Victorian Minister for Mistakes, Monica Gould, has recently been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons (again) after her staffer, David Henderson, reportedly encouraged university students to take ecstasy while he was running for student council. But there’s more to the story, as our Labor Insider tells.

This is yet another catastrophe from a Minister who was demoted from Industrial Relations a few months ago to an area where most thought she could do little damage – Youth – and assisting in Education.

Methinks Monica should be pondering a career change after the election, if the grin today on Theo Theophanous’ face is any guide. I thought it was the recent imprisonment of his odious and political rival brother that had prompted his joy until someone explained that the knives are being sharpened in Treachery Place, waiting for the election to purge Monica Messupski.

She’s going down faster than that other Monica.

As Industrial Relations Minister, Gould was responsible for a farce beyond belief involving a Japanese company desperate to invest in Melbourne who was confronted by a very nasty and long demarcation dispute between Monica’s old union, the National Union of Workers, and the AMWU, headed by bad boy Craig Johnston.

Her general buffoonery forced the Premier’s Chief of Staff Tim Pallas into being de facto IR Minister in addition to his day job. This led to more than a few resentments. As a result, Tim thought it not unreasonable to actually get sworn in as the real Minister. He put up his hand for the newly created seat of Kororoit.

Sadly for him, not even his boss supported him against Police Minister Andre Haermeyer who was keen to show off his marginal seat campaigning expertise by claiming the 20% safe seat all for himself.

Clearly the cause of all the trouble, David Henderson and his mates don’t think much of the Government’s spin doctoring because he called them into battle today. Mr Henderson’s Labor mates from University flying to his rescue while both happily sucking on the taxpayer teat.

On Wednesday’s The Age Your Say page, two individuals made comments that they knew Mr Henderson well and could vouch for his integrity.

One, Ms Sarah McCusker, declared that:

“As someone who also ran in the 1998 Melbourne University student elections, with a working knowledge of both the uni processes and the political views of David Henderson, I am absolutely appalled that anybody should be calling for his resignation…”

On the University of Melbourne website Ms McCusker boasts of working for the French and Italian Studies Department of the University, working Mondays and Wednesdays. This no doubt affords her sufficient time to surf the web for derogatory references to her comrades and to craft responses for them.

Another, even more amusing, Mr Aaron Hart wrote along these lines making us think they were class-mates and that Aaron is a lovely young man just passing comment…

“I have had a number of classes at Melbourne Uni with David Henderson. He is empathetic, intelligent and witty and has a real concern for and experience of the difficulties faced by young people today. By my estimation, with his experience working for Melbourne University Student Union and the National Union of Students, he is a prudent selection for the position of youth advisor. Life as a student can be financially, socially and emotionally tumultuous. “Those who make the most of it succeed with an open mind and an air of invincibility and righteousness. These people infuse student politics with its sometimes radical and subversive (or laconic) positions, which can feel liberating. These positions are often irresponsible and unrealistic, but they provide a dynamic and robust debate sadly lacking in more mainstream political spheres. “If every idealistic young political aspirant were to censure their views on campus to correlate with their potentially more considered and conservative views in the workforce, student politics would surely lose its verve. I hope sanity prevails and David is able to continue serving the young people of Victoria.”

In fact, Mr Aaron Hart is a paid political staffer, working for the probable oncer Member for Gisborne, Joanne Duncan.

He is of course a close political ally of Henderson’s and encouraged him to apply for the job in the first place. It’s enough to give taxpayers a warm inner glow knowing that Aaron and Sarah, were comfortably sitting behind their desks trying to come up with some spin to get their political mentor, David Henderson out of trouble with this front page fiasco.

Word is Henderson is definitely staying put with all concerned saying it’s a one-day wonder and his resignation making it a bigger story than it really is. The only real casualty will be Monica at the first caucus meeting after the unlosable state election later this year.

Peter Fray

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