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Federal

Oct 10, 2012

So Peter Slipper slides out -- was it all worth it?

Peter Slipper's departure from the speaker's chair enables an assessment of exactly what Labor got from him and what price it paid. So was it all worth it?

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Peter Slipper, serial rat, frequenter of Canberra nightspots, creative user of travel expenses, brief prisoner of a parliamentary toilet, has left the speakership, allowing us to answer the question I posed about the government the day it made him speaker — “what price will it pay for elevating a man like Slipper?”

Labor ended up getting two things from Slipper: the opportunity to renege on its deal with Andrew Wilkie, which it did within two months of Slipper’s ascension, heading off a damaging campaign by the pokies industry and taking some ammunition from the resurgent Rudd forces. The other was the passage of its cuts to the private health insurance rebate, which only passed because Slipper was in the speaker’s chair. Slipper himself complained at the time that he wanted to vote against the bill.

Labor also got a more independent, indeed surprisingly effective, speaker, for all his weird fixation with playing dress-ups, although whether the Labor MPs (including Wayne Swan) who got turfed from the chamber by Slipper appreciated that isn’t clear. Bizarrely, Slipper actually leaves a strong legacy in terms of a better, if only because quicker, question time from his short time in the role.

At least the private health insurance cuts were good policy. Elevating a creature like Slipper and using it as a basis to renege on the deal with Wilkie was grossly amoral on the part of Labor. Ruthless, clever, and grossly amoral. It got Julia Gillard out of a terrible fix on poker machines, but added to her reputation with voters for doing anything — and recanting on anything — necessary to retain power.

It also linked Labor, and this Parliament, to a growing reputation for sleaze, though that was mostly because of the HSU and allegations about Craig Thomson. It was always assumed the LNP and the media would dig up further dirt from Slipper’s extended time in politics. As it turned out, most of that had already been mined. It was Slipper’s behaviour once he became speaker that was to become the basis for his downfall.

How much any of that was responsible for Labor’s dismal polling over the last 11 months is debatable. Voters already disliked the Prime Minister, already thought she’d readily break her word if it meant holding on to power, already thought this whole hung Parliament thing was a disaster, despite the persistent evidence of a government scoring win after legislative win. So was Slipper worth it for Labor? Probably not, on balance, but in straight, amoral political terms the issue is less clear cut than a lot of today’s commentary insists.

And so to yesterday, with the clash of two fatally-compromised forces: the Coalition, led by a bloke with a long history of saying problematic things about women, complaining about s-xism. Then Labor, which has been prosecuting a s-xism-based attack on him, having to defend a man responsible for grossly misogynist private messages. The narratives: Abbott the hypocritical misogynist versus Gillard the defender of Slipper.

As more than a few have since pointed out, it’s of course welcome that the men of the Coalition now care so much about s-xism in public life and we can of course expect them to maintain this laser-like focus on the issue henceforth.

Tactically, Abbott was leading with his chin in focusing on the s-xism of Slipper’s texts, something he perhaps didn’t fully realise until the Prime Minister, who sat there for much of his speech with a faint look of bemusement, rose and clobbered him. In fact she hit him so hard it left Abbott, and his frontbench, looking stunned. They perhaps hadn’t expected Gillard to go right to the nub of the issue in the way she did, as quickly as she did, but they opened the door to her on misogyny and she came through it with fury.

The slumped shoulders on the Coalition side were also because Abbott, surely by accident, used the “died of shame” phrase, which handed the Prime Minister a killer line to shoot back, not the sort carefully cooked up in spitball sessions in the PMO, but one from a fired-up leader on-message and on her feet.

The PM’s attack, which has duly gone viral across the internet and resonated strongly on social media, probably won’t do much for voters, who would only have seen two leaders they dislike tearing at each other; such moments tend merely to confirm existing voter sentiments anyway. That it was in the service of supporting someone like Slipper won’t help either.

