Originally published in ABC The Drum on June 6, 2014

Usually political staffers are not seen and not heard. This week a striking exception was made when Clive Palmer brought attention to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s potential qualification for his paid parental leave scheme, and then called her the “top dog”. Outrage ensued, as it became better known that Credlin – perhaps the most powerful staffer in Australia – is undergoing IVF treatment. 

Though ridicule rained down, Palmer, who has asked the PM to allocate his own party more staff, refused to offer anything but a partial apology. But behind this spat was a broader question: should staff be “off-limits”?

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