||Issue No. 333||17 November 2006|
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
Salty Sea Dog
Sometimes it pays just to keep your mouth shut.
So NSW Opposition Leader Peter Whatsisname must be thinking after turning a political free kick into a spectacular own goal.
Realising that he'd stuffed up in alleging a Labor minister, presumably John Watkins, was under investigation by the Police Integrity Commission, the Vice-Admiral from Vaucluse re-hashed allegations against Attorney-General, Bob Debus.
Only trouble was, his claims, made under parliamentary privelege, had been investigated and found to be spurious, three years earlier.
Debus challenged Debnam to take 15 paces outside of the chamber and repeat the claims without the protection from defamation afforded by the chamber.
But the only ones taking 15 paces were Debnam's colleagues, who were quickly backing away from their fairless leader.
Now the poor Opposition Leader, used to the camaraderie and fraternity of the military, must feel like he hasn't got a friend in the world - well, except for the David Penberthy.
So unless the NSW Liberal Party's campaign manager - the Daily Telegraph - can save him, the premier-in-waiting has become a lame duck.
And let's be honest, it was only a matter of time. Under the posh exterior, the guy's ignorance and shallowness was bound to show up sooner or later.
Debnam has shown himself to be a galoot and a dangerous one at that.
He famously said that as Premier he would direct police to arrest people of a certain ethnic background and "charge them with anything".
Such a policy would have gone down a treat in 1930s Germany, Mussolini's Italy or during one of the Russian pogroms but, thankfully, it failed to fly in modern Sydney.
Even the police had to come out and concede there was something called "evidence" that stopped them from charging people in the manner advocated.
Later, Debbers was asked on radio if he believed in the "separation of powers".
It's a fairly basic legal concept that defines the separation of the executive, judiciary and the legislature, to provide balance and ensure none of these three "arms" grows too much muscle.
Debnam asked the interviewer, "Which separation of powers are you talking about?"
The bemused announcer responded, "If you don't know then we have a problem."
Debnam's ignorance on basic legal principles is only matched by his lack of policies.
After the NSW Government released its State Plan earlier this week, 2GB's Philip Clark asked Debnam if the Opposition would release its plan.
Debnam replied, "No", but then revealed the Opposition had "sat down and said, 'Here's five or six things we're going to do' ... and that's what people want to see."
So what about his values, his core beliefs?
When doing a profile on Debnam, the Sydney Morning Herald's David Marr asked him to define the "strong" values he said he stood for.
The response came: "Yes. Me."
If only he kept his big mouth shut.
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