Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Fat Cat and the 'Slippery' Slope

In 1999 I moved to the Sunshine Coast. At that time I moved into the Federal Electorate of Fisher. Given my interest in politics I asked around about my local member. His name was Peter Slipper I was told, a fairly unremarkable man, entrenched local member and was likely to remain that way unless the political apocalypse came and turned the arch conservative Sunshine Coast into a communist paradise.

Most of that initial characterization proved accurate. I’ve often joked that Fat Cat could run for the Liberals in Fisher and still win the seat. If you talked to the locals, most would agree. Consider that proposition for a moment: what does this opinion suggest about Australian democracy?

The year after I moved to the Coast, I was assigned to do one week’s work experience. I desperately wanted to work in an ALP political office, but did not have the means or logistical ability to travel the hour south to Brisbane. Fortunately a history teacher at my high school (and future conservative Sunshine Coast Counsellor) had an in with Slipper’s office. I could work in his office, if I remained somewhat muted about my political philosophies. I agreed.

I still have fantastic memories of working in Slipper’s office, for it was the first time I experienced working at the coal face. I was mainly charged with constituent correspondence, although I did get to sit in on some meetings and such. I had little, but meaningful contact with him, but was always available to answer any questions that I had.

Even at this point rumours swelled around the Sunshine Coast about travel rorts and other activities. The question in my mind kept coming up. If any one of these 20 plus unique rumours proved to be true, why wasn’t he facing the consequences of the Liberal Party and the electorate?

After my brief encounter with Slipper he continued his unremarkable career. I would run into him occasionally where he would claim I …had changed sides.’ As the years went by and I became more involved with the ALP, the rumours continued to compile, and it was clear that he was a second rate local member.

Yet it was only since he was elevated to the Speakership in November of last year that the National media and the Federal politicians even began to give a damn about the people of Fisher, and more importantly the conduct of its local member. The local community was well aware of the claims made in 2001, but nothing was done either to clear Slipper, or to sanction him. And thus the perception was created that nobody in Federal politics gave a damn about the people of the Fisher electorate with both major parties and their organizational wings happy to plod along with the status quo. With Fat Cat in office.

So the few people who care about Sunshine Coast political climate are left to ponder what is next in this catastrophe. My friend Luke Day posed an interesting set of questions the other night.
After defending him for so long, why are the voters of Fisher now so keen to attack him? Is it because it may be revealed that he is a dirty, sinful homosexual who offends their happy-clapper sensibilities? Is it because he no longer carries their much-cherished party brand? Is it because removing him may bring down a government they have hated from the start? The nation wants to know, Fisher. The whole nation wants to know.

I want to know, too.

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