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Tim Smith’s behaviour isn’t an outlier

By TPS Newsbot

Tim Smith refusing to resign over his drink driving is not an outlier, it’s indicative of a culture that remains in our politics.

After blowing 0.131 and crashing into the side of a house, Victorian MP Tim Smith vowed to quit politics. Sort of. He’s now changed his mind, refusing to stand down, claiming that he was ‘stupid’ but ‘not unwell’. Oddly, he has an ally. Tony Abbott has urged Liberal preselectors in Smith’s seat of Kew to not allow a “spirit of petty censoriousness” to end the public life of the “best Victorian (political) talents”. Smith himself has soliloquised: “Should one horrendously poor judgement render someone’s career over immediately?”

Tim Smith said he was not aware of how intoxicated he was because he had not eaten much that day.

“As a consequence, I blew much more than I ever thought I had consumed. I’m not offering any excuses,” he said.

He claimed he had only drunk “a few glasses” of wine at the dinner with friends.

“It’s selfish, it’s stupid, I’ve been fined, I’ve lost my licence for a year. I profoundly messed up in a life-altering way. I can’t take that back and I’m not trying to.

“It was an appalling lapse of judgment… I’m never touching a drop again.”

But while we get our heads around the above comments, Tim Smith’s drink driving and subsequent behaviour highlight a culture that has long been persistent in our politics.

In 2019, Labor MP Will Fowles made headlines for kicking a hole through a hotel door and was placed on administrative leave to treat his treatment for drug and alcohol issues. He did so with the “full support” of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

 

 

Fowles said, via a statement that “I have, for a long time, been dealing with addiction and other mental health issues… I will take a leave of absence to properly deal with my health issues.”

That fell short with former Premier Jeff Kennett (who also founded mental health advocacy group Beyond Blue), who slammed him for referencing his mental health issues.

“What I object to very much indeed is him using the coverall of mental health illness in any way contributing to this act… Mental health does not lead to acts of violence, criminality or antisocial behaviour, in a majority of cases. Alcohol and drugs do, but not mental health,” he told 3AW at the time.

The Age has noted that “Labor sources indicated there have been concerns around parliament relating to Mr Fowles’ struggle with alcohol abuse since he was elected in the November 2018 landslide swing that returned the Andrews government with an increased majority.”

Fowles returned to work two months later, has repeatedly claimed that he hasn’t drunk since. He remains the member for Burwood.

Dan Andrews has repeatedly vowed to institute a scheme of random alcohol testing in parliament as early as 2014, and as late as 2016. The plan was also a commitment prior to the 2014 election, with Andrews promising that MPs would lose a week’s pay or face suspension if they were found intoxicated at work.

In 2016, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy noted that he had no objection to the plan, but outwardly questioned how much Mr Andrews believed in the plan, stating that “The Premier has had more than two years to implement this idea,” he said. “We agree it should be introduced along with random drug testing, and while Daniel Andrews is at it, he should also introduce random alcohol and drug testing of everyone on government construction sites – which he canned.”

When quizzed by The Age in 2016, Mr Andrews’ spokesperson said: “The Andrews Labor Government will deliver on each and every one of its commitments.”

In 2017, a bipartisan committee to analyse the idea dismissed it as “impractical”, with The Herald Sun noting that the “policy to breath-test MPs was informally discussed then dismissed at the House Committee in the past six months and hasn’t been raised by the government since. The government has not pushed the idea since the election.”

Practicality aside, what we clearly have is a cultural problem.

In 2016, The Age asked an unknown Labor MP about their thoughts about the plan being instituted. “Surely we’ve got bigger fish to fry,” that MP said. The example of Fowles’ door, the pieces of the marble table smashed when Tony Abbott was cast aside, the car that Smith drove into a house, speaks to the issue. It shouldn’t be left to these ministers to apply their own standards, make grandstanding apologies, and hopefully be changed by the experience. In 2016, Greens leader Greg Barber said it was up to party leaders to ensure their MPs adhered to standards, noted that “Green MPs don’t loll around the chamber drunk.”

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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16 comments

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  1. Henry Rodrigues

    The filth of the coalition rises to the surface again. But Jug ears rides to the rescue.

  2. New England Cocky

    Uhm … I think the NSW Parliament closed the ”Members Bar” having cut price alcohol because too many pollies and staff were getting drunk after lunch.

    There was the notorious case of the NSW Upper House Speaker going to sleep in the Upper House Chair during a Parliamentary session. He ”retired” from politics. Then the late Geoff Shaw when NSW Attorney General had problems with alcohol and returned to the Bar after treatment.

    If workmen on building sites have to be alcohol & drug tested then it is reasonable for pollies to be tested for alcohol & drug use. If the pollies make the rules then they should play by those rules, just like every other Australian voter.

  3. Harry Lime

    Another chinless lizard from the old school tie wanker brigade pulls the rug out from under himself.Like Lobster Boy, there’s a certain creepy repulsive sameness about them.Waiting for the emaciated goanna in New York to fall out of his tree hollow and leave all these shitkickers stranded without a propaganda department.

