It is hard to know which is the more shocking – my agreeing with The Devine Maiden or Legal Eagle agreeing with Andrew Bolt. Truly the Campbell affair in NSW has created some strange bedfellows!
Today Miranda has written a column that makes considerable sense: A family man beyond our ken. It doesn’t really begin with “Door David Campbell” either. 😉
…He seemed the most unlikely candidate to be a Friend of Dorothy in all of Macquarie Street. Yet he told Premier Kristina Keneally as he tendered his resignation from the cabinet that ”he has been living with a secret about his sexuality for over two decades”.
Under attack yesterday for its reporting, one justification offered by Seven is that Campbell was hypocritically posing as a family man. ”He’s represented himself to the people of Keira as a family man,” Walters told the ABC, ”even going to the extent of sending Christmas cards to his constituents highlighting the fact that he is a man of family values. This is about pretence, it’s about integrity, it’s about character.”
But why can’t Campbell have a picture of his wife and children on his Christmas cards, like any other father?
Married in 1977 at the age of 19 to Edna, with whom he has two sons, now in their late 20s, Campbell grew up in the blokey blue-collar Wollongong suburb of Corrimal, where even in the swinging ’70s a gay lifestyle was not an easy option for a man who liked to fit in.
And at 19, perhaps he loved Edna so much he could not bear to lose her despite any conflicts he might have felt sexually. No one knows what personal temptations he has had to overcome in his life, and that is entirely his business…
Like Della Bosca, Campbell has not closed the door on politics entirely. His Wollongong electorate is so safe the Labor candidate would have to be Dracula not to be elected, so if he stays on as the member for Keira, as he has vowed to do, he may even win the sympathy vote.
Being gay, after all, is no longer a handicap in public life. Iceland last year elected an openly gay prime minister, and the Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, is a respected senior government operative whose sexuality is never an issue…
Contrary to some reports, his sexuality was not an open secret on Macquarie Street until about last September, when rumours started to do the rounds. At the time the then premier Nathan Rees was under pressure and replacements were being sought, with Campbell briefly considered, according to one insider, although he laughed off the suggestion.
One of Campbell’s colleagues yesterday described him as a conscientious man with a demeanour that suggested he ”was somewhat resigned to life” . He was a ”great survivor” and a ”good soldier” who plodded through his job like Mr Slow, as conscientiously as he was able. Suddenly he’s become a lot more interesting.
No doubt there are other politicians in the closet in Australia, but gay liberation also means they have the right to stay in the closet if they wish. Sadly, Campbell now has no choice.
In the end, while it’s often forgotten in our sex-saturated culture, there is more to a person than sex. Campbell’s identity is not encapsulated in a two-hour session at Ken’s of Kensington on Tuesday night. He is still a family man.
She’s a bit kinder to Channel Seven than I am. She’s spot on about Corrimal in the 1970s though. I lived the 1970s (for the most part) in Wollongong.
Jim Belshaw has also responded to this story but has refused to dignify it with links.
In all, the story caused acute distress without, so far as I can see, a single public policy benefit.
I have written before on the problems created by this type of reporting – Why are we so hard on our politicians – and ourselves? is an example. I would like to think that in going one step too far, Channel Seven may in fact have created a reaction that will, to some degree at least redress the balance.