Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stabbed in the BackBench

This is a pretty remarkable story from Tyron Butson in the Inner West Courier:
Full story here
As if those opening 3 paragraphs weren't enough, we had direct quotes from 2 named MLAs:
It's just extraordinary.

How did these MLA's ever think this was a good idea? It is a clear threat to the Premier, conducted through the media, that he had better start promoting people or else they're going to quit.

That's without even considering whether promoting these backbenchers would be appropriate. Many of the present cabinet members knocked around in opposition for a long time, and whether or not they are "right" for the job I think they are entitled to feel like they're finally "getting their go".

But that's not even the point. If you are of the view that you deserve a promotion, you have a quiet word to the people who decide these things. If that doesn't work, you go about proving that you deserve it.

If that doesn't work, you keep your head down and back someone else when they challenge for the leadership. Or you wait around for whoever it is that doesn't like you to moves on.

That can take years. But to launch an assault through your local newspaper strikes me as more than just arrogant - it's plain dumb.

Did these guys think that O'Farrell would now be intimidated into giving them a gig? Or that he would overlook their obvious inability to be a team player?

As it happens, when Heath Aston (writing for the SMH) followed up the story the next day, there had been two thoroughly unsurprising developments:

Full story here
No doubt he got his torn a new one by someone on behalf of the Premier (or perhaps even by the Premier himself) and was forced to release a grovelling statement taking it all back. Looking at the wording, I wouldn't be surprised if someone in the Premier's officer was even kind enough to draft it for him.

This was always going to be a problem for O'Farrell. He has a lot of people who spent a long, long time in opposition paying their dues. He has a lot of young MLA's who are impatient for their time in the sun. He has far too many backbenchers, meaning that he doesn't have enough titles, committees and positions of importance to keep all the egos satisfied.

But I think he may have hoped that those backbenchers would have a little more sense than to go about things in this fashion.

Will there be more grumbling like this? For sure. But will there be any MLA's dumb enough to put their name to it again? I doubt it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice story and commentary.

    One of the things I've liked about the US political system over our Westminster system is how their legislators are elected to represent their constituents and doing that well is what they aspire to do the most. Yet over here, most MPs aspire to cabinet positions (or their shadow positions in opposition).

    Years ago when I lived in the federal seat of Mitchell, there was talk of replacing the local Liberal MP, Alan Cadman, as he had basically been a fulltime backbencher since being elected in 1974 (the same year as John Howard). He was "deadwood", getting in the way of generational change, presumably for someone who could one day get into the cabinet.

    And yet he was a fantastic local MP (and I say that as someone who disagreed with him ideologically on almost everything). The one time I wrote him a letter, as an inexperienced 19 year old complaining about the federal budget, he invited me to go to his office to meet with him about the issue.

    He didn't aspire to be in the cabinet, he aspired to be a good local MP. Yet unfortunately, most MPs have this the other way around.