One minister leaves, another returns

NSW’s Della Bosca resigns ministry over extramarital affair. From a private Tweet stream (with permission), so no link:

“Typically, Della Bosca quits over one of the least offensive things he’s ever done.”

Should a sexual infidelity, no matter how salacious, be something that makes a politician resign? Do we really care who John Della Bosca is bonking? Especially when he’s one of the few effective cabinet ministers the State has, even if his personality appears rather unlikeable? And do we really need to keep on hearing/reading the age of his lover in the news?

Tim Holding in the rescue helicopter

In far happier news, Victoria’s Tim Holding found after spending two nights in sub-zero conditions. The benefits of being well prepared for a snowy trek – he had rigged himself a shelter and got himself into a position to be spotted from the air once the weather had cleared, plus he had logged his walk in the National Park’s book kept for that purpose so that searchers had a general idea where to look.

Although investing a few hundred dollars in a personal rescue beacon, or using one of the hire plans for personal beacons available through many outdoor recreation stores and clubs, could have saved a lot of search time. I hope he takes one next time.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, media, Politics, Sociology


29 replies

  1. I wonder if Tim Holding’s realizes that his experience of freezing conditions is not dissimilar to that experienced by the many homeless in Victoria (who are generally less healthy than Holding and thus less able to resist the effects of the weather).
    Might this lead to improved social policy for homeless folk?
    Or am I being unreasonable optimistic?

  2. I had no idea he was so dishy. However, dishes are two a penny in this town, and our water policy is nothing short of disgraceful – I’m sure the stench has reached you over in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth etc. No attempt to address stormwater capture / tanks; Clear fell Logging in old growth forest in water catchments (and he’sre such a spiritual nature lover, right?) A surreal, positively insane water pipe from one stressed, water-hungry area to another; and a carbon=emitting, energy-crunching desalination plant (and a PPP to follow to privatise our water supply, if past performance of the Vic government is anything to go by.)
    Really, I thought the snow and blizzard-y conditions were the water trying to get its revenge.

  3. Yeah, I have difficulty with adultery being something to resign over for politicians.. and frankly if all Ministers had to tend a resignation over a period of general ‘slackness’ in their job – missing meetings, being slow about processing cabinets submissions etc, then we’d be seeing a big turn over.

  4. I should point out that the person I was referring to in the comment above Bluemilk’s was Holding, not DB. Because anyone who thinks DB is dishy is well, possessed of very specialised tastes.

  5. I’m no fan of Della Bosca, although my objections are more to his party politics than specifically his ministry – how could you tell what anyone was doing in the ocean of incompetence that is the NSW state government?
    But I think this is a positively ridiculous reason for resignation. So much so, that I smell a rat. Della Bosca has not resigned from parliament, and I can’t help feeling that he has chosen this step as part of a grander plan when Rees goes.
    Why yes, I am cynical.
    None of this takes anything away from the fact that the media have seized on all the moral panic factors and made a massive deal over something that has nothing to do with his ability to do his job as health minister – unlike the Iguana debacle.
    BTW, tigtog, my feed is private just to stop spammers, you’re welcome to blame identify me for whatever I say! 🙂

  6. Della Bosca has announced his intention to retire from the Upper House in 2011. There’s no conspiracy to come back to leadership from that.
    There’s only the absolute certainty that he’d have had his private life splashed all over the papers between now and the next election, with all of the nasty innuendo against both him and his wife Belinda Neal that goes with it, if he didn’t immediately accede to the Daily Telegraph editors’ every expectation—that’s how politics is done these days apparently.

  7. If JDB has finally cottonoed on to the f-a-c-t he will never be Premier, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s happy to glide by on the backbench and do some behind the scenes powerbroking before hopping off before the next election, and taking up whatever corporate possie awaits. In a stronger govt he could have brazened it out, the thing about the missed plane and not signing the visitors book are pretty weak sauce, talked up by the Tele to pass some public interest test.
    But anyway the mere idea of tattling to the tabloids about your sex life sends my brain into a lockdown of horror and hyper anxiety and I can barely think clearly about the issues!
    (obvs if abuse, coercion or corruption is involved you are perfectly entitled to shout it from the rooftops til someone ends up in jail, but in a routine falling out with a lover as this seems to be, zomg the idea of getting the tabloids involved makes my blood run freezing cold.)
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Roadtest: =-.

