JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Labor at risk of political overkill

Date

Michelle Grattan

Pointed allegations ... Trade Minister Craig Emerson addresses the matter of Christopher Pyne and James Ashby yesterday.

Pointed allegations ... Trade Minister Craig Emerson addresses the matter of Christopher Pyne and James Ashby yesterday. Photo: Rebecca Hallas

JULIA Gillard distanced herself from Peter Slipper and the HSU-connected Craig Thomson just in time. As it was, yesterday's federal police confirmation that Slipper's Cabcharges will be investigated and the New South Wales police raid on the HSU were difficult enough for the embattled government.

Of course, the government is not responsible for what happens in the HSU. But it is intertwined with that notorious union in most unfortunate ways - through MP Thomson and union chief Michael Williamson, a former ALP national president who yesterday allegedly tried to slip a suitcase of documents past the raid.

On the Slipper front, things have got more serious.

The government should be careful: in its quest for a smoking gun, it should beware finding itself on the wrong side of the real issue.

The government should be careful: in its quest for a smoking gun, it should beware finding itself on the wrong side of the real issue.

Previously, the police were deciding whether to launch a full-scale investigation; now they have done so. Last week, after Slipper released taxi dockets, minister Anthony Albanese pre-emptively declared they showed ''that the criminal allegation is a fabrication''. The AFP was rather more thorough: it had spoken to a number of potential witnesses, gathered information and ''now assessed that the matter requires further investigation''.

Labor yesterday wasn't deterred: it made a meal of the contact that Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne had with James Ashby, the staffer who made the Cabcharge and also sexual harassment claims against Slipper. Craig Emerson alleged the opposition was engaging in a ''cover-up'' about this.

If it emerges that the Coalition is not telling the full story of its contact with Ashby, that will reflect very badly on it. But the government should be careful: in its quest for a smoking gun, it should beware finding itself on the wrong side of the real issue.

It's pretty sensational to have a police inquiry into a Speaker, and a bit unfortunate when you've wooed him to be your man.

twitter Follow the National Times on Twitter: @NationalTimesAU


86 comments

  • I think the only chance that Labor have to redeem themselves with an electorate bombarded with poor government decision making and connections to people with a strong sleaze factor is to do a "Beatty". Admit you screwed it up, beg forgiveness and promise not to repeat the offences!!! .

    Commenter
    Lesm
    Location
    Balmain
    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 7:31AM
    • Good idea Les, but while Jooles can effortlessly perform backflips, admitting she was wrong is simply beyond her.

      Commenter
      SteveH.
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 9:46AM
    • They can beg till the cows come home, but some things are unforgivable. Gillard & her mob have made it a point to keep telling us what's good for us, constanly jamming their wasteful, inefficient, costly schemes at us. This while they drive down our economy and our country.

      We're over listening to anything they have to say. They'll find out just how much we hate them at the polling booth. It will be a bloodbath for all things Labor. We're tired of being used.

      Commenter
      nancy
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:00AM
    • SteveH
      You have forgotten the most important words for any labor spruiker
      "Its all Tony Abbotts fault"

      Commenter
      paulk
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:24AM
    • Now there's an oxymoron if i've ever seen one "Labor at risk of political overkill " this headline coming from Michelle Grattan !!!!!

      Commenter
      stevec
      Location
      five dock
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:35AM
    • All governments make a few poor decisions. This government has made a helluva a lot of great decisions - eg GFC spending on infrastructure, NBN, mining tax, price on carbon, social housing, significant pension increases, paid parental leave, national disability scheme.

      Where was the Howard govt on these matters?

      Back to the topic, every organisation (corporate or government) struggles when implementing huge programs or projects. This is not peculiar to this govt. Witness the number of large financial companies that have tried and failed to bring in a new mainframe system - this is seldom reported in the papers.

      The other point that needs bearing in mind wrt to the current govt is the hung parliament. Everything needs to be viewed through this prism. Hence we have to ask - would not the Opposition have done exactly the same? Remember that Howard had to sack 14 ministers in his first four years.

      Commenter
      Deipnosoph
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 1:41PM
  • In the political drama film Ides of March, a discussion about the dirty tactics of political parties points out that both sides do it, but the Republicans are much better at it. They say the Democrats could learn a lot from their opponent's more disciplined approach to dirty dealings.

    I wonder if it's the same in Australian politics?

    Commenter
    MSP
    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 7:45AM
    • It's not that the LIbs are any better than Labor at dirty dealings, it's that they get an easier run from the media when they do it.

      Consider the parallels between Peter Slipper and Mal Colston. Both were dirty on their own parties for overlooking them continually. Both got into hot water over alleged travel irregularities. And both were tempted to rat on their parties by inducements of office from the other side.

      How much stick did Howard cop from the rorts of the late Mal Colston? Certainly, Colston himself was charged with fraud over rorting his travel allowance and only escaped prosecution by producing a doctor's certificate saying that he had cancer and would be unlikely to live to see the end of a trial (though he went on to live 6 more years). Howard, however, didn't get the treatment that Gillard is getting over Slipper.

      So, let's get something straight. I've got the right to criticise Labor over the Slipper affair - and I do. It's disgraceful and my opinion of Slipper himself is unprintable for legal reasons. The Liberals, however, have no right to criticise. They did exactly the same thing with Mal Colston and thus deserve every bit of criticism levelled at Labor, plus the charge of hypocrisy.

      Commenter
      Greg Platt
      Location
      Brunswick
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 9:35AM
    • Greg I would disagree with your assertion that the Liberals have no right to condemn Slippers apppointment. While your comments on the similarity with Colston's appointment are historically correct at some point we have to recognise that all political parties are in a state of transistion in both personal and policies. If a similar logic was applied universally virually all policy criticism, change or reform would be condemned on the grounds that predecessors had acted differently.

      Commenter
      SteveH.
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:04AM
    • Greg Platt

      Good point well put.

      Commenter
      BS Detector
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 10:06AM

More comments

Comments are now closed
Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo