We live in a time when privileges are confused with rights and urban myths rule. Unprincipled action and sheer stupidity are undermining probity and commonsense in public life.
A recent example was the conviction of South Australian Greens MP, Tammy Franks, for failing to lodge ten tax returns from 2000-2010.
The Adelaide Magistrates Court rejected the argument by the 43-year-old member of the state's upper house, that she was incapable of lodging tax returns from 2001 to 2010 because of the breakdown of her marriage.
Whether she will keep her seat in parliament is unknown.
The Court had previously heard Franks had also failed to lodge tax returns from 1994-2000 but was not facing any additional charges.
Last year Franks had initially pleaded guilty, apologized to the Greens and her supporters for her behaviour but then, at a later date, changed her plea to not guilty. This did not endear her to the Prosecution.
Readers may remember that Franks was the recipient of a Paul Keating broadside when she was a member of a protest at Adelaide University back in the mid 1990s. Keating told her to "Get a job!" He should have also added "and pay tax."
Franks has worked as a policy officer for the South Australian Mental Health Coalition, which survives on Commonwealth and state government grants sourced from taxation.
She also worked as a researcher for the Australian Democrats in Adelaide, a political party whose staff were paid by the Australian taxpayer. In 2004 Franks ran as a Democrat Senate candidate in South Australia. At the time she released this statement:
"The Australian Democrats believe that young people are not just the future of the nation … they deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as other Australians," Franks said.
She should also have added "as long as they pay tax". Franks is a bullet the old Democrats dodged. They ran headlong in to most of them.
In Court, Franks said she believed an "urban myth" that she didn't have to lodge a tax return because, she alleged, the ATO owed her money. How did she know that if she didn't lodge a tax return?
Malcolm King works in generational workforce change. He was an associate director at DEEWR Labour Market Strategy in Canberra and the senior communications strategist at Carnegie Mellon University. He also runs a small PR business called Republic.