Is Phil Koperberg right about the nature of politics?
NSW has today lost yet another former minister - but this time he didn’t get caught with his pants down or his hand in the cookie jar.
Phil Koperberg, the former NSW rural fire commissioner who was drafted into the ALP at the last state election, said he just can’t take the factional infighting anymore and was surprised how hard it was to get anything done in government.
“I might be naive but I’m not stupid,” Koperberg said, as he announced he wouldn’t contest the next poll in March 2011.
This is what he told 2GB this morning.
It was also the frustration of not being able to get things done. I simply made the observation that it’s not for me… the last four years haven’t been what I expected.
The bitterness of factional fighting within the system certainly came as a surprise to me. I knew that it existed, I might be naive but I’m not stupid.
Koperberg, more than most star recruits to politics, had quite the introduction to the blood bath that is the NSW Labor Party.
Soon after his election he was on the receiving end of a smear campaign involving old untested domestic violence allegations, and stood down from the front bench for the duration of a police investigation, in which he was cleared. His political career never recovered.
It’s only one man’s story, but Koperberg says it’s frustrations such as his that stop other people with something to offer entering politics.
“The reason that talented people don’t rush to politics in greater numbers is because the profession is so lowly regarded, often through no fault of hard-working politicians,” he told The Australian.
Maybe this is what Tony Abbott was talking about when he called for a “kinder, gentler polity”, before ripping the gloves off again and getting straight back into the ring.
There’s no doubt that succeeding in Australian politics requires a certain amount of mongrel. None of our modern-day leaders have got to where they are without inflicting some blood-loss on their colleagues and sustaining a few bruises of their own.
Perhaps they’re the sort of people cut out to make the tough decisions.
Koperberg only entered the NSW parliament in 2007, by which time every man and his dog was already aware of the factional brutality of the NSW ALP.
He shouldn’t have been surprised really.
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