Monday, December 06, 2004

Dirty hands

You can learn a lot about people in toilets.
So writes Paul Sheenan in the SMH.

When I encountered Conroy he still had his P-plates as a senator. He was only 34. He had been in Parliament less than a year. And he had not even been elected. He'd been appointed by the governor of Victoria in 1996 to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Senator Gareth Evans. Such is the manner in which Labor factional warriors can make their way. Conroy's career was always politics. After university he worked for several Labor politicians, then the Transport Workers Union. His real career, expertise and power base was factional trench warfare for the Victorian Labor Right.

His base certainly isn't the electorate. At the October 9 federal elections, Labor received 1,082,271 Senate votes in Victoria. Overwhelmingly, votes are cast for parties rather than individuals, with the party, not the individuals on the slate, receiving the vote. Even so, Senator Kim Carr, No.1 on the ALP ticket, received 11,299 personal votes. Senator Jacinta Collins, No.3 on the ticket, received 1675 votes. Even Marg Lewis at No.4 received 844 votes. Conroy, though second on the ticket, received the lowest total, 780 votes, or 0.07 per cent of Labor's Senate vote.


Last Monday, Labor frontbencher Laurie Ferguson had had enough: "The whole party's tiring of Mr Conroy's concern that he's not the leader in the Senate." By then, the damage had been done. Latham now looks like Simon Crean, even though Labor's problems are far deeper than the leader's shortcomings.

Conroy does not have clean hands in these matters.

This is not new. When I first encountered him on May 20, 1997, he was occupied at a urinal in a men's toilet. As I walked in, he finished his business and walked out. He did not pause. He did not wash his hands. He went straight back to the committee room.

Yeah. I don't much like Senator Conroy.

More later.


  • At December 07, 2004 9:39 pm, Blogger B. S. Fairman said…

    Man, where did Conroy go to primary school? I still remember my first day in prep they took us all to the toilet at once and made sure we knew how to wash our hands after having a pee. They did this for a week or two. Mind you I did go to a strange school.

  • At December 08, 2004 1:50 am, Blogger mark bahnisch said…

    I'm no fan of Stephen Conroy's but Sheehan doesn't paint himself in a good light at all with this anecdote. The reference to Conroy's accent was also surely unnecessary.

    But it appears to be catching. Michelle Grattan has a go at Julia Gillard's voice in today's Age.


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