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Slippery Pete, Fast Eddie and risky business

By 5 August 2014 15

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On the day news came through that it had been found Peter Slipper had dishonestly used parliamentary taxi vouchers to travel to wineries, callers started ringing in to the radio program I was presenting.

Some said that in the scheme of things, misusing taxpayer funds to the tune of $954 didn’t seem like that big of a crime.

Most commented on what they saw as his colossal arrogance which apparently led him to think that he could get away with it.

During my time in the media (pretty much my whole life) the lawyers have told me I mustn’t presume to know what’s in someone’s mind.

Now I don’t intend to start by trying to second guess Peter Slipper’s motivations, but on the known facts, it’s hard to understand why someone would apparently throw away what he had for less than a thousand bucks.

It’s possible he may lose his retirement benefits – presently worth $157,000 after his 23 years as an MP.

But that’s just the money – granted more money than most of us are likely to get to see us through our golden years.

But he was also risking it all while he was in the highest parliamentary position in Australia.

Why would anyone put such a prestigious position on the line for such small change?

Way back (long enough for the statute of limitations to have long since expired) I remember hearing about an announcer attempting to rig a competition on his radio station so his wife could win the prize – a washing machine.

I just couldn’t see the upside in putting your credibility, your job and whatever position you might enjoy in the community on the line for something that could be purchased at any appliance store for a few hundred dollars.

But he was just a radio announcer – whether the public at large took any notice of what he did or said or even tuned in to hear was entirely optional.

But Peter Slipper was the Speaker in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

The guilty verdict as reached by ACT Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker came after three attempts to have the charges thrown out over a period of about eight months.

On one occasion Mr. Slipper’s lawyers tried to get the charges against him dismissed under the Mental Health Act because of his state of mind.

(Interesting how some lawyers can see into a man’s soul or have experts on tap who can do it for them, despite warning others – myself included – against exactly that).

But Magistrate Walker was having none of it.

She ruled that in the public interest the trial should go ahead.

So the system can work on behalf of the ordinary taxpayer, even when someone like Peter Slipper, a man in an exalted position who apparently thinks he is above it because of who he is or how he sees it, comes before a court.

They say, it’s not the crime it’s the cover-up.

Why didn’t he just give the money back, or even better, meet the cab fare out of his own pocket in the first place?

I have to throw in my lot with those who call arrogance.

Ever see that classic movie The Hustler?

Screen legend Paul Newman plays Fast Eddie Felsen – a man very good at what he does: making a living by hustling the rubes for money playing Pool.

He does this mainly by pretending he’s just a regular feller who’s had too much to drink and is making some reckless calls but then miraculously pulls off amazingly lucky shots thus taking money from the punters without them realising they’ve been conned.

Credit where it’s due, Peter Slipper was a good speaker.

He showed backbone on more than one occasion.

Was that as a result of his “self belief”?

(That would be arrogance showing its acceptable side).

A critical turning point for Fast Eddie’s came the night he decided to not just take money from the punters, but also rub their noses in it properly by showing just how very good he really was.

The yokels didn’t take well to that.

They told him how pool sharks weren’t much liked in them there parts.

Then, to emphasise the point, took him outside and broke his thumbs.

Slippery Pete, like Fast Eddie, rubbed our noses in it by not just taking our money but also letting us know in his opinion he was entitled to do just that via the several and varied appeals which made this the long drawn out court case it became.

He’ll be sentenced on September 22nd.

Don’t know what he’ll get, but I predict it won’t be broken thumbs.

Those painful injuries took a while to heal, but Fast Eddie did get back in the game.

Slippery Pete on the other hand is out of mainstream politics for good.

Mike Jeffreys is best known as a talk radio host and for his appearances on panel discussion programs including Paul Murray Live on SKYNEWS and Channel 9’s Morning Show.

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15 Responses to
Slippery Pete, Fast Eddie and risky business
davo101 11:27 am
05 Aug 14
#1

But Peter Slipper was the Speaker in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

At the time of the offences he was still a Liberal backbencher. As to why he would “risk it all” I’d say it was because he’d allegedly been doing it for years and getting away with it. So long as he wasn’t causing anyone grief they were all happy to look the other way. While he was still a Liberal it was all fair and reasonable, but once he turned the gloves were off.

Kim F 12:51 pm
05 Aug 14
#2

yep, a Lib back-bencher! I was a bit amazed that he actually stood in the 2013 election and got more than his and his wife’s vote (not many more though).

neanderthalsis 1:46 pm
05 Aug 14
#3

davo101 said :

But Peter Slipper was the Speaker in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

At the time of the offences he was still a Liberal backbencher. As to why he would “risk it all” I’d say it was because he’d allegedly been doing it for years and getting away with it. So long as he wasn’t causing anyone grief they were all happy to look the other way. While he was still a Liberal it was all fair and reasonable, but once he turned the gloves were off.

Sounds rather like the treatment Mal Colston received after leaving Labor. it was only his revelation that he had terminal cancer that prevented the charges being pursued.

mr_pink 1:53 pm
05 Aug 14
#4

Why do people $80K+ still steal stationary from work, is it entitlement, resentment, just because they can, greed, habit, bad day, stinginess,to sell, human frailty, mental illness? It may not really belong to us but how many of us are going to run that stapler back into work tomorrow?

davo101 4:12 pm
05 Aug 14
#5

mr_pink said :

how many of us are going to run that stapler back into work tomorrow?