  8. It all just seems so uncharacteristically meek, Liam. Of course you’re right that the Tele would give it a red hot go, but if all they’ve got is a middle aged man having a consensual affair, then how bad could it be in comparison to the whole Iguanagate fiasco? Why on earth would he not ride that one out, when the story is a 9 day wonder straight from Central Casting that the public will hardly remember in a year?
    It’s natural that suspicions regarding hidden arsenals of far more damaging material are raised, whether one figures that it’s the Murdoch press hanging onto them or factional rivals. He’s taken far bigger hits than this without sinking, so why resign over this particular set of headlines?

  9. I did think Rees made a good, if terse and snarky, point in his presser yesterday on media hypocrisy. A journo asked the faux earnest question about “oh isnt it sad politics is becoming like that in UK and US where politicians’ private lives are fair game like this.” To which Rees had to reply those same journos were camped outside his house at 6am the previous morning and followed him to hospital where he was visiting a sick friend so … “

  10. Amanda, the motives of the blabbing lover also strike me as bizarre. Either socially immature or deciding that a media stunt might propel her into some media career?

    • Heh – Annabel Crabb on how do the NSW ministers find the time for all their indulgences finds a well of faux-pity for Barry O’Farrell (emphasis mine):

      Opposition leaders have historically struggled to get on the front pages of newspapers.
      Why else do you think they undertake listening tours, sit down with toddlers for cups of pretend tea, go on cabbage soup diets and go on Rove Live?
      But in NSW, Barry O’Farrell’s profile problem is a little more boutique.
      He can’t get on the front pages because he can’t think of a human behaviour venal enough to displace the members of the Government.
      Think about it.
      What would O’Farrell have to do, exactly, to get a gallop in the media these days?
      Intimacy with a goat probably wouldn’t even do it.

      Not on its own, anyway – the goat’d have to be pregnant, and want to talk.

      NB: this comment has been edited to improved clarity

  11. It all just seems so uncharacteristically meek, Liam.

    Look at it from Della Bosca and Neal’s point of view, TT.
    He started an unwise but in the context of our society, perfectly ordinary and unremarkable affair, the kind that isn’t just understandable in the context of middle age, but is archetypal of middle-class professional patriarchy. Suddenly, the moral scrutineers at News Limited turn up the outrage up to 11, leaving Della without recourse at all. Why should he be expected to ride it out?
    It is uncharacteristically meek, but I’m awed at Della Bosca’s restraint. In his position I’d have met Rhett Watson at my door with a cricket bat.
    And what Amanda said at #7 (and editing this comment, what Helen said at LP).

    • Repeating what I said at LP: I do understand the personal side of it, and if he’s made his decision out of genuine concern for his wife and kids that’s actually very admirable. To take that course in the wake of the exposing of an affair just seems so unusual in a modern politician when SOP seems to be the sober mea culpa with a sad but forgiving spouse standing by one’s side before moving along with politics as usual. Perhaps it’s just that JDB has never seemed to be so sensitive a family man in the past – maybe he always has been, but that hasn’t been his image.

  12. Amanda, the motives of the blabbing lover also strike me as bizarre.

    The Telegraph’s Linnell went into that a bit on the 7.30 Report.

    DEBORAH CORNWALL: The Daily Telegraph agreed to suppress the name of the minister’s mistress, but didn’t hold back on some excruciatingly private details, such as the minister’s love fuelled text messages and his rather deluded advice that if anyone asked, she should pass herself off as his niece.
    GARRY LINNELL: I guess the original reaction was: why? Why would you come forward? And it was quite clear, I think, from the start that she was feeling very aggrieved, betrayed and very, very angry.

    How kind and considerate of the Telegraph to be there for her.

