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Australian politics

Apr 29, 2012

Thomson and Slipper: desperate times for a desperate government

The Gillard government has been, in policy terms, a good one. It's not up there with the Hawke-Keating or early Howard governments, but its economic management has been better than both

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The Gillard government has been, in policy terms, a good one. It’s not up there with the Hawke-Keating or early Howard governments, but its economic management has been better than both of those courtesy of the steady hand of Wayne Swan, Treasury and the independent RBA, and it has accumulated a substantial reform agenda in its limited period. Prime Minister Gillard has also delivered where Kevin Rudd only talked.

But the political tactical judgment of the Prime Minister and her ability to communicate with voters has always been profoundly flawed. Today’s events look like the desperate measures of a desperate government.

Nothing materially has changed about the HSU situation or Craig Thomson’s circumstances that would seem to justify the government jettisoning him to the crossbenches.  Nothing has changed from the point when Julia Gillard was declaring full confidence in him. Now, despite continuing to wholly reject the accusations against him, he’s out, joining the ever growing ranks of independents on the crossbenches.

Ditto Peter Slipper. It’s only a day or two since Julia Gillard declared Slipper should be back in the Speakership once the issue of his Cabcharge usage — a matter that has attracted hilarious levels of forensic scrutiny from a Press Gallery that avoids such analysis when it comes to actual policy — was resolved. Now he’s out “for a further period of time”, whatever that means – that’s the sort of bizarre usage that we’ve grown used to from this government since 2007. Pressed to explain the phrase this morning, Gillard deferred to Slipper himself. Who, it should be again noted, also rejects the accusations against him.

Gillard’s justification for her reversals is that she wasn’t aware of how much voters were concerned about the standing of Parliament until she returned to Australia from her Anzac Day travels. At that point she realised, she said, “a line had been crossed” — another line that has already entered the rogue’s gallery of Gillard pat phrases.

The only line that has been crossed has been within the PMO, where a beleaguered Prime Minister and her staff have reflected on Labor’s dire polling, the Prime Minister’s even worse personal polling, and the growing feeling of sleaze around the government and Parliament.

The government’s backflip on Peter Slipper was a result of feeling compelled to stand by him in the first place, because by turning its back on Andrew Wilkie, a man with whom the Prime Minister negotiated and agreed a deal, the government had left itself hostage to Slipper’s reputation. It wasn’t the elevation of Slipper to the Speakership that was the problem, but the fact that the Prime Minister promptly used that to renege on her deal with Wilkie. If you’re going to swap your votes in Parliament, best to make sure the one you’re getting is more reliable than the one you’re rejecting.

As for Thomson, that is a problem wholly of Labor, and the labour movement’s, making, and one that Labor has allowed to drift for years, particularly after it was sent into minority government.

Yet again, whether true or not, Ms Gillard is left looking like a politician who will do anything to preserve her position, regardless of consistency, regardless of whatever agreements she has made, regardless of the cost. Much of that has been driven by the compromises and dealmaking necessary to minority government, rather than reflecting on Gillard’s political personality. But when coupled with the circumstances in which she came to the Prime Ministership, the way she treated Wilkie, and her inability to fulfil her commitment to address the issue of asylum seekers, it is profoundly political damaging for Ms Gillard and her government.

The stench of death increasingly pervades this government. It may limp all the way to August 2013. Thomson, after all, apparently intends to continue supporting the government. But voters appear to have made up their minds, at least about the Prime Minister. And there’s no evidence she has the political judgment to turn that around.

In which case, over to Caucus.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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97 thoughts on “Thomson and Slipper: desperate times for a desperate government

  1. Fran Barlow

    [Anti-semitism pure and simple was rife in the posters of the protestors and Rhiannon & Co march with avowed anti-semites.]

