Tragic cost of a political career

It is a sad consequence of contemporary politics that the families of politicians are no longer afforded privacy.

For most of the decades in which modern mass media have operated, a sort of gentleman’s agreement (sorry, feminists!) was honoured under which politicians’ private foibles were ignored or, at least, not commented upon publicly. Journalists and reporters might have eagerly passed-on libelous gossip among themselves about the private lives of their contemporaries but rarely did such titillating facts make the pages of newspapers, far less radio or television.

Not so today. The public clamour for scandal has become a roar and the media now indulge in a frenzy to capture the most salacious aspects of any celebrity’s life and politicians are rated as fair game, if not a glittering prize. The once cozy arrangement of scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours has become more like two warring sides attempting to scratch each other’s eyes out as reporters and politicians circle each other like prizefighters in a ring.

And politicians’ families are now seen as fair game, too. Advocates of a free media and an open and just society will say this is as it should be. In a purist sense it is hard to argue the point. Commonsense might well suggest the cost of this exposure for the friends and families of our elected representatives is too high

These people, after all, have not directly sought to have their lives exposed and can sometimes pay a harsh price for the mere association with an elected leader.

Still, accepted practice has changed the game of politics and, by acquiescence, public sentiment has endorsed the concept that the entire life of a politician is now fair game, not just their policies or their own personal peccadilloes.

The price for this risk of exposure can be high and few outside those who seek office readily withstand the attendant pressures that accompany such scrutiny.

In this context it is sad to note that one Queensland Cabinet Minister has suffered disproportionately in this imbroglio.

Tracy Davis no doubt thought her recent ascension to Cabinet in the new Queensland Government was a glittering reward for her lengthy political involvement. Today she might have second thoughts.

This follows the laying of police charges against her 25 year old son who allegedly hit a power pole in an early morning crash a few weeks ago and who was allegedly three times over the legal limit of alcohol when tested.

The minister’s 20 year old daughter also came to grief a few months ago when rushed to hospital in the wake of a drug overdose that happened with utmost embarrassment in the government Executive Building while working as a staffer for one of her mother’s ministerial colleagues.

And the worst irony? Tracy Davis is Minister for Child Safety.

Acknowledgement: Brittany Vonow, The Courier-Mail