper’s private exchanges show he is unfit to be Speaker. Slipper’s comments do suggest that he never left his adolescence behind. This is plausibly a flaw of character but it does not self-evidently warrant putting Slipper before a “kangaroo court”. Previous occupants of the Speaker’s chair were not flawless.

    One could almost be forgiven in thinking that a bit over a week ago, liberal politicians and mainstream media connections, who all want to see the Gillard government gone, turned over the problem of how to turn back growing support for Gillard in the polls and shift the outrage against Alan Jones’s remarks to outrage against Slipper and the government. Julia Gillard will have a hard task winning the next election with mainstream media being so obliging for Tony. Still, I fear what an Abbott government will do to country. Since the Gillard government has carelessly left Australia in the same position as Greece, strong measures will be taken to make sure that workers only have the rights to which they are entitled, and those who caused the global financial crisis will no doubt be forced to pay for it.

  24. Alderson Mary

    Excellent point about private comments in writing or recorded speech now being the possible subject of public shame if said words become public knowledge. Rather sad that van Onselen and others employed by News Ltd continue to paint all news in terms of bad news for Gillard. They’ve been at it non-stop since Gillard became PM, giving Abbott a free ride at the same time. As Gillard’s blast at Abbott has received worldwide publicity, Australia would become a knee slapping laughing stock if the Australian people were stupid enough to let Abbott be PM. For all his budgie smuggler strutting to show off his manliness, Abbott has received world recognition as being bested by a woman with more balls than he has.


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