The Premier was asked how he would juggle leading the state with six small children at home; the question prefaced by noting that any woman in his position would be asked this question. The question was kind and powerful.
The Premier’s answer was equally powerful; he admitted the enormity of the task and said that what he loses in time, he gains in perspective.
Caroline Di Russo says If we expect our politicians to be accountable to the people, we must give them the credit of being accountable at home. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
And it’s absolutely right to point out that the same question would be asked if the new premier was a woman with a big family. No argument with that. Without a shadow of a doubt, if Dominic had been Domenica, the media would’ve wanted a snapshot of her weekly schedule.
But my sticking point is this: regardless of gender, is it a question that should be asked at all?
In the private sector, you can’t ask a candidate in a job interview how they intend to manage their personal circumstances. And rightly so, it doesn’t objectively affect their ability to do their job and how competing candidates personally choose to manage their families shouldn’t be a consideration for an employer in deciding who gets the role.
Similarly, I cringe whenever I hear that question asked at a preselection. Preselectors should concern themselves with the broader competence of a candidate, their values and experience, their observations on political strategy and where they sit on relevant policy positions.
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The preselection process is not enriched by asking who does school drop off. Political candidates should discuss these matters with their family and that is where those conversations should remain.
Back to Dominic.
If he is being entrusted with the management of NSW, I’m sure we can trust him with the management of his family. Remember, the great Liberal Party value of personal responsibility? Well, this issue falls firmly in that category. Who are we to pry and why is it any of our business?
I’m not from NSW and its premier doesn’t affect me directly. And while I know a bit about NSW politics I’ve not seen a lot of Dominic Perrottet up close in his natural habitat. So, to learn a bit more about the new premier, I would’ve been more interested in hearing about his professional credentials and his private sector experience.
I don’t recall hearing much about this, if anything, in the media over the last few days. I know about where he went to high school, that he’s a Catholic, and how he voted on the NSW abortion bill, but I learned little about his competence and the experience he brings to the role.
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From a governance point of view, those are the fundamental attributes which will have the most profound impact on the way he does his job.
I don’t begrudge the question being asked; it humanizes Dom Perrottet and it speaks to our modern focus on work/life balance. I just wish we could move past our enthusiasm for politicians’ private lives and focus on the aspects of the political class which most affect the people they govern.
If we expect our politicians to be accountable to the people, we must give them the credit of being accountable at home.

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