When Tony Abbott anointed Bronwyn Bishop as Speaker last year she received a surprising phone call. Peter Slipper, who abandoned the Liberal Party to become Speaker, was offering to give her private advice on how to handle the pressures of the job.
Bishop declined the offer, saying she would seek guidance from the parliamentary clerks.
Labor targets Speaker Bronwyn Bishop
Question time dissolved into chaos on Thursday when the Opposition attempted to move a no confidence motion against the Speaker.
This made political sense, given Slipper's toxic reputation within the Coalition. But, given the events of the past week, Slipper's offer of independent advice might have proven useful.
Politicians from both sides agree that Slipper, before he was forced to resign over sexual harassment allegations, was an effective, authoritative Speaker. Dressed in traditional silk robes and bowtie, Slipper imposed strict discipline over the 43rd Parliament. Bishop's House, by contrast, has fallen into disarray.
Slipper said he was ''saddened'' at the Bishop rebuff because of his high regard for Bishop's intellect.
''As a recent Speaker I am particularly disappointed in Bronwyn, because she has the intelligence, knowledge and ability to build on the legacy I commenced,'' Slipper said.
''The story of Bronwyn is one of sadness … she has all of the mental capacities to improve our Parliament and make it one we can be proud of.''
Labor has pilloried Bishop from the start, with leader of opposition business Tony Burke comparing her to Dolores Umbridge, the villainous headmistress of the Harry Potter novels, on her first day in the job. Bishop didn't help her cause by announcing she would continue to attend Coalition party room meetings, unlike Labor predecessors Harry Jenkins and Anna Burke, who stopped attending caucus. Allowing Abbott to call Bill Shorten ''Electricity Bill'' - despite parliamentary rules stipulating the use of official titles - was another early flashpoint.
After months of frustration, Labor tried to force Bishop out of her job this week.
Labor staff told press gallery journalists that something significant would happen to the Speaker on Thursday.
A dossier containing an exhaustive list of Bishop's failings was circulated. On Thursday, Burke went nuclear, introducing a rare no-confidence motion accusing Bishop of incompetence, partiality and acting as an ''instrument of the Liberal Party''. The resolution, which provoked gasps from the question time audience, had been in Burke's briefcase for months. But he needed the right trigger.
''You don't move these things lightly,'' Burke says.
We're a new government and it takes time, and even for a new Speaker it takes time.
Bishop gave Burke his trigger by ''naming'' shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus for the seemingly innocuous crime of calling out ''Madam Speaker''. This meant Dreyfus was suspended from the chamber for 24 hours - rather than the usual one hour.
Labor's chief criticism of Bishop has been that she has been unwilling to leave her tribalism behind and preside fairly and impartially over the House.
Nearly every Speaker of the past half century has been accused of bias, but Labor says Bishop's peculiar partiality is evidenced by her 100 per cent record of ejecting Labor MPs from the chamber. So far, all 99 ejected MPs have belonged to the opposition - a more pronounced record than usual. Since Parliament began taking records, opposition members have been punished about 90 per cent of the time, according to the Parliamentary Library.
In response to Burke's attacks, House leader Christopher Pyne accused Labor of acting like ''sooks'' and running a sexist campaign against the Speaker that has verged on bullying.
While some of Bishop's colleagues have complained privately about her performance, Liberal MP Russell Broadbent says she should be given a chance to grow into the job.
''We are used to the Harry Jenkinses of this world, who were supreme in their task,'' Broadbent says. ''We're a new government and it takes time, and even for a new Speaker it takes time.''
In 1992 Liberal leader John Hewson moved a no confidence motion against Speaker Leo McLeay. Hewson accused McLeay and his Labor faction, the NSW Right, of being the closest thing Australia had to the mafia.
But Bishop carries more baggage than her Labor predecessors. Jenkins and Burke were little-known backbenchers when they took the job. Bishop is a Liberal Party icon, loved by the Right and loathed by the Left.
Abbott described himself as Bishop's ''political love child'' (John Howard was her co-parent).
Bishop was elected to the Senate in 1987 and quickly earned renown as one the party's most effective debaters.
While Bishop told colleagues last year that she wanted to be a cabinet minister in an Abbott government, she had also long cherished the Speakership. In 2004 she nominated for the job but was defeated in a ballot by Victorian MP David Hawker.
While Australia has borrowed from the UK's Westminster system, it has not imported the British tradition of Speaker independence. In the UK, speakers remove themselves from their party after taking office and cannot stand under a party banner if they seek re-election at a general election.
While Labor's no confidence motion predictably failed, the party is playing a longer game.
The goal is to heap so much embarrassment on Bishop that she is forced to stand down. Bookies are now taking bets on whether she will crumble before the next election.
Anyone considering a wager should see Bishop's Speaker chambers. On prominent display, near photos of Bishop marching next to uniformed soldiers, is a giant artillery casing, accompanied by a plaque reading: ''Fired by Bronwyn Bishop, Minister for Defence Industry Science and Personnel.'' It would be a brave person to bet this warrior has fired her last shot.