They seek him/her here, they seek him/here there, they seek him/her everywhere, that dashed hillary bray ! Another ourstanding piece from hillary.

Jeff Kennett used to refer to the Dear Leader as “The Rodent” – and it’s been the perfect name to describe the PM over the past few days as we’ve watched him scuttle around uncomfortably in the lead up to Corroboree 2000.

Firstly, there was the ban on joining the Harbour Bridge walk – the ban which we were later told wasn’t a ban. Then, this week, there’s been the whole issue of Peter Costello taking part in the walk, which the panicky PM managed to turn into a leadership issue.

This ended up with the hilarious news that the Rodent had to run off back to Canberra to attend a vital, vital rugby match on Saturday night – which meant he wouldn’t be able to do the walk. Not that he lives in Canberra, of course. The PM prefers Kirribilli House – and we’ve all seen footage of him doing his morning “power” walk in the neighbourhood around the harbour foreshore. So why is it so hard for him to do a walk over the Bridge this weekend?

John Howard, as Gerard Henderson so sagely observed, is Wollstonecraft writ large – but a walk across the Bridge can’t be that bad. He’s almost still on the North Shore. It’s not like going to Darlinghurst or Newtown or some godless place like those. Surely he’s not afraid?

Hillary has already observed that John Howard seems determined to leave the destruction of the right of Liberal Party MPs to act, speak and vote according to their conscience as his greatest legacy. Back a few weeks ago, at the height of the mandatory sentencing debate, he told a Party Room meeting that any crossing of the floor would mark the beginning of the end of the Government.

Over the last few days, he’s tried to appear a little more broad minded. The ABC reported on Thursday that the Rodent claimed he was not stopping any coalition MPs, including Costello, walking across the bridge. He said: “There’s no ban on anyone, on anybody walking. He (The Treasurer) is his own man and he takes his own decisions”.

Hillary quoted this to a Coalition MP. Their response was: “Bullshit, mate!”.

So, does that mean that the ban that wasn’t a ban was a ban – when it came to Peter Costello? Is that right?

Crikey, Charlie

A late Crikey to Charles Perkins. Stories say that Perkins’ steadily more inflammatory remarks during the week were used as evidence that Corroboree 2000 would be nothing but a “bash the Libs” exercise as attempts were made to scare pro-reconciliation Liberal MPs and party members away.

Great effort, mate.

Blessed By The Monk

At the time of writing, Mad Monk Tony Abbott is saying that Bridge walkers will be blessed by his presence, joining a bunch of small “l” Liberals such as the Hindenburg (it’s his electorate), Marise Payne, teenage toecutter Christopher Pyne, noted exhibitionist Brendan Nelson, Petro Georgiou, Peter Nelson and Bruce Baird.

This can only mean one of two things – all that stuff about the Jesuits is true or – more likely – the arguments put up against making such a gesture of support for reconciliation are damned dodgy.

First Amongst Sequels ?

Richard “Dorrie” Evans, the former member for the Western Australian seat of Cowan who leapt from obscurity to international fame when he revealed his plans for the mass extermination of cats, is seeking the limelight again.

Dorrie is said to be hard at work on a book – part crime novel, part love story and part political thriller – that will establish him as Australia’s Jeffrey Archer.

Hillary thinks this is a perfect career move. Dorrie might even be able to out-Archer Archer himself – without a word published, Mark Latham has already exposed him as a plagiarist.

You Tease !

Ian “Mister” Hanke, the crop headed press sec to Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith, is also working on a literary masterpiece. He is currently on sabbatical, writing a Krameresque coffee table book on coffee.

However, Hillary hears that wags in the Reith office have claimed Hanke is off writing the definitive account of the 98 docks dispute – much to the excitement of a few gullible journos.

Young Blood

The Wentworth preselection campaign continues – and talk is that candidate Peter King has a clever new tactic. Sydney’s eastern suburbs are abuzz with speculation that his hair is now a lighter, younger, more exciting shade of brown.

Hillary’s Believe It Or Not

Incoming Queensland Senator George “Washington” Brandis has never told a lie!

