Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Muscular Slipper Puts Foot Down

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Muscular Slipper Puts Foot Down

Article excerpt


WHATEVER else may be thought of Peter Slipper, he's proving an effective and reform-minded Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Slipper may have deserted the Opposition and handed Julia Gillard's government another vital vote, but he has not shrunk from telling the Prime Minister to shut up and sit down when she's blathered on rather than actually answering the question she's asked.

He may have revived the pomp of his office, with his black gown and white frills and weekly procession, but he's keen to streamline proceedings.

In a way, he's a uniquely liberated speaker. He almost certainly has no political future beyond this term; but until the term ends, given the government's reliance on the vote he's freed up, he's fireproof. He probably has about 18 months in which to really make a mark.

Slipper, who took over from Labor's Harry Jenkins on the last sitting day of 2011, has a after running it past House leader Anthony Albanese and his opposition counterpart Christopher Pyne a reduced the time allowed answers in Question Time from four minutes to three. He's thinking of going to two and a half.

The four minute limit was part of the deal to make the house more active and participatory a also known, somewhat sardonically, as the new paradigm a forged with the cross bench after the inconclusive 2010 election.

That deal also tried to enforce, unsuccessfully, more relevance in Question Time.

Ministers, like those before them from both sides, shamelessly ignore what they're asked and use their replies to savage their opponents.

Slipper is taking a muscular attitude to the abuse. As well as Gillard, several ministers and Treasurer Wayne Swan several times, have been sat down after warnings. That hardly ever happened under Jenkins.

Similarly, Slipper has been generally the quicker to kick out MPs, usually opposition interjectors, for an hour. …

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