OPINION: Peter Slipper, collateral damage

I feel sorry for Peter Slipper, not necessarily Peter himself, more for his family.
Peter Slipper has been in politics for a long time and no doubt has developed quite a thick hide, but I am sure that what affects him more than anything else is the impact the constant media attention, over a sustained period, has on his family.
Spare a thought for his wife, children and parents. When was the last time your husband, father, or son had their picture photoshopped to be depicted nationally as a rat complete with tail, buck teeth and ears.  Not to mention the seemingly endless list of derogatory adjectives, insinuation, and cutesy plays on the family name, even the Prime Minister couldn’t help herself.
I remember watching former Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously fighting back tears in a press conference as problems in his family life received national media attention. While the circumstances are very different, the core humanity is the same. He said of public office, “You don’t cease to be a husband. You don’t cease to be a father. My children and my wife have a right to be protected in this matter.”
I wonder how poignant these words are for Peter Slipper at the moment?
It’s so easy for the media to perpetuate and leverage the politician stereotype. One that depicts all politicians as greedy and purely self serving.  Few do that better than the Sunshine Coast Daily. Assuming some self ordained moral high ground, they maintain its all about probity, just doing their job. I can only assume that by that they mean selling papers and maintaining advertising revenues.
The Sunshine Coast Daily has run a concerted campaign, my polite way of describing what others have call a vendetta. Putting it bluntly, I don’t know what Peter Slipper did to piss off the Daily. I don’t know whether he knows.
Perhaps he ceased to be submissive to their every request for information that invariably would be used against him. Would you keep talking to them? I know many people with a public profile that refuse.
Perhaps they believe he could have done more for the electorate.
Perhaps they believe in accountability.
Perhaps …… who knows?
If you want to go with a rodent analogy then my best explanation is this. Have you ever watched a cat playing with a mouse? It will stalk it, hunt it, force it into a corner, bite it a few times and play with it till it “stops moving”. When it has extracted all the life and entertainment from it, they just move on.
Maybe The Daily feels it’s time for a new Member for Fisher?
Has Peter Slipper done enough with his time as the Member for Fisher?  Could he or should he have done more? These are fair questions but need to be given some context.
The Sunshine Coast has always been a substantially conservative area. I’ve lost count of the number of people saying that you vote for the Party, not the man. If so, why doesn’t it also follow that a portion of accountability for what has been achieved for the Sunshine Coast, not also fall at the feet of both the State and Federal governments.
The State Government treats the Sunshine Coast as it’s play thing, “we know better than you”, “out of the way you’re taking too long” and the Federal government hasn’t spent any significant money here for years.
It would be interesting to hear a retrospective of the records of Peter Beattie, Anna Bligh, John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard in relation to their achievements for the Sunshine Coast. After all, if the political nature of an electorate so heavily leans one way or another, the script pretty much writes itself.
I have a more optimistic view of the people who choose to run for office. Most do so for the right reasons and with the aim to make a positive difference to the lives of the people they serve. There are exceptions, but most try to achieve the best outcomes for their electorate despite the competition among all elected representatives to do the same thing.
Along the way they sacrifice time with their family, time that they will never get back, time that can not be bought back regardless of the salary, yet the families continue to provide their support in the belief that their loved one is trying to make other people’s lives better.
Peter Slipper knew what he was letting himself in for when becoming a politician, I wonder whether his family did?