From the time of The Punch’s launch the then-Speaker of the House of Representatives was a bit of a Punch mascot. A favourite with some of our more politically-obsessed, Question Time-viewing readers.

Harry put up with a lot. During the tedious 17-day post-election negotiations over who would form government in the hung parliament, Julia Gillard offered Harry’s job to Rob Oakeshott. To cheers Harry clung on to the Speaker’s Chair - for a while.

When the PM saw an opportunity to put Peter Slipper in the chair, thereby removing an opposition vote and shoring up her tenuous position ever so slightly, she pounced.

Harry announced his “resignation” from the Speakership, citing a desire to get amongst the policy debate on the back bench.

While he might have been diplomatic, many others were not, and we still don’t know how the Slipper experiment will turn out.

The temptation to dump on his leader must have been incredibly strong in the past two years. All Harry ever wanted was to follow in his father’s footsteps and be Speaker.

But he has held his tongue.

Yesterday, as he announced his retirement from the House of Representatives, he said: “Of course to go as speaker would have been a great thing.”

But according to The Australian, the “politician in him” understood the need for Gillard to manouvre an extra vote.

If he’s angry at her, he’s keeping it to himself. That’s how Harry rolls.

We’ll miss you Harry. We already do.


Most commented


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    • Budz says:

      04:07pm | 26/07/12

      It sounds like ORDAAAAAAAAA!!!!

    • nihonin says:

      04:25pm | 26/07/12

      But still, he couldn’t find it in himself to quit parliament all together.  He must love his trough(y) life.  wink

    • Against the Man says:

      06:19pm | 26/07/12

      Don’t they all.

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      08:18pm | 26/07/12

      Why on earth should he have quit parliament ?

    • mjjp says:

      04:37pm | 26/07/12

      Good luck Harry, you have proven to be a good servant of the parliament in difficult time and a loyal member of your party. As a person not inclined to vote labor, my best wishes & respect go with you on leaving office.

    • three Score and Ten says:

      10:32am | 27/07/12

      ‘‘Hear Hear’’

    • The Machiavellian says:

      04:47pm | 26/07/12

      Start of the rush for the exit. Sorry for the comment Harry - you did do a tremendous job - just fell in with a bad crowd!

    • dovif says:

      04:50pm | 26/07/12

      Harry is one of the rare breed of politician who has integrity, who as speaker was fair in his dealing of everyone and has the respect of both side of politics.

      He should have been allowed to retired as the speaker, because he held the role with respect and dignity that someone like Slipper could never aspire to become

      Harry will be missed

    • pa_kelvin says:

      05:03pm | 26/07/12

      Probably would have been one off the few Labor Ministers to keep his seat next election. Only real Labor Polly with any dignity.

    • year of the dragon says:

      07:12pm | 26/07/12

      Except he wasn’t a minister.

      That’s why he still has his dignity I guess.

    • Knemon says:

      05:37pm | 26/07/12

      Harry did appear to have integrity, something very rare for politicians.

      “Of course to go as speaker would have been a great thing.”

      I’m possibly being naive, but after 26 years of service, why don’t they offer him the deputy speaker job? I can’t imagine Anna Burke or the opposition objecting, he could probably hold it until the next election as there’s nothing to suggest Slipper will be back soon, as to when exactly the next election will be held is anybody’s guess, it could be sooner rather than later!

      Cheers Harry.

    • Super D says:

      06:34pm | 26/07/12

      Because not even the Gillard team could spin Harry resigning from speaker to become deputy.

      Jenkins seems to be a man who genuinely believes in the Labor cause, not just trying to stay in power.  No doubt his memoirs will shed some light on his decision to stand down.

    • Kegaro says:

      08:28am | 27/07/12

      Why dont’ they offer him the PM’s job?

    • Dene says:

      05:57pm | 26/07/12

      He was my neighbour across the the street, as a child, I remember him as being such a great guy.. so unlike the breed of politician you usually see

    • MP says:

      05:59pm | 26/07/12

      Bye Harry, we will miss your charm, integrity and fairness.  But alas you were another pawn in Gillard’s tangled web.  Sorry for mixed metaphors.
      I really felt for Harry on the day he stepped aside.  What a selfless act of misplaced loyalty.  The ALP don’t deserve ministers as decent as Harry.

      How many more will desert the ship?

    • William says:

      06:42pm | 26/07/12

      Thanks, Harry. Comparing you to your Liberal party predecessor shows precisely how vast the difference between Labor and them is.

    • year of the dragon says:

      07:16pm | 26/07/12

      By “Liberal party predecessor” I assume you mean the guy who never rose to any great heights as a Liberal MLA that was about to be kicked out of the party for general grubbiness and sleaziness and who was then, despite (or maybe because of) his general grubbiness and sleaziness, handed a senior parliamentary role by the ALP.