  4. GL

    Wow, he’s well and truly porked up, the good old pollie pig and booze trough at work, since 2014.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/Tim_Smith_immediately_after_being_preselected_as_the_Liberal_candidate_for_Kew_2_March_2014_at_Xavier_College_Kew._Credit_CS.jpg/220px-Tim_Smith_immediately_after_being_preselected_as_the_Liberal_candidate_for_Kew_2_March_2014_at_Xavier_College_Kew._Credit_CS.jpg

    There is no way he’s going to give up such a terrific tax payer funded job unless they push him out.

  5. king1394

    The drinking culture among businessmen and politicians needs far more scrutiny. Stereotypes of heavy drinkers overlook the suits with their long lunches. If you are drinking wine you can still get very drunk, That Smith can imbibe to such an extent and yet feel he had not drunk enough to matter shows that more drug and alcohol education needs to be aimed at members of the establishment

  6. totaram

    Harry Lime: “the emaciated goanna” as you very cutely referred to him, may fall out of wherever, but nothing will change as his heir-appointed will see to it that the propaganda continues. The problem is much more serious than you think.

  7. BB

    The dismissal without penalty of drink driving charges against Peta Credlin after a letter from incoming Attorney-General George Brandis show again that the Liberal Party consider themselves above the law.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/peta-credlin-drink-driving-charges-dismissed-via-lnp-immunity,5713\

    It’s all blatant hypocrisy. Politicians thinking they are above the law, and even worse where they think they are the law.
    It’s ok to random breath drug test all citizens when driving, but not ok to random test politicians because they are in parliament.
    Driving on the road drunk can and does cause accidents. But passing legislation when drunk that affects millions is OK?

    Politicians when DUI mostly escape charges. Especially with mates in the AFP. Nothing to see here. “Move on” as Morrison says..

    Private citizen eh, well you should know better than to drink and drive… So, you didn’t have enough to eat, well that’s no excuse!

  8. GL

    And as we are all well aware, the screams of fake outrage and disgust from the Libs would blow the roof off the Victorian parliament building if it was a Labor pollie.

  9. Mark Shields

    Any Parliamentary representative who tries to use their position of privilege, should have NO PRIVILEGES, in the local courts!

  10. Mark Shields

    Why do we still have so-called journalists like Alan Jones trying to misrepresent our proletariat beliefs, whence the local voting public have no interest in local political outcomes?… Unless their own candidates are willing to act for local issues?!!

  11. Mark Shields

    Why Today are so many Australian Citizens so willing to follow our filthy Convict Past, with no view into the future? I for one have had enough of falsely made Human Residences… I I for one have had enough of Imperial placements!

  12. Kathryn

    So, so typical of the unspeakably depraved sense of entitlement exhibited over and over again by these totally corrupt, self-serving, career political parasites that line the cabinet of the LNP at State and federal levels!

    These stratospherically arrogant, condescending grubs place themselves way, way above the laws that govern the rest of us. The appalling misogynistic elitists in the LNP continue to show scathing contempt for ordinary working- and middle-class Australians, openly favour their billionaire donors (especially their Propaganda Minister, Rupert Murdoch), ignore correct political procedures, disregard our laws, are tearing down our democracy and believe that they are entitled to “preferential” treatment!

    The FACT is that any person who has a criminal record CAN NO LONGER BE A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT !! THAT is supposed to be enshrined in parliamentary law but these unscrupulous, criminally errant, serial drunks, pathological liars and skirt lifting misogynistic predators in the LNP don’t even get a frigging slap on the wrist … the worst of them actually get promoted and they just go on and on getting worse with each passing day. The LNP have PROVEN themselves to be ROTTEN from the top down and obscenely corrupt from the inside out! What makes them even more revolting is that Morrison attempts to hide all this nefarious depravity and corruption behind a thin, transparent veneer of nauseating bible-thumping hypocrisy!

    Just about EVERY stone cold psychopath in the Lying Nefarious Party are corrupt to the core with their grasping hands in the taxpayer purse, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on irrational schemes, defunding our children’s education, defunding Medicare, defunding and infiltrating OUR taxpayer-funded ABC into oblivion whilst their moronic, climate-change-denying, coal-loving Neanderthalic leader, MorriSCAMMER, continues to thoroughly embarrass and humiliate our nation on the international stage!

    FFS, KICK THE LNP TO THE GUTTER BECAUSETHAT IS RIGHT WHERE THEY BELONG!

  13. Phil Pryor

    Smith, another conservative cockpolishing corporate crony, has long denounced anyone and everyone who did a mere fraction of what he the turd has actually done NOW. These intellectual perverts, hypocrites, defectives, duds are the rank and file of Conservative politics. So, up their Khybers, shoot them against a wall, build new gallows, sharpen the old guillotines, and just get rid of selfish IDIOTS!!

  14. BB

    Another prime example IMO of a whitewash being attempted by someone who, (with high connections in the National Party), thinks they are part of “The Elite Club”, with an obviously concocted load of old codswallop to escape and/or reduce the consequences of being pissed as a fart while driving home from a party, and causing the death of a pedestrian.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/01/father-of-former-nsw-police-minister-was-hammered-prior-to-fatal-hit-and-run-court-told
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/nov/05/father-of-former-nsw-police-minister-had-alcoholic-blackout-during-fatal-hit-and-run-expert-tells-court

  15. GL

    He’s not going to contest the next election. Just think of all the free drinking time he’s going to have…oh wait…that’s right he’s “Never going to touch another drop of alcohol again.” Suurree…

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