IS BILL SHORTEN CROSSING THE LINE?
What is this mysterious line that two controversial MPs have suddenly crossed?
Julia Gillard and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten. Photograph via The Sunday Telegraph.
Maybe it’s the Maginot line, the brilliant military strategy of World War 2 which failed miserably.
Perhaps it’s the fine line, between the genius of maintaining a minority government and the madness of retaining rogue members.
Or the line in the sand drawn by Labor’s powerbrokers as they quietly sharpen their knives.
On the weekend, Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke to Peter Slipper, the Speaker who’s accused of sexual harassment and fraud, and Craig Thomson, the backbencher who allegedly rorted expenses as head of the Health Services Union.
She later held a press conference saying, “a line has been crossed”.
Soon after, Mr Slipper announced he’d stand down “for a further period of time” to preserve “the dignity of the parliament”. Mr Thomson agreed to suspend his membership of the party but remain in parliament as an independent, voting with Labor.
Clear as mud? What is clear is that this has nothing to do with protecting the parliament, and everything to do with preserving power.
Yet again, Julia Gillard is under attack from within. So, she decided to flex her muscles. But for many, it’s too little too late.
Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten is said to be furious the PM didn’t act sooner.
According to several ALP caucus members, the Minister is agitating for another leadership spill.
Insiders say this was the motive for his ‘gaffe’ on Sky News. Three times last Thursday morning, he refused to toe the party line. While other senior Ministers, notably Leader of the House Anthony Albanese, supported Mr Slipper, Mr Shorten emphasised the seriousness of sexual harassment claims.
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