THE PROPOSAL of Peta Credlin for a five-year term as Sex Discrimination Commissioner — and paid millions of dollars — is obscene; coming after attempts to make husband Brian Loughnane Ambassador to the Vatican, hiring Credlin would reek of cronyism, rewarding an approach that masked incompetence by lashing “sexism” among critics. This insidious hack deserves no cushy sinecure. A better hire would see a shark running a children’s pool.
As we have opined many times in this column, former Chief of Staff to ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin, was given the most powerful unelected position in Australian politics, and fucked it up completely: the irrefutable evidence of this lies in the two tumultuous years in which the Abbott government comprehensively lost the support of the Australian public, culminating in the termination of Abbott’s tenure, as Liberal MPs prepared to support Abbott deserted him on the basis that if he wouldn’t remove Credlin from the government then Abbott himself would have to go to ensure she did as well.
Credlin had oversight and control, with Prime Ministerial imprimatur, of virtually every aspect of government operations: political strategy, parliamentary tactics, policy decisions, media relations, personnel hires (as far out as junior shitkicker roles in electorate offices) — the lot. Had Credlin’s way worked, nobody would criticise her; the fact, however, is that it was a disaster, and she stands forever condemned by the hard realities of the consequences of her methods.
Perhaps most offensively, Abbott spent a lot of time arguing that if she was P-E-T-E-R Credlin rather than P-E-T-A, there would never have been a problem: this moronic formulation ignores the reality that had Credlin been male, it simply would have meant that a bloke presided over the ruinous mess that was made of the post instead of woman.
Anyone who thinks the Abbott government was a model of efficiency and a monument to good government is delusional. Putting a bloke, who did exactly as Credlin did, at its epicentre would have changed nothing.
Today, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is carrying a story that notes Credlin is being touted as a candidate for the vacant post as Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and aside from the fact she went on something of a media offensive in the wake of Abbott’s dumping to argue she, herself, had been unfairly discriminated against, there is no logical basis on which to connect her to the position at all.
This revelation comes soon after Abbott’s attempt to have Credlin’s husband — former Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane — appointed as Ambassador to the Vatican, and when it is also considered that Loughnane’s right hand man and 2IC at the Liberals’ federal secretariat, Julian Sheezel, recently pursued an abortive attempt to snatch the top position on the party’s Senate ticket (disappearing on minister Kelly O’Dwyer just weeks after she made him her Chief of Staff in an appalling show of poor faith) it becomes patently clear that whatever else the people in the Abbott cabal are, one thing all can be accused of is a healthy entitlement mentality, with them or Abbott (or both) apparently believing they deserve cushy sinecures at great public expense when they don’t.
Sheezel, who enjoys negligible support for his ambitions across the Liberal rank and file, quickly climbed down from his plot to sail straight into guaranteed election to the Senate when the story broke last month; I have neither any particular animus nor enthusiasm toward Sheezel, whom I’ve known since university days in the early 1990s. But simply installing faceless machine operatives into unloseable parliamentary positions is no better than the behaviour of the ALP opponents we so regularly (and vigorously) pillory for doing the same thing.
Loughnane, for his part — an executive at oil company Shell prior to arriving at the Liberal Party — likes to claim his record as federal director at elections was “two wins (2004, 2013), one loss (2007) and a draw (2010);” this purported record is hardly exceptional, including as it does the loss of government at the end of the Howard era. But it ignores the one result Loughnane doesn’t want discussed: the near-apocalyptic disaster of the 2002 state election in Victoria, at which he was the Liberals’ state director, and at which the Liberals’ return of 17 seats out of 88 was the worst result in the party’s history in this state.
In any case, why he would seem a suitable choice as an Ambassador — to anyone, that is, except Tony Abbott — is anyone’s guess.
But this now-unmistakable pattern of looking for comfy jobs for mates — and undeserving mates, at that — takes on a whole new complexion with the suggestion Credlin should be installed in a five-year term as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, an appointment that attracts total remuneration over the tenure of between two and three million dollars.
It reeks of cronyism, of preferment, and of an insidious insider culture that says that irrespective of the degree of abject failure they achieve, those in the loop should simply be shuffled on to trinkets of even greater prestige, at enormous public expense, with any notion of consequences for their real failures that adversely affected people (in Credlin’s case, the millions of Australians depending on a Liberal government to better their lot in life) simply dismissed out of hand.
When it is also remembered that Credlin was hardly a harmonious or unifying figure — running vendettas against individual staff and others in the wider Liberal organisation, or bullying those she wanted removed from the seat of power in Canberra, or having the bare-faced effrontery to dictate to elected representatives of the Australian public from her unelected and unaccountable bunker next to Abbott’s office — it’s difficult to argue she is a suitable candidate for anything.
And nobody who Credlin enraged by suggesting, directly or through the proxy of remarks by Abbott, that she was a glittering example of a highly successful employee whose efforts were little short of brilliant, but who had been hobbled by accusations of “sexism” — the taunt of both first and last resort when it comes to women gifted senior roles and who then make a complete botch of them — could ever sanction her appointment to such a powerful and influential post.
Not now, not ever.
Frankly, this proposed appointment is so utterly devoid of merit that a better hire would be to put a great white shark in charge of the local kiddies’ swimming pool. At least with a great white, there are no pretensions about the intended eventual outcome. It’s as bad as that. At least a great white can get it right. Credlin didn’t.