Regardless of what really happened at the Iguana club in Gosford, the reputations of both John Della Bosca and his wife Belinda Neal have taken a hit. The allegations against them are not nearly as grave as the hysteria of the media coverage would suggest, but are those allegations grounds for sacking the Minister, as the opposition has demanded?
If it had been anybody else in dispute with the management it would not be on the front pages of the papers. If a customer believes that he has been unfairly or rudely treated by employees at a venue it would be normal to voice that opinion and perhaps complain to management. In some cases, staff might attempt to appease a dissatisfied customer in the interests of good public relations. In other circumstances staff might become defensive and respond in a less civil manner. It really can become a tawdry “he said, she said” mess very quickly.
In such circumstances, who is to say which party was the first to become rude? Of course, that’s not really the essential question anyway. The question is, given the dispute, how was it handled by the various parties? It may well be that the staff at this venue might have dealt with the matter in a much more diplomatic manner. Or it may be that the minister and his wife could have handled matters more discreetly. What it boils down to is a matter of manners, and how we are all expected to behave in our various stations in life. In this case it appears that nobody was particularly pleasant.
What will rankle most Australian’s however is the idea that Belinda Neal might have been trying to demand special treatment by throwing her political weight around. Australians don’t like big-noters demanding “Don’t you know who I am?” But to cap it off, the allegation that threats were made in relation to the licence of the premises, if true, is simply not acceptable.
The dispute with staff at the Iguana club is not really in itself grounds for sacking the minister, but the manner in which it was handled has amplified the incident and is an embarrassment for all concerned.