Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What is a Real Job Even?

I sometimes wonder if politicians ever really listen to what they are saying.

Today Robertson spoke at the Police Association Conference.  First he said this:
And then 5 minutes later followed it up with this:
Thing is, the comment about having had a real job was a cheap shot, and one of the worst kinds.

To give you some context, this is O'Farrell's employment history:
Courtesy of Wikipedia
From the NSW Labor website
Now, who is Robertson to say that O'Farrell's employment is not a "real job"?  Moreover, who is he to say that it means O'Farrell is less fit to govern? That's clearly his implication - O'Farrell's history is deficient in some way that means he is not equipped for the role he fills, or is not equipped to truly understand what real workers (in this case police) want and need.

To me, a career in politics makes one ideally suited to his role.  What better preparation for the decisions he has to make as a Premier (priorities, budgets, infrastructure and the like) than years advising and assisting in those roles?

Robertson spent some of those working a tradie, and the rest mostly as a union official.  Now, tradies and union officials do important work, and I don't intend to disparage them - but how does that make Robertson BETTER equipped to be Premier?

Is it because he "better understands the needs of the common man"? What rubbish. Firstly, tradies and union officials earn a pretty decent income, and staffers generally don't, what with being public servants and all. Police (the audience in this case) are quite well paid.  They certainly deserve that pay - but I'd wager the average cop earns more than the average political staffer.

Staffers still ride public transport, go to hospitals, have kids that go to school, and live in the community. Their employment makes them just as well equipped as any other for a career in politics, if not more so.

My real problem with Robertson's comment is that it is just what he says he doesn't do - it's a cheap shot.  It's a fairly transparent attempt to make O'Farrell look elitist and to make the audience think "I'm better than him."

It's an particularly ridiculous thing to say when you consider that the "career politician" tag is one usually aimed at Labor politicians.  Traditionally, Liberal candidates came from the business sector, whilst Labor drew their candidates from the Union movement.

That's precisely what happened to Robertson: he was an organizer for the Electrical Trades Union, and then worked for the Labor Council of New South Wales. He became Secretary of Unions NSW and has held senior roles in the Labor party.

I'm not sure which of those jobs he would regard as being a "real job".

His comment wasn't the lynchpin of an election advertising campaign - it was just a throw-away line at a conference that no one would have heard if @KevinWIlde hadn't chosen to tweet it.

But it is sad example of the way that politicians (of both sides) use the elitist tag, explicitly or otherwise.

It's a cheap shot.  Nothing more, nothing less.

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