It’s soft-core smear, but smear all the same

If we needed any more proof that NSW Labor has struggled to take a trick over the past couple of years, the amazingly short tenure of Matt Brown as NSW Police Minister has provided it. Freshly minted Premier Nathan Rees had more than enough on his plate already (indeed – probably enough for a few lifetimes), and the last thing he needed was the silly and needless scandal that has erupted over the last few days.

Politics is a tough business, and I don’t think anybody reasonable would begrudge Matt Brown or any politician from letting off some steam from time to time. Unfortunately, we live in a political age when the media and political operatives (in this case, Imre Salusinszky from The Australian) across the country are remorselessly on the hunt for “news” that can be construed in any way as controversial. Brown should have been aware of this, and should have put his noggin to good use instead of acting the way that he allegedly did during his post-Budget party.

Rees, of course, made the right decision in presumably forcing Brown to resign from his post. One wonders whether the Premier should demand an even more stringent level of disclosure, given the abysmal track record NSW Labor has had with regards to resignations and embarrassing incidents over the past decade in power. Perhaps the new Premier should force any member of parliament who is implicated in a scandal that breaks before he hears about it to resign not only from any ministerial duties but from parliament altogether, forcing a by-election.

In New South Wales in particular, the Labor Party desperately needs a public image overhaul. It can simply not afford to endure any further absurd scandals of this nature; it’s time for the Premier to lay down the law to his colleagues.

9 thoughts on “It’s soft-core smear, but smear all the same

  1. Dancing around in your undies – if it wasn’t so serious……I don’t have the heart to finish that sentence.

    Knew it wouldn’t take long. There’s a faint glimmer that a new Premier might actually pull Labor out of the ditch it’s in, and along comes this. You would think after Troy Buswell in WA anyone with enough brains to be in cabinet would be incapable of this kind of clownish behaviour.

    At least Rees didn’t put up with it – that was a big part of Iemma’s problem. Carr would have hit the roof at this kind of stuff.

    But what bothers me also is that some Labor MPs seem to want to associate with right-wing commentators. What on earth is to be gained from that? They’re ideologues – no amount of wining and dining will stop them from sticking the boot into Labor at the first opportunity. I read the odd book by a right-winger – to see what they’re up to – but five minutes with a Tory is usually more than enough for me.

    Am I missing something?

    By the way, Guy: there’s an interesting Fabian Society thing on next week – think I’m gonna go down.

  2. I don’t really care if folks like Sartor or anybody else have lunch with right-wing columnists to chew the fat, but when it comes to party loyalty, there needs to be a line drawn. I have never understood why some folks who are elected representatives of their political parties feel the need to provide succour to their party’s natural enemies in the media. On some occasions it might be justified, if there really is a cover-up that deserves to be cast into the light, but when it just amounts to self-interested muck raking, it’s really quite sad.

    The NSW Government currently holds 57% of the lower house – not exactly what I would call a narrow majority. Of course the government is going to be severely under the pump at the next election, but I still think voters would respect the Premier if he showed a willingness to absolutely not tolerate any trash from his team.

  3. I’d never tell anyone who they can or can’t associate with. I just scratch my head as to why you’d want to. You could, say, do a backgrounder on Labor’s thinking on an issue to one of these characters, but would it result in more sympathetic coverage? You’ve got to be kidding. Why help the careers – even one inch – or puff up the ego of commentators who hate your side of politics? It’s pathetic. Libs wouldn’t dream of doing something similar. It has something to do with the lack of confidence that hit our side of politics from the late 70’s on. I sense that may be coming to an end.

    And true, there is a decent buffer. The huge urban triangle of Sydney-Newscastle-Woolongong is what makes NSW a Labor-leaning state. But don’t forget voluntary preferential voting at the state level – a real worry.

    The main thing is the Telegraph’s campaign against Labor that began shortly after Iemma took over. Once they have a target in their crosshairs, they rarely let go – and it infects the rest of the media. For instance, barely got any credit for his large injections into mental health, a huge thing for social justice, homelessness, saving lives.

  4. …and I left out an “l’ on Woollongong – sorry Woollongong. The results from my local council elections are pretty much unchanged. So there’s been no wholesale dumping of Labor in my neck of the woods.

  5. Personally I am quite amazed at just how lousy a run Rees is getting in the media. Most of the media seem determined not to give him a chance to show his mettle.

  6. Does the Nathan government have enough of a majority to weather such no confidence motions?

  7. I think it has enough of a majority in the lower house at least, but I am not sure it has enough of a majority in the house of public opinion to rise above all the negativity in the media.

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