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Australia’s Chair-Sniffing Politician Is Coming Back To Work

WA’s Troy Buswell is returning to parliament.
March 13, 2014, 1:23am

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Last week Greens senator Scott Ludlam gave Tony Abbott a dressing down that would have been more at home in the final moments of a feel good movie about good-guy politics than the floor of the WA parliament. Moments later the country’s Facebook feed erupted with YouTube clips and digital high-fives. At times like this that we’re inclined to congratulate ourselves for electing politicians who speak to our needs, represent our values, and don’t get out of bed in the morning just to suck face with mining companies or log old-growth forest.

But Ludlam isn’t the only WA politician racking up newspaper inches. State Treasurer Troy Buswell is wading through a different flavor of public attention as he prepares to return to work next week. Mr Buswell, who came to national attention most spectacularly for sniffing the chair of a female coleague in 2008 and has been busy snapping bra straps ever since, has been on leave for “health reasons” since February. His time off was conveniently timed around a drunk driving incident on 23 February when Buswell crashed his car after spending the day boozing at a wedding. Double points for driving a taxpayer funded vehicle at the time.

Following the kerfuffle and his imposed grandpa vacation, Buswell's portfolios of Transport and Treasury were taken over temporarily by Premier Colin Barnett.

Now as the West Australians prepare for the return of their prodigal, truffle-hunting son, voters are left to meditate on two very different politicians.

Sure we love high minded social thinkers like Scott Ludlam, but Australia does have a tempestuous relationship with our larrikin politicians. From Bob Hawke’s yard glass, to Bob Katter’s awkward hat exchange with Pharrell Williams we prize a dark horse more highly than we’d care to admit.

In most countries Buswell would have been retired a long time ago. But rather than being shuffled out the door he’s enjoyed a considerable degree of political sheltering. Despite clocking up eight demerit points in three years as transport minister—before crashing all together—Premier Barnett continues to stand by him. Beyond babysitting his folio during his absence, the Premier gave his word Buswell wasn’t “going to make any more mistakes”, and assures us that he will, “ride him harder than Black Caviar was ridden.”

It makes you wonder what we’re asking from our political elite? We tell ourselves we’re Scott Ludlam-ites, but we place him along side a man who we celebrate for riding a segway. Maybe we’re just all a bunch of hard drinking, impulsive loose ends—and we take comfort in recognising it in one of our leaders. We’ll probably never stand up to a Prime Minister, but god knows we’ll probably say something offensive to a coworker. So welcome back Troy Buswell, apparently you’re our type of man.

Follow Wendy on Twitter: @WendyWends