Modia Minotaur

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Sparkle and Fade

This week has seen the end of two State political careers - one its ascendancy, one on the way down - Macquarie Fields MP Steven Chaytor and the Member for Smithfield, Carl Scully.

Nothing much was ever known about Steven Chaytor, except that he was Gough Whitlam's anointed successor. Given that Mark Latham previously held this role, perhaps Gough's choice of prodigy wasn't much better than his choice of Governor General. Seriously - Chaytor appeared to have genuinely earned his rising star status. The situation that Chaytor found himself in is one that appears morally murky, and very unhappy for all concerned, regardless of who did what. And, regardless of what happened, a very short career has now ended, little over a year after it started (following the resignation of Craig Knowles). It would be a disservice to the people of Macquarie Fields should the notoriously flaky Nola Fraser now win the seat from Labor, but it's a real possibility.

At the other end of the scale, Carl Scullly's career has been in the doldrums for some time, and his removal from the police ministry was undoubtedly its final blow. As one commentator put it very aptly, Scully didn't abandon public life, it abandoned him. I note this quote because Scully was acknowledged by all as a tireless worker and very passionate about the idea of public life. One school of leadership theory divides leadership into the aspirational - those who get ahead by encouraging good in those aroudn them - and the transactional - those who get ahead by dealmaking and shifting alliances. Perhaps Scully's greatest mistake, politically speaking, wasn't some of the bad decisions he made, but the fact that he got on board with the factional heavyweights, but not to the point where they didn't abandon him like a sinking ship when it suited them.

Which is the better person to have as a politician - the person who makes the right decisions for the wrong reasons, or the one who makes the wrong decisions, but for the right reasons? There's a philosophical question to ponder over the weekend.

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