The Lady Deserves A Beating

Sexism? I think Not

Kristina Kenneally may not indeed be the most odious Premier of NSW. It is a point I must concede. After all, Robert Askin sounds like he was as crooked as they come, and Bob Carr seems like one of the most insufferable human beings a man could meet. Nick Greiner left such a slimey impression what with his board memberships on so many dodgy PPPs, and Neville Wran was… Neville Wran.

The point being it is entirely possible she has not been the worst human being to grace the position of Premier of NSW. However, this puff piece had me choking.

During Verity Firth’s husband’s ecstasy scandal last week, Keneally’s staff almost fell over laughing when asked if their boss had dabbled with drugs. She similarly fails to grasp sexual innuendo during office banter, they say.

For all these reasons the Premier is likely to recoil, rightly, at the disturbingly sexist view of her that has arisen in focus groups assembled by the Liberal Party.

A senior Liberal source says a theme has emerged, particularly among male voters, that can be boiled down to: Keneally is the one-night stand who was fun at the time but insisted on hanging around the next morning, even though you wanted her to leave.

It’s always hard to know if selected snippets of internal polling like this reflect the true results or, more likely, illuminate one element for damaging effect. But there’s no argument that opinion polls showed voters had an immediate attraction to Keneally when she took on the job from Nathan Rees in December 2009.

”It was a flirtation, or some sort of infatuation,” the senior Liberal said. ”She’s obviously attractive but it was more than that; it was a novelty to have an American as premier – an American woman as premier.”

Almost everyone is surprised by how hard and fast Keneally fell in the polls when the love affair ended – to the extent that she now lags the Liberals’ Barry O’Farrell by 20 percentage points as preferred premier.

If people believe they’ve somehow been taken in by Keneally, that’s their view, fine. But our first female premier deserves better than being objectified because of her gender.

The last bit  is nuts. What she deserves is the line from ‘Unforgiven’, “deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” along with the electoral bullet to put her out of her misery.

But before getting to that point, here are at least 2 problems of Kenneally’s own links to scandal that this article glosses over. Number 1 is of course just how deep her dealings with Ron Medich (and the whole corrupt dealing aspect of Medich’s empire) actually go, and number 2 is the allegation that the Barangaroo contract for car parks benefits her husband Ben directly. So no, it is not true to say she is scandal free herself.

The four women who marched in to replace Nathan Rees with Kristina Kenneally as Premier, if I recall correctly were Verity Firth, Angela D’Amore, Carmel Tebbutt and Virginia Judge. Of these 4 MPs, Verity Firth’s in this drug scandal with her husband even if she had nothing to do with the said pill; Angela D’Amore has since been found to have been corrupt and been kicked out of the ALP; Virginia Judge has been accused of handing out grant money to her mates; which leaves Carmel Tebbutt the only one free of scandals.

I think the electorate has actually been highly supportive of the politically correct/anti-sexist line to the extent that when these women engineered the first female premier of NSW – though unelected she may be – the electorate perhaps was willing to give her a go. Okay, it’s true, I made a commitment to never vote for her government – one which I will keep – but other people around me have been umm-ing and aah-ing. They’ve told me they like the reality of having a female mayor of Sydney, a female Premier of NSW, a female Prime Minister and a female Governor General, plus a Queen.

In other words, sexism isn’t what’s going to kick Kristina Kenneally out. In all realistic appraisal, when Kristina Kenneally’s government does get voted out on 26th of March this year, it would be because of the collective shenanigans of all the NSW ALP members and staffers. That she contributed very little to the parade of scandals is not going to persuade people to keep this NSW government. Any argument mounted in favor of Kenneally’s government should face up to that daunting, brutal, frank reality.

In that light, the article was one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read in the SMH in a long time.

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