Lindsay’s disgrace

“My wife was absolutely outraged when she heard about the incident.”
Let her convince us.

“We, I hope, live in a society where we treat husbands and wives – although we respect the closeness of their relationship – we treat them as individuals and we shouldn’t automatically transfer blame for the deeds of one onto the other.”

This was John Howard’s response to the revelation that not only Jackie Kelly’s husband, but the husband of Lindsay’s new Liberal candidate Karen Chijoff, was dropping leaflets from the fictitious ‘Islamic Australia Federation’.

But it’s not quite as simple as that. If Karen Chijoff doesn’t dissociate herself from the stunt totally, spontaneously and convincingly, the Liberal Party should disendorse her if that’s possible at this stage. It’s been claimed on her behalf that she knew nothing about it. However, the same applies to Jackie Kelly, and Kelly’s disgraceful response to the incident shows that she isn’t fit for federal politics. It’s not the fact in itself that Kelly is married to someone who was distributing creepy leaflets aiming to damage a political opponent by means of lies and appeals to xenophobic prejudice; it’s the way she tried to dismiss it as a prank, and even deflect the criticism by portraying the leafleters as victims of ALP ‘goons’. But she’s retiring from politics in two days, so there’s no way of holding to her to account.

Her successor, by contrast, can be and should be held to account. Her husband Greg’s behaviour can’t be explained by naivety and inexperience: according to the report linked above, ‘Mr Chijoff has been a fixture in the Liberal ranks around Penrith for many years, at one time holding a senior role in the branches… He is also known as a powerbroker among right wing Liberals.’ In short, the explanation for his behaviour is that he’s a complete reptile.

Given the evidence that just about everyone in her political milieu is either a complete reptile or unable to recognise reptilian behaviour, Karen Chijoff will have to overcompensate. In other words, she will have to work very hard to prove not only that she wasn’t complicit, but that she is genuinely disgusted. It’s hard to see that anything much short of divorce will satisfy the requirement.

But there hasn’t been much progress so far. She is apparently not even answering the phone.

Howard has condemned the pamphlet unreservedly, and that’s to his credit. But he can’t sever himself and his government from the incident entirely until his candidate either produces the goods or he fires her, as he did Pauline Hanson — someone who could reasonably invoke the naivety defense.

Update: As a farewell gift, Phillip Ruddock treated us to an endearing bit of self parody in a debate about the Lindsay scandal on Lateline: ‘It would be inappropriate to preempt the enquiry. We must let the investigation take its course… [etc., etc]’

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P
P
14 years ago

“Howard has condemned the pamphlet unreservedly”

Sorry, my cynicism sees this in terms of the 11th commandment. Also Howard is an expert at plausible deniability.

But yes it is too low level for him to be aware of or authorise but he has set a distinct standard ethically.

David Rubie
David Rubie
14 years ago

Where was Howards strident defense of the separation of wives and husbands while he was pursuing Therese Rein over her business?

What a mendacious little rat.

skepticlawyer
14 years ago

What were these people on when they concocted this stunt? Way to shoot yourself in the foot, peeps.

Caroline
Caroline
14 years ago

Well at least she hasn’t lunched with Brian Burke. Er . .has she?

cs
cs
14 years ago

Powerfully said, James.

I tend too see it as a Ralph Willis Letters moment.

cs
cs
14 years ago

Or “too” much like Ralph’s moment.

Patricia WA
Patricia WA
14 years ago

We love you, Jackie Kelly!

James Farrell
14 years ago

Why won’t Alex get elected? I suppose a 20% swing in Mitchell seems like child’s play to a man who’s about to secure a 51% swing in Solomon.

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

I’m sure Howard had nothing to do with it.Even he has his limits when it comes to downright clown time incompetence.

Speaking of which, I wonder how the LDP candidate for the seat of Dobell is going with his letterbox knocking campaign?

“I know you’re in there! Come on out you lying c**t! You want the fractional reserve fascists to take away your sky house?”

Nabakov
Nabakov
14 years ago

That last comment was in no way any reflection on the sterling (if not Stirling) LDP candidates like you Jacques.

Frankly you come across as too level-headed and even-handed to fall for any organised political party’s dogma. Or to put it another way, yer the only LDP candidate I’m aware of who’s never made a fool of themselves online at one time or another. Well perhaps Terje too.

If you were in my electorate, I’d definitely put you above all the other fringe candidates as I number all the boxes.

wildpossum
wildpossum
14 years ago

No I don’t think Howard had anything to do with it, he’s got too much to worry about at the moment.

But I’m not surprised at all. His government encourages this kind of rotten behaviour. I mean if ministerial responsibility has gone out the window, the thuggish elements feel that anything is justified. His ethics have come back to bite him. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Guise
Guise
14 years ago

Ruddock on Lateline finally let slip the Government’s real campaign slogan: “I didn’t know. I didn’t ask. I wasn’t told.”

Just what we want to hear from our Ministers … when they’re on their way out of office.

Ken Lovell
14 years ago

Actually they might do themselves a favour by disendorsing her at the last minute so she can run riot as an independent … it worked a treat with Hanson.