Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion.

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Tom Hughes and wife

Malcolm Turnbull

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:21): Can I thank, on behalf of Bob’s family, the very generous words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the minister. Bob would have been very chuffed to hear them, if a little bemused. He was the youngest of four. His brother Tom who is with us today with his wife, Chrissie, Lucy’s father, the elder by 15 years, became in effect in loco parentis after Bob’s father, Geoffrey, died when he was only 12.

Bob’s father, Geoffrey, was a hero, and not just to his youngest son. He had been a fighter ace in the First World War and among his many victories had shot down no less than Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron himself.

The Hughes family were staunch and pious Catholics. Bob’s great-grandfather, John, had made a fortune, but as Bob often lamented, had given away most of it in building churches and schools. John had established the Order of the Sacred Heart in Australia, his daughters had become nuns and the Hughes family home, Kincoppal, had become a convent and a school. If John Hughes was not in heaven, Bob often said, God didn’t know the value of money. [Read more…]

Former Speaker Harry Jenkins To Retire At Next Election

Harry Jenkins, the Labor member for Scullin and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, has announced that he will retire from parliament at the next election.

Harry Jenkins

Jenkins has represented Scullin since 1986 and is currently the longest-serving Labor member. He succeeded his father, Dr. Harry Jenkins, in the electorate which has been represented by the Jenkins family since 1969.

Following the election of the Rudd government, Jenkins served as Speaker of the House from February 2008 until November 24, 2011. His resignation allowed the government to install Peter Slipper as Speaker and increase its majority on the floor of the House.

Scullin is in Melbourne’s north-east suburbs. It covers the suburbs of Bundoora, Diamond Creek, Plenty, Thomastown, Lalor, Epping, Mill Park, South Morang, Watsonia North and Yarrambat.

At the 2010 election, Jenkins retained Scullin with a 1.40% swing towards the ALP, 62.12% of the primary vote and 70.85% of the two-party-preferred vote.

Jenkins is the third ALP member of the House to announce retirement, joining Sharon Grierson, the member for Newcastle, and Steve Gibbons, the member for Bendigo.

Newspaper reports suggest that Slater and Gordon lawyer Andrew Giles will be endorsed by the Victorian Left faction as the new candidate for Scullin.

Jenkins gave this interview to Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30.

Sharon Grierson Announces Retirement As Member For Newcastle

Sharon Grierson, the Labor member for Newcastle in the House of Representatives, has announced that she will not contest the next election.

The former teacher and school principal has held the New South Wales electorate for four elections since 2001.

She is the second Labor member of the House to reveal retirement plans ahead of an election the ALP is expected to lose in a landslide. Steve Gibbons, the member for Bendigo since 1998, announced his departure in August last year.

Grierson polled 47.89% of the primary vote in 2010. After preferences, she was elected with 62.49% of the two-party-preferred vote, a swing against her of 3.42% from the 2007 election.

Newcastle has been held exclusively by the ALP since 1901. Grierson is only the fifth member to hold the seat.

Grierson made a video statement on her retirement:

Peter Slipper’s Statement To Parliament

House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper briefly presided over the chamber at 2pm today.

Slipper read a short statement that asserted his innocence of charges levelled at him, proclaimed his belief in the presumption of innocence, and decried trial by media.

Slipper then handed over to Deputy Speaker Anna Burke and left the House.

It was most likely Slipper’s last appearance as Speaker.

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Text of Slipper’s statement to the House.

Honourable members will know that some allegations have been made in relation to me by James Ashby, including a claim under civil law and a claim of criminal behaviour. [Read more…]

Peter Slipper Stands Aside As Speaker

Following newspaper reports yesterday of alleged misuse of CabCharge dockets and a sexual harassment claim, Peter Slipper has stood aside as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

With Slipper in the Speaker’s chair, the Gillard government has been able to govern with a majority of 76-73 on the floor of the House. If Slipper has not resumed his position when Parliament meets again on May 8, the government will have 75-73 in any vote, with Anna Burke in the chair and Slipper not voting. This assumes that the crossbenchers (Wilkie, Bandt, Windsor and Oakeshott) stick with the government.

Despite some hysterical commentary over the weekend, this is a political problem for the government, not a constitutional issue. Slipper has not resigned his position. The Standing Orders make it clear that the Speaker can call upon the Deputy Speaker to preside at any time. The Constitution makes it clear that the Speaker does not vote unless there is a tied result, hence he will not participate in voice votes or divisions. The net effect of Slipper standing aside is that the government’s margin in the House has slipped from three to two, provided the four crossbenchers support the government.

The independent member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, yesterday called upon Slipper to stand aside. Wilkie said today that Slipper has now done the right thing. This suggests that the government is unlikely to encounter any difficulties with the crossbenchers at this stage. As always, their continuing support remains crucial. In January, Wilkie withdrew his support for the government because it reneged on its agreement with him over poker machine reform. This means that with Anna Burke in the Speaker’s chair, the government only has 74 committed votes on motions of supply or confidence. A 74-74 tie would mean that Burke would have to make a casting vote to save the government.

The political situation regarding Slipper is entirely of the government’s own making. Slipper’s reputation is well established. He ‘ratted’ on his own party to become Speaker. The government is now suffering the odium of its decision to elevate Slipper in order to shore up its numbers in the lower house. As the old saying has it, if you lie down with dogs, you’re likely to get up with fleas.