Eyewitnesses at a Liberal Party meeting in The Gap claim state director Graham Jaesche gave an unusually honest speech where he stated that politicians sometimes lie (he’s only young), and Washington then declared – not as an interjection, but as a considered part of a speech which followed – that he could confidently say that he has never told a lie.

Hillary intends to present the new Senator with a gift to commemorate this remarkable confession, and is busy now prowling Canberra nurseries looking for a cherry tree.

Washed Up With Washington

Hillary also understands that Washington has appointed former Queensland Assistant Treasurer Bob Harper as his chief of staff.

Given that backbenchers have a staff of only three, the title is a little pretentious. Or is it a charitable move by Washington to make up for the fact that there is nothing as ex as an ex politician?

Mad Monk, Mad Macs

First, a clarification – former senior coalition staffer David Mclachlan has been APPROACHED by dissident Libs to run in Warringah, as opposed to saying he will run – but Mclachlan isn’t the only person in the seat angered by the antics of the Mad Monk.

The same people who have approached Mclachlan’ are approaching another Mac – former state independent MP Peter McDonald. There are enough mad Macs – and other people in Warringah – who have had enough of Abbott.

McDonald’s last campaign was given a wonderful boost by the insane hyperbole of Howard henchman Michael Baume. Let’s hope the Monk, well known for his sense of hubris, doesn’t just dismiss all this talk as a republican plot – as it comes from deep inside his own electorate committee.

Lex Loser Let Loose

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has been at it again, with his claim that the Fiji emergency took Australia “completely by surprise'”.

If the Sydney Morning Herald used too many big words in its article warning of tensions in the lead up to Fijian PM Mahendra Chaudhry’s first anniversary of taking office, surely the Office of National Assessment and all his other agencies could have summed it up for Lex a little more simply. After all, isn’t that why they’re called “intelligence”.

Too Much Kava ?

It has been fascinating to see the reporting out of Suva – especially how many fearless Australian journalists only seemed to know key details about George Speight after a profile of the coup leader was published on Monday by, er, students at the University of the South Pacific.

Training Ground

They start ’em young in the West. The Western Australian Young Liberal executive has been suspended from performing any function by the party’s administration committee over an old favourite – travel rorts – with allegations that $20,000 has been misappropriated.

Funnily enough, the current Young Liberal president is feeling the heat, not the president at the time the expenses were allegedly incurred, pin up boy for the loony right faction Marc Dale.

Pearson’s Pleasure ?

Hillary hopes that Jeanette Howard has never looked to closely at the classifieds in the Adelaide Review – she might well swoon.

A reader has kindly sent in the following ad from the journal, published by Howard supporter, monarchist and moralist Christopher Pearson: “Sharon (private). Upmarket lady for the gentleman who appreciates class. Visiting you only. All credit cards accepted. Phone 8267 5829, mobile 0418 846 333.”

Oh dear. At least we can take comfort that it is exceptionally unlikely Pearson has arranged a contra deal with, er, “Sharon”.

Fan Mail And Unsolicited Testimonials

The editor was excited to get the following e-mail on Thursday:

As you may have heard, your web site was mentioned in Senate Estimates on 22 May, specifically by Senator Faulkner who said “rumours are circulating that an electorate officer to a senior Senate minister asked the parliamentary library to prepare an assignment for his law studies.” He mentioned that [email protected] was quite well informed about library matters. Would it be possible for the Library to see this column by Hillary Bray?

Paulette Paterson

Paulette Paterson

Executive Assistant to the Secretary

Parliamentary Library

Canberra, ACT

Senate Estimates, of course, are compulsory reading (not), so Hillary had overlooked the kind and completely unsolicited comments from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate such as: “Do you ever read from the web a thing called “Crikey Politics” a lot of people round the building do because I get about 20 copies of it in hard copy stuck in the internal mail [email protected] (sic) does appear from time to time to be quite well informed about certain matters” In fact, Hillary hadn’t heard such praise from a pol since Susan Peacock went spruiking for Sheridan!

If the PM’s much loathed press sec, Tony O’Dreary, wants to improve his image, perhaps he could pen a testimonial to Crikey and box it in the Press Gallery. Hillary promises to publish it in full.