  13. Meanwhile, I love the fuss around the mysterious ‘private plane’ that gave the search parties information on Holding’s location. The PR response has been very amusing. “We can’t say whose plane it was or what it was doing or looking for BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN WE’RE HIDING ANYTHING. Did we mention hiding things? Did that sound suspicious? Phew I think we got away with it. Any questions?”
    SMH speculates that it was an Australian Federal Police plane, with heat imaging equipment: Spy plane saved Victorian minister.

  14. “and his rather deluded advice that if anyone asked, she should pass herself off as his niece”
    This is hilarious – is the traditional way of disguising a young mistress. Nancy Mitford describes it in either Love in a Cold Climate or The Pursuit of Love.

  15. Oh, according to some random pop-psychologist and the SMH the JDB affair is all the fault of the deluded, unstable sexual predator;

    And thus concludes My First Hoyden Comment! 🙂

  16. Welcome to the honoured guild of Hoyden commentator, Kristian.
    I also have a loathing for that kind of diagnosing at a distance via the media. Yucko.
    I do fear this woman cannot remain anonymous and is going suffer further with revelation though. The wider media obviously knows who she is, the SMH published a picture of her apartment block (!!) and I gather via Twitter Caroline Overington and assorted others journos are snooping round her suburb (I assume for this “story”.) The Tele made a deal for anonymity but what’s the rest of the media’s incentive to do the same? I mean, apart from common decency.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Roadtest: =-.

  17. Oh and now Overington says “Nine is going to go.” Go with her identity?
    UGh! Make it stop!

  18. I am so very sorry that there has been very little in terms of feminist analysis regarding the power dynamics of this whole scenario. Nor has there been any critique of the symbolics of both the wife and the mistress within a patriarchal context. There rarely is, because its none of anyone’s business right? But this goes on in politics all the time, as anyone who has worked in politics well knows. I have seen women destroyed by this stuff and it is not pretty. The women are always young. The men are not good looking (as the abundance of comments about Della suggest) but their seduction lies in their power. I know it doesn’t seem like much. But snapping your fingers at your driver, getting your secretary to book flights, dinner here, hotel there – it is seductive. Politics can and does attract a certain type of young woman whose vulnerabilities are often exploited by those who should know better. They always say the same thing. Love you, leaving wife, etc, etc. The young women always believe it. Then when its over, they hit back hard. Sometimes they don’t mean to, but subconciously they tell the wrong person. This in itself attests to their lack of power and their undeveloped sense of identity. So they go to the media. Or a friend who goes to the media. Or Kenneth Starr.
    About the stereotype of the Mistress:
    Tig, you said you were bemused by Kate Neal/Neill/s (??? she has been outed on national television) motives? Having watched it close up before – I will take a punt. She feels ripped off. She wants to hit back. She wants vengeance. She wants power. She does not get the media and public will turn on her for this lesser, distasteful motive. Destroy a good man, when you knew what you were doing?
    Which goes to the dynamics of powerful politicians and the vulnerable women who are attracted to them. Let me make this clear. I’m not arguing for victimhood. There are no pure victims here. Everyone has a motive, except perhaps Belinda and who knows about that anyway. The affair was consensual. Someone had power and someone was attracted to it. But someone was 27 years old and someone was in his 50’s. Tonight, someone is already having his career return talked up in the media. Apparently a resurrection of Della Bosca’s career is on the plate. Or a restitution of his reputation. Della Bosca will not be defined by this affair. he will go on and have a career beyond politics. Someone else, however, has been outed and will be forever defined by this.That’s the way it always goes down. Look at Clinton, he has been completely resurrected, allowed to move beyond his affair. He never really lost feminist support. Lewinsky has not been allowed to leave that behind. Not ever. She tried to use her noteriety and that failed. She did a degree and that failed. She went underground and now wants anonymity. And she was only 23. And he was the charismatic president of the United States. God what a price to pay.
    Calls to radio stations today demanded Kate Neal/Neill’s outing (and is it not slightly disturbing Della chose a woman with the same name, phonetically at least, as his wife’s?). The calls centred on this demand: She did wrong also, she should pay too. Excuse me? What happened may be considered immoral, but not illegal. But her motives will be scrutinised, demonised. She will be condemned as the predator female who wanted to bring him down cause she couldn’t land him. That will be the outline she will be given. Who knows what her story is. Chances are her willingness to enter into a secretive illegitimate relationship with a man of power signals to some darker aspects of her own life, but that remains unknown. We will not know her real story. But there always is one for women who go for this stuff.
    On The Wife Stereotype
    The amount of mysoginist commentary – and LP stands condemned – on Belinda Neal – her looks and her demeanour and how it is not a wonder he screwed someone else remains mind boggling. So does the lack of feminist scrutiny on that site. I don’t care whether people like her or not. The fact he is exempted on the basis of scurrilous gossip such as that she gets drunk at functions and calls him names – that is, well, fucking defamatory, for one thing and completely mysoginist on the other hand. In fact the media profiling of Belinda Neal is mysoginist – period. Remember that Hillary was condemned on similiar bases. For not leaving him on the one hand and for her perceived ‘manliness’ on the other and his need to for side dishes, as one LPer put it.
    There are copious untold stories in Australian politics where women, young women, are taken advantage of. They may be adults but that seductive power they go for destroys them first.. [edited at commenter’s request. ~L]
    Watch the media turn in the coming days – now she has been outed. Watch the asides on who can blame Della given the wife he has at home? Watch the side commentary on how it hurts Berlusconi none. Watch the man be repositioned from wrongdoer to victim.
    This transcends politics. There are stereotypes at play in this triangle which target the two women on either side of the man. And neither come out well. Sex, in this instance, yet again, is about power.
    But let me repeat, I’m not interested in defending the woman in question. Though power is an issue here. I am deeply interested in how culture responds to these stereotypes and who escapes the assignations of the media and culture and who does not.

