25 April 2009

Childish storm in the Facebook teacup?

| johnboy
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[First filed: April 24, 2009 @ 08:34]

Younger members of the Liberal Party have a near limitless ability to revolt the general public. (Although it should be noted that young members of the ALP can be equally grotty but the party generally keeps them out of the public eye more effectively.

In the most recent installment on this theme the Canberra Times’ Victor Violante appears to have kicked things off with a story about one Brett Chant, formerly of Steve Pratt’s office who stepped adroitly to into the employ of Jeremy Hanson.

At issue is comments made by Brett on Facebook:

    In one comment, Mr Chant said of newly elected Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury, who was the face of the party’s campaign, ”Do you think that Rat face Shane will be calling the shots in a coalition with Labor?

Jon Stanhope (who spent a great deal of time failing to sack a young staffer, by the name of Aidan Bruford, who made childish statements not on his own Facebook account, but in graffiti upon other people’s property which lead to a criminal conviction) is not above calling for the sacking of the foolish and humourless Brett.

At 6am this morning Zed Seselja’s office pushed out a statement on the matter from Jeremy Hanson:

    My position is that consequences for mistakes of judgement should be at an appropriate level. The actions in this case did not involve deliberate misleads, breaches of security or illegal behaviour.

    I believe that in this case, this young man deserves a second chance. However, I have made him aware that further lapses of this sort will not be acceptable.

    This decision was made in consultation with and agreement by the Leader of the Opposition, Zed Seselja.

So there you go. Brett will also be apologising for getting caught.

UPDATED: In relation to this on 666 this morning the Labor Senator Kate Lundy dropped a bombshell on Liberal Senator Gary Humphries. Senator Lundy was claiming Brett Chant was linked to a stupid and offensive spoof profile of the Deputy Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.

A great number of the claims made by Senator Lundy are in no way substantiated by the evidence available on the spoof profile. Senator Lundy also seems to have mistaken spoof-Katy’s “attendance” at a legitimate anti-labor “event” for October’s election as an indictment on every Liberal (or other person for that matter) ever invited to attend that “event”.

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I think it doesn’t matter who writes what, or says what. Childish behaviour grabs the attention – Labor or Liberal, voters don’t like it, and for good reason.

On the other hand, is there any point in expecting statesperson-like behaviour as a matter of course from politicians? Parliamentary conduct is simply a reflection of changes in standards of public and private conduct across society. in a world where Paris Hilton is considered newsworthy, Clive James’ vision of the future is here. If people can be famous just for being famous, the notion of earning public respect by behaving in a responsible manner is meaningless.

Bread and circuses.

Having thought about this episode some more, I am a confused Furry Jesus.

If the issue is the quality of the comments, then as I recall, when Mr Hargreaves insulted Mr Coe in the Assembly because of his age, there was complete silence from Mr Stanhope and Ms Gallagher.

Do the rules now work so that if one of Mr Coe’s staff had made insulting remarks about Mr Hargreave’s age on Facebook, then that would be a serious offence that would require their sacking?

But that if insulting comments are made in the Assembly then that’s okay?

Or is the situation more specific than that?

Is it fine and acceptable to insult young people because of their age?

It might be that I am just getting confused here, but there does seem to be some inconsistency.

Clown Killer10:45 pm 25 Apr 09

No wonder the Liberals went backwards in the last election despite the Stanhope govt being on the nose.

Steady Eddie, I suspect you’re logic is flawed. If the liberals went backwards then by definition the Labor party could not be on the nose. Under the ACT electoral system government is formed by the candidates who are most preferred by the electorate (a little wrangling with the loony greens aside).

Furry Jesus you are probably right.

I guess that if the comments were an incisive and reasoned critique of ALP health policy then there would be much less enthusiasm for drawing attention to them.

Steady Eddie3:42 pm 25 Apr 09

No wonder the Liberals went backwards in the last election despite the Stanhope govt being on the nose.

I’m sure the quality of the writing is a hidden factor in this. What if it had been at a standard equivalent to some of our better journalists instead of the ‘poo-poo you’re a wee-head’ standard he thought was so incredibly funny? we might be seeing a different story and perhaps no news at all.

Woody Mann-Caruso2:04 pm 25 Apr 09

You’re blonde and stupid and have a vagina and cooties so there and John Howard could kick your dad’s bottom he’s so dreamy.

Where’s my Liberal staffer pay cheque? Where’s my applause for upholding democracy?

I am concerned about what is starting to look like an ongoing witch hunt for people who make comments in public debate.

This could be a problem for politicians staffers but mostly because it might confuse the message rather than because it is in itself some outrageous heinous crime.

I think that Canberra needs robust debate and respect for the role of robust debate in a democracy.

That means respect for the right of people to say things that politicians don’t like being said. I think that citizens have a responsibility to say what they believe and to voice their concerns in a democracy. And that right must be respected by politicians, Otherwise demoacracies don’t work.

So, I think that Canberra needs people willing to speak out, and respect for that right to speak out, much more than it needs people who have been intimidated into shutting up.

And what do Stanhope and all the others involved in this saga think of Alfred Deakin?

According to Wikipedia, Alfred Deakin “wrote anonymous political commentaries for the London Morning Post even while he was prime minister”.

(I think Wikipedia is accurate on this. I think this is general knowledge for those who have had a passing interest in Australian history.)

Nevertheless, again according to Wikipedia, “Alfred Deakin was almost universally liked, admired and respected by his contemporaries”.

Does anyone think that any of the current players in this saga are in line to be accorded the same respect and standing in Australian history as Alfred Deakin.

Should Alfred Deakin have been rooted out and hung?