    That’s a fact-based claim and so can be tested. So let’s see:

    The Newtown protest:

    http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/shop-with-israeli-links-targeted-20110910-1k32b.html

    “Free Palestine” and Max Max Murderer”

    In Melbourne:

    http://indymedia.org.au/keywords/max-brenner

    “Israel is a Terrorist State”; “Free Palestine”; “Students for Palestine” ; “Support Palestinian Resistance”

    In Brisbane:

    http://www.justiceforpalestinebrisbane.org/

    On that page:

    [The opponents of BDS have to rely on lies because they cannot answer the demands of the BDS movement. They cannot justify apartheid and occupation so they resort to lies and slander. They claim that our movement is anti-semitic, but not once in any single article or statement from Rudd, Danby or any other zionist politician can they state one iota of evidence for this slander. They can’t because there is no evidence, none whatsoever.

    “Those that seek to slander the movement are doing so because they stand with apartheid. They defend colonial occupation. They support the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people and the refusal of the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and their land]

    I looked about. I really did. I could find nothing anti-semitic or focusing purely on J#ws as objects of hatred in the BDS movement.

  2. Fran Barlow

    [Can we invent a reverse “Godwins Law” to cover the likelihood that anyone making any criticism of Israel, or even just reporting facts embarrassing to Israel, will be branded an anti-Semite? Krautheimer’s Law? Kristol’s Law?]

    As tempting as that is, I don’t think it’s practicable. We must be able to chracterise things accurately. Sometimes it is pertinent to mention the N@zis or anti-semitism.

    While there can be no doubt that some objections to Israel have a r@cist character, it’s very clear that opposition to Israel’s policies and support for either a two-state solution (or a unitary non-ethnically exclusive state) are not.

    I’m a supporter of the right of Kurds to their own state — but that doesn’t mean I’m hostile to Turks or Iranians or Iraqi Arabs. I opposed apartheid without entertaining hostility to Afrikaaners as an ethnicity. I was opposed to Stalinism without being anti-Russian. I also oppose Australian and US military forces occupying other countries without hating Australians or Americans.

    False amalgam is a staple of special pleading. I’m sceptical of the value of resort to fracking to extract Coal Seam Gas. So is Bob Katter. That doesn’t mean I’m at all sympathetic to most of the nonsnese Bob Katter utters.

    It is the case that amongst the enemies of the Zionist regime are some self-styled ultra-orthodox Jews. That doesn’t make them anti-semites. Noam Chomsky and the peace Now movement are opposed to the occupation. They aren’t anti-semites either, though defenders of the regime sometimes apply to them the perverse epithet “self-hating Jews”.

  3. JamesK

    *yawn*

    Just a mere sampling:

    Christian Kerr former and much better than the present political reporter for Crikey

    Rhiannon is seen as the best known and most influential of the so-called watermelons — Green on the outside and red in the middle — in her party.

    The influence of former communists and members of hard-Left groups on the Greens has become a pressing issue in recent years, particularly with Rhiannon and a faction in the party declaring their support for the radical anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which equates Israel with apartheid-era South Africa. It calls for an end to business with Israeli-owned and linked firms, a call critics claim reeks of anti-Semitism.

    And a small sample of Gerard Henderson on his blog

    LEE RHIANNON’S (POLITICAL) PAST – A DOUBLE DENIAL

    Lee Rhiannon (nee Brown) delivered her first speech, as a Greens senator for New South Wales, on Wednesday 24 August 2011. Soon after, on Sunday 28 August 2011, Senator Rhiannon was interviewed by Peter van Onselen, Paul Kelly and Michael Stutchbury for the Sky News Australian Agenda program. On both occasions, the Greens senator was in denial about her past as a left-wing extremist and supporter of repressive communist regimes. Senator Rhiannon is also in denial about the Stalinist past of her late parents who never renounced their support for the Red Army and the repressive regimes of Eastern Europe.

    In her first speech, Rhiannon claimed success in achieving electoral reform while in the New South Wales Legislative Council and referred to her role in “exposing the influence of corporate donations on politics”. On Australian Agenda she also called for transparency with respect to “electoral funding and lobbyists”. So Senator Rhiannon believes in transparency for others – but not, it seems, for herself. She was anything but frank about her political past during her first speech and was quite evasive during her Australian Agenda interview. Also, despite a promise to the contrary, she has declined to answer questions put to her by The Australian’s Christian Kerr.

