A temple of mutual loathing, and some good blokes too
Labor hard-man Anthony Albanese looked across a seething House of Representatives at Scott Buchholz, a big lump of a Queensland National.
In the middle of a tense period with reputations and manners being shredded by the hour, Mr Albanese paused and made the unlikely pronouncement, “He’s a good bloke.”
It can now be revealed why, and it’s a story which demonstrates that not all MPs on either side of the Chamber are determined to be bitter all the time.
On Tuesday night Peter Slipper resigned in disgrace as Speaker, and after his announcement returned to his office.
About half an hour later Mr Buchholz knocked on his door and asked if he was OK, knowing of course he wasn’t.
He stayed with him as other Coalition and Labor MPs—including Treasurer Wayne Swan—arrived to give some comfort to the distraught former Speaker.
Mr Buchholz told The Punch he entered Parliament about the time of the Queensland floods swept through his seat of Wright and he knew how deep the pain of loss could be.
“I’m just aware of the problems people have when they are under a lot of pressure,” he said.
He said Mr Slipper was going through a tough time “and I don’t think that journey has finished for Pete yet”.
“I don’t accept what he’s done but he’s a Queenslander and he’s a member of this House.”
The next day Mr Buchholz had to get the approval of the Government to table a document during Question Time, something which Mr Albanese, as Government Leader in the House, has often refused to Opposition MPs.
But on this occasion he looked at the person making the request and said, “He’s a good bloke; yes.”
He later met Mr Albanese on another matter and asked why the praise? The minister told him it was because he had gone out of his way to look after Mr Slipper.
There is concern among MPs on both sides that Peter Slipper should be looked after, whatever the politics of his demise. It’s something which might not become public knowledge were it not for a minister calling an opponent a good bloke.
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