The official biographies of the background of the federal member for Franklin, Julie Collins, are sketchy. The ALP website, for instance, says merely that she ''completed a Business Administration Certificate at TAFE before taking on numerous administrative roles from the age of 16''. Those various roles, including personal assistant, were mainly for Labor politicians in Hobart. Now she is shadow minister for regional development and local government in the federal Parliament.
Anyone watching the proceedings of Parliament on Wednesday, during which Collins was thrown out by the speaker for impersonating a schoolgirl chortling and sledging in class, may be struck by the way the political class is increasingly divorced from reality. It applies to all parties but is stark in the current insular model of the ALP, which lost last year's federal election, just lost office in Tasmania, just lost its majority in South Australia, was smashed in the last NSW election, was smashed in the last Queensland election and lost office in the last Victorian election. It even lost its majority in the ACT in 2012.
It's been the same for the Greens, with a series of heavy defeats in federal, state and local government elections, including a disaster in one of its strongholds, Canberra, where it lost three of its four seats in the 2012 ACT Legislative Assembly elections.
Yet none of these clear messages from the electorate appears to have made a scintilla of difference to either of the parties pummelled by the voters. We know they care deeply about losing, because Labor and the Greens desperately need control of the public sector to service their bases, but it appears increasingly and depressingly obvious they are terminally inward-looking, and preoccupied with tactical skirmishing and scorched earth rejectionism.
What is encouraging this divorce from the consequences of their actions is the echo chamber created by social media. We are constantly being told the ''mainstream media'' is doomed and will eventually be destroyed by an insurrection on social media.
This, too, is divorced from reality because while newspapers are navigating a turbulent shift in their business models, the major mastheads are attracting more readers than ever before, thanks to the same forces causing the turbulence. According to the latest industry figures, The Sydney Morning Herald has the largest total audience of any masthead in Australia, with 4.8 million readers a month across print, web, tablet and mobile. Subscriptions of the major Fairfax mastheads - from people who pay for the print, online or tablet editions - are growing robustly and are at or near record levels.
Yet there is incessant noise that the major media is being pushed to the sidelines. What may be happening is that people are increasingly existing in their own info-bubbles, having set filters for news and views with which they are in furious agreement.
Here, too, the tenor of politics is going backwards. The street-marchers on the left complained last week that the mainstream media basically ignored their ''march in March'', but the major media have never been interested in student politics or the collective personality disorders of the permanently enraged political fringe.
Some politicians play to this fringe, now that it is so easy to do via Facebook and Twitter. On Monday, my column ran under the headline ''King of the trolls'', referring to the Greens Senator from Western Australia, Scott Ludlam.
The great thing about trolls is they have no sense of irony. They can never, ever see the bigotry in their own shrillness. Occasionally I like to remind the trolls they are cowardly anonymous scum or tell the angry ants they have anger-management issues.
Monday's column attracted several thousand responses in our comments section, on Facebook and on Twitter. About 200 comments sent to the Herald were too personally abusive to publish, a policy that applies to comments about any of our journalists. I have asked for a copy of the rejected comments so that I could enjoy the spluttering lack of irony of being trolled because I called them trolls.
Regular readers would know that I hate to waste a good insult. This, however, is also self-indulgent if done too often. I can say that this week I was called a whore and a leech in the same sentence, which I enjoyed. I will select the best/worst to share, so we can consider the quality of political debate on the fringes. And why losers keep losing.