Monday, August 30, 2010

Libs' Bovver Boys Go Calling

Since the end of last week, the NSW Liberal Party's federal "bovver boys" - political bullies - have swung into action. At the end of last week it was Alby Schultz, Member for Hume. He reportedly ran Independents Tony Windsor & Rob Oakeshott.

One of his local newspapers, the Goulburn Post (25-Aug-2010) reported that he is ‘close friends with key independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott’, and that he would not be ‘weighing into negotiations unless he’s asked.’ He was quoted, saying “I thought it was absolute stupidity for the leader of the National Party to make comments seeking to influence or denigrate people about where they put their allegiances when we have a likely situation of a hung parliament and we are wanting to get into dialogue with them ... It shows a lack of political nous.

Yet last week, he rang Independents (Tony Windsor & Rob Oakeshott), accusing them of being “arrogant, naive and holding the country to ransom”; telling them they had to support the Coalition; and was reportedly so threatening to Tony Windsor that Mr Abbott had to later apologise to the Tamworth-based Independent MP.

It would seem that Mr Schultz possibly:
  • has been asked to become involved (unlikely, since Tony Abbott moved quickly to distance himself); or
  • simply tried his hand at political bullying, perhaps at the behest of his 'friend' Senator Bill Heffernan (If so, it was a failure);
  • misleads members of his electorate; and 
  • by his own words has "a lack of political nous"!
Today, Senator Bill Heffernan has been identified as the Liberal Party caller to Rob Oakeshott's home phone. It was answered by his wife, and Heffernan is reported to have said words like 'It's the devil calling'. He tried to explain it away by saying he thought it was one of Mr Oakeshott's children. If that's the case, it is disgraceful, and Tony Abbott should move to have him censured by Parliament, and by the Liberal Party. The current defense is that he does it to everyone he knows - I'm not sure he knows Rob Oakeshott's children that well!

Again, the motive was political bullying, and it appears to be not uncommon among Liberal Party members. Senator Heffernan was former PM, John Howard's, henchman in Parliament.

Both of these men are bullies. Both have behaved in a way that is inappropriate in any workplace. Politics should be no exception. Politiking is one thing, bullying must never be acceptable.

Parliamentary bullying ought to one item on the agenda for reform of Parliamentary processes.