But his narrow survival and the warnings of Tony Windsor, a man whose common sense and straight thinking have been invaluable in this Parliament, meant Slipper’s time was up, something even the man himself realised. Labor’s defence of him had been for nought, except for a crystallising moment of gender politics between a female Prime Minister and her male opponent.

There’ll be much speculation about which way Slipper will vote as an independent, but the important point is that the government has already secured passage of its key reform legislation for this term. The Gonski reforms remain, but that’s one issue where Labor very definitely wants a fight with the Coalition, indeed is counting on it, and in any event doesn’t need to pass legislation before the election — it currently proposes to pass a kind of aspirational bill about educational outcomes.

This was Gillard’s argument to Caucus yesterday — the strategy for this term had always been a “long game” in which big reforms were introduced by mid-term and the government focused on governing thereafter. Bills that won’t pass will simply be held back to preserve the government’s legislative record, until the election or a deal with an independent can secure an extra vote.

There is of course one final aspect of all this that is yet to play out. In demanding Slipper’s departure, the Coalition has just set a new benchmark for political behaviour, one that, courtesy of the government’s defence of Slipper, doesn’t apply to anyone except itself and Wilkie. All male Coalition MPs and Wilkie will now need to reflect: did they ever send a vulgar message or email privately to a staffer, a colleague or a journalist? Did they ever reflect on the appearance of a female colleague? Did they ever call someone a c-nt? Did they ever make a smutty joke that, stripped of its private context and cast into newsprint, will look s-xist?

If they did, they’re all now just one leak, one disgruntled former adviser, one factional enemy, away from a world of pain. One they voted for yesterday.

*What did the newspaper pundits think? Read our wrap on the Crikey website

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65 thoughts on “So Peter Slipper slides out — was it all worth it?

  1. Dogs breakfast

    Many good points in all this. As Zut alors and others point out, anyone who sends a text or email has to understand that those electronic records are kept, and can be subpoena’d by the courts. The sublime naivety is puzzling.

    How many people have to get caught out before it is common knowledge, and practice? I regularly lecture my kids about their facebook entries. They get it, they’re 12 and 15!

    As Person Ordinary (better not call him PO!) and others point out, JG did not defend Slipper’s texts, only the process of outing a Speaker on that basis. This isn’t a highly nuanced analysis, it is a bald-faced reality. Unfortunately many commentators, News Ltd and Peter Hartcher among them, somehow missed the bleeding obvious.

    I can’t agree that this won’t affect people’s attitudes. Sure, a lot of this will go on party lines, but a lot of women who were coalition voters will still say ‘hear, hear’ to JG’s speech, and a lot of blokes too. We aren’t all unreconstructed males (Dogs Breakfast is a male, and yes, I know there should be a comma in Dog’s but the html doesn’t handle commas properly) Sorry I digress.

    JG stood up. It’s true that some women hide behind the sexist allegation to avoid scrutiny, but to deny that Gillard has faced unrivalled abuse for a PM for the entire period of her career is to live in fantasy land.

    Personally, I don’t mind the argy-bargy, the passion, I can’t stand the anodyne. Bring it on pollies, show us what really makes you tick, what you really believe, and let the public decide. If we can’t have civility, let’s at least have honesty.

    Civility can be over-rated sometimes.

    I wish you all well. The comments section often reassures me that not all my fellow men and women are stoopid!

  2. Person Ordinary

    It is unfortunate that Slipper had to resign, but it is the right outcome in this environment. In a different environment – say one without Abbott as opposition leader – we may have been able to keep the best Speaker the house has had for a long time, whatever his personal character in his not so private life.

  3. Jimmy

    Geewizz – “The courts don’t decide who the Speaker of the House is, the parliament does.” Yes and the parliament doesn’t want to start down a Slippery slope by creating a precedent here.

  4. GeeWizz

    The courts don’t decide who the Speaker of the House is, the parliament does.

    So it’s irrelevent whether a pending court case finds him guilty or not, it was up to the judgement of the parliament and the Labor Party, Bandt, Oakeshott and Windsor all voted in favour of Slippery Pete and it’s comments.

