5 June 2009

From Federal Minister to the SLAPbench

When I decide who to slap in a week, it's a combination of who I think is worthy, and who has pushed a particular button in the back of my head (I'm kind of like a G.I. Joe figure that way - Matt Elsbury, now with Kung-Fu Slap Action!). A couple of personal irritations come to the fore as I announce the latest member of the League of the Handprint...

former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.

The Member for Hunter resigned from his ministerial post yesterday, perhaps as a butterfly effect from the swathe being cut through British cabinet at the moment (Communities Secretary Hazel Blears is the most recent to vanish in a flurry of dodgy expense claims, which included one UK parliamentarian claiming taxpayer money for moat cleaning. Yes, moat cleaning). More likely, it's been due to the recent scandals attached to his office... in one case literally, as his ministry digs were apparently the venue for discussions between Defence officials, US health company Humana, and the head of health fund NIB, who happens to be Joel's brother Mark. Ah, the joy of nepotism. An undeclared gift here, a pay glitch for soldiers there, and Fitzgibbon's position became untenable. However, according to Joel, the resignation was triggered by having "two or three Judas' in my midst".

Here's where it becomes about my more personal itches. Firstly, if anyone who betrays Joel is a "Judas", that makes Joel Jesus, and even with my non-religious nature, that gets irritating. It reminded me of a story a few months ago, where a primary school was taking a bit of a full-contact approach to child obesity by searching through kids' lunches, and removing items such as chocolate. A bit harsh, and possibly heading into privacy invasion, but when one parent described it as being "like Nazi Germany", that's more than a tad ridiculous. The Nazis didn't become history's greatest villains through their annexation of lunchboxes. The other aspect is that Joel seems annoyed that he was dobbed on. The problem is not that he accepted certain travel gifts without telling anyone, or housed a bit of career networking by his brother in his parliamentary office, it's that people found out. If "how dare you tell people what I've been doing" is his idea of a defence, the Defence Ministry is not his place.

As has been mentioned in the media, the title "Minister for Defence" has been something of an expensive albatross around the neck of political careers for the last decade, so there may have been a touch of pressure release combined with annoyance in Mr Fitzgibbon's minor tanty. However, for hype, whining, and making me have a point of agreement with the Liberal Party, it's time to table a familiar motion. All in favour?


Link - Fitzgibbon defenceless against 'Judas' staff

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