Nova Peris and Barry Spurr

peris caricatureNova Peris says her private emails were apparently leaked as part of an acrimonious family dispute. Me? I think they were leaked by Barry Spurr. Oh, so she didn’t want private emails to her lover (who denies being her swain) broadcast on the national news? Fancy that! Still, it won’t stop the righteous hordes that, even now, must be thronging outside the good Senator’s office for a round of feel-good chanting. After all, that’s what they did to Spurr:

Hey Hey. Ho Ho. Nova Peris has got to go.
Hey Hey. Ho Ho Nova Peris has got to go.

Aww, but it’s all so jejune, so early-October-Barry-Spurr-ish.

Here are some punchier chants I am rushing straight to Canberra. I hope to cover all the bases:

Run Nova. Get those grants
They’ll get you into Boldon’s pants.

And on Cathy Freeman:

She can run and she is fit
But crikey, she can’t talk for shit!

 Or this:

Nova, this has got to end.
That’s no way to treat a friend!

 On a career in the Senate:

How can someone who’s so dumb
Get a sinecure that’s so plumb.

On black/white relations:

Nova, no more racist cracks
Not all whities hate youse blacks.

And how can there be no comment on her touching use of the charming Indigenous patois, as in “the Indigenous grants mob”:

I get money from that mob
Coz’ my teacher was a racist slob!

Yes, I bet Barry Spurr had a hand in Peris’s embarrassment. Just as an experiment, let’s do a little editing and transpose Peris’s embarrassment into Richard Ackland’s words from The Guardian, “Barry Spurr v New Matilda: the facts, the law and the porridge”

“What is so touchingly gormless about Senator Peris’s titillating sex talk, casual racism and disregard for indigenous grant money is that she should commit them to writing and send them around by email.”

“It’s as though she was begging someone to steal what she thought were amusing little invitations for extra-marital sex and dodgy self-serving grant applications to the rest of the world”

Infidelity, sexual innuendo and comments about people who don’t speak properly – all have been part of what Peris now characterises as part of her private life.”

And will the twitterverse erupt with the sort of comments that marked the pillaging of Spurr’s email archives. Again with a little editing of what was said then, we would be hearing things like

  • I felt physically sick when I read those emails.
  • She sits in the national parliament and she lies to her husband! What other lies is she telling? Will she lead us to war on a false pretext like that Howard fella?
  • I feel as though I’ve been violated. Was she thinking of purloining my tax dollars when she was talking to me?

Here’s the truth, and why the Peris revelations as a counterpoint to the Spurr Affair are perfect:  We should make of her leaked correspondence what Spurr ‘s emails deserved and that is nothing whatsoever, absolutely nothing! Her private emails should not have been published. It should not be illegal to do so, but their release was vulgar and tawdry nonetheless. A decent editor might have focused his paper’s coverage on questions addressing the possible misuse of public funds in order to further a private relationship. Everything else is nonsense.

Walters on Spurr: Private Mail, Public Burning

Senator Peris may well be a true and loyal friend and a very decent person. I don’t know. But to find out she doesn’t have an unadulterated and delusionally positive regard for a fellow athlete and Aboriginal Australian, well hold the front page!  That Cathy Freeman is not a great speaker is obvious. Why should she be? So why publish Peris’s views on Freeman’s eloquence or lack thereof?  The fact that her private words are not entirely consonant with her tweet from June 2014 — “She’s (Freeman) here raising awareness for diabetes. Great to see you Sis X” — means one thing and one thing only: Peris is an ordinary, typical human, just like us all. Oh, the hypocrisy of the woman for saying in private what she would never dream of uttering in public!

If only Peris had an “arch, high camp style”  — that’s Ackland’s appraisal of Barry Spurr — we could have more titillating epithets downloaded straight from her brain and against her wishes. Pity, that. Still, there may be more to come.

Does Peris really think “white Australians hate blacks?” Well, it’s unlikely to be her considered position, publicly or privately. And of course she’s not completely wrong if she does. It was a private thought, said in private, and for reasons that are no different to the ones we all have when we say or write something unworthy, biased and not fit for public consumption.

It was a disgrace that an Australian Senator was humiliated and put in the position of explaining private matters to the Parliament and the nation. If we are to judge Perris, or Spurr, let’s do it on the basis of something more sophisticated than a stolen snippet of private correspondence, or a rude photo or a bad joke. Or even a good joke.

Dr Murray Walters is a Brisbane psychiatrist

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