pollies sleeping on the job?

By Paul King


image by Taz etc

Although I would consider myself an excellent and dedicated worker, my employee file at my last job would not bear this out:

  • A file note for being twenty minutes late (I got a flat tire on my bike).
  • A verbal warning because I didn’t realise I had a shift.
  • A written warning for calling sick without a medical certificate (ironically, this was one of the few times where I actually was genuinely ill).

Under Crown’s harsh three strikes rule, I came very close to termination, but my absence didn’t really matter.

On the other hand, Mary Woolridge, minister for Women’s Affairs in the Baillieu government, is going to face some very sharp words after she went AWOL during a bill put forward by her own party.

As The Age reports, she was running late for parliament and got locked out — the vote failed.

It’s a federal-level problem as well.

This week Chief Opposition Whip, Warren Entsch, sent an email rebuking ministers for poor attendance, describing it as “totally unacceptable” (read it in PDF here).

Malcolm Turnbull leads the list with a claimed truancy rate of 14% on votes.

Last week I blogged about how Turnbull copped some criticism over his comments on the Liberal party’s climate change policy.

An editorial in The Australian called him treacherously disloyal, and now he’s being singled out in his own party.

So how has this played out in the media?

At The Age, Michelle Grattan writes that, although the ministers deserved a dressing-down, it was “dumb” for the Opposition Whip to send the message out to all ministers.

She says the “the outrage in the Turnbull camp is understandable and justified” and “inevitably, Abbott’s life with Turnbull is going to become harder.”

Turnbull came out in a scathing counter-attack, pointing out that he missed three, not five votes.

He says the letter was “effectively a press release”.

According to an interview with Entsch quoted in The Australian, Tony Abbott saw the letter and approved it — was that wise?

This morning, Tony told Sunrise that he stands behind the Whip, but we’ll have to see how the conflict plays out.

No doubt the media will keep an eye open for any further signs of conflict in the ranks.

I’m sure Turnbull missed those votes because he was stuck in traffic, not because he was lazy, hung-over or wasting time on Twitter.

We’ll never know.

Posted under: Media ethics
Dated: May 27 2011


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