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Friday, March 28, 2014

Bronwyn Bishop, most biased Speaker in history

It's been a bad week for Tony Abbott, two important things happened. The first was his decision to give his friend and ally Bronwyn Bishop the position of Speaker and the second was bringing back Knights and Dames.

Yesterday, Labor accused Bronwyn Bishop of being ' the most biased Speaker in history.'  And they would be right as her record speaks for itself.  To be "named" by the Speaker for disorderly conduct is one of the most serious actions that can be taken against an MP.

Tony Burke and Bronwyn Bishop

Yesterday Tony Burke addressed the Speaker and said "As of the action that you took today, 98 people have now been thrown out of the house by you and every one of them from the Opposition. Ninety-eight love. No Speaker in the history of Federation has a record like that. Everyone in Australia knows bias when they see it, you were effective as a warrior for the Liberal Party but that is not the job you chose to take on. Yet in the Speaker's chair, you have continued to act as though enjoying the victory for your own side is your job.  The Parliament deserve more than that and the Parliament cannot have confidence in a Speaker who refuses to be impartial.

Of course the Motion of No Confidence went nowhere, Labor don't have the numbers.  Christopher Pine made a valiant effort to defend Ms Bishop, but everyone who has been watching Question Time lately, knows that Burke's accusation is correct.

Then Abbott made the extraordinary decision to bring back Knights and Dames. "It's important to honour people's extraordinary service, suffice to say there can only be four of them in any one year, so it will be a very select honour."

So much for the theory about Tony Abbott taking advice from former PM John Howard, he obviously didn't seek his approval on this one because he knew that he wouldn't get it.  Howard wrote about it in his book Lazarus Rising and said "Despite urging from a number of people, I did not restore knighthoods."  And I bet if Abbott had put it to a vote among his Liberal Party colleagues, they wouldn't agree either.

Knights and Dames were introduced into Australia's system of honours in 1976 by Malcolm Fraser and abolished by Bob Hawke.   Only 12 Australian Knights and two Dames have ever been appointed.