If you need proof that some members of the government take voters as complete mugs it’s hard to go past this week. Obviously, 2018 has been a masterclass in the point but the week beginning the 17th of December ought to be remembered as particularly convincing.
Shall we begin with the leader of the National party, Michael McCormack? You might recall that he unexpectedly rose to the position off the back of a sex scandal in which the Australian public became far too familiar with the exploits of the former deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Despite believing that perhaps he could hold on, that an extramarital affair, a pregnancy and some blurred lines between his personal and professional life ought not compromise a politician whose platform was based firmly around traditional family values, eventually, he relented. Joyce resigned his position, went to the backbench, wrote a book no one read and subject us all to a television interview no one needed to see.
Now, you might think that given the grease that oiled his wheel of ascension, Joyce’s successor, McCormack, would be particularly alert to any whiff of scandal, particularly of a sexual nature. No sirree. Not Mr McCormack.
Further down the country, Andrew Broad, another Nationals MP who campaigned on a platform of traditional family values, who specifically called for Barnaby Joyce to step aside given his conduct, was indulging in a little digital tete-te on a website connecting young women with ‘sugar daddies’. Putting the personal hypocrisy of the married father to one side, the stupidity of what came next is breathtaking.
Broad and McCormack knew for some weeks that Broad’s extracurricular pursuits while on a work trip to Hong Kong were going to become public knowledge because the magazine, New Idea, that was planning to publish them informed them.
Sitting on a bombshell of this nature you might assume the sensible thing, perhaps even the only thing, to do would be to manage it quietly. To step aside. To do anything at all to avoid the government and an innocent family becoming embroiled in a salacious public scandal. Not the Nationals though!
They opted for another iteration from the Barnaby Joyce School of Issue Management: hold on for dear life and assume you’ll get away with it.
When you treat the voters as mugs it is easy, I suppose, to believe you can do what you like and get away with it. How else to explain why an MP like Broad would engage in the conduct he did on (some of) the taxpayer’s dime no less? How else to explain that McCormack expects the voters to believe he dealt with the matter ‘swiftly’ when the truth is he only declared Broad’s position to be untenable when his conduct became public knowledge?
But the absolute corker came when McCormack was asked whether these scandals indicate that his party had a problem with women. He answered – with a straight face – that it didn’t because “both women” in the federal party room, Michelle Landry and Bridget McKenzie, are ministers.
The Nationals have 22 MPs and senators in Federal Parliament. Two of them are women and they’re both ministers! A problem with women? No sirree!
When you count the fact that just this week a nationals staffer has been suspended ‘indefinitely’ for texting a female journalist, calling her a ‘c*&t’, a bi&ch and wishing her family gets painful cancer, the nationals party has had more scandals this year than it has actual women.
And we’re meant to believe it doesn’t have a problem?
When asked about these issues on Tuesday the deputy leader of the Liberal party, Josh Frydenberg, very optimistically told ABC radio that he thinks voters will “overlook” these problems and instead focus on the government’s economic management. It begs the question, to laugh or to cry?
Look I’m not so sure of this 🤔 https://t.co/0mrwREsI07
— Georgina Dent (@georgiedent) December 18, 2018
I’m going out on a limb here but I reckon it’s not too ambitious to believe that a government might be able to manage the economy and run the country without necessarily degrading, bullying and excluding women.
If 2018 hasn’t taught the Liberal party that it has an issue with women, what will?