Two photographs taken by Alex Ellinghausen last week pretty much sum up Liberal Member for Goldstein, Tim Wilson.
The first shows Tim joining the Parliamentary Friends of Running (yes, there is such a thing) and the Indigenous Marathon Foundation members as they head off together on a four-kilometre jog to promote active lifestyles in Indigenous communities.
Tim, clutching his mobile phone, is wearing a Liberal-blue t-shirt, jogging shorts, and what appears to be some sort of compression skins underneath the shorts. I am assuming that was to protect his groin when he did a rapid u-turn when the cameras stopped filming. Tim only ran 100 metres before Ellinghausen snapped him returning alone to the warmth of parliament house.
It’s all about self-promotion as Tim freely admitted in a 2014 interview.
He became heavily involved with student politics, eventually becoming president of the Student Union in 2001, thanks in part to his talent for favour-trading – plying opponents with “a whole bunch of delegateships” in return for their support. He also had “this really clever little trick”, using a digital camera, “which very few people had back then”, to take photos of himself at university club functions, several of which he would attend in a single night. He would then send the photos to the club magazines the next morning. “They didn’t have any photos, certainly not that immediately. So they’d run them, and of course I was in half of them, and it made me look as if I was the centre of everything.”
How very Morrison-style Liberal of him. It’s all about the photo ops and trading favours.
It’s not just running where Tim does his rapid back-flips.
After years campaigning for the Australian Human Rights Commission to be abolished during his time at the Institute of Public Affairs, he was chuffed to immediately accept a very high-paying job with them when, after a pleasant evening spent together at the IPA’s 70th birthday bash, George Brandis rang out of the blue to offer Tim a job that didn’t exist.
And Wilson wasted no time taking advantage of his new role, spending $77,763 in expenses in his first year on the job in addition to his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of the extremely competent Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes, as Tim’s new job didn’t come attached with any new funding, so someone had to go.
But Tim was just marking time, waiting for another IPA party-goer, Andrew Robb, to retire from his plum Liberal seat of Goldstein, at which time Tim very quickly resigned from his sinecure at the Human Rights Commission which had only ever been to give him something to put on his CV. Tim was now a Member of Parliament in a seat that has always voted Liberal – barring disaster, a lifetime gig (unless a better offer comes along as it did for his predecessor).
In his previous life at the IPA, Wilson had also spent his time writing witty bon mots ridiculing those who urged action on climate change.
The success of Kerryn Phelps at the Wentworth by-election caused Tim to do another spectacular u-turn when he realised his Inner-city Melbourne constituents were possibly more concerned about climate change than coal-mining jobs. So obvious was Tim’s about-face, the Quadrant magazine labelled him Tim ‘Windvane’ Wilson.
Wilson’s very public championing of freedom of speech is also inconsistent.
During the Occupy Melbourne protests in 2011, he tweeted “all people who think freedom of speech = freedom 2 b heard, time wasters … send in the water cannons”. Yet, in 2019, he was tweeting selfies taken at democracy protests in Hong Kong, extolling the importance of their voices being heard.
During his IPA days, Wilson was a constant panellist on the ABC whilst his organisation was calling for its privatisation. Use it to raise your profile and then demand it be sold off to appease the doyen of the IPA, Rupert Murdoch.
Tim Wilson, as chair of the parliament’s economics committee, collaborated with a relative and investment partner to use publicly funded hearings to attack Labor’s franking credits policy, co-ordinate protests with committee meetings, use a petition to collect signatories contact details, and enlist new members to the Liberal Party.
The Liberal Speaker of the House, Tony Smith, expressed his concern about Wilson’s actions which he said could be “seen to have caused damage to the committee’s reputation and damage to the house committee system more generally”.
Wilson was bemused. ‘What did I do wrong?’
I can understand his confusion.
Tim is the archetypal Liberal. No expertise other than self-promotion, jobs for the boys, rapid u-turns for political expediency, maximise your expense claims, deals for mates, feather your financial nest, and get your photo taken a lot. He will probably go far.
And isn’t that … so disappointingly inadequate?
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!