For all of its hard-charging, there is a certain naivete in the modern ALP. A presumption that even its toughest players are deep down motivated by their quest to have their party get the best possible result for itself and in turn for the state and the nation.
For every Mal Colston – and Evan Thornley – there are hundreds of hard working people who tirelessly dedicate themselves to the cause they love. Thornley’s ghost-written words expressed this dedication but ultimately they proved as hollow as former federal Leader Mark Latham, who remained absolutely dedicated to Labor until the moment it didn’t suit him.
CORRUPTION IN ACTION
The idea that a newly elected Member of Parliament, appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier for Innovation, would use that as a platform to scout for investment/employment opportunities is probably not that shocking to the real world but it seems to continue to cause shock and pain within the ALP given Evan Thornley’s apparent decision to do just that.
Almost all Parliamentarians take their role gravely seriously. Some to a fault. They make the laws that govern the nation and are a clearing house for many of society’s big debates and arguments. Because their process – despite criticism – is respected, many of those big conflicts are able to be resolved peacefully. It’s a system built on faith and trust. Not just from outsiders trusting insiders but among the insiders too. There are certain presumptions made of every MP, an ambition to serve being one of the the most basic of them.
CONTEMPT FOR COLLEAGUES
That’s why the shock at Thornley rejecting the offer of a big promotion and walking away is such a shock not only to his party but the entire political system itself.
It doesn’t just reflect adversely on the Premier for trusting him.
It expresses an absolute and total contempt for the entire Parliamentary activity.
Those who know Thornley well know that it is perfectly conceivable for him to regard himself as much bigger than the Victorian – or any other Parliament. His ego and vanity knows few limits.
There is even shock that one of the state caucus would rather chase their next $50 million than have a chance to serve as the state’s Minister for Industry and Trade. Many colleagues eventually arrive at a desire to leave – with George Seitz being the honourable exception – and some understandably plot and scheme from the Parliament itself to build their next career or invest in a piggery or pub or whatever. Nothing wrong with that.
But very few do this two years in. And none after being offered a being promotion to become a senior Cabinet minister.
Most of the people we know in state politics would gladly walk away from any fortune for the chance to serve at the highest level in public life. Money is fun and freedom. But politics is the noblest profession where the contributions you make can last many lifetimes.
It shows just how venal and easily distracted by apparently glittering opportunities Labor’s former would-be minister Thornley always was.
THE REAL EVAN THORNLEY FINALLY UNMASKED TO A SHOCKED WORLD
Ultimately it reveals a man far more concerned with piously discussing politics at dinner parties than actually making a difference. Nothing wrong with that, unless of course by pretending to be interested in government service, you make such a big public show of rejecting it and therefore at least temporarily embarrassing those naive enough to have faith in you in the first place.
In a party dominated by splits, rats and skulduggery, Thornley’s only lasting impact on public life and the party he piously professed to care about was inventing a new form of ratting on your colleagues: Public repudiation on the verge of promotion or the ‘Nah nah nah nah nah, I don’t want what you can give’ move.
Fortunately for both major parties, whose Ambition Factions continue to be the biggest of all, it is unlikely to set a trend. It is impossible to count beyond five the number of state MPs who would knock back a state Ministry if given the chance. And those are retiring or unwell. Liberal leader Red Ted Baillieu would probably take a place in the Brumby cabinet if only they weren’t so right-wing.
LABOR’S LATEST RAT’S NEW VENTURE
Back to Thornley, VEXNEWS has learned that one-time billionaire now dubbed “The Great Satan” by former colleagues has confided in friends that the French company he is investing in and/or working with an “environmental” company. Contrary to press reports, it is not a job as such, more a venture investment in which he would have a hands-on role, according to our well-placed source. Thornley is not reduced to looking for employment on Seek, at least at this point, our source said.
Thornley would do well to expose it publicly, as VEXNEWS investigators will make a point of discovering and exposing it. If he became aware of the corporate opportunity in the course of his public duties, he may indeed have to account for future profits to taxpayers, one legal expert explained to us yesterday.
HAPPY HIPPY LOVE IN FAR KEW
Another source insisted that Thornley was not in any position to accept an overseas job. “His children are at Preshil in Kew and are expected to stay on” he explained.
Preshil is an alternative school that has a reputation for being somewhat bohemian and hippy-love in its approach. One happy alum reported myths about the school including:
Classes held in the nude, whole terms spent lounging beneath trees, and the study of Buddhism instead of basic literacy and numeracy.
Compulsory vegetarianism, non-compulsory classes, and a ban on any form of competition were all on the curriculum.
We understand that the Thornleys chose the school after extensive research, group hugs and kumbayah sing-songs and that they have no plans to move. “They bought a house within walking distance of the school,” a source familiar with the Thornley family revealed last night.
VEXNEWS understands that despite romantic liaisons with a number of women including a Camille Peach that Evan Thornley and his wife/business partner Tracey Ellery intend to stay together despite what observers see as an extremely rocky marriage. Your correspondent personally saw this in action at Looksmart’s offices a decade ago. Ellery is a fiery red-head indeed and was perfectly willing to get physical with the hen-pecked hubby in order to make a point. She had former Foreign Minister Gareth Evan’s unpleasant habit of throwing around office objects without any of his vision or intellect. She is possibly one of the most charmless creatures on God’s good earth outside of the bullfrog species. No wonder he strays.
EVEN THE AGE STICKS IN THE BOOT
Meanwhile, The Aged has reported some of yesterday’s fun at the Labor Unity and full caucus meetings that was of course first reported here.
â– The reporting of patriot LegCo President Bob Smith slamming Thornley. The Age claims Smith said Thornley was an [expletive] disgrace, our sources distinctly recall hearing [expletive] despicable. Either cap seems to fit Thornley’s ballooning head. “Source said (sic)that in addition to calling Mr Thornley’s conduct a disgrace, Mr Smith said he was “appalled” by his behaviour and labelled the timing of the departure “insulting”. Good call by the patriot;
â– Even The Age going the hack on him with references to him “jetting into Melbourne from holidays in the south of France”, for making a “waffling speech” and “One Labor MP said if â€” as reported â€” Mr Thornley was exposed to his new job while serving in his parliamentary secretary role, it was a “scandal” and a “disgrace”;
â– Matt Viney joined in the fun, sending out another Blackberry missive to his colleagues (he really should put it away now some think), even quoting Mr Thornley as he signed off “stating he would continue serving the party “because I believe in our cause” â€” a comment interpreted by Labor insiders as a further swipe at Mr Thornley;” and
â– Â More Age criticism with them attacking him for “Mr Thornley’s abrupt decision to abandon politics for the private sector â€” about which Victorian voters are still being denied details.” Indeed they are, but mark our words, we’ll find out soon enough and you’ll be the first to know.