So here we are again: another humiliated politician, another embarrassed family, more sanctimonious journalists pruriently talking about sex scandals.
David Campbell is the fourth, at least lately. There was John Della Bosca, then Mike Rann, then Troy Buswell, now Campbell.
Throw in Pauline Hanson, for that matter. That’s five.
There was no public interest in the revelations about Della Bosca or Rann. News Ltd tried hard with Della Bosca, but any faint connection between Della Bosca’s relationship and his use of taxpayers’ money failed to withstand the slightest scrutiny. It turned out to be as solid as its case for running nude photos allegedly of Pauline Hanson.
There were suggestions Buswell has used taxpayers’ money in the course of his relationship with a Greens MP but that remains contested. And Campbell dismissed his driver and drove himself on his own personal business, which he’s permitted to do. Given there is no question about blackmail and Campbell has never made “family values” or sexuality a political issue, that’s the end of the story.
This whole line about such revelations being justified by the public interest in proper use of taxpayers’ money is garbage. It’s an excuse, and barely that, for exposing the private lives of politicians and humiliating them. The Seven Network and News Ltd (both of whom are members of the “Australia’s Right To Know” coalition) should just drop the pretence that this is about the public interest, and be honest: they just love humiliating politicians and reporting their sexual activities.
Whether these politicians showed good judgement or not in their personal relationships is irrelevant. And for that matter, as the Hanson photos business showed, there doesn’t even have to be an issue of personal judgement for the grossest embarrassment to be inflicted by the media.
And quite why Premier Keneally felt the need to criticise Campbell for his personal decision about whether to reveal his sexuality is a complete mystery. It’s none of her business any more than of ours, however often she felt the need to comment on his decision this morning.
There’ll be more of these. So far they’ve been at the state level but there’ll be a Federal one soon enough. Politicians are ordinary men and women and like journalists and the rest of us have relationships with work colleagues, act indiscreetly, behave with poor judgement and embarrass their loved ones. All that is now fodder for a media.
The really funny part is that we all spend our time bitching about what poor quality politicians we have, particularly at the state level. And it’s true – State politics is increasingly where parties put their no-hopers and time-servers, while the real action takes place in Canberra. The results in NSW have been plain to see. Campbell’s effort to drive himself to Kensington is about the only successful transport policy he’s implemented as Minister.
But making politicians and their families fair game will further drain the gene pool of state politics. Now it’s clear to anyone interested in public office that once they pursue it, anything other heterosexual monogamy (and no photos, either, please) could end up leading the evening news bulletins or dominating a front page. Reckon that will encourage more people to run for office?
Then again, the media benefits both ways. The worse the politicians, the more they can whinge about their incompetence.
It’s not merely unrelated to the public interest, it’s directly contrary to it.
And it’s an eloquent argument for a federal privacy law. Sorry, but sometimes we don’t have a “right to know.”