Thursday, November 24, 2011

Peter Slipper "sinks the slipper"

Today was an interesting day in Australian politics.  I was out and about when I noticed some tweets coming through about Harry Jenkins resigning as the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Australia's national parliament.

He made an interesting speech which you can read here:  Harry Jenkins' resignation speech

He started with a heartfelt acknowledgement of the Ngunnawal people as the indigenous traditional owners of the land where Canberra is located.

He cited a desire to be able to participate in policy and parliamentary debate as his main reason for resigning. He thanked his staff, his wife and his family for their support.  Finishing with:

I go placidly with my humour intact. I wish you all well.

The political interest came about when Peter Slipper, a Liberal MP, was voted in as his replacement, thereby increasing the numbers of the Labor Government by one (with Harry Jenkins rejoining active duties) and the Coalition losing one (with Peter Slipper leaving the Coalition and not having a vote as Speaker).

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott apparently didn't see this coming and proceeded to do what he always does - attack the Labor Government and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.   I don't agree his interpretation of his role "to provide an alternative government and to criticise the current government".  He and all his fellow opposition member's primary role is to represent their electorates, not keep endlessly carping about the government.

It will be interesting to see how this pans outs.  The Labor government cannot now be held over a barrel by any one of the cross benchers - Windsor, Wilkie, Oakeshott, Katter or Bandt.  They can still collectively influence voting on legislation, but individually they now can't.

Personally, I would like to poker machine restrictions proceed - either mandatory pre-commitment or a $1 maximum bet - as problem gambling is a major concern that government and the gambling industry has been unwilling to address properly to date.

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