March 20, 2007 | Graham

Santoro throws his dearest overboard

When you want to escape with your skin intact you need to sacrifice something which is most dear to you, and to those who pursue you. That’s the solution adopted by Medea when fleeing Colchis with her lover Jason (and the Golden Fleece). She cut her brother Absyrtis into pieces and scattered him in the wake of the Argo to delay her father’s pursuing fleet. Santo has done a similar thing – he’s sacrificed his parliamentary ambitions and he’s hoping it will let him escape with his skin intact. The press and those who have pursued Santoro can’t let this matter rest.
In particular the Queensland Liberal Party has a special duty to discharge. More than any other group they are responsible for Santoro’s malign influence because as an organisation they have supported and nourished him. Now that the Liberal Party is acting decisively it needs to deal with some of the other outcroppings of Santoro influence.
Their first duty will be to choose a replacement senator. It’s about time that they chose another woman. Since my old boss Kathy Sullivan left the Senate Queensland Liberal candidates have been universally grey and pin-striped males. Sue Boyce, President of State Women’s Council, has been willing and able in the past. If she’s still ready, she would be an obvious possibility. There are plenty of others. This wouldn’t be an exercise in affirmative action, so much as a recognition of the 60 plus percent of the party who are female.
They also need to deal with the moribund leadership of the organisation. Santo’s patron, State President Warwick Parer, needs to be eased out of his position. He’s out of touch, and has been publicly defending Santoro’s position earlier this week. He’s also part of the cabal that has allowed Santoro to flourish. State Director Jeff Greene also needs to go. He’s allegedly only retained his job because the Prime Minister thinks he is good at it. Not many in the party would agree with that assessment, including the candidates who have endured his campaigns.
Of course, many of those who share the blame for Santo will survive. Santo’s senate colleague George Brandis will survive, despite allying himself with Santoro ten of more years ago to tear down the last successful administration that the Liberal Party had because they weren’t interested in making him a senator. Compromise is part of any successful political solution. But if the party deals decisively with Santoro it will send a message to some of his erstwhile supporters that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated.
Of course Santo will probably go unpunished for most of the things of which he is guilty. That’s the way of the world. When great powers decide to get you (and I’m told Bill Heffernan launched an excoriating attack on Santoro in the party room today) the headline reason is not necessarily the real one. But get you they will. The Liberals, and others, need to go all the way to Baghdad.

Posted by Graham at 10:46 pm | Comments Off on Santoro throws his dearest overboard |
Filed under: Arts

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