    Let’s start with some facts. Lee Brown was born on 31 May 1951 to Wilton John Brown and Freda Yetta Brown (nee Lewis). Lee’s parents were commonly known as Bill Brown and Freda Brown. Lee Brown married Paddy O’Gorman – when the marriage dissolved in 1987 she changed her surname to Rhiannon. Lee Brown joined the Socialist Party of Australia around 1971.

    The SPA broke away from/was expelled by the Communist Party of Australia in 1971. The CPA, which was led by Laurie Aarons, became disillusioned with the communist rulers of the Soviet Union following Moscow’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The SPA group, which was led by Bill Brown, continued to support the communist rulers in Moscow following the break with the CPA.

    In 1980-1981 the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia itself split and the Browns were expelled/resigned from the SPA. They joined a new pro-Moscow communist organisation which took the name the Australian Association for Communist Unity. The AACU – headed by Bill Brown and Pat Clancy – survived until the collapse of Soviet communism around 1990. In his book The Communist Movement and Australia : An historical outline – 1890s to 1980s, W J (Bill) Brown made it clear that his split with the CPA and, later, the SPA turned on the fact that he regarded neither organisation sufficiently supportive of the Soviet Union.

    Lee Rhiannon remained within the Brown/Clancy pro-Moscow communism faction until the time she was around 39 years of age. In other words, Lee Brown/O’Gorman/Rhiannon supported pro-Moscow communists from the time she was a teenager until the eve of her 40th birthday. In 1990 Lee Rhiannon joined the Greens.

  4. Fran Barlow

    [Having said that at least Fran actually admits asserts its Labor’s own fault …]

    Better. That was my main point …

    [ before launching into yet another inane leftist diatribe with the wearisome Abbottabbottabbott as the devil incarnate fixation.]

    Strawman. It was a review of the history of the regime, focused on the regime’s political failings — most consistently, their utterly craven character. Abbott barely got a mention even as a man, leave aside as a demon. I mentioned Rudd giving him “the rails run” and wanting to hand back all of the mining tax proceeds. That was it. No evil demons were mentioned, incarnate or otherwise.

    [Which of course once again goes to confirm that religious zealotry is actually the mark of leftists]

    Classic RW projection. That’s how your lot see the world — in terms of good and evil –rather than in terms of human choices, adaptive behaviour and the extent to which material and social context predisposes arrangements that are more or less rational or equitable for humans as a whole.

    Religion is an appeal to ignorance and indolence, a cry of frustration. While leftists occasionally fall into this trap, it is fundamentally a right-of-centre, misanthropic paradigm, because it posits that humans lack the power to create a better world and are ultimately at the mercy of the metaphysical. The most logical consequence of this is to accept misery and inequity as one’s fate and to apologise for privilege as the will of god.

  5. CliffG

    Who trusts Andrews after the disgraceful treatment of Haneef? Who trusts Hockey after the gentle reassurances about the value for workers of “Work Choices”? Who trusts Howard after AWB, Children Overboard and invading Iraq against the wishes of the nation? Ruddock? Wooldridge? And Peter Reith? Downer and his memory loss?
    Not trusting pollies isn’t unique to Ms Gillard.
    But sometimes a “broken promise” or a “lie” is an over simplification. In a tied parliament power isn’t just determined by the majority partner. Abbott didn’t win the trust of those who gave their support to Gillard. She had to do some things differently to win their support. That’s not “sleazy”. It’s political reality. Abbott gained no one’s confidence so he lost. He has never recovered.
    What the independents did was perfectly fine in a Westminster democracy, especially in a tied parliament, but Abbott lied claiming it was an invalid government and refusing to accept it was the “will of the people”. He has been inventing pathetic reasons for trying to get a new election ever since.
    Each Question Time he damages the institution of parliament by moving a motion of Suspension of Standing Orders leading to a motion of no confidence which is inevitably defeated. He knows it will be as he moves it! It is nothing more than parliamentary vandalism.
    It is amazing that Gillard has been able to achieve anything in this environment of smash and burn. Vastly to her credit that she has.
    And our grandchildren will have her to thank for beginning to do something to protect their world from the Australian consequences of rampant global warming.
    But the media ignore all that. They just want the bun fight and the budgie smugglers, the trite, the flashy, the stunts. That’s what their business thrives on. Truth, detail, information. No. No one pays for that!

