The successful outcome of Labor Leader Albanese’s nomination for office of a disaffected Queensland National was a deft move.
Sudden information, on Monday, that Mr O’Brien (Nat. Q) had been nominated by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Albanese(ALP NSW) for the post of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and duly-elected, inserted a welcome breath of agency and foresight into the foggy atmosphere of re-convening federal politicians on ‘Capitol Hill’ this week and conveyed, thoroughly, that Anthony Albanese is ‘up for it.’
Taking advantage of growing discontent with PM Scott Morrison’s performance throughout a summer of crisis and emergency which impacted disproportionately-heavily on rural regions, and of fallout over the Mackenzie ‘sports rorts’ and the failed leadership ‘spill’ which returned Barnaby Joyce to his rightful place as National gadfly, the unflagged nomination of O’Brien has acted like ginger on the political scene. While the PM was engaged in statesmanship with neighbour Joko Widodo (President, Indonesia), Albanese effected, reportedly absent any notice to the unsuspecting candidate, a vote which saw ‘at least five’ (source: ABC News Radio) Government MPs cross the floor, starkly finessing the mood of the House.
The Labor leader has stated that he consulted no other Parliamentarians before taking this initiative, so no odour of conspiracy taints the elevation of Mr O’Brien whose support for the aforementioned Mr Joyce is widely-known.
The duties of Deputy Speaker, especially in relation to the pleasingly-competent Speaker (Mr Smith, Vic) can be expected to be undemanding but, presumably, carry with the post some improvement in salary, whilst cleverly shoring-up some support in Queensland, where the ALP desperately needs it, and implying a competent, critical succession to Speaker Smith in the event of change.
No time was wasted manufacturing an insider-consensus, Canberra-bubbling a witches’brew of hateful rhetoric, forcing a conflict. Simply a strategic response to a gap in defences was rapidy implemented.
It was a deft move, if the facts are as reported and as the public is informed, and blissfully entertaining from the perspective of the periphery, where most of us wait.
Rosemary O’Grady is a lawyer and writer.