On squirrel grips, chair sniffing and bra strap snaps

The case of former Western Australian Treasurer (and prior to that, Opposition Leader) Troy Buswell is indeed a strange one. Following on from revelations that misused taxpayer funds during a rather intimate coalition with Greens member Adele Carles, Buswell announced his resignation from Treasury today, but apparently intends to continue on as the State Member for Vasse. I am not sure it is really in his interests, or indeed the interests of his party or his state for him to do so. Now that his public image has been completely trashed by the media, and his history of curious indiscretions laid bare for all to snap-judge, it is difficult to see his political career continuing much further.

Generally speaking, I am of the view that the private lives of politicians should remain just that – private. In the modern media environment, however, this is more of an idealistic view than a realistic one. Considering the litany of absurd behaviours that various politicians of differing political stripes have involved themselves in over recent years, one does wonder just why some continue to transgress. Do they really think that their foolish behaviour can somehow remain secret, despite the tabloidification of the political media and the industry’s voracious appetite for scandal? Most members of parliament have toiled for years within their chosen political party in order to obtain their position, and once they get there, work like dogs in their parliamentary roles and in their local electorates. Why do some of them decide to do impulsive things to make it more likely that at some point, they will have to throw all that away?

What becomes of Adele Carles, Member for Fremantle for the Greens, may also prove instructive. Carles won her lower house seat from Labor after the Liberal Party elected not to field a candidate in a by-election held for Fremantle in May 2009. It remains to be seen how Greens supporters react to her sexual entanglement with Buswell, despite fellow WA Greens MP Giz Watson’s public assurances that the party is behind her. Perhaps some will be simply pleased that Carles managed to bring down Buswell, by any means necessary! More seriously, some locals and supporters will assuredly feel betrayed by what she has done, and how it has implicated her party in the kind of tabloid muck that major party politicians more frequently tend to find themselves in.

What is all this screwing around doing to our democracy?