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A Speaker on probation cannot remain a Speaker

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to put his handpicked Speaker Bronwyn Bishop “on probation” demonstrates, as perhaps little else can, his contemptuous disregard for our Parliament and its processes.

As Speaker, it is Bishop’s job to discipline all MPs, thus setting the tone for parliamentary behaviour, and using the authority of her position to ensure that behaviour is within the guidelines and traditions of the Westminster system.

There is already considerable discontent abroad concerning the incompetent and biased manner with which Bishop has performed her powerful job. This latest scandal surrounding her dodgy use of taxpayer funds to enhance her lifestyle and feed her apparently insatiable sense of self-importance and entitlement ought to be the last straw.

It is unclear, at least to me, exactly what Abbott means by declaring Bishop to be “on probation.” Her expenses will be scrutinised for a period of three months perhaps? She will be obliged to stay away from helicopters and limousines for six weeks? How, exactly, is a Speaker of the House of Representatives put on probation and more importantly, how does a Speaker “on probation” retain any authority at all over any MP in that House?

A Speaker “on probation” cannot possibly remain a Speaker. A Speaker “on probation” has lost all her authority. A Speaker must be above being put “on probation” by her Prime Minister. The very idea is an insane notion that makes absolutely no sense in any known universe. It demonstrates Abbott’s utter contempt for the Westminster system he claims to revere.

Abbott assures us that Bishop is “contrite,” however, Bishop has given the public no indication of contrition at all.

Obviously, Abbott considers his Speaker to be at fault, otherwise there would be no talk of “probation” in the first place. The errors Bishop has made disqualify her from the extraordinarily demanding requisites of her position: a Speaker of the House of Representatives cannot authoritatively carry out her duties while “on probation,” and a Prime Minister who believes that is a satisfactory solution is demonstrating his profound contempt both for Australian voters, and the Westminster system of government over which he presides.

It’s time. For both Bishop and Abbott to go. Every day they remain is a further insult to this country and to our system of governance.

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep.



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  1. Phil

    Good points. Damned good points. There is no such thing as a Speaker on probation. Abbott invents these things and the MSM sucks it up like a vacuum. Murdoch and rest of the right wing TV and radio i.e the majority – are themselves corrupt. They are the reason Abbott continues apace.

    Are the people of the Australia so utterly hamstrung by this thing they laughingly call ‘government,’ that they cannot call a farce a farce and find a mechanism with which to tip this bastard Abbott and his corrupt party onto the streets?

  2. John Kelly

    The perfect demonstration of a weak-minded leader, too beholden and too afraid to do what REAL leaders do.

  3. Roswell

    That just about sums it up, John.

  4. babyjewels10

    Every day, Tony Abbott holds us all in contempt.

  5. Loz

    I agree this government has utter contempt for the people of this country. What more does it take for everyone to say enough is enough.

  6. Andrew

    This is not in defence of the LNP, but, T.A. connot allow B.B. to leave her post because he needs her ‘authority’ to continue controlling the House. After all it is the Speaker who makes determinations of what questions are valid and whether a minister has actually answered a question. The Speaker also makes determinations about who has to leave the House for ‘bad’ behaviour.

    How can T.A. continue to survive all the questions that aren’t allowed to be asked if he can’t control/ influence/ rely on his speaker for protection. This also includes the rest of his right wing ministry (eg C. Pyne, M. Corhman etc)

    In other words she must stay to keep this Government in power, and help the majority of the MSM from doing their job and asking some questions of this government!

  7. stuff me

    Yes Phil, it is a farce, a very sad, dangerous farce. Worst govt ever.

  8. jagman48

    What more can be said. But she will stay. Except if Rupert states differently.

  9. corvus boreus

    The only contrition expressed by madam speaker (the captain’s choice) was that the revelation of her jet-stting and junketeering distracted from the serious business of sledging the opposition.

    Meanwhile, one of Tony’s other brilliant appointments (Michael Lawler) is currently on 9 months paid sick leave from Fair Work Australia while he helps his de-facto (Kathy Jackson) justify the alleged rorting of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Abbott sure can pick ’em.

  10. roaminruin

    Ditch the witch.

  11. Mic the Heretic

    Be fair to Bronwyn. She had to fly by helicopter! Her broom was undergoing it’s 250,000 km service.

  12. diannaart

    Of course Bronhilda (thanks Rossleigh) is not contrite, the ability to reflect upon the consequences of one’s actions is absent from the Speaker. She cannot feel something that is anathema to those born to privilege. However, if it will quiet the riff-raff she will play pretendies and be on ‘probation’ – the probation one has when a member of the Liberal Party – National Party supporters really should pay more attention, Slipper didn’t and look what happened to him,

  13. Graham Houghton

    It’s insane and nonsensical, Jennifer, here in our world, but in Abbott’s Doublespeak Wonderland, it makes perfect sense, just like knighthoods, punching walls, referring to yourself in the third person, and calling for beheadings. You know, if anybody in any senior position in any significant enterprise anywhere made such a monumental, arrogant and entitlement-inspired ‘error of judgement’ they’d be out on their ear. History is littered with examples of jerks like Bishop getting asscanned for the slyness she used blowing up in their faces. Unfortunately standards in this once reasonably good nation of ours seem to belong to that same history, or perhaps as you suggest, a different Universe.

  14. Anthony Shorter

    On the day that Bronnie’s chopper saga broke and the general disapproval was all over the media outlets there was one major exception.

    The News Ltd. site (I stumbled on it by accident, by way of the Shortlist site) had no mention of Bishops, helicopters or fundraising ventures or any things related.

    The News Ltd editors were too frightened to make a policy stand until The Lord High Rupert gave the thumb up (or down.) Will she live, will she be sent to News Limited purgatory or will she be placed on probation.

    We all now know the answer to that

  15. mysay

    Note to Abbott the jury [tax payer]of Australia has ruled against the speaker and 89% ,want her sacked ,For all the reasons above she isn’t able to hold the position of speaker .
    Go back and look at yourself and what you said about Gillard , re Slipper you are a hypocrite

  16. i have a nugget of pure green

    It’s time. For both Bishop and Abbott to go. Every day they remain is a further insult to this country and to our system of governance.

    cannot agree more.

  17. Shogan

    Does this mean she has been grounded??

  18. graywave

    It’s funny, really. 89% want Bishop sacked, 73% support a >50% renewable energy target, 75% think Abbott is a lousy PM, and so on. Yet Australians keep voting for the Coalition. There is a huge disconnect between what Australians say they want and what they actually do when they have the chance to change things.

  19. Peter F

    @graywave “There is a huge disconnect between what Australians say they want and what they actually do when they have the chance to change things.” It s called Rupert.

  20. graywave

    And Rupert would have no influence if Australians didn’t buy his gutter-press tabloids (I include The Australian) and listen to the drivel he spouts through his shock-jock mouthpieces. I like to blame Rupert as much as the next man for the damage he continues to do to democracies around the world but at some point Australians have to take responsibility for the way they vote.

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