  6. Fran Barlow

    [a vast cloud of negativity that seeps into every news report as exampled by this evening’s 6pm news … claptrap about Titanic Two/Slipper/Thompson and idiotic TV program polls than mean bugger all]

    Oh I know all about that Michael. The regime faces the richest and most powerful producer of unremitting self-serving bloviation on the face of the planet. But that’s a given. That was true in 2007 when they got elected. They knew that then. Their failure was to ignore that — to imagine that it could be their friend and to frame their politics with this mountain of sub-intellectual filth and its malodorous groupies in mind instead of immediately driving a wedge between them and the public.

    They managed to achieve power. They ought to have assumed that as soon as they tried anything remotely positive that infringed on big business that these folk would turn on them. They had been working up to it all through 2008, so it wasn’t a complete surprise either. Thy could have been out there from Day 1 putting it out there on YouTube — announcing where they were going and what they hoped to achieve and how what they were doing now fit into that. They could have been exposing the trolls and memes and slapping down Murdoch’s minions and refused utterly to give the time of day to those “writing crap”.

    So I blame them. Maybe if they’d done all the right things they’d still have lost, but in least in that case, you have something to show for your struggle. Your footsoldiers are battle hardened and keen on turning the tables. They are willing to go out into the fields in hard times and recruit for a noble cause. But when the leadership aandons the troops and hides under a rock somewhere and declares that the enemey is too powerful and mewls and begs for pity, the footsoldiers quite rightly melt away, or find better leaders elsewhere.

  7. Fran Barlow

    [ even Bernard Keane proclaims that it’s Labor’s own fault. It is not]

    Sadly, it is, largely. The rot started seriosuly in late 2009 with Rudd’s attempt (well it may have been Sussex St’s attempt, bu all the same) to play politics with carbon pricing instead of just going with Garnaut’s proposal and having done with it. He could have presented the Libs with an ultimatum — pass it or we go to a double dissolution in November/December. Rudd could have run on that and having to have continuity to see through Australia’s response to the GFC. They would have caved or been obliterated. At the time even Abbott was advocating caving.

    The problem was that the ALP treated this as a piece of triangulation. They wanted a carbon price that we Greens would spurn as a polluter pay day — allowing the ALP to differentiate themselves and take all the credit. They also wanted a deal that would wedge the Turnbull-led Libs between the deniers and the accepters of climate change. They fancied busienss being lined up on both sides. It was all much too clever, and so when the final shabby deal was done, the deniers in the Libs knew that they only had to roll the leader to forge a senate bar to hte program and hand the government a defeat. That tide in the affairs of men that Brutus spoke of so eloquently in Julius Caesar was lost. The regime had lost its nerve despite having an impregnable position.

    Similarly, Rudd went to water on asylum seekers at the time. Instead of claiming the high moral ground — we are better than this — he pandered to the xenophobes and bigots, calling “people smugglers” the “scum of the Earth”. As bizarre as it sounds, he thought that this would put him ahead of the curve and that hordes of ignorant reactionaries would be added to his polling. All this did of course was hand the LNP — which has always had a lock on this demographic — a stick with which to beat the regime senseless. They became the examiners of the regime on this issue, and unsurprsingly, they were marking poorly. Every arrival was a story and with Rudd’s words, it went to the heart of the regime’s competence. Yet the regime never had a chance of “stopping the boats” or even turning them around except by resort to measures that it could not contemplate. So this was a massive own goal.

