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By attacking Labor over the Jenkins/Slipper Speaker’s swap, Tony Abbott conveniently ignores his own dodgy dealings after the last election. Hypocrisy reigns, David Donovan comments.

Tony Abbott is certainly making a song and dance about the Labor Speaker Harry Jenkins resigning and an Independent Speaker, Peter Slipper, taking over — and an Independent Speaker is exactly what Peter Slipper is, resigning from the LNP to take over the role.

"The Australian people do not like the sort of kind of sordid, squalid, toxic deals that they saw in the parliament this week," Mr Abbott told the NSW Liberal Party State Council AGM in Sydney on Saturday.

It should be noted that Peter Slipper resigned from the LNP, not just to become Speaker, but because he had absolutely no future in the LNP; indeed, the Libs had moved to install Mal Brough in his seat. In fact, just over a week ago they had gone to the lengths of putting on an event to introduce Brough to Slipper’s Sunshine Coast electorate — even bringing up John Howard to launch Brough’s unofficial campaign.

News Corp's Daily Telegraph was outraged by the Slipper "defection"

Showing an astonishing lack of human empathy and tactical insight, Liberal apparatchiks were then described as “livid” that Slipper decided to avoid this event – this advance funeral for his political career – in favour of escorting another former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd – who unlike John Howard is a local boy and a hero in the area – around his electorate.

Tony Windsor found it difficult to keep a straight face at a press conference held after hearing the news that Slipper had defected.

He described the brutal treatment the Libs had meted on Slipper:

"What has really surprised me ... is this enormous campaign to eradicate him so that Mal Brough can get back in..."Mr Windsor said.

“They kicked him and kicked him and kicked him and kicked him,” he said.

"They kicked this guy to death and then wonder why he dies ... extraordinary."

Independent Australia, the journal of Australian democracy, applauds the fact that we now have an Independent speaker in Parliament.

Tony Abbott may think that Australia has a short memory, and indeed with the outrageous rat photos of Peter Slipper in the Murdoch Press over the weekend, it seems the conservative backing Murdoch press is quite willing to repaint the historical record.

The irony is intense. From Abbott, the bare-faced hypocrisy is astounding.

Independent Australia detailed the Machiavellian deceit that this untrustworthy pretender for the Australian premiership was prepared to undertake in his quest for power last year. Part of it was, in fact, his betrayal of his signed commitment to reform the role of the Speaker in the House by installing an Independent into the role.

(This is a man, mind you, as Independent MP Rob Oakeshott later revealed, who despite famously being “threatened by homosexuals”, said he would consider selling his arse to become Prime Minister.)

After the last election there was a formal signed agreement between the Independents and the major parties to create a "better, fairer, kinder polity", which included firm provisions for an Independent speaker to adjudicate over the House — something Abbott immediately reneged on when the Independents decided to reinstall Labor in Government. And as for the promise of a better fairer, kinder, polity — Abbott has instead turned Parliament into one of the most rancorous, disruptive and adversarial forums ever seen in this country's democratic history.

Abbott's outright deceit was described in an IA article published last year, called ‘Tony the Untrustworthy’:

Abbott then broke another formal signed agreement—the one he’d made with the three Independent’s and the Labor Party before the Independents had decided upon which Party to support. The agreement was on Parliamentary reform, and was sealed with not only a written agreement but also a group hug on the Parliament House lawns. It specified 22 areas in which parliamentary practices would be changed to create a “new paradigm” of parliamentary cooperation. First on the list was for the provision at all times of an Independent speaker who would have his vote paired so he wouldn’t lose it. It was designed to aid the stability of Parliament in the current term.

Days after losing the fight for Government, the Coalition announced they would not be supporting pairing of votes for the Speaker, meaning Independent MP Rob Oakeshott would not be able to become Speaker and that the Labor Party would need to provide an MP to fill this role. The reason the Coalition gave for breaking the barely week-old agreement was that they had just received advice – laughably, from sitting Liberal Party member MP George Brandis QC – that the agreement was “potentially” unconstitutional. Why Brandis had not provided this advice prior to the Coalition signing the agreement was not adequately explained. Brandis’s advice came at the same time as separate advice from the impartial Solicitor-General who said that the agreement was perfectly legitimate.

The conclusion that Abbott forced the Labor Party to provide one of their own as Speaker to reduce the Labor Party majority to a single vote is compelling. Certainly, it is unthinkable that Abbott would have broken the Agreement had the Coalition managed to secure enough votes to form Government. There is no other explanation than that it was a cynical move designed to bolster the chances of the Opposition gaining power. At the same time it provided support for the proposition that Tony Abbott is not only not bound by his word, but will even break signed agreements for cynical reasons of political expediency.
Now, despite hysterical protestations about a dirty Labor deal, through the deliberately callous treatment of one of his own backbenchers, Abbott has installed the Independent speaker he had formally agreed to just over a year ago. For those interested in honesty and ethics, the irony of these course of events could not be more delightful, nor the Abbott hypocrisy any more rank. Abbott is a person who will do and say anything in his insatiable quest for power — and must never be allowed to get anywhere near it for the very same reason.

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