  19. Cracking commentary as always Casey, especially about the coverage on Belinda Neal.

  20. Lots to digest there, Casey. I think I was avoiding analysing the affair itself out of a sense of taking the moral high ground by sticking just to the politics, but you are quite correct that in doing so we miss examining the power dynamics based on gender entirely.
    I’m sure you’re correct about how the assignations of stereotypes and narratives will play out, too. Sadly predictable. Especially the undertones of smugly snide serves-her-right directed towards Neal.

  21. Thank you Liam and Tigtog. I think if we are going to argue for privateness of the whole thing, and if we argue for the flawed humanity of the man at the centre of the affair, then we should vociferously argue against the demonisation of both Belinda Neal who shows a steady refusal to perform in the ways dominant culture expects a woman to perform, and is constantly punished for it. And we should also argue for understanding regarding the deeply flawed reasoning which drives a young woman to expose herself to public vilification in order to assuage her sense of powerlessness.
    And yes, we should point out that this narrative is one which culture loves. Over and over. Dowdy wife, manly wife, ball breaker. Predator girl who done wrong. Women against each other. It’s feeding into that one big patriarchal mythology too.
    Sorry for the longish comment of the night. It gets me riled – just slightly.

  22. While I agree with your analysis on a cultural level, I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate with caveats on an individual level here.
    1. I find it difficult to form a properly informed opinion on Neal. Before the Iguanas incident I hardly knew her name, and the picture painted then was very unattractive. I hadn’t particularly thought of it as her behaving unfemininely and a negative reaction thereto, I only thought of it as her and JDB both behaving arrogantly and being taken to task for that. There was a certain relish in punishing the loud bossy woman more than the loud bossy man though, so I do see that. I just don’t have much sympathy for loud bossy people, fullstop.
    2. I’m also unsurprised that people are speculating about a way back to senior positions for JDB – most people think that having an affair was something he didn’t need to resign over in the first place. If there had actually been great public outrage over it that would be a very different thing, but it’s not quite the standard redemption narrative when most people think he didn’t need any redeeming anyway.

    And we should also argue for understanding regarding the deeply flawed reasoning which drives a young woman to expose herself to public vilification in order to assuage her sense of powerlessness.

