NowUC have got an article about Mark Latham’s claims about drug use, and even dealing, by the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
One thing I’ve noticed about Latham’s book is that he tends to see his own traits in others, to a degree that seriously distorts his judgment. But having worked full time in the Gallery for a few years, and with a few readers of this site who’ve been there and done that, I thought this was a subject worth visiting.
The first thing is that I’ve never seen illegal drugs in Parliament House. Not once. Sure, I didn’t go looking for them. I should also mention that as a long term Canberran (as opposed to those who’ve just been flown in to work in the Gallery) I don’t socialise with the rest of the Gallery as some do. It’s not that they aren’t nice enough people, I just have other places to be and things to do.
Certainly I have caught a whiff of green in Parliamentary corridors from time to time (very rarely) but never anywhere near the Gallery.
Do some yellow-passers (the colour given to the media) use drugs recreationally? I can think of a few. But compared to comparable groups of professionals it’s very, very few. The hacks like to party hard and you still see the odd pissed journo around the place at Melbourne Cup time, or maybe Christmas.
But spend some time around the boys and girls in financial services, or healthcare workers, if you want to see a real culture of drug use.
Now if a member of parliament asked me to procure drugs for them I might well make a call to a friend of a friend and set them up. I wouldn’t call that dealing, as much as pursuing a very interesting lead, myself.
Is there an issue with members of Parliament using substances they have legislated to make illegal? Ruining the lives of otherwise harmless drug users who don’t have the same connections to stay out of trouble, or the financial resources to support the habit without further criminality?
I rather think there is. I’m not sure that hounding parliamentary drug users out of office would result in better laws. On the other hand when faced with issues of moral complexity I prefer to fall back to the bedrock of honesty, but that’s just me. As it is I know no names to publish even if I wanted to.
Is there an issue with media engaging in drug hysteria before they drop some disco biscuits themselves and head out to a party?
There might be, but the Parliamentary Press Gallery doesn’t often engage in that sort of reportage. Something Mark Latham might have reflected on, as it he who brought these things to the public attention.
(on a semi-related side-note Julie Burchill in The Times has a scathing take on the Kate Moss hysteria)