Electorally, the Slipper fiasco will most likely confirm perceptions of political chicanery, ongoing crisis and instability. The events of this weekend do not necessarily threaten the government’s parliamentary survival but the pressure on the government has been ramped up a notch or two. Gillard padded her majority by enticing Slipper to leave the coalition but now she may end up back where she started, except that she will be tied to a tainted Slipper and facing an aggrieved Wilkie. And all this whilst the dogs are barking for Craig Thomson. Reap what you sow.

Text of statement released today by the Speaker, Peter Slipper.

Some allegations have been made against me by Mr James Ashby. I emphatically deny these allegations.

The allegations include both a claim of criminal behaviour and a claim under civil law.

Any allegation of criminal behaviour is grave and should be dealt with in a manner that shows appropriate regard to the integrity of our democratic institutions and to precedent.

As such, I believe it is appropriate for me to stand aside as Speaker while this criminal allegation is resolved.

The allegation is incorrect, and once it is clear they are untrue I shall return to the Speakership. I would appreciate the relevant bodies dealing with the matter expeditiously.

In relation to the civil matter there will be an appropriate process that will resolve the matter in due course.

The Deputy Speaker, Ms Anna Burke MP, will act as Speaker during this period.

Statement from Prime Minister Julia Gillard


It is appropriate that Mr Slipper has stood aside as Speaker whilst alleged criminal conduct is investigated.

It is also appropriate for all parties to note the processes under way and treat them with respect.

Transcript of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s comments on Peter Slipper.

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TONY ABBOTT: The Speaker of the House of Representatives has stepped aside until very grave allegations against him can be resolved. There are allegations of sexual harassment and there are also allegations of a criminal nature, of the fraudulent misuse of Commonwealth entitlements.

It’s good that the Speaker has stepped aside until these matters can be resolved but plainly, this is Peter Slipper’s doing, this is no doing of the Prime Minister. As late as this morning the Deputy Prime Minister himself was insisting that there was no reason for Mr Slipper to stand aside and in fact the Speaker must not step aside. [Read more…]

Rorts Allegations & Sexual Harassment Claim Against Slipper

Allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of Cabcharge vouchers have been levelled at House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper by a former employee, James Ashby.

The allegations have appeared in today’s editions of New Limited newspapers around the country.

Daily Telegraph front page - April 21, 2012Herald Sun front page - April 21, 2012
Courier-Mail front page - April 21, 2012Advertiser front page - April 21, 2012

This is how the Daily Telegraph reported an extract of the sexual harassment claim lodged in the Federal Court against Peter Slipper.

Wednesday January 4 2012: James Ashby and Peter Slipper were in Slipper’s flat after work. Slipper asks applicant: "Can you massage my neck". Ashby says words to the effect of "yeah righto" as "he did not know what other response to give as he was brand new to him job and he was being asked by his employer’.

Thursday, January 5: Ashby was getting ready for work, when Slipper says: "You’re a strange one". The following conversation then took place in words to the effect of: Slipper: "You’re a weird because you shower with the door shut".

Ashby: "What’s weird about that?"

[Read more…]

Alby Schultz Announces Retirement From Hume

Alby SchultzAlby Schultz, the Liberal member for Hume, has announced that he will not contest the next federal election.

Schultz has represented the safe Liberal seat in south-east NSW since 1998. Prior to that, he served ten years in the NSW Legislative Assembly as the member for Burrinjuck.

The Hume electorate includes Bargo, Binalong, Boorowa, Bundanoon, Cootamundra, Cowra, Crookwell, Goulburn, Grenfell, Gundaroo, Gunning, Harden/Murrumburrah, Jugiong, Marulan, Murrumbateman, Picton, Sutton, Tahmoor, Tarago, Thirlmere, Wilton, Yass and Young.

At the 2010 election, Schultz polled 53.56% of the primary vote, an increase of 12.96%. After distribution of preferences, he won with 58.72% of the two-party-preferred vote, an increase of 3.37%.

Text of statement from Alby Schultz

As 2012 is the commencement of my 25th year in State and Federal politics as the elected Liberal Member representing the Liberal Party of Australia (NSW Div) I have advised the New South Wales State Director Mr Mark Neeham that I will not be contesting the next election. The time is right for me to move on and allow the Liberal brand to be maintained in Hume by a capable committed Liberal. [Read more…]

Speaker Peter Slipper’s Procession

This is video of the new House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper’s procession into the chamber today.

Drama In The House As Speaker Jenkins Threatens To Resign

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Harry Jenkins, came close to resigning today.

The possibilities that could have flowed from his resignation are intriguing to consider.

Abbott moves a motion of confidence in Speaker Jenkins

What happened?

In the course of a raucous and disputatious Question Time, Jenkins warned and then named Liberal member Bob Baldwin for “continuing to interject after having been warned by the Chair”. “Naming” by the Speaker is the precursor to a motion to suspend the member from the service of the House.

The government’s Leader of the House, Anthony Albanese, accordingly rose and moved the motion to suspend Baldwin for 24 hours. [Read more…]

Victorious Gillard Says Democracy Works

A beaming Julia Gillard, flanked by her grinning deputy, Wayne Swan, has expressed her desire to get on with the job now that the rural independents have supported her leadership of a minority Labor government.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and Swan appeared before the media at 4.40pm, one hour after the independents announced their decision.

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Julia Gillard & Wayne Swan