Thursday, December 20, 2018

Two issues in the Andrew Broad affair

Australian politics has become so messy that it is hard to keep track, harder still to explain it to those outside the country.

In the midst of all the froth and bubble, it is worth remembering that Australian Governments still work. Pensions get paid, things get done, the machinery continues. Our elections are free and fair, with a highly professional electoral commission. Our judicial system remains independent, free and politically impartial. The Australian media remains free. Our economy is okay, at least for the moment. Our health system works, education is generally good, We remain a tolerant country, at least by global standards. Our volunteer system still works, with Australians prepared to muck in to help others.  .

These are not small things.I have to remind myself of this from time to time in the current deluge of publicity about personal improprieties, especially by politicians.

I suppose that I first came across the Sugar Baby website about twelve months ago through newspaper reports Crudely, it appears to be a site that puts older men in contact with younger women in return for sex for favours. Now that site has destroyed the career of an Australian politician.

Andrew Broad is the National Party for the Federal seat of Mallee and a political comer in the party, a future leader. Then he got caught up in Sugar Baby and found himself the subject of a story in the New Idea women's magazine. While it was a personal matter and something of a set-up, the political implications and repercussions were such that Mr Broad will not contest the election.

 We are living in a very charged atmosphere in Australia at the present time. I don't want to comment on these issues. Instead I want to make two very simple points.

Mr Board traded on a conservative family values approach. He was one of the first to put the boot in over Barnaby Joyce's affair and subsequent fall-out. If you are going to espouse those values, god help you if you then fall out.

The second is more important. The boasts he made, his big noting, displayed a monumental lack of discretion and judgement. The idea that you can use a site like Sugar Baby in an indiscreet way and not expect it to come out suggests a remarkable degree of naivety.

We live in a media-hyped world where the constant chatter and reporting has diminished the private space. I don't like it, but that is reality. Those who want to enter public life have to adjust. I thought, and this may be wrong, that it exposed a potential senior minister to possible blackmail from all sorts of possible sources.  .



Anonymous said...

Hi Jim

You make some good points later in your post. However I don't think it is fair to say that the website "Seeking Arrangements" or whatever it is contributed to his downfall. It was a vehicle, certainly, for his behaviours to come to light. I agree that you are going to come a cropper if you are a public figure who espouses family values and behave in a way which probably isn't particularly ideal for most families to maintain unity and happiness. Especially when you have been vociferously critical of colleagues who have had marital issues. Also a minor point, as I understand it, the young women who are "sugar babies" don't necessarily offer to exchange sex for money. It is company for money unless the woman decides differently.


2 tanners said...

He was convinced he had a job for life as some other commentary has made clear. The Nationals need to really worry about about the entitled good ole boys they select for theses super safe seats. Now that it is *possibly* in play they are asking can a a token woman save this situation?

For the record, I predict that the next Member for Mallee will be a National, although I suspect Broad has irreparably damaged the almost 20% margin by which he held it.

Anonymous said...

Give him a break - all he did was fail the "no dickheads" test.

Anyway, now I know why the only 'position' I ever see the Nats leader take is "hiding under my desk" :)


ps tanners: it's not only the Nats who have good ole boys.

2 tanners said...

@kvd, you are of course correct. Any party that puts good old boys, apparatchiks and machine men (and women) into positions as the default will end up with similar results (viz. Libs, Labor, Greens, Centre Alliance, PHON etc )

Jim Belshaw said...

In fairness to Mr Board, he had a reasonable track record before entering politics. it's not quite clear to me what is happening. I say this for several reasons.

All the parties have been tarnished by somewhat similar scandals. To what degree are we dealing with changing social attitudes, changing mechanisms, changes in individual values?

Take the Broad case. This required three things. It required the internet, a new trap. It required Mr Broad to be willing to be an active participant; this involved questions of morality and judgement. And it required a media outlet willing to run with the story.

The case took place against a background of changing attitudes including growing puritanism and censoriousness driven by our champions of morality. My primary concern, I guess, was the judgement question. I also dislike hypocrisy. Reading the threads, one very strong response has been the need for more women in politics, that women are more trustworthy than men. I struggle to see the connection.

Anonymous said...

Well by George, with Broad having retired hurt, I see we now have a new batsman taking his mark. Must say I don't like this pajama version of the game; much prefer The Tests - honorable struggle against insurmountable odds and all that, not to mention the sledging and the ball-tampering.

The National side is just not what it used to be.


Jim Belshaw said...

I did smile, kvd. That was clever