John Della Bosca
For all the humiliation and ridicule Kevin Rudd faced over his brief stint as Prime Minister, for all the personal criticisms Julia Gillard has had to endure, for all the background sledging suffered by Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull before the elevation of Tony Abbott, who himself has faced plenty of flak, there is another politician who can rightly claim the unpleasant mantle of the most vilified MP of this parliamentary term.
She wasn’t even a minister, not even close, and wielded no influence over the lives of Australian voters beyond her little patch of paradise on the NSW Central Coast.
But despite her lack of clout, Neal ended up being clouted more gleefully and more frequently by the public, the media, and her many detractors across politics over her headline-making habits as the member for Robertson.
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Maverick Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey is being branded “disgusting” and “a disgrace” by his own colleagues after using Question Time yesterday to pass around a photograph making fun of Labor MP Belinda Neal over the infidelity of her husband John Della Bosca - with Tuckey even presenting the photograph to the Speaker to see if it could be used as a prop during Question Time.
In response to the use of photographs as props by Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese - who has taunted the Coalition by showing images of stimulus spending announcements at community meetings - Tuckey arrived at Question Time yesterday with a still image from a Channel Nine news bulletin of Belinda Neal’s electorate office on the NSW Central Coast.
The image focusses on a laundromat next door to Ms Neal’s office with a sign reading “Drop Your Pants Here” - which Tuckey was using as a comical reference to the recent admission of infidelity by Ms Neal’s husband, NSW State Labor MP and former NSW Labor secretary John Della Bosca.
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No-one has yet give a credible explanation to why disgraced NSW ex-health minister John Della Bosca was locked out of his office after his affair with a much younger woman was exposed.
His door was locked, an armed guard was positioned outside and all his staff were sacked.
It was an overtly over-the-top response from premier Nathan Rees for something many sympathetic journalists said merely reflected what many in the community get up to behind closed doors.
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I’M guessing former NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca is not a big fan of comedy at the moment.
But he could end up having the last laugh if he can keep his slate clean amidst the latest murky allegations behind the murder of a Sydney businessman, secret tapes and corruption that threaten to sink the State Government.
If Della Bosca thinks he has had a bad week - having been exposed as an adulterer with a woman half his age and consequently quitting the ministry - his political position may actually have been strengthened while Premier Nathan Rees and the rest of his government battle another imbroglio.
October 2009: Exactly one month after the John Della Bosca sex scandal, the NSW Labor Government is plunged intro fresh crisis with revelations that two members of Parliament’s Economic and Finance Committee have been running a “speak-easy” out of their Macquarie St office.
A gin distillery and $100,000 in illegal casino chips are seized, and a dozen 18-year-old girls, wearing the traditional “flapper” garb of the day, and two elderly black men with a banjo and clarinet are frogmarched into police vans in The Domain. “Look, I’m as disappointed as anyone,” Premier Nathan Rees tells reporters. “But I’ve made it clear to my team that it’s back to work. No more gin stills, no more jug bands. We’ve got a state to run.”
November 2009: Due to a shortfall of personnel former Police Minister Matt Brown - dumped last year for dancing in his green underpants and mounting the chest of a female MP - is recalled to the frontbench in the junior portfolio of Regional Development.
One of the best pieces of commentary on the Della affair I’ve seen this week was the cartoon in Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph. It depicted a line-up of possible candidates for John Della Bosca’s former lover. In the middle, a woman with a guide dog.
I laughed into my coffee, because it’s what we’re all thinking, right? I’m reluctant to put the boot into Della any further – he stood down this week with dignity and grace – but let’s be honest: he isn’t exactly in Brad Pitt’s league.
Yet ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ is how he was described by his 26-year-old former lover. It’s understood that she is blonde and easy on the eye. Della, on the other hand, is a man whose age is nudging distinguished and whose physique suggests the last time he broke a sweat during exercise was when Bob Hawke wore his Australia jacket.
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When it comes to the private conduct of public figures, Australians like to have it a bob each way. And that’s not an oblique reference to one of our most accomplished prime ministers both in the parliament and the bedroom.
As a general statement, we say that we don’t much care whether our politicians are cheating on their partners. It’s a badge of honour for us that we’re not like the United States, where the moral majority wields tremendous influence within politics and any hint of infidelity will destroy a career.
Australians just shrug their shoulders and say: well, nobody’s perfect, politicians are human too. You can spare us the lectures from the holy-rollers, most of whom will eventually be sprung inside a $55-a-night Formula One motor inn dressed as Shirley Temple.
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Hey shock jocks and Twitter bitches - Belinda Neal deserves just one day off from copping abuse, maybe even a free pass for the rest of the week.
The Federal MP everyone loves to hate has just found out with the rest of us her husband, former NSW health minister John Della Bosca, spent a large chunk of the first half of this year sleeping with a 26-year-old women he picked up at the NSW Art Gallery.
In his press conference half an hour ago Della Bosca apologised to every man and his dog for his “poor personal decisions”, last in the list of those he’d let down were his “family.” No specific mention of his wife.
Any other betrayed wife in Australia would be getting our sympathy right now - but not podgy old Neal, she of Iguanagate, Rudd-imposed anger management classes and robust behaviour on the soccer pitch.
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If you don’t live in NSW it’s hard to know where to start this story. But better to be explaining it in a comment piece than in a private conversation with your wife, Belinda Neal, as to how you came to wreck your political career and possibly your marriage by having a six-month affair with a 26-year-old woman.
That’s the situation which ALP factional giant, would-be NSW Premier and married father of two John Della Bosca finds himself in today - quitting as minister last night after admitting that he had started a relationship with a woman more than 20 years his junior.
Della Bosca’s spectacular fall confirms the standing of the NSW Labor Government as a cross between the last days of Rome, and Melrose Place for political hacks.
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