Monday, October 29, 2012

Sign Here

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to place your confidence, which causes to support, which religion to believe in, and which politicians to trust. Social Media has done a great thing by allowing us find like-minded people and get together with them on virtual platforms to fight mutual battles. The downside is the risk of getting carried away with the cause of the day.

KONY2012 feels like it was years ago. It was less than twelve months ago. Alan Jones’ comments about the women destroying the joint feel like the first chapter of a very long book we read years ago, yet it was two months ago. I remember whimpering and blogging about the new LNP Government in Queensland cutting the Premier’s Literary Prize, and hoping it wasn’t a harbinger of things to come. The passage of time seems to be filled with causes and battles and deciding right from wrong.

I have a feeling that the latest scandal to hit the Court of King Campbell won't be full of Foyle-esque twists and turns.

Seven months of life in the Cutback State suggest that dumping the Premier’s Literary Prize may have been for many, the high point of King Campbell’s Slice-and-Dice reign.

But what now? Somewhere around 24,000 public service jobs don’t exist anymore, and approaching 19,000 of those were held by women. Is this King Campbell’s way to ensure that there are no women left in public service positions to destroy his joint?

He should’ve looked inside his own palace on George Street. Ros Bates is the Newmanian Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts - none of which appear on King Campbell’s list of favourite things. In fact, they seem to rank only marginally above Things the ACL Doesn’t Like.

King Campbell probably isn’t all that fond of Ms Bates at the moment. Through Ms Bates’ family and business connections, trouble is approaching the George Street Palace like a political Frankenstorm.

Raise your hand if you were anywhere between annoyed and disgusted when Minister Bates’ son Ben Gommers was appointed to a departmental liaison role (Salary $103,000) within the Department of Transport, on a 12 month contract (during a hiring freeze) to a position for which he has inadequate experience.

Now, raise your hand if you were one of the wisely cynical who questioned King Campbell’s decision to appoint his old Brisbane City Council buddy Michael Caltabiano to the most senior position the Department of Transport. Director General Caltabiano has been stood down pending investigations, but he’s on full pay – approaching half a million dollars a year.

By now, we know that Mr Caltabiano and Mr Gommers worked together in a lobbying firm named Entree Vous , which sounds to me more like a bordello than something meant to represent the interests of business to the government. I guess there are different ways of interpreting who does what to whom for money…but we didn’t think of that when all this was happening a few months back. We were too busy being distracted by the sounds of many public servants shrieking “Nepotism”.
Mr Newman said families worked together in a lot of businesses and that was no conflict of interest.

"Let's be grown up about it," he told reporters at Nambour on Wednesday.

"That's not nepotism, that's just the way the world works.”
As for Entrée Vous, it’s now owned by Geoff Greene, a former LNP State Director. Surprise!

So what’s the problem here? A bunch of people who have known eachother for a while ended up in government, or working for the government together. Big deal, right?

Aside from the stunning displays of partiality involved in the hiring of Mr Caltabiano and Mr Gommers, King Campbell’s government has made it an offence to lie. Mr Caltabiano lied about having worked with Mr Gommers. I can’t wait to find out why he lied.

Where to now? We’re all going to the Ethics Committee, to see if anyone has acted unethically. 612 ABC’s Steve Austin interviewed the Chairman of the Ethics Committee last Friday, and a dodgier, more doubtful interviewee would be hard to find. Have a listen here – it’s fascinating radio both for the information about the hearing, and for the inaudible legal consideration and accompanying squiriming.

Don’t be holding your breath for a quick hearing, though: Ms Bates is on Sick Leave as the result of some shoulder surgery she had almost two months ago. She’s also spending time with her son Ben, the Liaison Officer, who is being treated for Depression. Mr Caltabiano is off work on full pay, and it’s a sitting week in Parliament. Key witnesses seem difficult to find.

As we wait for the official verdict from the Ethics Commission, we can all have our say on a variety of topics. We can vent on Facebook, we can tweet, we can blog, we can make use of the Comments section in the online versions of daily newspapers. The Newmanian Parliament may not have an Upper House, a functioning Opposition or a media with much access to the government, but you can always start a petition, as long as you can find a Member of the House to sponsor your petition.

And if your gripe isn’t with the Newman Government, what’s wrong with you?

Let’s try that again. If your gripe isn’t with the Newman Government, there are several Online petition sites where you can start your own petition.

That’s what student Nic Lochner did when he started the petition to convince Alan Jones’ advertisers to walk away from Mr Jones. With over 116,000 signatures, that petition has achieved it’s aims and more, and has now been closed. Nic achieved a lot with that petition – he’s opened up a long overdue debate on one of the most under-rated issues in our society – sexism and the treatment of women.

It intrigues me that we have so many options now in which to put our thoughts and beliefs out there, but rarely do we see a connection between the social media chatter and the ‘real world’, such as we’ve seen with Alan Jones. So far I haven’t heard a lot of chatter about the Ros Bates/Michael Caltabiano/Ben Gommers circus, but it will come. For now, we wait for the Ethics Committee.

1 comment:

  1. How much more do we tolerate before someone is clever enough to go to the governor and request action? And why have Campbell's actions NOT been officially regarded as discrimination against women, the elderly and those with disabilities!!