Nova Peris: Personal privacy v the public right to know.

Senator Nova Peris has hit back at allegations printed in the Australian media. Nova Peris, NT Labor senator, rejects claims of wrongdoing over alleged affair with Olympian Ato Boldon in 2010.

 Captain's pick Nova Peris was parachuted into the Senate by the captain. Julia Gillard

Captain’s pick Nova Peris was parachuted into the Senate by the captain. Julia Gillard

This is an interesting case of what should and shouldn’t be published and what politicians should shouldn’t do.

Essentially the allegations  against Peris  are that she sought public funding to bring Trinidad and Tobago Olympic medallist Ato Boldon to Australia and this was, in part, for her to continue a sexual relationship with him.

There’s nothing wrong with these two things in isolation, it’s when you put them together the trouble starts.

Ato Boldon of Trinadad

Ato Boldon of Trinadad

Senator Peris reportedly said she was getting the money for his trip through the “indigenous grants mob” and that he would not have to pay tax on his payment.

Nothing wrong with that, it was part of a programme to support indigenous athletes: exactly what you would expect an indigenous Olympic gold medallist senator to do.

The difficulty is that number of news papers have published what are alleged to be emails between Peris and Boldon in which there is a suggestion that the two of them were having/would be having an affair.

Nothing wrong with that either.

In fact, this is  where the fine line between what should and should not be published needs to be drawn. The details of what Peris and Boldon were intending to do if, and when, he visited Australia are private matter and should never have been published in the press.

It should also be clear that  by all reports Boldon had done an excellent job in Australia. In addition, the Australian Sports Commission has said that the funding for the athletics program which Boldon took part in had passed an independent audit.

The difficulties that Peris now finds itself in is that his support for Boldon and her relationship with him have now been linked in a very damaging way.

Are there any other parallels to this in public life?

You Betcha!

Remember Tony Abbott’s daughter Francis  and the scholarship worth $60,000  which was awarded by an  institute chaired by Les Taylor, a long-time donor to the Liberals, who gave Mr Abbott gifts of clothing in February 2012 and April 2013.

 Bridget, Tony and Francis Abbott at Golden Slipper Day. Because the father is the Prime Minister the Abbott girls have been given opportunities and advantages denied to most Australian  young women

Bridget, Tony and Francis Abbott at Golden Slipper Day. Because the father is the Prime Minister the Abbott girls have been given opportunities and advantages denied to most Australian young women

Let’s give everybody the benefit of the doubt over the merits of awarding of the scholarship and remember that Abbott has declared the gifts of clothes on the pecuniary interest register.

The problem is, as is the case of Nova Peris, when you put these two things together that it looks very damaging for the people concerned.

The Australian public is significantly disillusioned with its politicians. Rightly so and for a  large number of reasons, one of which is politicians using their influence to gain personal financial/personal advantage.

Tony Abbott should have known better. Nova Peris should be given the benefit of the doubt as a first-time offender.

It is unlikely that the Australian media is going to learn any lessons from this unfortunate affair.

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