    It’s all in hansard for the history books.

  5. Kerryn Goldsworthy

    ‘Abbott, surely by accident, used the “died of shame” phrase’

    By accident? Did you watch the QT footage? Listen to his (ahem) tone of voice, observe his body language? The actual words may have calculated for plausible deniability and look innocuous enough on a transcript, but the physical presence and performance left no doubt.

  6. Nico

    I disagree with Bernard in that it won’t really impact voter opinion.

    Surely this will erode Tony’s leadership approval rating.

  7. alfred venison

    nicely put, Person Ordinary. i’d up-thumb you if they had them here. -a.v.

  8. Person Ordinary

    It seems to be an almost unanimous presumption that Labor were “supporting” or “defending” Slipper. Bernard asserted it repeatedly, and many comments here demonstrate that others have not stopped to question it. This is not just wrong, it is missing the insight available from the whole saga. While there is certainly a purely political aspect to Labor’s strategy, not to be seen to lose a battle by allowing the opposition to vote Slipper out, Labor were really defending against the lynch mob mentality of tearing apart the parliament and ending political careers by exploiting innuendo in the public domain. Labor were defending democratic decency from an opposition that does not even recognise the principle – and does not allow itself to understand the damage such a precedent would do to the political process. This fascination with personality and point scoring is the very thing that is denying us effective government.

  9. Jimmy

    Geewizz – They came off as precious to you – who has made no bones about the fact you can’t stand Gillard and if she cured cancer you would have a problem with it. How they play in the “general public” is alos playing out along already held beli efs.

    And After over 2 years of Abbott’s attitude of tearing everything down and personal abuse do you really think one speech pointing out all the hypocrisy’s of his new found feminism’s is precious? And again after Abbott’s performances over his entire parliamentary career his wheeling out his wife and Pyne & Bishop with the “tony Abbott I know” and the ALP woment a beating up on poor Tony attitude isn’t precious? Get real!

  10. GeeWizz

    Jimmy the comments came off as precious.

    Waaah!… stop being mean to me, I’m a woman! All my bungles and mistakes are because of Abbott the big bad man.

    I mean this stuff might play well around the feminist circles, but the general public are turned off but such pathetic and desperate tactics.

    Bring on the polls!

  11. Jimmy

    Geewizz – So it isn’t the act that is important it is whetjer people remember it?

    And you think people will remember a speech that really doesn’t impact them personally over Abbott’s repeated assertions that the Carbon tax will destroy them which are now being shown as demonstrably false – an issue that impacts them directly?

    The Slipper – Abbott gender war is only going to reinforce current perceptions and bring on greater voter apathy because Abbott isn’t an innocent (despite what his wife and Julie Bishop say) and the ALP defending Slipper isn’t a great look but if you think all Gillard’s speech was doing was “blaming men” then you might want to look at your views on women and whether you should be trying to play the victim ala Mr Jones.

  12. GeeWizz

    [“As for stunts how did Abbott’s tabling of an electricity bill go yesterday – do you really want a PM not smart enough to read an electricity bill – I mean it even had a graph.”]

    Jimmy no one will remember that.

    What they will remember is that Gillard blaming “men” for all her problems and being a precious petal.

    They’ll also remember Gillard and the entire Labor Party voting to keep Peter Slipper as speaker despite nasty text messages about female genitalia.

    Desperate smears just don’t work and Gillards the other day was the worst kind. She may well have picked up a few women voters, but she’s really annoyed male voters by basically blaming “men” for her being a gigantic failure.

    She’ll pay in the polls, you’ll see….

  13. Jimmy

    Geewizz – You have said a lot of things “first” but not many of them have been even close to being correct.

    As for stunts how did Abbott’s tabling of an electricity bill go yesterday – do you really want a PM not smart enough to read an electricity bill – I mean it even had a graph.

    And the big difference between this and the Newman stuff is that people already dislike Abbott and already bel ieve he is s xist – look at the polls he was 10 points behind Gillard as preferred PM.

