Wanna be liberals, secret Queensland liberal business, the new bloody Tax system and much, much more from Hillary Bray, Crikey’s man/woman on the inside .

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again – and keep on at it until everyone is really pissed off.

There’s a growing feeling round the more senior levels of the government that a couple of cabinet wannabes – Mr Nelson, Mr Abbott, pay attention when I’m talking to you – aren’t doing their cause any good by thei r constant self-promotion.

Shuffling Off ?

A buzz went round the table when the Queensland Liberal Party state executive met on Friday. President Co n Galtos had a letter from Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Herron, marked “Not to be opened until general business”.

Exec member Debbie Kember, who lost the preselection for Warwick Parer’s Senate spot to George “Washington ” Brandis a few weeks ago, seemed particularly agitated. During the week, the Australian had touted her a s a potential Herron heir, should he resign. What would the letter say?

The fateful moment arrived. The letter was opened and read. Herron was not quitting, would run at the el ection – and was seeking legal advice over the Australian’s story.

Poor Debbie looked devastated.

The Battler’s Friend

How were ordinary Australians affected by the introduction of the GST? Read the battler’s friend, The Syd ney Morning Herald.

On Saturday morning, the well-heeled Herald gave a preview of how much to expect to pay for one’s soy doub le decaff down Darling Street, Balmain. This was followed on Monday by an expose of the rigours of shoppi ng with the GST – in Double Bay.

I Feel Your Pain

Orotund opposition leader Kim Beazley also put in a spectacular performance over the GST introduction week end.

The TV footage of Kim, sitting suited up at the head of the table in the caucus room uttering platitudes s howed remarkably empathy – and must have touched many, many hearts in a way unseen since the Princess of W ales passed away.

We Love Jeff

Expats on Wall Street were startled when visiting Premier Steve Bracks and Treasurer John Brumby began the ir first big pitches to US finance house with paeans of praise to Jeff Kennett.

Mutual Support

John Howard and Tony Blair don’t really strike one as having much in common – but presumably now they can help each other come to terms with the antics of their drunken sons.

Hullo, Hullo, Is There Anyone Out There ?

Natasha Stott-Despoja has been a little withdrawn of late, but during her week as acting Democrats leader has issued a series of strikingly newsworthy media releases to restore her status as the nation’s darling.

Not only has she reminded us that the Democrats oppose whaling – Hillary hasn’t even heard One Nation spea k of the joys of fishing with hand grenades – but she has also “renewed” the Democrats’ promise “NEVER” to block supply.

Hold the presses.

Comedy Relief

The clown troupe known as the South Australian Liberal Party put on a fine show last week.

Ratbag backbencher Peter Lewis – the man who won a national profile in the mid 90s when, during a speech o n euthanasia, he told an astounded state parliament how he had killed a wounded mater while working for AS IO in Thailand in the 1960s – was thrown out of the party in a hastily convened evening party room meeting . Unfortunately no Liberal MPs seemed to have actually read their party’s constitution.

Yes, Lewis was expelled from the Parliamentary Party – but not from the Liberal Party itself. Under the d ivision’s constitution, nothing can happen until the party’s state executive meets on 23 July.

Cor Luv A Duck!

A fortnight ago, Lewis woke the South Australian parliament from its slumbers when he gave a whole new mea ning to “hollow logging”.

Debating a bill on prostitution, Lewis offered these piercing insights:

“Mr LEWIS (Hammond): Let us not dress this up in any fancy terminology. Let us go back to February 1980 w hen we had Dick Glazbrook, the then member for Brighton, in here, and he spoke about it in plain terms: th is is about fuck for money…

“Let me tell members that, in those places in the world where you cannot afford to buy another human being , what they do is paint up a tree log that has been hollowed out for you and fit it up with a duck. In Ma cao and other places on earth, that is the kind of service you can hire. And it is cheaper: you can get i t for less than the price of a cup of tea. That is the kind of level to which society will descend and, a s a consequence, there will be a greater rate of disease communicated to human beings from other animals s pecies, whether poultry or mammals. Even at this stage in Adelaide it is possible for you, if it takes yo ur fancy, not only to get an orgy organised but also to incorporate the animals of your choice in it. If it is good enough to allow it to happen between consenting adults, why would the RSPCA say that it was wro ng?”

PS Pat Conlon, head of the South Australian Labor left, shitstirrer and, er, wine enthusiast, warmed to t he duck theme in Parliament the following day. He described a marginal government member as being “in the new parliamentary vernacular.. as nervous as a duck in a log”.

