Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just Answer the Question

I have been looking forward to the return of the Insiders so I can get my weekly fix of political analysis, debate and cartoons.

This morning’s program illustrated two classic examples of why we not only remain cynical about our politicians, but why this cynicism grows.

The first example concerned Tony Abbott.

It was revealed last week that at the end of an e-mail distributed to party members and others putting forward arguments against the Flood Levy, there was a request for donations to the Liberal Party inclusive of a link to allow easy facilitation of such donations.

Apparently and not altogether surprisingly, this is a standard request included on all e-mails.

The Leader of the Opposition has been criticised for being insensitive in that he had his signature on an e-mail requesting donations at a time when funds are being requested from the public to assist with the rebuilding of peoples’ lives after the devastation of the Queensland Floods.

The Prime Minister and Treasurer have had a field day calling the request ‘disgusting’ and politicking aside, the request for money to the Party was an unfortunate inclusion in the e-mail.

In the interview on Insiders, Tony Abbott was asked if he thought the Liberal Party was more deserving than the Queensland Floods appeal for funds at this time. Instead of plainly and unambiguously answering “no the Queensland Floods appeal is more deserving,” Abbott answered to the effect that everyone has the right to make up their own minds as to where monies are directed.

When pushed further on the matter, he said words to the effect that he would never discourage anyone from donating to the Floods Appeal but again added that it is an individual choice and he would also never discourage anyone from thinking a donation to the Party was also worthwhile.
You are on a hiding to nothing Mr Abbott. Surely at a personal level you believe the floods are a more worthy cause in the immediate term. In addition, at a political level this would surely be the correct answer also.

The second case involved the Education Minister in the New South Wales Government, Verity Firth whose husband Matthew Chesher was arrested last week for allegedly purchasing Ecstasy.
I don’t care about the private life and habits of a Politician’s spouse however the reality is, such an event is a news story and many people are interested.

I also do not think the Minister should have to conduct a press conference to answer questions about her husband however the fact is this is exactly what she was required to do. I guess there is some relevance in that he was once a ministerial staffer however he does not hold such a position at the moment.

Inevitably Verity Firth was asked if she had ever taken Ecstasy. She answered by saying she had “done nothing wrong”. When pushed, she repeated the same answer and when pushed further expanded the answer with “I have nothing to apologise about. My conscience is absolutely clear.”

By answering the question as she did, my, and perhaps most viewers would not unreasonably form the opinion that she had in fact taken the drug.
If you haven’t, say definitively that you haven’t, and if you have, say so.
A ‘yes’ answer would actually achieve more for your self image and even the honesty and integrity of your Government than the wishy washy rubbish you came out with.

And if the answer was to be yes, say so and then immediately ask the journalist of they have taken or used any illegal drugs and push them for an answer. After all, aren’t political journalist also public figures who help form opinion? If it is good enough to know about a Politician’s family’s private lives on the basis this might influence decisions they make and policies they develop, surely it would be fair to know about a Journalist family private life because this could influence the way a story is reported.

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