In the PR world it’s often considered important to, from time to time, let slurs slide, because making a big deal out of them draws more attention to them.
A classic case study is now being constructed in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
For those who came in late:
1. Back in March Katy Gallagher announced a site for a “bush healing farm” essentially a drying out facility for the indigenous community.
2. Then at the end of May the Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson was able to compare an FOI release on the subject with an original and discover that in an objection to the siting of the facility neighbours had noted that they planned to sell wine, something the FOI censor had chosen to remove.
There are interminable arguments to be had as to whether this could be a legitimate exercise of the FOI guidelines, a politically sensitive interpretation of the guidelines, or simply following the guidelines to previously laid down sensitive interpretations.
3. Last week the Chief Executive of ACT Health Mark Cormack, perhaps unwisely, tried to demand the Liberals’ Jeremy Hanson retract his statement.
The ABC informs us that the Greens and Liberals have today started a privileges committee investigation into both Jeremy Hanson’s statements and the propriety of senior public servants issuing instructions to members of the Legislative Assembly.
At this point things seem to have turned ugly in the Legislative Assembly.
Zed Seselja is jumping up and down about Simon Corbell (elevated by Zed to the status of “factional warrior”) having a spray at the speaker of the Assembly, the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury.
- The Speaker formed the opinion based on standing orders to allow debate to proceed on the forming of a special Select Committee to investigate the possible breach of privilege.
“Mr Corbell went as far as saying the Speaker made his decision based on partisan views, not based on advice given to him as the Speaker.
“By dissenting against the Speaker’s decision, Mr Corbell accused the Speaker of bias and this is the most malicious and venomous attack a Member can make against the Speaker’s position.
Zed goes on to dare Simon to bring on a confidence motion in the speaker.
It gets better with Katy Gallagher getting on her high horse:
- “This is grubby politics from an arrogant, disrespectful and desperate Opposition who is so misguided it believes that sledging a public servant is a legitimate way to attack the Government,” Ms Gallagher said.
“Today’s motion by Liberal MLA Jeremy Hanson seeking to refer to the Privileges Committee an alleged breach by a senior ACT Health public servant simply for writing to Mr Hanson to correct the record, is disgraceful.”
We can only hope they all have something to eat and a nap over lunch and return in a better temper.
But some good may come out of it if the texta wielders now lean against applying the black lines so as to avoid this sort of mess.