    During the new year Rudd proceeded to accept the meme that HIP and BER expenditure was a farce. He sacked Garrett and then declared that they’d “get a whacking in the polls”. He predicted right. This Peter Beattie strategy didn’t work. Rudd should have pushed back — arguing that both HIP and BER were good programs — part of what softened the blow from the GFC and likewise amounted to “nation-building” — and accusing demanding why the LNP wanted to deny kids quality infrastructure and householders cheaper electricity bills. Instead, he went to water.

    When Rudd finally announced the indefintie deferral of the ETS this was another bitter blow. Now what he’d referred to as a defining moral issue had been dumped in an apparently panicked attempt to halt sliding polling. He was handing Abbott the rails run here. When, aghast, he saw that this too hadn’t worked, he wheeled out the RSPT from henry and with almost no warning, wore it like a badge of honour. Unsurprisingly, Big Dirt which, alongside, Big Filth smelt blood pulled out all stops to hobble the regime with even more rightwing populist trolling. Even here now the regime was still ahead. It had blundered badly but the RSPT was at least something it could run a left-populist campaign on.

    Then came the killer blow. Sussex St was now in full retreat and when they dumped Rudd in favour of Gillard it was clear to most who was really running the country. It was no longer the ALP but a nasty cabal of Big Dirt, Big Filth, Big Print and their playthings which now included the spivs from Sussex St. Confidence in the ALP declined still further. Gillard’s rewriting of the RSPT to the MRRT gave up about $70bn in revenue. Abbott wanted to forsake the lot. This was the ugly dutch auction that the regime had authored — a government of the rich, for the rich and perhaps soon enough, by the rich — one whose most unambiguous animus was not at them but towards — asylum seekers. They had dumped a winning first term PM to prove that they too were a bunch or ignortant cowardly reactionary clowns. They would go to an election spitting on the only worthy things in their record.

    And from there, things scarcely got better. Gillard ran what was possibly the most inept campaign by a government known for decades. “Real Julia”? It was almost crafted to be mocked. Instead of slapping down Oakes at that famous press conference — challenging him to reveal his sources — she let him troll her. She allowed her folks to imply that Rudd was leaking against them, when there simply was no evidence at all of that. She pulled the “East Timor” solution to asylum seeking from her nether regions and was embarrassed when that didn’t survive the campaign. In the end, she was probably lucky to get as close as she did, but the truth was that the ALP had snatched near defeat from comfortable victory.

    Nor did the ALP do better post election. You might have thought that they’d have been chastened, if not by the near death experience then by the reality that they now had to work with Independents slightly to their left. They might have embraced change and set their course in a decidedly new and more progressive direction — on asylum seekers, on the mining tax, on fiscal policy, on carbon policy, on Afghanistan, drug law reform, gay marriage, the Murray Darling, on media convergence and accoutnability and on g@mbling. Instead of appearing to have been forced into it, they could have declared their enthusiasm for it and pressed forward. They’d have offered a clear policy difference from the Liberals. Abbott would have been reeling if the game had been played like that.

    Instead, they remained timorous, continuing to embolden Murdoch and the reactionary hordes. They continued to swear by fiscal austerity and “the surplus” — which, like asylum seekers in 2009 was well outside their effective ability to control. You can’t wave a wand and increase revenue so they were promising to cut programs — to please those who would never vote ALP and alienating many who would. Gillard went out of her way to abuse us Greens as inauthentic inner city elites — parroting Costello and Blot and the Murdochracy more generally.

    When in February she was asked why she was introducing “a carbon tax” despite having disavowed it — instead of repudiating this troll and dressing down the reporter as incompetent (this was no carbon tax) — she allowed it to run — and in one stupid moment endorded the biggest challeneg to her regime yet — the Juliar meme. She could have used this moment to push back, but she wilted. This is the measure of the woman.