  14. GeeWizz

    Well Eric the reality is that this little Labor stunt will back fire.

    We’ve seen desperate smears before… up here in Queensland on Campbell Newman just before the QLD State Election, can someone remind me how that worked out for you guys?

    HEH

    Next Newspoll 56% TPP to Coalition, you heard it here first.

  15. eric

    Have a look at the Murdoch rags today including the Australian they done the seemingly impossible in ramping up the anti Gillard hate even more!
    And as I said yesterday trying to whore themselves to get Slipper to vote with them!

    Any comments on your love child Suzie??

  16. Patriot

    It’s demeaning to women for a man to hold the door for them, but it’s fine for him to have a hissy-fit on their behalf because people are calling them names. Loony.

  17. klewso

    Abbott is the school bully on the bus, sitting down the back, kicking the seat in front, throwing things, blowing the spit-balls, pulling hair and faces, saying nasty things to get a reaction, and when he does get a reaction, feels vindicated in his “abilities” – he just hasn’t grown up.
    He’s not a misogynist, he doesn’t “hate” women – he just feels superior to them – and most men too. He’s an “equal opportunist sociopath”.

  18. GeeWizz

    [“How was JG to know of Slipper’s attitude to women? Her crystal ball was at the cleaners. “]

    We’ve covered this.

    Yesterday afternoon when Gillard and her party voted 100% in support of Slipper and his comments, she had been well informed by all and sundry what he had said in the text messages.

    Gillard and Labor supported him as speaker and his comments, it’s on the public record now.

  19. Liz45

    How was JG to know of Slipper’s attitude to women? Her crystal ball was at the cleaners.

    The Opposition for all its condemnation of Slipper yesterday; today they’re going to welcome his vote! I don’t want to hear any more about hypocrisy? OK?

    They didn’t say one word about Craig Thomson for two years – until the No-alition realized they could milk it for all it was worth. Incidentally, he still has NOT been arrested and charged with any offence!

    Gee Wizz – If you continue to remain ignorant, will you please stop advertising it? Go and look at some of the foul stuff the PM has had to put up with over the last 2 plus years. I suggest that all the women in Parlt would cop this sort of garbage from some?

    She is not “coming off as precious now”? It’s people like you who’ve been throwing accusations like this around – and that doesn’t make it fact!

    She;s put up with it long enough, and now she won’t cop it any more! If the revolting men start behaving themselves and not using her gender to insult her, there’d be no problem.

    I heard Rob Oakeshott tonight on Lateline, and he reinforced my liking for him, and Tony Windsor – I just disagreed with him about Abbott and his shameful sexist behaviour. “He doesn’t hate women”? Just because he finds women sexually attractive has nothing to do with his attitude to one/some/all? Particularly if they get the upper hand. He only knows one way to handle that – be as rude and vulgar as he can! He referred to the PM today as a “piece of work’? Charming manners of an allegedly adult male!

    My ex could be kind and helpful to some women outside the home – but was an absolute a******e at home – to me! Even asking our children to join in his abuse!

    Tony Abbott needs to take a course in how to behave like a mature adult – about conflict resolution, and how to ‘play the ball, not the woman’?

    I suspect that you could probably engage in the same educational experience! SB certainly could!

  20. banistersmind

    So…I just heard Abbott say that he will have no problem accepting Mr. Slipper’s vote if he chooses to side with the Coalition on a particular issue…

    Enough said.

  21. GeeWizz

    Gillards coming off as precious now.

    Labors plan seems to be scream s_xism every time they stuff up or get criticised.

    I think the Australian public are smarter than that. They are going to cane this useless incompetent government in the polls

  22. Warren Joffe

    I have the privilege of being let in on a lot of jolly female vulgarity at the expense of men, often very funny. Like several commenters my female acquaintance would, while turning up their noses at Slipper’s texts and feeling a bit queasy about him and his sexuality generally, regard the public attitudes of MPs and most media people as somewhat hypocritical and humbug.

