Call to be cool, calm, collected
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.
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson arrives at Parliament House on Thursday.