    She also sympathised with reactionaries who regard asylum seekers as queue jumpers and ill-deserving of welfare and devised the egregious “Malaysian solution”. She covered the regime in odium. Yet there was more odium to come.

    Just as Big Dirt and Big Filth had spooked the ALP in 2010, so too in 2011 Big Spin running the same ignorant populist campaign that Big Dirt had done managed to spook the ALP again. Instead of honouring the deal with Wilkie, she tried a tricky manoeuvre to evade it. All this did was raise again the troll she’d given aid and comfort to in February 2011 over carbon “taxing”. Of all people, to have picked Slipper — someone with an embarassing history with expenses was really asking for trouble. It beggars belief that she could have been so stupid — but that is what panic will do.

    It’s often said that good government requires good opposition — but it’s often forgotten that the reverse is also true. Oppositions need only be as good as the government requires, and this inept and cowardly regime has demanded hardly anything of its rivals. Never once has it forced the coalition to pick a side in a debate, but rather, has allowed it to be all things to all people and to keep the focus on the government’s tenuous grip on office. Never once, when they might have, has the government confronted the Murdochracy but rather allowed them to run their own agenda. Nowhere have they attempted to bypass the media and communicate directly with the public a positive agenda. Nowehere have they pushed back. They have achieved political ineptitude on a grotesque scale.

    Gillard spoke of people perceiving a “dark cloud” over parliament but the truth of the matter is that the author of that cloud has substantially been the ALP. The coalition are repulsive hucksters and backed by the big end of town, it’s true, but they have been enabled by the ineptitude of the ALP, who have had ample opportunity to lear from their mistakes but have decliend to do so.

    It wasn’t rocket science. They just needed to to do the right thing and let the reactionaries please themselves. If they’d done that, even if they had not achieved a winning position, they’d have achieved things that simply could not be reversed — and that fact would sustain them even after a loss. Now, if they lose (which seems likely), they won’t even be able to say they went down swinging fighting the good fight and hoping in the longer term to be vindicated. It really will be the worst kind of loss.

    And people on the left will simply be scandalised at the chance they spurned.

  8. Michael Ward

    Julia and Kevin made the mistake common to all oppositions when they get elected: they wrongly assumed they were elected to implement their policies. They were, and remain, mistaken. They were elected in 2007 because (1) Howard was there too long, (2) Howard would not change WorkChoices, (3) Howard would not say ‘sorry’, (4) Howard would not ratify Kyoto, and because (5) cost-of-living + interest rates went up. Kev07 promised to make swing voters feel better by dealing with (1), (2), (3) and (4), and the RBA dealt with part of (5) and Kev had an inquiry into cost-of-living (along with everything else). All going swimmingly… until it came to implementation. ‘Swing’ voters did not want Kev to spend ‘their’ money on implementing (3) or (4), the interest rates eventually went up when the resources economy recovered, and the cost-of-living has continued to rise (because, as veeryoine knows in their heart-of-hearts, government does not control the economy, only economic policy). Tony will be elected because he is promising to make things ‘better’ – and voters will buy that in the same way they bought ‘comfortable and relaxed’ Howard in 1996 (provided Tony can stop Joe trying to explain what ‘better’ will mean in practice…). He will cut back on NBN (perhaps reducing costs – and performance – by $10bn), he will abolish the carbon tax (no net savings), the mining tax (hopefully, the States will jack-up their royalties to compensate), he will return tax benefits to the top 15% (those with household incomes over $150k pa), and will introduce more ‘flexability’ into workplaces. Oh, and he wlll find ‘the cupboard is bare’ in Treasury (the budget forecasts will be ‘another Gillard lie’, based on reduced growth forecasts that Julia ‘should have known’)… so he will defer the national disabilities scheme and his paid parental leave scheme wil apply from, say 2015 (just before the following election).

  9. Tom McLoughlin

    Oh, on the nuts and bolts (!) of the above post having dropped down to Canberra on the weekend for a 50th anniversary dinner of Inward Bound orienteering even held by ANU, and now playing catch up –

    The weekend Sydney press ran big (SDT) on Slipper driver prior conviction for fraudulent cabcharge, which was some breathing space for the govt, page 1 no less, as if to mitigate any future defo action by Slipper on the newspaper (?).

