Having posted less than 48 hours ago on Peter Slipper’s last (taxpayer-funded) ride out of the sunset, events since have given every semblance of an animal in its death throes; the subsequent antics and misadventures of Slippery Pete stink of a desperate man’s desperate measures.
Given the nature of the various allegations against Slipper, it is no surprise that opinions are hardening against him — and not least on the ALP’s own back benches, where marginal seat holders and time servers are now wondering aloud what the hell their leader has got them into by selling out the Speakership to the member for Fisher.
What is less of a surprise is that Slipper appears to want to fight; after all, he has made a career from fighting his way out of self-inflicted disasters, especially where the use and misuse of travel entitlements at public expense are concerned.
This time, however, the walls are closing in on him, and he would appear fatally trapped.
It was with one eyebrow raised this morning that I read an article in The Australian which heralded Slipper’s “meticulous” use of Cabcharge documents; it quoted Tim Conroy, owner-driver of Peter Slipper’s “favourite” limousine company, who stoutly defended the Speaker’s handling of taxpayer-funded Cabcharge dockets for travel between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.
“He always fills out Cabcharge dockets when he travels with us, and he takes meticulous care. He was painful…in filling them out. He did not hand blank dockets to us,” Mr Conroy was quoted as saying.
Well, quite, but myriad other accounts to the contrary appeared in other newspapers across the country today, which made for reading with both eyebrows raised.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported a driver with Canberra Hire Cars, Berris Crossin, as saying she had a deal with Mr Slipper regarding the use of his cab vouchers; Ms Crossin said Slipper would use four to six vouchers for a single trip so ‘‘it didn’t look as bad as one big fare.’’
Another limousine driver who has regularly driven Slipper for many years when he is in Sydney, Antwan Kaikaty, spoke to the Murdoch press, claiming Slipper would supply multiple Cabcharge dockets to pay for travel.
Bizarrely, Kaikaty disputed claims that Slipper would hand over blank documents, but did admit that Slipper, who had been “(his) client” for years, and would nonetheless provide him with a “few vouchers” at the end of a trip.
Is this again to try to disguise the overall total of the expenses being racked up by Slipper? Or is there more to it than that? Either way, it is clear that despite Slippery Pete’s protestations, some folk at least are prepared to blow the whistle on his dodgy practices.
And it begs the question: if the total value of a journey is so great as to attract scrutiny, doesn’t the problem begin there? And if the use of multiple Cabcharge dockets is required to try to disguise the amount of public money Slipper has been spending, isn’t that a rort in and of itself?
Meanwhile, it has come to light today that Archbishop John Hepworth — the head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, the ultra-conservative breakaway Anglican church Slipper is a member of — has asked Slipper to stand aside as an ordained priest and legal officer of the church.
Even so — in an exercise reeking of Slipper attempting to marshal cronies — the Archbishop attempted to make a spirited defence of Slippery Pete, saying he was “shattered” by everything that had occurred, and opining that there are “a number of Peter Slippers” — and cited examples of Slipper the devoted husband and Slipper the arrogant drunk.
It’s not a very convincing defence, and to my mind if Slipper suffers from multiple personality disorder it merely underscores his unfitness for elected office.
Archbishop Hepworth claimed, in relation to the various allegations currently levelled at Slipper, that he has “…pursued some of these rumours…and (has) been satisfied that there was no proof existing.”
I have no doubt Hepworth is an honourable man, but a properly constituted court and/or a forensic legal practitioner under Australian law, he isn’t; and rather than trying to defend the indefensible, it might be better if the Archbishop allowed the legal processes currently underway in relation to Slippery Pete run their course.
Archbishop Hepworth added that he was having “an exchange of texts” with Slipper on account of the fact Slipper and his wife “both actually have ‘flu at the moment.”
Well…if Slipper is sick, it hasn’t stopped him from taking to Twitter to protest about this and that, maintain his protestations of innocence, and go on the general attack; at time of writing, Slipper has tweeted no fewer than 16 times in the past 24 hours — hardly the work of someone bedridden with influenza.
