Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sink the Slipper?

Is the centenary of the Titanic's sinking not rather over-exploited?  That doomed vessel seems to sink every hour on the hour, such are the endless films, documentaries and dramas about it crowding our televisions and cinema screens.   But in Canberra, other ships seem to be taking on water, listing more and more every passing moment...

In charity to our Prime Minister, she does seem (poor cow) possessed of the most terrible run of bad luck. Brown having decided to retire at least spares her his sanctimonious weekly lectures (in return for Green support in Parliament), but instead she will have ex-teacher Milne in to raspily castigate her each week in his place, as if Gillard were still Julia the schoolgirl; and what benefit will accrue? With Brown out of the way, at the next election the Green vote will be bereft of his drawing power, and commentators aver in amaze that Abbott could win the holy grail of a Senate majority - so no benefit at all to our beleaguered P.M.

While she also needs support, lest she loose majority support in the House and therefore Government, from two independent M.P.'s, Oakeshott (that smiling "useful idiot", to use the customary phrase) and Windsor (who is far more shrewd), who have said that unethical behaviour could cause them to change their votes, yet at one and the same time she is stuck both with Thomson, one of her own party, very much tainted with the odium of corruption in his former union (a person or persons unknown having cunningly misused his union credit card to purchase the services of ladies of the night, or so Thomson has pleaded, he doubtless instead being at the side of his then-pregnant wife; police and similar investigations continue in two States and federally into this and much else alleged against him), and with Slipper, who deserted his own Liberal National Party to gain the Speakership, thus shoring up the Government's numbers – and who I read to-day in the newspapers is about to be prosecuted for harassing and propositioning a young male staffer with lewd messages and massages and worse.

Slipper, readers may recall, is a member and indeed an ordained priest of the Australian branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion - ordained, one assumes, by John Hepworth, who has recently resigned as head thereof, but, so far as I understand, is Archbishop of their Australian church.  As Hepworth has made public allegations of appalling sexual abuse inflicted upon himself by Catholic priests living and dead, it would seem that Hepworth - if he is still in charge of Slipper and other members of his flock - has a duty to instigate his own investigation into these accusations.

Who will sink Slipper? and will the Government turn out to be but rearranging the deck-chairs on board the ship of state?  The Titanic sank within 3 hours of scraping alongside an iceberg; how much longer will Gillard remain afloat?  If she loses the confidence of the House – and the Speaker may well be constrained to resign, given these latest grave accusations against him, further threatening her razor-thin majority – there could be a General Election sooner rather than later.  Polling suggests that Labor would indeed be sunk to the bottom of the sea.


UPDATE: Sunday afternoon, 22nd April 2012

Slipper has "stood aside" as Speaker until the criminal allegations against him – that he misused certain perquisites of office – are decided; he denies all allegations against him, both criminal and civil (those of harassment, not to say perversion).  The Labor deputy Speaker will take his place, he will remain away from Parliament: this means that, saving the deputy Speaker's casting vote, left and right, Government (and supporters) and Opposition (plus Wilkie), are tied.  No doubt the Opposition will continue to hammer the Government over the stench arising from Slipper and Thomson's alleged misdemeanours.  The ship of state remains above the waterline – just.


UPDATE: Monday, 23rd April 2012

Archbishop Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion (no longer Primate thereof, but still the Ordinary of its Australian arm) has asked Peter Slipper to "stand down" as a priest under his authority, stating that he asks this in sorrow – as Slipper and his wife are friends of his – but that Slipper must now face a canonical investigation into the serious moral accusations against him.  Apparently Slipper has been a deacon in the TAC since 2003, and a priest since 2008, but only licensed to celebrate Mass in private – whatever that means.  I must say, it puzzles me!

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