Tuesday, April 17, 2012

David Gibson: Fast and Furious

Oh dear. David Gibson survived just two weeks as a Minister in the Newman Government in Queensland before his past caught up with him. There was a short meeting with Premier Newman, and the next we saw, Mr Gibson had announced his resignation from the Ministry via his Facebook page and Twitter account.

Reaction has ranged from disappointment to more disappointment, with just a short break for some pointless politicising from Annastacia Paluszczuk, the new leader of the Opposition, and a large slab of indifference from the public.

Having said that, we’re not all indifferent: some members of the public – those on the right hand side of politics who like to post comments on the News Limited Online websites – have tried to link Mr Gibson’s resignation to the yet-to-be-introduced Carbon Tax. Good luck to them. It’s reassuring to know that even while the LNP won Queensland by an embarrassing margin, it’s still Labor’s fault, and we can still blame the C-Tax.

I do feel a bit sorry for David Gibson; he seems like a decent guy. Having said that, he did the wrong thing. I’m a genius at doing the wrong the thing – not deliberately, of course. It’s just one of those natural talents that shines through. It doesn’t make it acceptable though, and when it’s a fine, you really really need to make sure you’ve paid it. If SPER gets involved, things get nasty, confusing and expensive, very quickly.

There is a bit of a feeling around that Premier Newman was too tough on what some see as a minor infringement. I disagree: this is not a minor infringement.
  • Strike 1 David Gibson was fined for speeding in mid 2011
  • Strike 2 The speeding fine wasn’t paid, and was referred to SPER
  • Strike 3 A second speeding fine was incurred in Feb, while driving without a licence
Now, the Courier Mail is reporting that senior police told Mr Gibson before Easter that there was an unpaid fine that he needed to deal with. There were at least five separate letters relating to the unpaid fine – and a warning from within his department - but by then, he had lost any ability to control the situation.

Is losing a senior ministry appropriate punishment for Mr Gibson’s behaviour? I believe it is. He didn’t break the law once; he broke it three times. He wasn’t in ignorance of the law; knowing and respecting the speed limit is a responsibility of holding a driving licence. He wasn’t ignorant of the fine; he admitted to having at least one of the letters from SPER.

More importantly, he was the Police Minister – the person with ultimate responsibility for the police force in Queensland, and for the performance and behaviour of police officers. He failed to live up to the standards that he expects of the people in his department, and that he expects from Queenslanders.

Now, Premier Newman has appointed Jack Dempsey, LNP Member for Gympie to the Police portfolio. It seems to be a popular choice. Mr Dempsey is also a former policemen, and with a name like his, I can’t wait to see the pugilistic puns.

Follow up on yesterday’s post Money’s Too Tight To Mention:

A few of you have tweeted and emailed to suggest that perhaps I was a bit too soft on Premier Newman, particularly given my open support for Anna Bligh’s team. Fair comment; there as a deliberate change of tone, and here’s why:

I live in Queensland. Three weeks ago, the LNP won the state election with a gobsmacking majority. Those of us who preferred the other side are disappointed, but I’m not like Tony Abbott. I don’t want to spend the next few years finding fault with everything the Newman Government says and does and contributing to the negativity that seems to surround us. As a Queensland resident, I want to see the Government make decisions that are right for Queensland.

The time will come when the Newman Government does something truly insane, something on the scale of the asset sell-off that signalled the end of Anna Bligh’s popularity. When that happens, I won’t hold back.

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