When MPs try to claim the moral high ground on the issue of campaign tactics, it’s always advisable to have a quick look downhill, towards the muddy trenches of their own words and deeds, before taking their appeals for decency too seriously.
Which is why we’re not holding our breath for the swelling of a grassroots campaign around Fiona Scott’s calls for political spin to be outlawed.
Scott was elected to the seat of Lindsay at the 2013, knocking off Labor’s David Bradbury in one of the key marginal seat victories that helped sweep Tony Abbott to power. As readers will no doubt recall, the boats, and the stopping of them, was a big campaign talking point.
But three years later the tides have turned, and Scott was dumped by voters on July 2 after just one term as their representative.
Why? According to the now former MP, it’s the mediscare what won it – and she’s appalled, just appalled, at the temerity of the Labor Party’s disingenuous campaign.
“Scott, a former corporate marketing executive, argues there should be laws governing the spin put on political messaging during election campaigns, to punish those spreading untruths,” The Saturday Paper reported this weekend.
Out of office, perched high above the messy barricades, Scott now believes political statements should be regulated in the same way those of corporations are by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
That’s all well and good, but it might cause a bit of a problem for 2013 Fiona Scott.
During her crack at Lindsay, Scott famously tried to link traffic jams and hospital queues in western Sydney to asylum seeker arrivals.
We’ve all been there: you’re stuck on the M4, the damn kids are wailing in the back of the car, and suddenly you realise that traffic is banked up as far as the eye can see because yet another boat of Syrians has dropped slap bang in the middle of the motorway. Talk about queue jumping!
The ludicrous proposition that the number of people entering Australia to seek asylum – who, remember, are immediately placed in a detention centre on arrival – could impact on hospital waiting times or daily commutes, would presumably not look too good if put before a body investigating political spin.
And that’s because Scott’s attempt to claim the moral high ground is nothing more than the kind of spin she is supposedly so offended by.