    A niece whose mother is about Slipper’s age and a magistrate learned that her mother had texted (or emailed) that X was said to be hung like a horse but she didn’t believe it, “hung like a donkey” might be about right. She gave her mother a good lecture on being old and naive about the uses (and privacy) of texts…… So Slipper may not be so much stupid as wrong generation in his use of texts (as well as tacky).
    As for telling a (then) trusted staff member what you thought of one of the MPs (the tentative agreement with Ashby’s description of Sophie Mirabella) – C’mon!!! What does anyone think judges say to each other and to their Associates about counsel, witnesses etc. The ridiculous implication of the criticism of Slipper for the “ignorant botch” text is that he should not actually have opinions about the people he had served in Parliament with (and on the same side) for years, not just that he shouldn’t express them to anyone at all.

    Still, justice has been served. Gillard has suffered again for bad judgment and her own amoral slippery manoeuvres and Slipper has been got rid of. (He may have been quite a capable Speaker in the chair but I wouldn’t mind betting that many Parliamentary staff would be pleased to see the end of his reign on more than one ground).

  23. AR

    Venise, a small point re the vertical chihuahua’s ‘point of order’ – it was Albanese who used the phrase, “good bloke”, in his role as Manager of Government Business in allowing a Lib backbencher to table the document he was referring to when asking a question.

  24. Harry1951

    Wonderful article Bernard, at times you are on fire!

  25. Kevin Rennie

    As Bob Katter tweeted yesterday: ‘Re no confidence motion, Parli isn’t a judiciary. God help us if it becomes one. If it ran justice as it runs this country, God help us all’ Didn’t see his name on list of ayes or naes. However, Windsor and Oakeshott voted against Abbott’s motion on principle, obviously agreeing with Katter.

    The speech was definitely worth it. 120,000 views on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihd7ofrwQX0) and that doesn’t include the embeds which don’t register in the count.

  26. klewso

    And “Peter Slipper slides out”? What does that mean?

  27. klewso

    Remember when a “turkey slap” was what you did to see how thawed it was, before cooking it?

  28. Tim nash

    Bernard I understand your point of view but I am afraid Gillards speech is watertight.

    There was so much more than just the slipper affair wrapped up in that speech.

    This wasn’t really just about the speaker, this was about all the shit she has had to put up with from Alan Jones, Tony Abbott and all the other people who have said some fairly nasty stuff about her.

    It was so much more resonant because she is the first female prime minister of Australia and because up till now we have never seen her so fired up.

    In the speech she covered up all cracks in her argument and pointed out she was totally disgusted with slippers text messages which was totally believable (of course she was).

    This was Gillards shining moment. This is what she will be remembered for (and backstabbing Kevin Rudd)

    The opposition said today this is not ‘politics’, sexism in Australia isn’t politics? wtf is then?

  29. klewso

    “Funny names for genitalia” – now there’s something new?
    ………. Excuse me – I’m off to drain the dragon.

  30. klewso

    Stokes’ (defender of Jones) Channel 7 is assuring us that Abbott’s words (re dying and shame) weren’t deliberately provocative in evoking “the spirit of the parrot”?

  31. David Heslin

    Well said, RoseL, Jason Dwyer and JMNO. Why is everybody from Julia Gillard to Bernard Keane so uncritically accepting Abbott’s narrative on this? As much as I enjoyed JG’s speech, I would have loved to have heard her attack the principle that a man’s private texts should be grounds for dismissal. Alas, I suspect she either lacks the guts or the principles to do so.

  32. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    Mal Brough is a caun’t, and Sophie is a biotch?
    Gee, if only those ideas haven’t already been floated by about 30% of the population already….geez

  33. Arty

    I suspect that every MP is busy searching their email folders with the intent of destroying every email they sent and publishing every questionable email they have received.

  34. johncanb

    Why is the Australian (male) press gallery so anti-Gillard?
    Her speech regarding Slipper and Abbott yesterday was spot on. It was premature for the Parliament to sack Slipper yesterday. Why did the press gallery so easily accept the Opposition spin that Gillard was defending Slipper in her speech, when clearly she was not? She was offended by his tweets. She was simply saying wait until we have the complete story from the court case.

