Hasty conclusions in a labyrinthine week of blunders
There was one red face after another this week, on both sides of Parliament, says Barrie Cassidy.
It remains to be seen how it will play out in the electorate.
Political commentators are constantly called upon to be instant experts, interpreting the public mood and telling you how we think you think.
And so it has been again this week, when common sense would suggest that maybe just this once, a rush to judgment might both be unwise and extremely presumptuous.
Short of asking everybody in the country, how could you trawl through the myriad twists and turns, missteps and miscalculations, and come to any immediate conclusions about the political consequences of a week like this one?
Take a look at the smorgasbord of provocative, emotional, tacky and disturbing developments.
Despite Peter Slipper's vile text messages, the Government protected him from a humiliating parliamentary sacking.
In so doing, whether they had any choice or not, the Government finally and predictably paid the price for a shoddy piece of work in November last year when it shunted Harry Jenkins aside to try to buy some political security.
That is not a judgment made in retrospect. I wrote on The Drum at the time that the Government, by its actions, assumed responsibility from that moment on for everything that Slipper had done or was about to do.
I quoted Abbott as saying the Government had "lost its way, lost its majority and lost its speaker," and suggested that he could have added "lost their moral compass" as well.
On the other hand, the issue did give the www pandora bracelet Prime Minister a platform for a cracker of a speech, one so emotionally delivered that it won't soon be forgotten. It might yet be the making of her.
The anecdotal evidence and the response in the social media at least suggests it resonated well beyond those who make a study of the machinations of Canberra.
It is churlish, as some have done, to argue that Julia Gillard was merely trying to weatherproof herself against legitimate political attacks. There was some substance to her allegations, not yet adequately refuted by anybody.
Rarely have we seen one political leader so dominate another in the Parliament. It was fleeting, but it could have longer term consequences, no matter that the initial impact was diluted and overshadowed by Slipper's resignation.
And just as that resignation blunted Gillard's attacks, so did other events blunt the Coalition's advantages.
Firstly, Abbott should never have used the "died of shame" expression, inadvertently or otherwise. That was inexcusable.
Secondly, shadow ministers were unconvincing in dealing with the small matter of how they could tear Slipper pandora bracelets cheap online to shreds, and yet accept his vote in the Parliament.
Shadow attorney general George Brandis described him as a "vile misogynist". What a bizarre situation. Hey, you vile misogynist, are you with us or against us? And then to underline the hypocrisy, they were caught out canvassing for Thomson's vote as well.
And finally, the Coalition demonstrably misrepresented a pensioner's power bill, claiming the carbon tax had been largely responsible for a doubling of the bill, pandora charms catalogue when where can you find pandora bracelets it was her usage that had doubled. In any other week, and in isolation, that would have been an acute embarrassment.
Then, just when the momentum seemed to be swinging back towards the Government, news broke that an offensive joke had been made against Abbott's chief of staff at a union function, one attended by many ministers.
Julia Gillard left before the remarks were made. Other ministers had not, and some of them stuck around afterwards. That matters because Labor in the Parliament made much of the fact that some Liberals stayed behind at the Sydney University Liberal Club event after Alan Jones had offended the Prime Minister.
One red face after another, on both sides.
Contrary though to so much of the analysis, none of this should fairly be used as further evidence of a failure of minority government. Who was it in the end who found a sensible way through the Slipper conundrum? None other than the independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who inherited the clout to fix the problem by virtue of a hung Parliament.
The sins of the week were committed by the major parties, divorced from any relevance to a minority government. And neither do any of these events establish some kind of moral obligation on the Prime Minister to call an early election.
When the hung parliament emerged, both sides set about negotiating a hold on power. Labor succeeded in that endeavour, legitimately.
Nothing has changed since then.
The numbers are as they were.
To suggest the government of the day is "desperate to hold on to power" is simply stating the obvious. It's been that way since federation.
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