    The press also raised the budget profile without actually dropping the pollie scandals. Which brings us up to Sunday and what I presume was daily count down to the budget and yes the carbon tax/price which is a serious economic reform based on science aimed at nurturing global cooperation from our humble nation state. So I presume what has changed is the proximity to, and indeed sprint now to the budget finishing line for the PM. Will she make it to that profound achievement job intact, with surviving the GFC already in the saddle bag?

    Time will tell. Compared to these big picture perspectives (GFC, climate) all the rest is generally irrelevant. However I will say this for PM Gillard – in my humble political career I found that most of my key achievements were parallel with personal and career set backs. It may be the price of really making changes, compared with the ho hum politics of shifting deckchairs and relabelling who is in charge and the last fashion statement.

    Onwards to the June implementation of the carbon tax. Ride that fatboy on down to the ground and blow away the whiners and fossil fool dinosaurs.

  10. Julian Fitzgibbon

    I don’t admire Julia Gillard particularly, but she has been dealt a particularly weak hand and it is oh-so-easy to criticise this or that.

    As to being bad communicators, if the Leverson inquiry tells us anything it is that once News Limited withdraws its support, Government tend to experience “bad luck” – and not just in the editorial page.

    I was rather amused to see Annabel Crabb in the SMH equating thinking it just possible that the timing of Slippergate having anything to do with News Ltd or Liberal interests with Princess Diana murder conspiracies or finding Mein Kampf a jolly rollicking read (it is of course pure coincidence that News Limited had all their FOI requests on Slipper’s cabcharges waiting to go when Ashby filed suit. Not that the cabcharges weren’t a legitimate story, just the way the two stories meshed together so neatly).

    I have no idea whether there was an element of collusion in the Ashby complaint or not. But it certainly doesn’t seem implausible that there might be or a particular dark or exotic conspiracy if it were true. To me it just seems like politics as usual.

    I am mystified at the hysteria of Annabel Crabb’s rejection of it. Shouldn’t the “Conspiracy Theory” card be saved for a more significant issue, like former heads of ASIO giving preference to Sky on bids for Australia Network, rather than wasted on such minor pieces of political payback?
    Or is Ms Crabb part of the great Anti-James-Ashby-Conspiracy-Theory Conspiracy? Especially as we now know she reads Mein Kampf.

  11. shepherdmarilyn

    Do you suppose that one, anyone in the media rang the office of the special minister of state to find out if it is possible to rort a cab charge? Or what would the point would be because the member does not get the money and if the prices were inflated the MP would have less travel allowance and not be told why?

    Steve Lewis is an idiot. Really and truly and I wrote this unpublished letter last Sunday.

    “”I claim that my grandmother was murdered by Steve Lewis. She has been dead since 1984 and I can’t prove he did it, but I claim it anyway.

    Lewis’s latest beat up has it all. Homophobia, claims of harassment by a man with a history of harassing others, claims of overspending.

    Sort of like Godwin Grech was going to bring down Rudd and Swan yet that was all a lie.

    I reckon after the Pauline Hanson and Grech claims Lewis should have got facts instead of innuendo and claims that amount to he said, not I didn’t.

    Slipper has not once been charged with a single thing since he has been in parliament, the parliament and government will not fall but I bet that Lewis will end up with a bit more egg on his face to join that left by the “Grech”affair for one simple reason.

    Claims can be made by anyone but they don’t amount to anything until they are proven to be facts. Perhaps though Steve just is not aware that cab charge claims all have to be approved by the MP’s even when their staff use them, as they regularly do.

    What I smell is another Liberal party fit up and I have an alphabet they should remember – AWB and WMD for which lies and cover ups not one Liberal member was even chastised.””

    I think the air in Canberra has sent Grattan around the bend.

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