Slipper complains about the media infringing his privacy; whilst I don’t condone such things if they have indeed occurred, perhaps ol’ Slippery should give consideration to what he has served up to the journalistic community over long years: a history of questionable conduct, proven through repeated repayment of wrongly claimed monies; all the “interesting stories” floating around that are a potential goldfield for journalists seeking to make a name to mine; and the latest round of allegations, soon to be tested in court, of which Slipper may or may not be guilty.
There’s a small amount of Anzac Day noise from Slipper of the “Lest We Forget” variety — only a skerrick, mind; there is also a handful of tweets which, on face value, appear to be Slipper corresponding with friends/well-wishers/favourably disposed acquaintances.
I say “on face value” because nobody can see what was written in the tweets to which Slipper is responding; indeed, some time ago — outraged that he was blowing his trumpet and holding court with someone, making himself out as a world authority on Parliamentary procedure — I tweeted to him, accusing him of being a “damned traitor” who should be ashamed of himself, and that I looked forward to him being crushed at next year’s election “if he had the balls to stand.”
The response was an excited-looking tweet thanking me for my support; I tell this story because a look at Slippery Pete’s Twitter feed suggests everybody is his friend, when in fact, so many people are nothing of the sort.
I don’t support Peter Slipper. End of story. If he thinks otherwise, he’s delusional.
But the real nugget in what he has had to say on Twitter in the past couple of days centres on Tony Abbott, the relationship between the two men, and Slipper’s “role” in Abbott’s ascension to the Liberal leadership in late 2010.
Claiming to have been a friend to Tony Abbott when the latter “had very few friends left,” Slipper references Abbott’s attendance at his second wedding in 2006.
Now, to be fair, whether Abbott and Slipper are or were friends is a private matter; but whether they are or were or not, it has no bearing on current events. More to the point, a personal friendship with the leader of the Liberal Party does not engender some automatic right of entitlement — as the tweets appear to suggest.
It has been reported in the press in the past couple of days that Slipper claims to have cast “the crucial decisive vote” in making Abbott Liberal leader; his ramblings on Twitter bear this out, especially a remark saying “…if I had voted another way, then he wouldn’t have become Leader.”
I should get my violin out. Pack your bags everyone, Slippery is sending you on a guilt trip!
It is true that Abbott won the Liberal leadership by a single vote, 41 votes to 40, with one absentee (former MP Fran Bailey was ill the day of the ballot).
Yet Slipper is no kingmaker; nor is he any more responsible for making Abbott leader than any of the 40 of his then colleagues who also voted against Turnbull. And — crucially — none of them knew how close the vote would be; nobody, least of all Slippery Pete, was a conscious kingmaker. Indeed, this sort of proclamation simply marks Slipper out as the grandstanding imbecile he really is.
There’s a lot more detail around Slipper’s movements in cars paid for by the Commonwealth that I could cover; beyond what has already been said, I don’t see the need.
The point here is that Slipper is throwing up markers to his own little world this week; some parallel universe in which he is blameless, but in which everyone else is out to get him and of course, Slipper has been grievously wronged.
In other words, it’s OK for Slipper to carry on like a law unto himself, but the millisecond his actions catch him up, it’s everyone else’s fault, and Slipper himself is the sweetly innocent victim of God-knows-what.
I think all interested parties — the parliamentary ALP, other MPs, the press corps and the voting public — should allow the latest round of inquiries to run their course; if Slipper really has gone too far this time and is caught, then the consequences of his actions will follow.
In the meantime, Peter Slipper should simply be ignored. His utterances are crafted to mislead, to manipulate, and to cultivate sympathy where none is deserved or warranted.
Let the grub sit in his own jaundiced, deluded, caustically self-obsessed little world, and let the rest of us get on with the business of the real world.
A high-order business item in the real world is the sifting and testing of allegations and accusations against Slippery Pete; and if he is to be damned for those, the repercussions will ensue — for Slipper himself, and for the amoral Labor government that has hitched its fortunes to his dubious, and waning, star.