      Yes, compared to the guy that the ALP favoured over you you were definitely a superior individual.

    • eRon says:

      08:30pm | 26/07/12

      Almost as vast as the distance between an ALP suckhole and reality, eh Bill?

    • William says:

      10:12pm | 26/07/12

      That’s the one. He was a Coalition MP for 18 long years and they never had a problem with having his vote. A vast difference indeed, Harry Jenkins - Labor. Peter Slipper - Liberal. Says it all.

    • Borderer says:

      08:46am | 27/07/12

      Wanted and courted as opposed to stuck with and languishing on the back bench, please get a clue.

    • William says:

      10:52am | 27/07/12

      Don’t cry to me. You voted for him for 18 years. I voted for Harry Jenkins.

    • Drama Queen says:

      11:42am | 27/07/12

      But Labor chose him over Jenkins in the end - really in don’t see the point you’re trying to make. If Slipper is as bad as you say what does it say about your beloved ALP that he is their golden child. Surely you’re not trying to take the highroad on this - neither party has a right to it.

    • William says:

      02:06pm | 27/07/12

      Peter Slipper is not and has never been a member of the ALP. Harry Jenkins is. Slipper was voted for by Coalition supporters like you as a Coalition MP for 18 years.

    • marley says:

      02:15pm | 27/07/12

      @William - Slipper has never been a member of the ALP.  It was, however, the ALP that gave him the highest-ranking position of his political career.  They should have known better.

    • William says:

      02:35pm | 27/07/12

      It was Coalition supporters like you who voted for Slipper for 18 years. You should have known better. I voted for Harry Jenkins.

    • marley says:

      07:14pm | 27/07/12

      @William - I have never voted for Slipper. I don’t live in Queensland.  I’ve never voted for Jenkins, either.  I don’t live in Victoria.

      The point here is, the ALP voted for Slipper to become Speaker.  So, I guess, one could argue that if you voted for the ALP, yep, you voted for Slipper.

    • year of the dragon says:

      08:28am | 28/07/12

      William says: 02:35pm | 27/07/12

      “It was Coalition supporters like you who voted for Slipper for 18 years. You should have known better. I voted for Harry Jenkins.”

      So the party that sacked a loyal and dedicated parliamentarian and Labour man for a Slipper, despite a damning report and pending expulsion from the LNP.

      Obviously where the Liberal Party saw a man of modest talent and dubious moral fibre, the Labor Party saw a man deserving of being elected to the position of Parliamentar Speaker.

      In interesting and encouraging trend that is emerging is that in attempting to attack the coalition, ALP apologists are revealing more about the hypocrisy, incompetence and moral corruption of the Labor Party.

    • William says:

      11:06am | 28/07/12

      Not only did Liberal hypocrites vote for Slipper for 18 years, the Liberals also even made him Parliamentary Secretary to then PM John Howard. I voted for Harry Jenkins. You voted for Peter Slipper.

    • William says:

      12:15pm | 28/07/12


      Peter Slipper is not and has never been a member of the ALP. He was a Coalition MP for 18 years because Liberal supporters like you voted for him for 18 years.

    • William says:

      06:56pm | 26/07/12

      Sorry. I meant successor.

    • Gordon says:

      07:16pm | 26/07/12

      Doesn’t this mean: Byelection>-1 labour seat>Hello Tony?

    • Martin H says:

      09:57pm | 26/07/12

      No Gordon, he doesn’t officially finish up until the end of this term and even if their was a by-election for his seat I would be extremely surprised if the coalition would win it. Good try though Gordon.

    • Gordon says:

      01:04pm | 27/07/12

      OK ta. The article didn’t actually make that clear. I’m in no rush for a TA govt btw. I was just surprised the blog wasn’t full of triumphalist Libs so I asked the question.

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      07:17pm | 26/07/12

      The Speakers job in Australia is one of the hardest in politics.  Keeping the Reps rabble in some sort of order is almost impossible and thankless, especially from their own party.

      Harry did a good job and the book will be very interesting, however we will not see it until the change in Government.  He had better start now.

    • Greg in Chengdu says:

      07:38pm | 26/07/12

      So typical of the Gillard government to get rid of a guy that was obviously respected and had honor and replace him with a corrupt closest poof just to further her own career prospects

    • eRon says:

      08:49pm | 26/07/12

      Harry is a politician, playing politics. He lied about being shafted by Gillard, and with the looming prospect of being only one of a few ALP politicians left in opposition he’s bailing. Getting in before the rush, I reckon.
      The fact that he’s keeping mum about one of the ugliest, opportunist, and cynical moves in Australian political history is hardly honorable, or desirable (unless you’re ALP).
      This was all about Gillard giving herself room to renege on her deal with Wilkie, and given Slipper’s eventual sidelining whilst he faces allegations of gay sexual harrassment, Harry has hardly draped himself in glory with his involvement.
      But then again, who in Labor has? Emmo? Swanny? Shorten? Garrett? Albanese? Gillard, herself?
      Rogues, the lot of them.

