ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope has bowed to the inevitable and accepted the resignation of his graffiti-artist environment advisor, Aiden Bruford. But he continues to kick up a fuss over what should have been a cut-and-dried issue, claiming a “double standard ” operates for political types.

What has puzzled observers is that Stanhope didn’t see the political damage he was causing himself by backing his staffer – especially in the ACT, home to the country’s most educated and politically savvy electors.

Is Stanhope getting poor advice or is he just pig-headed? The staffer broke the law and, whether it was a minor infraction or not, he had to go. If Stanhope likes the poor bloke, he should have suspended him for six months – punishment which would have placated most electors – then quietly brought him back.

Even as he accepted Bruford’s resignation, the chief minister whined: “I just think there’s an enormous double standard operating here and I believe a compassionate caring society, good employers, should support people in circumstances such as this.”

Stanhope just doesn’t get it. This is one of those issues guaranteed to have extra impact in Canberra, where public servants are constantly reminded of codes of conduct. A big political mistake over such a seemingly trivial event.

Peter Fray

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