In a coup for Labor, Harry Jenkins resigns, allowing backbench Liberal MP Peter Slipper to become Federal Parliamentary Speaker. Senior correspondent Barry Everingham comments.

Peter Slipper, between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott
With the Federal Opposition going totally feral and its leader out of control – it’s little wonder that one of the best Speakers ever to grace the Parliament has decided he’s had enough.

So today, Harry Jenkins drove out to Yarralumla and handed his resignation to Her Excellency the Governor General and, before the ink was dry, Tony Abbott’s dummy spit reached mammoth proportions.

Harry Jenkins’s decision puts the possibility of an Abbott government even further out of reach — and, of course, the longer the Mad Monk stays in the job, the closer Malcolm Turnbull comes to replacing him.

Earlier this week, Abbott was taken to task by many of his backbenchers for his arrogant and erratic behaviour — the guy is, surely, on borrowed time.

In a stroke of political genius, Julia Gillard and her team approached Peter Slipper – already the deputy Speaker – but a maverick Abbott backbencher, and offered the plum job to him, which he accepted, thereby giving Abbott one of the sweetest two-fingered salutes ever delivered in politics.

And why wouldn’t he?

He is shunned by his fellow Conservatives — and, in a less dramatic act than today’s, he joined Kevin Rudd last week on a tour of his Queensland electorate, while the former Prime Minister  John Howard was there sticking his nose into business that is no longer his.

It seems that Rudd is still playing with Howard’s mind.



Abbott, of course, drew a very long bow when he said any Government who can’t provide a Speaker should resign.

Totally wrong and totally out of place.

He needs to look around the various State Parliaments.

Speaker Slipper will have his work cut out.

The feral and unseemly behaviour of many on Abbott’s front bench is nothing short of a disgrace.

The main offenders are the foul mouthed Sophie Mirabella; the crone of the House Bronwyn Bishop; the manager of Opposition  Business, Christopher Pyne, whose mincing style is grating in the extreme; and last, but not least, there’s poor old Joe Hockey, who these days just doesn’t cut it.

Kelly O’Dwyer, who took Peter Costello’s seat of Higgins (and who is my local MP) is learning fast.

She has been kicked out already on a few occasions, but her savaging of Abbott in the Liberal Party room this week is elevating herself as a member to watch.

She has certainly gone up a few notches in my book.

But I worry about the company she keeps — if she has any aspirations for higher office she needs to be a bit more careful.

Mixing with and defending the likes of the Member for Indi will get her nowhere.
 

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