Saturday, June 20, 2009

Politicians, Children & Accountability

Wow - they say a week is a long time in politics. It's 2 weeks since I last posted and soooooo much has happened.

Just in the last week:
  • Former Federal (Coalition) Treasurer Peter Costello has indicated that he will not seek pre-selection for his Melbourne seat of Higgins at the next election. That event doubtless caused much joy and celebration for Malcolm Turnbull and his supporters; and doubtless Costello's supporters, largely the more extreme & right wing in the Liberal Party, felt a little flat. They have no viable right-wing leader. Parliamentarians of all sides played the game, and said nice things about Peter. Even he conceded it was almost a series of eulogies.

    It will be some little time before history settles on his real legacy: wannabe Prime Minister, with no guts to challenge John Howard; good/great Treasurer; Treasurer who could have done more in the good times.

  • Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young was asked to remove her 2yo daughter from the Senate during voting. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown, and Liberal Senator Sue Boyce have asked for the issue (of children in the Senate) to be debated "so the rules are clearer". Notwithstanding that there is available child-care provided at Parliament House, I think that there are times when outsiders are not appropriate in workplaces. Some people seem to equate "family-friendly workplace" with the ability to take children anywhere. Such a view is, I think, much too broad. Except for the need to breastfeed infants, I think outsiders, including toddlers and children ought not be present in Parliament, especially during House business, debates, votes & Parliamentary Inquiries.

  • During The Press Gallery Mid-Winter Ball in Canberra, Liberal Party adviser Anthony Scrinis allegedly grabbed the breasts of up to six women, and "lurched from woman to woman on the dance floor". He worked for Liberals' spokeswoman on Women's Issues Sophie Mirabella for less than a week, and has resigned. I guess most people would take "Issue" with his behaviour. He was also allegedly drunk. Who needs alcopops!? And how have the organizers and alcohol providers fulfilled their responsibilities for responsible service of alcohol? The answer, of course, is that they haven't. I hope we don't get to the stage of having "minders" for politicians' minders .. ooooh, my head hurts at the thought.

  • Opposition parties are always looking for blood, especially of a Prime Minister. And so PM Kevin Rudd finds himself at centre of a storm over allegedly misleading Parliament about his / his office's interference in a government OzCar vehicle financing scheme to help a car dealer obtain finance. The dealer, John Grant, previously donated a ute for Mr Rudd to use in his electorate. A request for assistance was allegedly sent from the Prime Minister's Office to a Treasury official. A picture of an alleged email appears in The Daily Telegraph today, allegedly from Andrew Charlton (senior economic adviser to Kevin Rudd) to Treasury official Godwin Grech. The image in The Daily Telegraph is, indeed a picture, and pictures can be doctored. The Government claims the email does not exist, and The Telegraph has not released the original to any other outlets. Treasury officials, including Godwin Grech and his boss have told a Senate Inquiry that they cannot find the email on any system. It would be expected to be still on a server, or backup. Even if an individual "deleted" it, that does not delete it from the server. THere might have been inappropriate advances, but in the absence of definitive proof - an original email extracted from the servers - it remains an allegation / suspicion.

    Kevin Rudd is not the first, nor will he be the last, PM to have allegedly misled Parliament. There were at least 2 allegations against John Howard: one over a meeting with the owner of Manildra ethanol producer (it later received Government funding) and the Trish Draper travel affair/rort.

Ahhh, politics, nothing changes, except the players. And they don't learning anything from their political forebears in terms of behaviour.