When Mal walked away

Now in his 40s, MARK PARTON’S learnt that you can’t trust random emails from people from Nigeria, car salesmen with white shoes and pretty much every elected member of every parliament in the nation…

DIDN’T Liberal Malcolm Turnbull hit the nail on the head when he decried a deficit of trust in Australian politics?

Turnbull turned on his own in a brutally honest assessment of the biggest problem plaguing political discourse in this country.

Westminster system politics will always be adversarial in nature, but the party battle seems to dominate every aspect of it.

Turnbull’s speech made me think about another Malcolm who, in the year 2001, provided the singlemost honest moment of ACT politics.

Raiders’ legend Mal Meninga sat in a Canberra radio studio 11 years ago to announce he was running for public office. As he heard himself speak of his own credentials, he realised that this whole caper just wasn’t him. He couldn’t do it. He wasn’t comfortable with the spin. After 24 seconds of political life, he apologised and then walked away.

I’ve often wondered what sort of an MLA Meninga would have made. Former Chief Minister Kate Carnell agrees with me.

“Mal could have been one of our greatest local politicians had he persevered,”  she told my radio program. “Mal’s uncompromising toughness would have changed the Legislative Assembly for the better.”

So where do we find these politicians who will stay true to their hearts?

We may have a couple who have thrown their hats in the ring this October. I fancy that Ginninderra candidates Chic Henry and Marion Le are the sort of people who could address the deficit of trust on London Circuit.

One leans left and one right, but they’ve both displayed a propensity for brutal honesty in their public lives. The fact that neither are backed by a “party machine” would further enhance their ability to be true to themselves. Paradoxically, that lack of major party support will probably be the thing that keeps them out of the Assembly.

Mark Parton is the breakfast announcer on 2CC.

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