Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Flowering Discontent

This John Flowers saga keeps rolling on.

I wrote previously about the issue here and here.

The Man himself.  From the Telegraph
The Sydney Morning Herald has, so far, barely covered the issue.  The Telegraph, on the other hand, seems to be quite enjoying the chance to have a dig at the new kids in town.

On Monday the Tele published a long piece online about Flowers, essentially speculating that he suffered from agoraphobia.  The suggestion is not attributed, but I wonder whether it came from a source that was keen to "flush out" the true state of affairs, or was otehrwise keen to perpetuate the story.

A new story was published yesterday that explained that in fact he suffers from PTSD as a result of, amongst other things, seeing a teacher's hair set on fire and having his car rocked by students.

The interesting issue here, in my view, is the Coalition's failure to take control of the story and kill it.

This is the week that the new parliament is being opened, but instead Labor has been able distract Telegraph readers with this issue.

There was some discussion in yesterday's Telegraph article about how it is that Mr Flowers "could not go back to teaching" and that to do would have been medically unwise.

He goes on to say that teaching is different to dealing with parliament as he will be dealing with adults rather than children.

Clearly he has never seen question time in the Bearpit, but I suppose that is another issue.

The article goes on to say the following: "[Flowers] said a psychiatrist and doctor advised him to be medically retired and he has since received a "breakdown pension" involving him receiving compulsory superannuation payments he had made earlier as a teacher."

Prior to this article appearing it was my impression that Flowers was on some sort of disability pension, suggesting that he was medically unfit for work.

As I have said, I am no expert at Suerannuation, and I don't understand what "a "breakdown pension" involving him receiving compulsory superannuation payments" means.  No doubt 99% of the electorate doesn't either.

It may be that, as a result of his PTSD, he was simply given early access to his super.

On the other hand, he may have been in receipt of some centrelink type payment.

Either way, the issue is that the public have no information about what was actually going on, which means that Labor now has the opportunity to produce this.

The piece is a bit over the top in suggesting that "the fix was in" or that he is "unfit to sit in parliament". But nonetheless it is a piece that, in light of the Telegraph articles, has some traction.

The failure of the Telegraph article to fully explain what the true situation was may be more to do with the writer than the Liberal party.

But either way, this issue, which should have been stamped out before the election, is being allowed to fester.  Labor and the Tele (surprising bedfellows, to say the least) are controlling the narrative, and the narrative is damaging for the Liberal Party.

The Liberals are going to have to learn to deal with this stuff or else they are quickly going have the gloss taken off, and in a big way.

The new government's first "scandal".  Not a good reflection on them at a time when they should be winning plaudits for starting to fix stuff in NSW.

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