Mark Vaile let a particularly intriguing cat out of the bag yesterday – “being a parent equips you far better than any other academic or professional qualification does in coming in to a position of making decisions in government that affects so many people”.

You read that right: according to the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, being a parent is the best qualification a political leader can have (comments he made in response to a Bulletin interview with Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard saying it would be impossible for a woman to be a top-ranking federal politician and care for children at the same time).

The Deputy PM didn’t provide the specific parenting skills required to be a successful political leader, so we can only assume they include:

  • Making wayward kids accept responsibility for their actions
  • Dealing with sibling rivalry
  • Making the kids clean up their own mess
  • Bribing the kids to make sure they eat their Wheaties
  • Dealing with bales of dirty laundry
  • Controlling tantrums when children don’t get what they want
  • Telling young Peter to get out of the driver’s seat
  • Giving Malcolm his Ritalin when things get frantic
  • Stopping Johnny from abusing the minority kids in the playground
  • Steering young Tony away from cults and towards abstinence
  • Stopping confused adolescents from dressing up in Mum’s fishnets

Actually, Mark Vaile is probably right. In politics, these leadership skills beat anything you can learn from some old politics degree or MBA.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey