There is an ancient principle: “You reap what you sow.”
Never has this been truer than what we have witnessed this week in Canberra. The Deputy Prime Minister is in all sorts of bother due to his personal choices, but that is all I am going to say about that today.
Whilst the news cycle has understandably developed into a demanding, 24-hour cycle requiring a constant feed of news, the media have sown a modern Canberra commentary that is not about policy, principles or explanation of the issues.
Their crop - in full harvest in recent parliaments - is ripe innuendo, rumours and scuttlebutt that ultimately results in leadership change.
Salacious matters are far more attractive to news producers and indeed the mass audience than, say, a detailed explanation of just what is happening to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in the Senate at the moment.
I will have more to say on that in the Senate later today.
As for the political elites here in Canberra - where we have been passing legislation during the soap opera you see on TV – they are reaping a whirlwind they have sown over the years, namely poll-driven, knee-jerk decision-making.
Neither the National Party nor the government can ignore the circumstances of the Deputy Prime Minister because it is all over the media, and the doomsday clock of 30 Newspolls is about to tick again this weekend.
I am not for a moment defending or condemning the Deputy Prime Minister, merely observing that the material you are seeing on your television and your smartphone screen is a direct result of the fatuous, gossipy swamp that the present gaggle of politicians and media have created.
There is – as I am wont to say – a better way.
Private and family lives of politicians should be off-limits. Yet politicians blur the lines by bringing the public into their lives to get public affirmation.
That public affirmation only occurs because politicians have cultivated a ‘selfie’-style ‘look at me’ approach to their involvement in public policy, rather than devoting time to explain and educate voters about the principles behind their decision-making.
Where once Bob Hawke and Kim Hughes stunned us with tears, now the waterworks are regularly deployed to attract public sympathy.
I doubt that calmer heads will prevail this week when it comes to the leadership of the National Party.
I’m not equipped with all the facts or machinations within that organisation, but I would be surprised to see the Deputy Prime Minister serving as Acting Prime Minister next week.
I think the Australian people, however, would be with me in saying a line must be drawn under this whole affair.
Once a position is settled, we need to get back to talking about the policies and principles that matter in this country.
If you don’t like a soap opera on your TV, you have the right to change the channel. We don’t want people switching off of politics, because too much is at stake.