Della Bosca's affair is not the real scandal in NSW

Issue 

The recent resignation by NSW minister John Della Bosca over his affair with a woman revealed just how the big political parties and the corporate media trivialise Australian politics.

On August 31, Della Bosca decided to resign from the state cabinet before Murdoch paper The Daily Telegraph published the confessions of his younger lover.

It has been a familiar pattern by the media to link Della Bosca's personal affairs to the party at large. But one must ask: what do his personal affairs have to do with his political record and why is moralism seemingly sneaking into a debate that should surely be about his real political failures?

Della Bosca's past standards of conduct have been pretty low. In May 2008, he was stripped of his driving licence after being caught speeding an astounding seven times in his ministerial car. Two days later he had to apologise after telling a tabloid journalist to "get a real job you fucking cunt".

In June last year, Della Bosca found himself embroiled in the so-called Iguanagate affair, where he and his wife (and Federal ALP MP) Belinda Neal were accused of threatening and abusing staff at a Central Coast nightclub. The charge was later withdrawn by the director of public prosecutions.

As NSW education minister, he arrogantly told aggrieved teachers to "suck it and see". He also acted as minister responsible for the Catholic World Youth Day events last year, which hosted the Pope. The NSW government tried to ban protests in support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights during the Pope's visit.

Della Bosca temporarily lost his position as a minister after it was revealed a letter of apology from nightclub staff to Della Bosca and Neal had been drafted by his own office. But he was soon promoted to health minister after the ousting of then premier Morris Iemma by Nathan Rees.

Unpopular policies, corruption allegations, unprincipled factional warfare — none of these things had hurt Della Bosca's political rise in the ALP machine.

That he has been brought down for an affair simply exposes the priorities of mainstream media — not just the tabloid press but also the supposedly liberal broadsheets and the commercial television media that followed the tabloid media's lead.

In this culture of the celebrity, politics has become a spectator sport. The biggest stories in politics have increasingly become stories once read about only in gossip magazines.

A key aspect of the tabloid style, made infamous by the Murdoch empire, is a conservative morality. Celebrity news is not provided just for information's sake, but to make an example of the subjects.

The stories of sex and scandal are used to hold society in a pattern of so-called traditional morals, because church holds less sway over wider society than in the past.

Instead, the real scandal is the record of the NSW ALP government that Della Bosca is part of — its privatisation mania, cuts to public services and its plans to hugely expand environmentally damaging fossil fuel industries in the state.

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