The desertion of Liberal (or LNP?) member Peter Slipper to take up the Speakership offers the Labor government a great opportunity, but also the temptation to mess things up disastrously. The opportunity is to see out a full Parliamentary term, long enough to put the carbon tax and MRRT in place in a way that the Opposition will either have to accept them, or announce a credible plan to replace them – something that is clearly beyond the capacity of its current leader.
The temptation is that the corrupt hacks who infest the ALP machine will use the extra vote to renege on the promise to Andrew Wilkie to tackle the scourge of poker machine gambling through precommitment. A large section of the ALP has been tied to the hotel and club industry since time immemorial and have obstructed any reform that would challenge the interests of this industry.
Even disregarding the issue of principle, it would be really stupid to break the deal with Wilkie. The government’s only chance is to survive past the point when the scare campaign about the carbon tax and MRRT will be shown up for what it is. If Wilkie abandons them and one ALP member has to leave Parliament for some reason, the government will fall. In that case, electoral support or opposition from the poker machine lobby will make no difference.