Maxine McKew is a talented journalist and television interviewer. I have always found her interviewing style scrupulously fair. She has talent at drawing out views rather than launching ‘Kerry O’Brien’-style attacks. She is also an attractive person. But in terms of public policy skills Maxine has far less to offer Australia than an experienced politician like John Howard. Why on earth has she been persuaded to take him on in Bennelong? At best she positions herself for a safe seat should Howard retire – it is unlikely she will win this time around.
Peter Ruehl in today’s AFR (subscription required) describes nominating McKew for Bennelong as an (attempted) career jump ‘like going from teaching at Yale Law School to opening for Wayne Newton at Vegas’. That is far-fetched but, like Ruehl, I am unhappy about her daft career move. She is not an airhead 'celebrity' but she is also no political talent.
Like Peter Garrett, Maxine is a high profile candidate but she lacks even his limited political skills. She will shift house to live in Bennelong to demonstrate her ‘commitment’ (what a phoney thing this move is) but this does not change her status as a high profile gimmick not a political talent. Her nomination insults the voters in Bennelong and damages the lovely Maxine.
Why not Aunty Jack, Kath, Kim or Mr Squiggle if the ALP wants a celebrity? Why sacrifice Maxine?