    Yes, although I’m intrigued that she has a history as a performer, even though what’s on file is small beans. One doesn’t get a spot on a telly show, not even one that small, without a fairly extensive history of putting the hard yards in at performance spaces for quite a few years. One shouldn’t discount entirely an agenda of media ambition on her side – one that is actually furthered by her using anonymity at the start and having her identity be a big “reveal”.

  23. Tigtog, just quickly on one point cause I have to go to work
    She was cleared of any wrongdoing regarding Iguanagate I think. There are also competing narratives about the Iguana thing beyond the public one we got. One goes like this. When Neal asked the question “Do you know who I am?” – the person to whom she addressed the question to – was very pertinent. Because the identity of who that was addressed to changes the very nature and tone of how that question comes across in media reports.
    I will consider your other points later.

  24. Sure, Casey – I have to head off as parental taxi in a moment anyway. Catch you later.

  25. At work — which is not in the media or politics, but media and politics related so it is a genuine topic of conversation — I have been surrounded all week by an unending stream of snark on all the very sexist lines Casey mentions. I put on my headphones and tune it out just to get by.
    On the “way back for JDB” thing, I’m not taking that at face value — the only evidence presented for such a murmur is the likes of Tony Kelly talking about what a competent minister and good bloke he is which falls into the category of defending a mate and to be expected. It is certainly true, and certainly apparent even today, the bloke’s reputation gets rehab’d much quicker than the woman’s but I really think JDB is done in nsw politics. There is a better than even chance of Labor being in opposition in 18 months and I would be shocked if he wanted to graft away at that. I speak of politics here, a cushy private sector job in the near future is a given.

  26. Um, “femme fatale” REALLY, ABC? REALLY?
    Can “jailbait” be far behind?

  27. Tigtog about your point 2. I think what I meant to convey is that Della Bosca will not so much make a return to parliament in a senior role but that his life after this incident will not be defined by it, not in anyway. I know Della is only small fish in the scheme of things, and people don’t really think he should have gone anyway, but the way these narratives go for men, the affair will be left behind in the dustbin and he will not be remembered for that but rather for his achievements in the world of politics and no doubt the business world which awaits him. In other words, like Kennedy, like Clinton – there will be a space of redemption for him. She, on the other hand, will not be afforded the same space, if history is anything to go by. There is always a seediness in the reportage on the women who occupy these roles. Last night some tinpot sexist shrink decided on the basis of her statements that she was a predator. Real shrinks do not make those diagnoses from afar and in order to make diagnoses they need to see them close up a few times. There is no “Female Predator Personality Disorder” that I know of but this got prime space on SMH. Actually it was so ridiculously to script it was funny. Amanda up there shows how the ABC are designating her the Femme Fatale. Could we get any more cartoon cutout about this? I hear what you say about the potential for an orchestrated publicity grab regarding this, but really, she herself noted that women in these roles don’t come out well. But I could be wrong, you may be correct. Either way, whether from a badly planned career move or out of pure anger, it won’t come good for her.
    There is only one thing that bothers me about this. When Della Bosca was asked if he was set up. He waited, it has been reported and as I have watched it, 7 seconds before answering. When he did, the response was a stock one of taking responsibility. Those seven seconds of silence interest me. There is a missing bit of the story here. Nevertheless he is to be applauded for not disparaging the woman, in the way that usually happens in these things.
    Recently we saw two American women in tears at a public press conference describing how Bill Clinton orchestrated their release from prison in Korea. When they spoke of him, they turned and looked at him with adoration. You can understand it. But the juxtaposition of the haloed man standing behind them like some angel of deliverance and the angry tight lipped patriarch of several years ago, declaring “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” just, well, it made me laugh. A saint to some women, a predator to others, a victim to the rest. And then there is Lewinsky, all in monochrome, occupying the same space in our psyches she did the first time she caught our attention. Apparently the first time she went out on a balcony after the whole thing had blown over and there was no media camped out there, she wept and wept. All that she could have been is overshadowed by that. Actually Katherine Wilson spoke of this too in her piece on the Windschuttle hoax. Not giving people the space to move on. And she was right.
    Sorry, long again. But last comment!

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