My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for Tuesday 24 July 2018

by ray goodlass

Elected men in high places behaving badly

The past week or so has seen an efflorescence of elected men holding high office behaving very badly, and all are worthy of comment.

Our very own MP for Wagga Wagga, Daryl Maguire is a good place to start. His gall really does beggar belief, though he’s not the only one. Having admitted to the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s (ICAC) findings as to his guilt and noting that he has broken the government’s Parliamentary Code of Conduct he had the gall to say that the did not need to resign his seat.

However, last Saturday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that Daryl Maguire will resign from NSW Parliament. In a press conference on Saturday afternoon, the Premier said Mr Maguire had confirmed his intention to resign.

“I can confirm that this morning I spoke to Mr Maguire, he advised me of his intention to resign from parliament before it resumes. I have also spoken to the Deputy Premier this morning, we both agree there will be a by-election in the seat of Wagga. That there will not be a three-cornered contest.

Let’s hope one of the major campaign issues in the by-election will be the need to clean up politics, including donations, bribes and pay backs. That’s not a call for a populist independent such as Pauline Hanson or Donald Trump, for both have shown a remarkable propensity to twist the truth out of all recognition.

And speaking of President Trump, he’s recently had a field day of distorting reality to suit his own over-inflated ego. He began by rubbishing the G7 and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, crossed the Atlantic to rip into NATO, his supposed allies, and publicly trashed UK PM Theresa May and her Soft-Brexit plan to salvage something sensible out of Leave the EU vote.

However, it was his behaviour post his much-ballyhooed summit with Russian President Putin that really takes the cake. During the Helsinki press conference with Putin his sycophantic performance was a new low, even for him. Various American commentators, many of them high-ranking Republicans, found his statements, including the ones where he denied Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election, to be treasonous.

Since then of course he has been frantically back peddling, denying many of his Helsinki statements or claiming that he miss-spoke. Either way it seems clear that as well as being a bombastic self-opiniated liar President Trump is also something of a coward, afraid to speak in opposition to Putin and equally afraid of Fox News when he gets home.

Speaking to the news brings me to my final example of elected men in high places behaving badly. In an exercise of rank opportunist dog-whistle racist politics Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week blamed the victim of a white supremacist attack. A Sudanese-born Australian was beaten to death in Melbourne by a white man who was “going to take the town back”.

Mr Turnbull’s contribution was a masterly exercise in victim blaming, for he said that Sudanese gangs are a ‘real concern’ in Melbourne (ABC TV News).

This earned an immediate and appropriate riposte from Adam Bandt, Greens MP for Melbourne, who quite rightly said “The Liberal response? Africans were having trouble ‘integrating’. There’s no room for race-baiting in Melbourne, Turnbull. It’s literally a matter of life and death”. Quite.

Mr Turnbull elaborated by saying you would “have to be walking around with your hands over your ears” not to hear the “real concerns” about Sudanese gangs in Melbourne.

But he dismissed a claim that comments from federal politicians had contributed to an increase in the number of reports about racial discrimination.

Even so, earlier this year, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton stoked controversy when he said some people in Melbourne were afraid to go out to dinner at night because of gang violence.

The comments prompted a storm of comments on social media, accusing Mr Dutton of fuelling race hatred.

Victoria’s Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kristen Hilton last Monday said racially-divisive statements about the African-Australian community had contributed to a 34 per cent increase in the number of reports of racial discrimination over the past financial year.