EDITORIAL THURSDAY 11.09.08.
Well that didn’t last long. The new cabinet announced on Monday by Premier Nathan Rees has had its first casualty with the bizarre departure of Matt Brown. The newly appointed Police Minister held the post for just three days before being forced to step down following the revelations of an incident at a party in his office on Budget Night a few months ago.
Perhaps we are not in possession of all the facts, but putting that aside and judging by what we do know, was this a hanging offence? It is alleged that Mr. Brown, while under the influence of alcohol, danced on a couch, climbed on top of fellow MP Noreen Hay, and made a risqué remark about what he was doing in less than tasteful language. All this is alleged to have taken place in front of other party guests including Ms Hay’s daughter, to whom the colourful remark was allegedly addressed. In simple terms, the whole thing could be described as “horsing around”.
So was this incident offensive and inappropriate? Well, I suppose that is a matter of personal opinion, but surely the test of that would be if the people allegedly involved felt that way. The fact is that Noreen Hay has denied that it occurred. Even if it had, it would up to her to decide if she was offended and wanted to pursue any kind of action against Mr. Brown, or alternatively accepted it as a friendly although crass joke. And that’s the question: was it a case of friends fooling about at a party, or was it an unwanted and unacceptable mistreatment of a colleague.
Either way, it is an unwelcome distraction from the issues that really matter, such as the extraordinary economic mismanagement, the repeated episodes of incompetence, and the perceived links to corruption which really should be the focus of attention. It is those matters which need to be addressed and for which the Government should be held to account. The Matt Brown episode is a distraction that neither the Government nor the people of New South Wales need right now, and for that reason it’s time for Matt Brown to go.