Private lives of public people

Thursday 13 January 2005 10:02 AM

Greens leader Bob Brown is right to challenge the latest on-air tabloid pursuit of Mark Latham. In similar vein, it's heartening that Mr Howard has staunchly resisted the invitation to politicise the Labor leader's failure to publicly respond to the Tsunami tragedy. For serving their state or nation, public figures pay a very high price indeed in terms of personal and family privacy. Few Australians would accept having their or their family's public/private boundary drawn where we appear to expect our leaders to place theirs. If the boss phoned with a work matter on an RDO, we'd sigh. If he phoned on our annual leave, we'd grumble. If he phoned whilst we were on sick leave under doctor's orders, tempers would really flare. Yet we who as we like to remind our political leaders are their democratic masters, expect them to report for duty at our say-so regardless. If the Federal Opposition in the absence of the parliamentary leader failed to respond appropriately to the disaster, that suggests a systemic failure. It is very poor form for anyone, party colleagues in particular, to sheet the blame to the ailing leader.