Wednesday, 25 June 2008

New South Wales Politics

From the Sydney Morning Herald :
NSW Liberal MP Ray Williams has been ejected from state parliament after bringing a stuffed-toy iguana into the lower house.

I'd give a pithy comment, if I could think of one.

For those foreign visitors not familiar with the issue, here's a summary.

There is a married couple who are politicians - Labor ones, the equivalent of the Democrats. The relatively sane one is at the state level, and was a senior member in the NSW government. The other is a member of the federal government. She's the one that goes around hitting people, making threats about getting them fired by using her political clout, and so on. He just drives drunk, repeatedly. Which is quite understandable, given the nature of the person he's married to.

The Iguana is a reference to the incidents at the Iguana club. I'll leave it to the Malaysian Star to be non-partisan about this. Sometimes being too close to an issue can spoil objectivity:
But an alleged altercation between the club staff members and Federal Labour MP Belinda Neal and her husband State Education Minister John Della Bosca caused two days of uproar in Federal Parliament, including an unsuccessful motion of dissent against Speaker Harry Jenkins for disallowing an Opposition question on the affair.

Out of the disarray and controversy arose claims and counter-claims of what really happened at the Iguana – allegations of bullying, intimidation and abuse of power, foul language and bad behaviour and, to top it all, accusations of Neal taunting a Liberal pregnant MP Sophie Mirabella that “evil thoughts” would make her unborn child “a demon”.

Initially, the beleaguered Neal denied the accusation. But a tape with her voice recorded at a seemingly innocuous committee debate last month was heard saying to Mirabella: “Your child will turn into a demon if you have such evil thoughts. You’ll make your child a demon. You’ll make your child a demon. Evil thoughts will make a child a demon.”

When Mirabella, who was expecting her first child within two weeks, asked Neal to withdraw her comment unreservedly, she denied making it. Instead she accused Mirabella, a tough debater in parliament, of having imagined hearing that statement.

The following day, however, Neal apologised, not directly, though. Nonetheless Mirabella took it as an admission that she had, in fact, made those offending remarks.

What made Neal taunt Mirabella is not known yet. Presumably, this will come out when the all-party parliamentary privileges committee questions her.
The whole sordid story of how this situation came about is told by Alan Ramsay at the SMH. It's just the usual smoke-filled backroom deal stuff, the cronyism and neopotism that is found in every nation in the world.
But most people have more sense that to go around kicking sports opponents when they're on the ground, or abusing power, or making outrageous remarks and then denying them - when they've been caught on tape. They don't break the 11th Commandment so egregiously. Not unless they've become drunk with power, and think they can get away with anything.

Some can of course. But they require a number of powerful people who depend on them for patronage, or even survival. Not just political survival, I mean "a la lanterne" should they lose grip on power. We're lucky here, where Plush Toys are used as political weapons, and not Machetes and Machine Guns.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good photograph!

I have been following the Belinda Neal saga as well. It will be interesting to see how it all ends up.