    • Fabbz says:

      09:27pm | 26/07/12

      the seat of scullin has been in the jenkins family since 1969, he was like a hereditary peer, Lord Jenkins the Duke of Scullin. he’s not the only labor mp to have succeeded his/father

    • AnthonyG says:

      09:43pm | 26/07/12

      don’t bother shutting the door

    • Gerard says:

      10:33pm | 26/07/12

      “All Harry ever wanted was to follow in his father’s footsteps and be Speaker”

      Representing the interests of his constituents never did appeal to him, did it?

    • Jay says:

      05:34am | 27/07/12

      Harry Jenkins may be a good bloke, but he is an example of what is wrong with the Australian political system. Another father/son as is Simon Crean. 26 years in Parliament will get his super payout which most people cannot access and ofcourse all of his perks.People forget that as Speaker he received a further payment of 170K over and above what he received as an MP, hence his motivation to stay in the Speakers seat.Now he has lost this quango he decides to retire.It seems to me he is or has only ever been interested in feathering his own nest, rather than contributing towards the betterment of the Party.Another rate leaving the sinking ship.I suppose we get the politicians we deserve.

    • Drew(Darlinghurst) says:

      07:44am | 27/07/12

      Good Luck to Harry Jenkins in his future outside of Canberra.

      And now lets see all the grubby Liberal Party finger prints in the Peter Slipper Affair…you know who you are ...Mr James Ashby.

      Shame Liberal Party Shame !

    • jag says:

      08:37am | 27/07/12

      And Gillard for employing Slipper SHAME GILLARD SHAME!


      See, ti sounds stupid doesn’t it and adds absolutely nothing to the discussion.

    • Soouthern Very Cross says:

      08:58am | 27/07/12

      Harry seems to be well liked by many and seen tohave integrity but as a Speaker, he was powerless to reign in the kindergarten antics in the House of Representatives.  The childish behaviour of most politicians is a disgrace to our nation and what we want in a speaker is someone who can dismiss anyone who verbally misbehaves in this so called serious forum.

    • Vince says:

      09:51am | 27/07/12

      I agree.  From what I saw of Question Time when he was the Speaker, it was a joke.  Suddenly, however, he is a man of “integrity” blah, blah, blah.  Admit it: nobody gave a rats who was Speaker until this business with Peter Slipper.  The position is like being a referee at at cock-fight (no pun intended!).

    • Inky says:

      02:43pm | 27/07/12

      Cheers to Harry Jenkins, the PQT drinking game isn’t the same without you.

    • vox says:

      04:30pm | 27/07/12

      Slipper is a genius. No doubt!
      He hid all of his iniquitous traits from every member of the Libs for eighteen years. They never had a clue that he was drawing expenses to which he had no entitlement, or that he was propositioning young, innocent, staff members, and I suggest that the sort of deception he must have practiced all of that time entitles him to be considered, as I said, of the genius class.
      Howard never knew, obviously. Abbott never knew, nor the Bishops, nor Hockey, not even that font of Parliamentary wisdom, Betz.
      It’s no use anyone saying that any of these people did know, because if they had they would have denounced him and he would have been denied the Speaker’s chair. Then, no drama.
      Though I must say that a man with whom some of them spent that eighteen years with, but was apparently never noticed to have been morally and financially corrupt, must also have been very lucky. Isn’t politically-powered ignorance bliss, sometimes.
      At least we can be assured that the christian, Abbott, certainly never knew
      because Abbott is an honorable man.

    • marley says:

      07:09pm | 27/07/12

      Well, from everything I understand, there had been several inquiries into his expense accounts, he was demoted from being a Parliamentary secretary back in Howard’s time, and the Libs were starting to back away from him.  He wasn’t going to be pre-selected again.  The ALP would have known all this.  Inquiries into spending rorts are hardly secret.  So, ask yourself, why would the ALP take on someone who the Libs were starting to see as a liability?

      This doesn’t excuse the Libs for backing him previously, but for the ALP to recruit him as speaker suggests either a real lack of judgement or a an overweening political motive.  It doesn’t look especially good, either way.

    • Viva says:

      04:23pm | 28/07/12

      Tony, you need to stop commenting about yourself on the internet. It isn’t seemly.

    • Rico says:

      04:50pm | 27/07/12

      It’s like the guy who’s in hospital and the Doc says” I’ve got some good news and some bad news, bad news is we have to cut off your feet, good news is the guy in the next bed want’s to buy your SLIPPERS”.


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