I agree wholeheartedly with the first part of Imre Salusinzky’s commentary on the David Campbell matter in The Australian:
…this is not a good moment for the media coverage of Macquarie Street either.
What was the public interest in putting to air last night the story of Campbell’s visit to a gay sex club?
It did not involve his ministerial responsibilities and no misbehaviour is alleged to have occurred in parliament or in any government office.
The Seven Network report made much of Campbell’s use of his official car, but ministers have full private use of their cars.
If Campbell’s use of his car was a grounds for resignation, every NSW minister, along with Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell, should be called upon to quit.
Damn right. That this has been turned into a major story and Campbell has been forced to resign for this (rather than any incompetence in running the NSW transport system, which I’d have thought was his main offence against the public) is indeed an utter disgrace. One day after Jason Akermanis revealed how far the football world was from growing up over people being gay, the national media show they’ve got a long way to go, too.
Including Imre, who completely undermines his excellent points above by concluding:
None of that should diminish either the scale of this disaster for NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, or the degree of Campbell’s misjudgment and stupidity…
What on earth was Campbell thinking when he placed himself in a position where he could be compromised and bring the government into further disrepute? Labor’s attempt to use Keneally’s freshness and appeal to draw a line between its present and its past has just collapsed.
If it has “collapsed”, it’s because they’ve caved like the wusses they are. They should’ve said “so what?” about this thing for all the reasons Imre cited at first. A modern, progressive, fresh NSW government wouldn’t have been phased by a minister coming out of the closet. It’s not like divorces automatically destroy ministers; why should “leading a gay double life”?
The real issues for voters are: how badly has Labor run the state, how badly has Campbell run the transport portfolio? Not “what have its ministers been doing privately in their own time?” (And, if they’re going to abandon Labor – as they probably should – are they sure they want to traipse over to the Liberals?)
UPDATE: Bernard Keane makes a good point in Crikey as to how revelations like this actually harm “the public interest”:
But making politicians and their families fair game will further drain the gene pool of state politics. Now it’s clear to anyone interested in public office that once they pursue it, anything other heterosexual monogamy (and no photos, either, please) could end up leading the evening news bulletins or dominating a front page. Reckon that will encourage more people to run for office?
Then again, the media benefits both ways. The worse the politicians, the more they can whinge about their incompetence.
It’s not merely unrelated to the public interest, it’s directly contrary to it.