Admiration for old boss Peter Slipper despite post-mortems

Richard Bruinsma.
Richard Bruinsma.

IN SPITE of public anger and expert political post-mortems in recent days, I can't help but still hold some admiration for my former boss Peter Slipper.

Knowing the genuine love he held for the Parliament and for effective governance, and his determination to be the best Speaker he possibly could, I was captivated by footage showing him struggle with his emotions and fighting to maintain the dignity of the chair, even as he reluctantly let go of the position.

During my seven years as a staffer in his office, I saw someone who was energetic and disciplined. He hated to waste time, could be doggedly

focussed, was guarded in his work relationships and rarely showed deep emotions openly.

He has a great sense of humour, a general knowledge that was at times astounding, and an amazing ability to forgive those who are genuinely sorry.

He could be warm and charming, and is a skilled public speaker.

Despite the revelations of recent days, he rarely swore and virtually never used foul language in my presence.

However, he could be difficult to work with and at times could be

unreasonably demanding.

I said to him once that the media pressure he had endured over recent years probably would have killed a lesser man.

He worried about the effect the pressures of his public life had on his wife Inge.

I had always felt he had the energy, intelligence and analytical mind to be a great minister.

I pondered sometimes if his much-publicised indiscretions were a symptom of his frustration that he wasn't contributing as much as he felt he could to making a better Australia.

The Speaker position gave him that opportunity.

I remember a staff meeting the day after he first took the Speaker's role in December, where he candidly revealed that, for the first time since he was a Parliamentary Secretary under John Howard, he felt he could make a real difference.

The Speakership was something meaty to sink his teeth into. It was as if someone had flicked a switch that gave him renewed enthusiasm for public service.

His resignation, though, not only capped a big day in Australian politics, but also provided a glimpse of who Mr Slipper has

become and the effect of the pressure he has

endured over recent months.

Independent Tony Windsor, who met him early Tuesday, said he was not a well man.

His breaking voice during his resignation speech, the pauses, and his admission he was speaking from the heart, all provided an unspoken admission that despite his impressive resilience and his unfailing determination, he knew his political career was now closer to its end.

Unfortunately, the ongoing controversies have taken their toll.

* Richard Bruinsma worked as a media adviser for Peter Slipper. He now covers courts for the Sunshine Coast Daily.

Topics:  media, peter slipper, resignation, richard bruinsma




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