Peter Slipper has finally left the Speaker's chair. He realized his time was up so he jumped before he was pushed. He enters Parliament today as an Independent back-bencher.
Yesterday was a memorable day in Canberra and when Tony Abbott moved a no-confidence motion to dump him, he survived by one vote. It was a disappointing result and then it slowly dawned that the PM had supported this man of questionable character, a man who has gravely insulted the dignity of womanhood in obscene text messages. Then later on in the evening, Slipper suddenly resigns.
Oakeshott and Windsor told Slipper to fall on his sword yet both supported him in the ballot. It makes no sense, if they thought he was an unfit person to hold the office of speaker they should have voted with the Opposition to get rid of him. I was surprised when Bob Katter abstained and said he wouldn't be party to pre-empting the ongoing legal process and pleased to see that Alan Wilkie did the right thing.
Tony Abbott showed a lack of compassion when he used the word "ashamed" to describe the PM's support for Slipper. With Alan Jones' words about the PM's father "dying of shame" still reverberating around the walls of the House, he could have chosen another word. The PM came back at him with "This government isn't dying of shame" and .... "my father did not die of shame." If it was a deliberate jibe, it was cruel, if it was unintentional, he is an insensitive twit.
More likely, it was a ploy to bait the PM and it worked a treat because she let him have it with both barrels. "I will not be lectured about sexism or misogyny by this man" she said and brought up Abbott's past examples of disrespect for women - pictures of him addressing a protest amid signs which read "Ditch the Witch" and "Bob Brown's Bitch." My God, what must the rest of the world think of behaviour such as this?
The PM has every right to be angry with Abbott but in my view, she made an error of judgement, not only by supporting Slipper yesterday but by putting him in the chair in the first place. He already had a reputation and she must have been aware of it.
Slipper admitted yesterday that his text messages were disgusting and said "nothing excuses their content." As a woman, and for that reason, she should have denounced him.
The Federal court will soon decide on either throwing out Slipper's sexual harassment claim or send it to trial and the DPP will decide whether to pursue allegations that he misused cabcharges.
Labor needs 5 of 7 crossbench votes but it's unlikely Slipper will vote with the Opposition on anything, so there shouldn't be a problem with the numbers. But in this crazy hung Parliament, with the leaders' hatred now running deep, who knows what tomorrow will bring?