    John Goss

  35. The Pav

    Scott @ 29

    I think the PM took the advantage to “smack Abbott to the boundry’ as an admirable goal in itself. That it deflected attention was probably accepted as a bonus.

    BTW Perhaps the Opposition went so hard foe Slipper to deflect attention from the grwoing crisis in ts ranks regarding the deregulation of the wheat market

    That is to say the govt is doing what it said it would, doing what is also Liberal party policy yet it is something Abbott is opposing.WHY?

    Methinks the Slipper thing was in large part a diversion and a stunt.

    Afterall policy has never been Abbotts strenght in any way but publicity stunt and political points scoring is

  36. Hamis Hill

    Apparently the entire Liberal party is “linked” to Slipper.
    They are all “Slipper” to one extent or another, especially Brough, set to replace him in parliament.
    Sunshine Coast electors do not have any non- Ashby, Abbott or young Wyatt linked repesentatives to choose from?

  37. Scott

    @Timehhh

    “To my eyes, approval/disapproval seems to be entirely a function of your previous disposition towards the two leaders”

    So true. The more I look at the world, and peoples opinions, the more I realise we view everything through the prism of our ideology.

    The only question is whether the ideology gives you insight (by you recognising the bias and deliberately taking the other position as a counterpoint) or blinds you (by only focusing on your side). I think both the Left or Right readers of crikey (including myself) are occasionally guilty of only seeing things one dimensionally.

    This is just another instance of this. Is Gillard a woman who finally got fed up with being baited by a man she perceives as a woman hater, or was her outburst a way of deflecting attention away from the Governments support of Slipper (i.e Out of control for damage control).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s both.

  38. The Pav

    One thing that puzzles me is how these texts are in any way germain to Ashby’s harassment claims.

    A fascination with the parts referred to seems to be a curious subject to have a discussion with somebody who is gay.

    There can be only one reason for introducing them and that was to humiliate / pressure Slipper.

    Given Ashby’s links to Brough and Pyne it would appear to substantiate Slipper’s claim that Ashby’s suit is both vexatious and politically motivated.

  39. Jimmy

    Zut Alors – I am constantl y amazed at how politicians are stupid enough to put these types of things into print.

  40. zut alors

    ‘…at the risk of it being repeated later…’

  41. JMNO

    I agree with Jason Dwyer.

    When I heard the howls of outrage about Slipper’s texts, I thought he must have said something really derogatory about women’s capacity/ability in comparison to a man. His sin was dirty boy talk and I wouldn’t mind betting that Bernard, all the men in parliament, all the men in the press gallery and most of the men in the country have said something like this and probably something a lot worse at some stage and I also bet that they wouldn’t like it to be made public. These were, after all, private text messages between two consenting adult males. So sitting in judgement on Slipper makes them all a bunch of hypocrites.

    If Slipper has broken the law or violated the parliament’s ethical standards then he should be held to account in the proper way.

    What bothers me about what has happened is the use of parliament to humiliate and publicly pillory one of its members. This has been done not because the humiliation is for the public good but purely to further the ambitions of the Opposition. It’s back to the days of the public hangings and the guillotine. Is that the sort of parliament we want?

  42. shepherdmarilyn

    Calling it sexism in this day and age makes me feel like I am back in the 1950’s or earlier.

    If girls want to cry sexism they should be very wary of what they say in female social gatherings because I know from experience we girls are not gentle into the night.
    Worse language than that used is a few text message are seen on our TV screens on a daily basis without screams of sexism.

    SExism is a stupid relic and Gillard and Abbott are both awful.

  43. zut alors

    What stuns me more than what happened in the House of Reps yesterday is the fact that anyone would put such a vulgar remark into print via a text or email.

    It’s bad enough saying such things at the risk of it be repeated later – that could easily be dismissed as hearsay. But providing hard evidence is plain stupid.

