Monday, May 11, 2009

Wilson Tuckey, Charles Court, young pups, iron bars and the wisdom of age

(Above: Wilson Tuckey warming a parliamentary seat and keeping it safe from young pups).

Charles Wilson "Ironbar" Tuckey must be feeling the pre-selection heat.

It might have escaped your attention that, being born on the 10th July, 1935, good ol' Iron bar is heading towards towards the mid-seventies, thereby earning the dubious distinction of being the only currently sitting Member of Parliament to first become a member during the government of Mal Fraser, and the second longest to keep a seat warm after Philip Ruddock (and don't get me going on the subject of Ruddock and Amnesty).

So it seems a fair question to ask whether there's a little bit of self serving going down with Ironbar's column in The Australian, contending that Age is a proven asset.

Modesty of course prevents Ironbar from mentioning that he himself is a wonderful, proven asset to the Liberal party and Australia, but there's no doubt he fancies the company he's currently keeping.

The most successful political leaders of the free world have been over 60 years of age when assuming national leadership, with most approaching their seventies.

Included in the list are Winston Churchill, aged 65 when he first became prime minister of Britain, and 76 when he again became prime minister, Ronald Reagan, aged 69 when first elected president of the US and aged 78 on retirement after serving two terms, and Hillary Clinton, aged 61 when appointed the US Secretary of State this year.

Churchill, Reagan and Hillary Clinton? Bizarre.

But there's a more poignant and personal tone when Ironbar relates the tragedy of Charles Court, who just happens to have been a Western Australian politician like Ironbar himself:

A great loss to the Liberal Party and the state of Western Australia was the retirement of Charles Court, who was originally approached by the Perth business community to forgo his prosperous accountancy practice to enter parliament. He decided to retire as premier at age 70, though he continued as an active participant in public life for another 20 years. The record of the younger MPs who managed WA for the next decade is hardly one to be proud of.

Yes, curse you, you young pups. How dare you think you're up to Sir Charles Court's standard, including that upstart son of his, what was his name, oh never mind, premier or something, brain gets a bit cloudy these days, hard drive's a little full.

Well you kittens, you couldn't hold a candle to Sir Charles ... or dare we whisper it ... Mr. Tuckey himself. Well yes, let's not whisper it, let's shout it out aloud:

... we are urged by anonymous business leaders to replace older and more experienced MPs with those of a younger age.

It would appear to me they might better serve Australia by withholding such advice and offering their services to the Australian people by seeking preselection to win a seat in parliament, whatever their political leaning.

Were they, say, as in my case, aged 45 with 25 years of previous successful personal business and life skills experience, including 16 years of volunteer local government service, they should be ready to provide the management our nation requires.

Does that sound something like "I have only five words for you ... from my cold dead hands" will you wrench this parliamentary seat from me, you punks. Well are you feeling lucky punks?

It's all a question of pay you see. The limited remuneration we offer politicians only attracts younger people whose long-employment prospects would not provide an income in, say, excess of $50,000 to $70,000 a year. They are often to be found in the rear offices of the trade union movement and the parliamentary offices of some serving MPs.

Such persons are well trained in the art of politics but deficient in the area of business management that the nation requires.

No wonder those greedy, inexperienced, Machiavellian young pups are eyeing off the $130k or thereabouts a back bencher picks up in Federal parliament.

But ol' Ironbar isn't self-serving, because he wants a lot of oldies joining him in national service. Swing us a bit towards the American system where appointed people typically come from business and the professions after successful careers, with many receiving a peppercorn salary. Now you might think this leads them open to a little profit-making on the side, but Ironbar assures us this isn't so. It's all about the noble sacrifice of the elderly helping out the ignorant young pups (and where's the gratitude? None, I tells ya).

Anyhoo, let's contrast the way we do it down under, and it seems despite all the best help from the old farts like Wilson running the show for years, we just haven't got it right:

In the Australian system it is time that the business leaders gave up the process of anonymous advice and purchase of influence through donations. Instead they should donate their active retirement years to public service as elected MPs and/or active members of our political parties, participating at least in the preselection of persons whose background brings experience and expertise to the management of our nation.

If healthy, they should then serve well into their 70s.

Well into their seventies? Just like that successful businessman with immense life skills like ol' Ironbar Tuckey!!

Sadly, long gone are the days when Tuckey used to taunt Paul Keating about a girlfriend called Christine way back in the eighties, leading Keating to call him a piece of criminal garbage:

Shut up! Sit down and shut up, you pig... Why do you not shut up, you clown?... This man has a criminal intellect... this clown continues to interject in perpetuity.

You can read more about Ironbar - and how he got his nickname, after being convicted of assaulting an aboriginal man with a length of steel cable - by heading off to Wikipedia here.

Memorably, Ironbar was one of five coalition members to boycott the federal parliament's motion of apology to the aboriginal people

Yep, it'll be a long time before Federal parliament sees his like again, and hopefully it'll be a really short time before we see the last of his like. Give the young pups a go - could they be any worse? There must be some wretched Liberal pup in a parliamentary office somewhere ready to enter a preselection battle for the federal seat of O'Connor.

Never mind that you'll be ruining the country by taking Wilson Tuckey away from us. We'll live with it.

Go for it, go hell for leather, you young guns, and take him down ...

(Below: Gregory Peck as Jimmy Ringo in Henry King's The Gunfighter, playing an aging fast hand with a six gun weary of his legend, and worried about the young guns who want to take him down).

No comments: