Call to be cool, calm, col­lected

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

PO­LIT­I­CAL par­ties ex­ist be­cause mem­bers have a com­mon vi­sion for their coun­try and, more of­ten than not, trust each other and share the same val­ues.

But that’s not al­ways the case, as we’ve seen in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion with One Na­tion over the past cou­ple of days. Just like your own fam­ily, when things go pear-shaped in a po­lit­i­cal fam­ily, it can of­ten re­sem­ble the af­ter­math of Christ­mas lunch af­ter too many opin­ions, not enough sleep and too much booze. When you want to get elected, or stay elected, so the say­ing goes, dis­unity is death.

Now at one level, this is just an­other po­lit­i­cal soap opera — a teary tiff be­tween a leader un­der pres­sure and a sub­or­di­nate who wants to be his own man. For what it’s worth, I think Han­son sup­port­ers will see in her emo­tional in­ter­view the gritty au­then­tic­ity that has given her such a strong fol­low­ing for many years. And Burston’s de­cent in­sis­tence that you can’t re­nege on a hand­shake deal has been badly un­der­mined by ap­par­ent de­vi­ous­ness and fibs about what he was told and when; all made worse by the Shoot­ers Party con­firm­ing on Fri­day that he made over­tures to de­fect, which he ear­lier de­nied.

At a deeper level, though, this is an­other episode in the tale of toxic egos that Aus­tralian pol­i­tics seems to have be­come. Whether that’s Pauline Han­son and Brian Burston about when One Na­tion had sec­ond thoughts about the cor­po­rate taxes and why; whether Michaelia Cash knew her of­fice tipped off the me­dia ahead of the po­lice raid on union of­fices or, for that mat­ter, the murky busi­ness of how Barn­aby Joyce has pub­licly han­dled his pri­vate life, and how the Prime Min­is­ter and his of­fice has treated his for­mer deputy (some­thing which still has quite a way to play out if even half of what is ru­moured turns out to be true).

Still, amid all the tut-tut­ting of the public, and the name-call­ing and the blame shift­ing of the politi­cians, just oc­ca­sion­ally peo­ple han­dle things well. I’ve never found Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt to be a volatile char­ac­ter and I can well un­der­stand why a dis­cus­sion with a re­mote area mayor about lo­cal health is­sues might turn feisty. Still, us­ing bad lan­guage against a grand­mother was never go­ing to turn out well, es­pe­cially for a male politi­cian.

But when tack­led about it in the par­lia­ment, in­stead of mak­ing ex­cuses or try­ing to say the La­bor Party was worse, Hunt sim­ply and calmly made a clean breast of it and apol­o­gised.

For my mind, that’s ex­actly what we need more of in public life at the mo­ment: less drama and more hu­mil­ity.

Pic­ture: AAP

One Na­tion leader Se­na­tor Pauline Han­son ar­rives at Par­lia­ment House on Thurs­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.