  44. Shaniq'ua Chardonnay

    Interesting that Tony is still happy to accept Slippery Pete’s vote in parliament. Apparently his text weren’t THAT bad, just bad for the speaker.
    So I think that only leaves Wilkie with any credibility.
    By the way – although the texts were pretty puerile and I really don’t approve of using the C-bomb as derogatory term I really don’t think they constitute a hanging offence, unlike Jones vitriol, they were private (if stupid) comments.
    I also haven’t seen any evidence of sexual harassment yet, and I have experienced it in the workplace in the past.

  45. The Pav

    Jimmy @ 18

    Quite right but the only problem is the Murdoch dominated media is pro Abbott as are the shock jocks so he is not held to the same level of accountability as our PM.

    BTW don’t forget Abbott has his present job thanks to Slippers vote

  46. Jimmy

    John64 – It isn’t the govt that Abbott has to worry about now, he has set the bar and the media will see that he constantly has to meet it, already today we have had the “you refuse Thompson’s vote but you accept Slipper’s” lines, if it comes out that Joe Hockey once used the “c” word then they will be asking “Why won’t you sack Hoceky when you demanded Slipper be sacked” – the govt won’t have to do a thing.

  47. John64

    “If they did, they’re all now just one leak, one disgruntled former adviser, one factional enemy, away from a world of pain. One they voted for yesterday.”

    But wasn’t that the point? As I surmise the political strategy over this:
    – Labor have been making headway with their attacks of sexism and misogyny against Abbott.
    – Yesterday, Abbott neutralised those attacks once and for all by forcing Gillard to stand up and support Slipper, exposing her attacks as hypocritical and making everyone think “a plague on both your houses”.

    Effectively, the Gillard Government can’t use the “sexism” attack any more because the minute they do, we’ll all be reminded about how they defended Slipper – with Gillard even calling him “a man of distinction” on her own Twitter account – after he resigned for his remarks!

    Any further comments / attacks of that nature will result in a collective groan from the populace and very little voter movement. Those who see this as a Gillard victory – likely saw Gillard as a great PM before. And those who see this as a Liberal victory – were likely to vote Liberal anyway.

    What’s happened is those undecided in the middle. They’ll completely ignore any further “sexism” remarks and simply roll their eyes… Which is ultimately advantageous to Abbott (presuming his slip in the polls of late is because of the attacks against his “misogyny”).

  48. Timehhh

    Venise: Pyne has a special talent for eliciting groans.

  49. Venise Alstergren

    TIMEHHH: An hysterical bit of narrative today. Chrissy Wissy Pyne lumbered to his feet to object to a female member of the Labor Party referring to a male Liberal party member as “a bloke” going on, in a very manufactured sulk, to say that had it been a male member of the coalition calling a woman a Sheila he would have been done on the grounds of sexism. For once united, the entire parliament groaned.

  50. Timehhh

    Ooops – just realised second comment wasn’t aimed at me – sorry Jimmy!

  51. Timehhh

    Re: Jimmy “Geewizz You have posted the same thing numerous times over the past 24 hours almost word for word – any chance of an origianl thought or haven’t they updated the scritps yet.”

    Mate I don’t know who you have me confused for, but I haven’t posted anything anywhere on this! That comment was the first thing I’ve written on Crikey’s boards for months.

  52. Holden Back

    “When he was our sleazebag, he was funny and charming?”

  53. Jason Dwyer

    sexist is “she cant do that because she’s a woman”
    misogynist is “i wont let you do that because you’re a woman”

    puerile is shell-less mussels in salty brine.

    i still havent seen the hanging offence in these texts ( admittedly, i havent read them all, just the headlines ), so even bernard repeating the ‘gross misogyny’ here is missing the mark.

    i’ve watched a bit of question time this year, slipper has been an even handed arbiter, and keeps things moving along.

    should the speaker be held to a higher standard? perhaps.

    is there anyone in the house that could meet it? doubtful.

    heres hoping the disgruntled pipe up soon eh?