Delusions Of Adequacy

Just to add to this display of competence, percipient party president Corey Bernardi appeared on Adelaide radio the day after Lewis’ dumping and said “I think any perception of disunity amongst the organisation h as really dissipated over the last two years. We’ve been a very cohesive unit.” He announced his own res ignation later that afternoon.

This was followed by a media release from Ho Chi Minchin in praise of Bernardi that claimed “the South Aus tralian Division… now stands as the envy of other Divisions in the Liberal Party”. Surely not even Chik ka feels that way.

How To Win Friends And Influence People

New South Wales Liberal Senator Helen Coonan is doing her best to shore up her position before a hard foug ht preselection later in the year.

Reports from Sydney claim Coonan is already impressing delegates by describing herself as the Prime Minist er’s preferred candidate for the spot.

Coonan is also making a mark on her Senate colleagues. They are beginning to wonder if she is using her p osition as Deputy Whip to grant herself leaves of absence during sitting weeks to attend party functions b ack home.

This criticism, by the way, is not just local factionally motivated stuff – Hillary hears that Senators fr om interstate and other parties have raised concerns about Coonan’s frequent absences from Senate Committe es.

Beazley’s Babies

Kim Beazley returned to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs when he told an Adelaide audience last w eek that a Labor government would build two more Collins Class submarines.

Is that how many of his current six babies that he thinks will sink?


The Curse of Crikey strikes! The federal Government’s Star Chamber – sometimes known as the staff selecti on committee – met last Wednesday and rejected the appointment of Paul Cormack to Ho’s staff.

Cormack lead a successful staff revolt in 1998 against an AWA Ho tried to impose on staff, and news of his career change raised a few Canberra eyebrows. Star Chamber members were concerned that Cormack’s job off er was widely known amongst fellow staffers and had been reported in Crikey.

A word of advice from Hillary, Paul. The greatest attribute a ministerial staffer can have is discretion.

Empire Building ?

Peter King, the would-be MP for Wentworth, is off in the UK with our beloved PM in his role as chair of th e National Heritage Council – but, just in case anyone cared, he has written to preselectors informing the m of this most relevant fact.

The King family hope to make a mark on the area. Spouse Fiona Sinclair-King is making it very clear that she intends to be the next mayor of leafy Woolhara.

Such a pity they don’t have any kids old enough to take over from local state MP Peter Debenham. Then the y could go for the trifecta.

Positions Vacant (continued)

The dynamic Brian Loughane has been installed as Victorian state director. To celebrate, Exhibition Stree t has released a CV outlining his record of success – chief of staff to Alexander Downer, CoS to John Howa rd until May 95 (i.e. until he found something else), CoS to the wildly successful John Moore. For some r eason, his involvement with one John Hewson has not been mentioned.

Hillary hears that Loughnane was actually offered the job three weeks ago – but only accepted after pressu re from the PM’s office. They apparently weren’t particularly happy with the allegiances of candidate Ric hard Allsop.

Talk from Sydney says that former Fahey minister for sport, racing and gaming Chris Downy is shaping up as the favourite for the job in New South Wales.

Chris Downy was also instrumental in the demolition of Robert Tickner in Hughes in favour of Dana Vale and helped roll Stephen Mutch for Bruce Baird – a fully paid up member of the Sutherland Shire mafia that inc ludes Ron Phillips, Max Willis and Ted Pickering. Unlike those guys, Downy is regarded as the bloke’s bl oke of the NSW left – someone who can mix with the best Labor mate in a public bar. Downy doesn’t mind a brawl either. In other words, he’s no chardonnay sipping, inner city moderate. Instead, he’s a reisling swilling, outer city dwelling, left winger.

Downy currently works for the Federal Airport Corporation justifying increased aircraft noise over Sydney. Selling Chikka and the Rodent should be easy by contrast.

It is said that Howard does not support him. This suggests that he is more than capable of doing the job.

Meanwhile, the party still lacks a director in Tasmania – and word from Adelaide is that paranoid Premier John Olsen wants to dump former Fraser and McLachlan staffer Jim Bonner from the job. Any takers?

Nine To Five (AM)

The wage slaves on the staff of Victorian Senator Judith Troeth are ready to revolt.

At a coalition staffers meeting in the last sitting week, Troeth’s oppressed masses complained to the PM’s Chief of Staff, Arthur Sinodinis, that their brutal boss refused to ever pay them overtime, no matter wha t hours they worked.

Of course, it could be argued that this is exactly in line Coalition IR policy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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