State political reporter
Just hours after Premier Campbell Newman declared he wanted his former party room colleague Scott Driscoll out of Parliament, the member for Redcliffe defiantly took his place on the cross benches.
It was only his third appearance since March 27 and rounded out to about six the number of hours he has spent in Parliament since he was placed under investigation for his dealings with a lobby group, a community centre and his own words to the House.
Most people would be cowed; by the pressure, by the mutterings, by the weight of the allegations.
Not Scott Driscoll.
The man who slunk into Parliament under the cover of darkness on August 6 and September 10 for just an hour, resetting his absentee clock for another 21 days each time, strutted into the chamber on Wednesday, just moments before the day’s session was due to begin.
Mr Newman’s words, heavy with disgust for the man his party had preselected and nominated for Redcliffe before the 2012 election, had echoed across media outlets and social media just four hours earlier.
The Premier broke from parliamentary etiquette to say he hoped the Ethics Committee, currently investigating Mr Driscoll, expelled the member.
Ultimately, the Ethics Committee can only make recommendations. Mr Driscoll’s fate then, would lie in the hands of the Legislative Assembly. If found guilty of contempt of Parliament, Mr Driscoll could make history as the only sitting member of the Queensland Parliament, at least in modern memory, to be thrown out.
But Mr Driscoll plays the role of Damocles well.
His medical certificates have been accepted by the Speaker; he could, if he wished, not appear in Parliament until the 2014 sittings. Given the public condemnation, most would.
But not Scott Driscoll.
While the Speaker laid out recommended amendments to the parliamentary absentee rules, changes he had inspired, Mr Driscoll sat and played with his iPad.
While the Premier stood and gave a statement about turning Parliament gold in honour of a little boy gone too soon, who had asked for help in raising awareness about children’s cancers, Mr Driscoll turned to the member next to him and tried to engage in conversation.
As question time played out, Mr Driscoll stayed glued to his electronic devices and his conversations.
He knew eyes were on him. He ignored them all. But he noted them.
He acknowledged journalists tweeting about him in the gallery – pointing to the screen on his iPad, he then turned his attention to the media gallery.
The tweets, the only form of direct communication with the member who almost always refuses interviews and only occasionally sends out statements, became more bold, requesting interviews outside of Parliament.
Mr Driscoll, visible from the gallery, would occasionally smile, but he did not respond.
Instead, knowing that the media fanned out following question time, working together like a murder of crows to guard exits, Mr Driscoll remained in the chamber, slumped in his chair, playing with his devices.
As government staff and MPs enjoyed the spectacle of journalists lining the Speaker’s Green, balconies and escape routes, by posting photos and tweets, Mr Driscoll began a game.
He left the chamber, sparking a flurry of action, before walking back in and taking back his seat.
The media stood down and resumed waiting.
He stood and walked out of the chamber a second time, this time disappearing into a room not accessible by the media, and waited.
Most people not wishing to talk, but knowing they were being stalked by a media pack, would try and stay as invisible as possible.
Not Scott Driscoll.
Not a man who has an image of himself being interviewed by reporters as his social media background photo.
He began acknowledging the journalists he knew were outside waiting for him on Twitter. A favourite here, a follow there.
And then, as darkness fell and still the media awaited, at 6.15pm @scottdriscollau broke his silence with a churlish tweet, sending out the written equivalent of blowing a raspberry to those who had attempted to hold him to account.
“Congrats ABC’s @ChrisOBrien & @MelindaHowells who wrapped their exclusive approx 2.45pm but still enjoy hiding behind pot plants #qldpol”.
The ABC did not record their interview until 5.15pm.
As he has since February, when media articles began running questioning his dealings, Mr Driscoll denied any wrong doing.
But he sent a return volley to the premier through his ABC interview.
“I wouldn’t like to say he’s pre-empting anything quite frankly because the provisions are simply not there within the Parliament of Queensland Act and they’re not there within the provisions of the Ethics Committee,” he said.
“I’m not really sure what parallel universe Campbell’s been travelling on today. It probably makes more sense to him than anyone else, but so be it.”
And then he left, but not before letting the rest of the media knowing he had won.
But really, it appears the people of Redcliffe are the ones who have lost.