When friends are enemies and enemies friends
Speaker of the House of Representatives Harry Jenkins is a bit of a Punch Question Time Live favourite, with his school master tone and ever-developing sense of humour.
And now he has a new fan - Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. It was reported yesterday Julia Gillard couldn’t get away from Jenkins fast enough when he bailed her up in Aussies Cafe at Parliament House.
She seems more keen to indulge the increasingly lofty ambitions of Independent Rob “this isn’t about some out-of-control ego” Oakeshott , which must be driving Jenkins a bit mad. According to Gillard, Oakeshott has the “skills and attributes” necessary for the tricky parliamentary role. But this morning Abbott backed up the Labor stalwart.
On 3AW Abbott said:
I’ve always said that I wanted to move towards a Westminster-style of Speakership and the best way to bring that about would be for Harry Jenkins to continue in the Chair, to remove himself from party meetings and not to be contested at general elections.
It’s important to ensure that the current Parliament is workable and given the closeness of the numbers, we agreed to [the pairing] arrangement because it was a way of allowing the government to appoint a Speaker or allowing a Speaker to be appointed, possibly from the government ranks, without making the government’s task impossible. So, that’s why we supported the arrangement. But it all gets vastly more complicated if an Independent is in the Chair because how do you pair an Independent? That becomes very, very difficult.
So Jenkins could be the in bizarre position of relying on the Coalition to save his cushy job, while his own leader appears prepared to hang him out to dry.
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