Our comments yesterday on the emergence of the professional political class across all the parties in the wake of former Wran government minister Rodney Cavalier’s speech to the NSW Fabian Society and ALP national secretary Tim Gartrell’s response .
It’s not just the bruvvers, we said. And Crikey subscribers agree. “Good piece to day on pre-selection. Of course it is the same in all parties. I think Mark Latham was the first pollie since federation to get up as leader of a major party mainly on the strength of someone important’s backing, in his case Whitlam, for whom he had been a staffer. With, I think, less than 10 years in parliament and a track record only as a staffer and former mayor, Latham typified the lack of career experience which characterizes so many staffers-turned-politicians today.”
Well, you could actually point to another failed leader – Alexander Downer – as the first staffer to make leader. He worked for Malcolm Fraser. Downer has at least been able to recover from his stumble to become our longest serving foreign minister, but it’s interesting to see Dennis Shanahan inThe Australiantoday talk about how he “[became] Opposition leader too early in his career”.
“What’s wrong with a Parliament full of former staffers,” a subscriber asks? “The lack of any real job experience. They’ve spent their days on the phone organising numbers, attending political functions and perhaps writing the odd media release.”
“Also they often have patchy education as they started in political offices early and did not have regular full-time or part-time tertiary attendance. For example, Anthony Roberts, NSW MP for Lane Cove, represents an electorate with a demographic which has many voters with postgraduate qualifications. However he himself never gained a University degree, in spite of many years of uni attendance. It doesn’t matter if his letters usually have spelling mistakes, because he used to work for John Howard and had enough people toadying up to the PM to pre-select the candidate they thought was the PM’s boy.” Meow!
And here’s a nice allusion: “The whole system is a giant Tupperware party – lots of pyramid selling where you support your mates and they go out and find voters for you or your current candidate who will in turn support you.” And we can feel a Crikey list coming on – former staffers who are now pollies. Send your nominations to [email protected].