  54. Jimmy

    Timehhh – “To my eyes, approval/disapproval seems to be entirely a function of your previous disposition towards the two leaders.” The online poll in the age seems to agree with you running at about 46-54 the same as the newspoll on monday.

    Geewizz You have posted the same thing numerous times over the past 24 hours almost word for word – any chance of an origianl thought or haven’t they updated the scritps yet.

  55. GeeWizz

    [“So we had a speaker who was effective and got good policy through………Pity about the personal aspects but how can Gillard be held accountable for something his own party didn’t know of..or did they and did nothing?”]

    So Labor didn’t know about the text messages yesterday afternoon when THEY, Oakeshott, Windsor and Bandt voted overwhelmingly for him to remain as speaker.

    Labor have now grabbed Slipper by both hands and must take responsibility for him and his actions. Even Slippery Pete thought his position was untenable, but poor-judgement Gillard and the Labor Party gave him 100% of their support for him and his comments.

    It’s on the public record now.

  56. Timehhh

    Good piece but not sure about the comment about voters not being enthused by Gillard’s speech because it was in support of Slipper.

    Normal people don’t watch Question Time and they don’t follow the “narrative”. Most of the many links I’ve seen posted to the speech show only Gillard’s speech, without much (if any) context. In isolation, the clips show a fired-up PM giving Abbott the kind of serve that many of the people posting the clip have been desperate to see for years. They don’t care what led to it, they just think Abbott deserved it by the bucketload and were pleased to see Gillard at her fiery best.

    To my eyes, approval/disapproval seems to be entirely a function of your previous disposition towards the two leaders.

  57. The Pav

    So we had a speaker who was effective and got good policy through………Pity about the personal aspects but how can Gillard be held accountable for something his own party didn’t know of..or did they and did nothing?

    As to Abbotts “Shame” comment I refuse to believe it was accidental and makes me suspect that the line was cooked up weeks ago with Jones. After all they are in frequent contact.

    One question that has never been answered is that Jones just said he was repeating the comment so who did he hear it from first?

  58. RoseL

    Unless we’re some kind of saint, I’m certain that we’ve all made vulgar and sexist remarks in private. I see a clear difference between public and private comments, why can’t the media? I don’t think that any of us would like our private messages exposed to the public. I’m sure that most reporters wouldn’t pass the test.

  59. GeeWizz

    6 Months

    That’s how long it takes Labor to realise it’s made a mistake.

    It took them that long to dump Craig Thompson.

    It took them that long to dump Peter Slipper.

    And yet they let these issues drag out by their own free-will and incompetence.

    Labor should have cut Slippery Pete loose 6 months ago and said he was of the Liberals making.. but instead they took ownership of him and his problems.

    And yet the numbers barely changed had they dumped him. Labor make such poor political decisions that you have to wonder if they are being run by school children.

  60. Jimmy

    On the issue of people needing to watch what they have texted surel y Slipper isn’t the first person to have called Mirrabella a “botch”.

  61. Lisa_Donna

    It’s not just the males that need to watch out either. Women can be just as prone to vulgarity and sexism as men

  62. Aliar Jones

    Whatever anyone wants to say about Labor and the Greens cannot be taken seriously for a millisecond if they can’t also take the time to acknowledge how much lower down the evolutionary scale the Coaltion has sunk.

    If you think the government is a joke then you need to recalibrate your sense of humor and get a grip on reality.

  63. Karen

    Bernard, a great article that is both sophisticated and nuanced. +1

  64. Suzanne Blake

    Bernard

    It was worth it for Labor, they go unpopular legislation passed, carbon tax, cut back in health rebates etc.

    Its all about the numbers / ego / pride , not about what is best for Australia

  65. Apollo

    Yes, it was worth it. Labors, Coalition and Greens are so mediocre I can’t bring myself to vote for any of them, the Australian public needs a side show for entertainment.

    Bring on Slipper, Alan Jones and whoever else!

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