If it’s a red Swingline then fat chance.

neanderthalsis 4:24 pm
05 Aug 14
#6

mr_pink said :

Why do people $80K+ still steal stationary from work, is it entitlement, resentment, just because they can, greed, habit, bad day, stinginess,to sell, human frailty, mental illness? It may not really belong to us but how many of us are going to run that stapler back into work tomorrow?

Does a 80K+ salary make a difference? Is it ok for someone on $79 500 to nick a few paperclips but not once you hit $80k?

Does that extend to stealing your employers time by posting on twatter, grumbler, failbook, RiotAct etc?

HiddenDragon 4:35 pm
05 Aug 14
#7

“They say, it’s not the crime it’s the cover-up.” – the essence of the Marcus Einfeld case, as I recall it.

If the Slipper case results in others acting more appropriately with public funds (rather than just being more artful in their ripoffs), it will have served a worthy broader purpose, as well.

Affirmative Action M 5:45 pm
05 Aug 14
#8

He’s certainly guilty of dishonesty but there are 2 issues here.

First of all there is not much difference between what he did & for example all the pollies that went over to India for a wedding with a well known WA mining magnate then when the Press started asking questions all decided they should repay the $$$.

Secondly every Government REFUSES to actually put in proper checks & balances. Pollies should have to put in claims to an independent party who would approve the claims or not. Under the current arrangements ANY claim a polly puts in gets paid regardless.

farnarkler 6:16 pm
05 Aug 14
#9

Have a read about the pleb who thought it was his right to spend public money on meals, etc, was sacked from the public service and then had the audacity to appeal his termination. It appears people who have access to public money for certain expenses think they can spend it on whatever they choose. Wrong.

MsCheeky 10:51 am
06 Aug 14
#10

In my former life, I worked in a number of ministerial offices for both coalition and labor ministers. I saw absolutely shocking things done with public money and tawdry behaviour in getting access to that money. This was from people earning ministerial incomes of $200k plus and their grubby staff and relatives. But to restore my faith, they were in the minority and most people were ethical and honest.

So the question posed by this article is why do people do small fraud and petty crime? I think in the Slipper case, it was simply an attitude of entitlement fostered by thinking that everyone was doing it. And obviously, lots of them are. Competing in a triathlon as parliamentary business anyone?

Why did the Bali nine risk their lives for a trip to Bali and a few thousand dollars? People believe they won’t get caught, and as many a judge has recognised, they are often more sorry that they got caught than remorseful for the crime committed. It’s hard to feel sorry for Slipper, though a part of me does, but I’ll bet there are a few clenched sphincters up on the hill now.

Masquara 6:59 pm
06 Aug 14
#11

Affirmative Action Man said :

First of all there is not much difference between what he did & for example all the pollies that went over to India for a wedding with a well known WA mining magnate then when the Press started asking questions all decided they should repay the $$$.

There is a difference, actually. They went to attend that wedding for diplomatic/networking/trade purposes. Would you be happy to spend your private money flying off to a party you would never have been invited to privately? Quite different from the Slipper case.

Dawalt 9:18 pm
06 Aug 14
#12

“Why do people $80K+ still steal stationary from work, is it entitlement, resentment, just because they can, greed, habit, bad day, stinginess,to sell, human frailty, mental illness? It may not really belong to us but how many of us are going to run that stapler back into work tomorrow?”
Let me tell you why, when the boss comes in big noting himself on having spent $6 thousand for his sons mountain bike, and then complains when the factory staff need tools, so as to make a profit for the company that’s why. Let me add that I mostly would take an employers side in most disputes, he is usually the one paying for your employment.
What amazes me is how good old Slippery Pete just thought this would all evaporate like last nights drinks. How wrong was he.
Al Capone believed he was invincible too, lousy tax department nailed him in the end. Karma a real bitch at times.

dungfungus 9:29 pm
06 Aug 14
#13

neanderthalsis said :

davo101 said :

But Peter Slipper was the Speaker in Australia’s Federal Parliament.

At the time of the offences he was still a Liberal backbencher. As to why he would “risk it all” I’d say it was because he’d allegedly been doing it for years and getting away with it. So long as he wasn’t causing anyone grief they were all happy to look the other way. While he was still a Liberal it was all fair and reasonable, but once he turned the gloves were off.

Sounds rather like the treatment Mal Colston received after leaving Labor. it was only his revelation that he had terminal cancer that prevented the charges being pursued.

Labor had an each way bet with Craig Thomson. They expelled him from the party but still supported him while he lied and drew his substantial salary.
That’s like that “drink you have when your not having a drink”.

JC 11:26 pm
06 Aug 14
#14

Masquara said :

Affirmative Action Man said :

First of all there is not much difference between what he did & for example all the pollies that went over to India for a wedding with a well known WA mining magnate then when the Press started asking questions all decided they should repay the $$$.

There is a difference, actually. They went to attend that wedding for diplomatic/networking/trade purposes. Would you be happy to spend your private money flying off to a party you would never have been invited to privately? Quite different from the Slipper case.

Actually that wasn’t quite the case. The main purpose of the trip was a private wedding, they ‘apparently’ attended meetings on the side as justification of public funds. Subtle but important point.

Next your going to tell me the WA pollie who travelled to QLD to have a meeting with a party whip was also justified and it wasn’t really just so he could take care of some private business.

JC 11:28 pm
06 Aug 14
#15

The trouble I have with the slipper case is the cost of brining him to ‘justice’, when there are plenty of other examples of where administrative rather than legal action has resolved the issue. The whole process is quite clearly payback rather than any genuine concern to his wrong doing. Now all we need is a inquiry into the Liberal party involvement in the Ashby case and the roll Mal Brough played in that one.

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