I think that if politicians don’t like what’s being said about them, then the best response is reasoned argument, or even better, obvious performance.

Nothing makes me shudder more than those two seemingly innocuous words “young” and “liberal” put together.

Gungahlin Al10:08 am 25 Apr 09

Any time there’s an outing of this sort of stupidity, there’s always the risk that it just gets people digging and digging for more.

And so it seems with coverage in CT today about anonymous postings on RA (possibly as alluded to by Jakez?). Staffers in Gary Humphries’ office this time it appears. His Chief of Staff Louise de Domenico has left “to pursue a career outside politics”, and Gary is vigorously claiming it had nothing to do with RA posts.

And that was always on the cards after Gary went hunting for the guy on Kate Lundy’s staff for writing (NOT anonymously) to CT Letters pages on matters political.

Gary has apparently thought since then to ask all his staff whether any of them have been posting on websites, and apparently was assured by all that they had NOT. Guess this is something only the RA overlords could confirm from RA’s perspective. But perhaps such a staff grilling would have been smarter to do before launching onto Lundy’s staff?

Meetings sound dreadfully organised for those with the anarchist bent …. I must confess to being somewhat disappointed!

I think an “All of the above” option was necessary for that poll.

C’mon Jakez, it’s hard enough being an anarchist without you coming along to the meetings to annoy us.

Rat face?

Jesus Christ, you can’t do anything these days.

Now I’ve expended many a post on the stupidity of the faceless Liberals who use obscure usernames to propogate foolishness on this website, so please do not accuse me of any partisanship when I say that both of the ‘incidents’ in this topic are not even worth reporting on, let alone sacking/media releases/blasts from Kate Lundy.

Party politics is a joke. No wonder I’m on the cusp of becoming an anarchist.

Freedom of speech, and freedom to make rude satire over self-righteous drudges, please, any day!

This Facebook prank has all the wit and creativity of something thrown together at a 10 year olds sleepover after too many hot chocolates.

If this is the best a political staffer can come up with we are in more peril than I had thought.

Tetranitrate7:10 pm 24 Apr 09

This is why Rudd’s office doesn’t let staffers have facebook profiles.
Last year’s prez of the ANU students association managed to land a job there, and had to delete hers as part of the deal.

Funny funny kids games. I bet these people think they’re important but they really are in the little leagues working for a local councillor.

I suppose at least when they are screwing around with each other’s Facebook, they are not bungling something important.

Damn, because I thought someone thought the same way I do about Stanhope! 😉

I do Mr Evil!

Do they all really think they are helping either their bosses or their party by doing this sort of stuff?

Geez – and these people are advising our Ministers….

I would hazard a guess that people have been fancying themselves to be witty and clever with that particular jibe since the day Shane Rattenbury first set foot in kindergarten. He probably humours them … a lot.

; )

RayP said :

So, I was not intending to insult Stanhope in the way that you are suggesting.

Damn, because I thought someone thought the same way I do about Stanhope! 😉

Mr Evil,

I would say that Rattenbury seems to be strong enough to take care of himself, that robust debate is important in a democracy, that it’s important to focus on real issues and that insults don’t play a positive role in robust debate.

So, I was not intending to insult Stanhope in the way that you are suggesting.

RayP, are you saying that Stanhope is a petty little man, with a vindictive streak?

Im confused too. How does this process work? John Stanhope wants a Liberal staffer sacked, in part, because of comments he made about Shane Rattenbury.

But there doesn’t seem to be any similar call by Shane Rattenbury. I doubt whether Rattenbury would feel the need to be protected by Stanhope. Rattenbury doesn’t seem to be a thin skinned politician who would be deeply hurt by comments on Facebook.

My guess is that Rattenbury would also recognise that as an elected representative, what role he plays in a coalition or otherwise in the Assembly are legitimate matters for public comment and disussion in a democracy.

Rattenbury has put out a press release today that’s on the Green’s web site. It’s on a seminar on Canberra Airport’s plans and noise curfews. This looks to me like a focus on important issues.

It would be good, though, if people did not use terms like “Rat face” in public debate.

Relieved to hear that, bubzie. I thought it was just me.

….Im confused.

There appears to be a lot of seriously under-employed political staffers around.

chewy14 said :

Those facebook insults must really cut deep.
Obviously our leaders have no more important things to do.
Surely there is some public art that need putting up somewhere.

Maybe this is classed as public performance art?

I think it’s funny. It could be funnier, and it would be better if he had the help of a professional comedian, but it’s a good start.

Actually, it makes me think there would be a benefit in political parties actually employing comedians to do stuff like this, but do it a bit better than Aidan managed. A comedian employed by a party might not be as funny as an independent one (what with the limits to their material), but it would be a good start.

amarooresident211:19 am 24 Apr 09

They don’t learn do they. First rule for political staffers – DON’T WRITE ANYTHING DOWN!

That includes on the interwebs and walls for that matter.

Those facebook insults must really cut deep.
Obviously our leaders have no more important things to do.
Surely there is some public art that need putting up somewhere.

Maybe if they stopped surfing eachothers Facebook profiles they might get some work done for once.

Well there’s nothing I’ve seen to show Brett Chant was responsible for the fake Katy G profile, only that he at the least knows some fellow travellers.

Katy on 666 this morning claimed (let slip?) to have known about the spoof before this morning.

So Labor appears to be performing the payback promised after Kate Lundy’s staffer got the heave for his letter writing.

This Brett fella sounds like he needs to learn some hard lessons… and get his ass kicked by a few people. 🙂

What sort of twit would go to the effort of producing a fake FB profile like that!
Sounds like the perfect politician actually…

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