How on earth does Hillary hold down a full-time job and continue to produce such terrific copy. The Crikey team enjoyed every word and we’re sure you will too.

Hillary doesn’t like John Howard. Hillary doesn’t like his arch conservative social policies and, in particular, Hillary doesn’t like his insensitivity to Aboriginal Australia.

At the same time, Hillary doesn’t understand how the latest effort by Simon Hunt, AKA Pauline Pantsdown, Little Johnny’s “I’m Sorry”, warranted the media attention it got last week – especially coverage two days in a row in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Herald is peerlessly PC and desperately, desperately hip. But how the hell does a novelty single that rehashes a three year old gimmick qualify for stories two days running?

“I’m Sorry” might go down well at the Imperial, but to most people it is nothing but a mindless stunt. The Herald’s already losing readers. Their Little Johnnie splashes scored a rare double – alienating average punters while confirming all the bias theories right wing loons are so fond of.

Thank God Paul Sheehan came along on Wednesday and threw a bucket of cold water on it all.

So What Else Is News – Part II

If you can’t have a scandal, then make one up. Who knows? You might even make the front page of the Fin Review.

Back in the eighties, when the National Times was in its death throws, Brian Toohey and Wendy Bacon came up with some remarkable conspiracy theories. They just managed to stop short of “Warren Anderson killed Juanita Nielson”.

Bacon, of course, is now Professor of Taxpayer Funded Lost Left Causes at some Dawkins university. Everyone thought Toohey had gone back to being a good journo – but not so, it seems.

His revelation last week that business people, some of whom – some – come from companies that make donations to the Liberal Party, get invited to the Lodge was a yawn a minute affair. How Toohey stretched it over two pages – let alone what it was doing on page one – is anyone’s guess.

Even better was the way he shoved the real scandal – the fundraising antics of trick cyclist Leo McLeay – into two pars at the end of the story. Here’s what he wrote there:

“The former Labor speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Leo McLeay, acknowledged that he held a fundraising lunch with about eight business executives on one occasion in Parliament House.

“He said Mr Keating may have dropped in at the beginning or end of the lunch, which was held in the Speaker’s official dining room. His recollection is that Mr Keating was treasurer at the time or had moved to the backbench before becoming PM.”

The position of Speaker of the House of Representatives is not a party political job. It is an appointment made by the Parliament.

OK. We all know whoever has the numbers gets the job, but to turn it into a source of political donations is an outrage – even when it’s done by someone who debased the position as much as McLeay.

Get Over It

Trust the Age. A sucky-sucky, brownnosing feature to mark the tenth anniversary of Joan Kirner’s premiership.

The Age has done a wonderful job of canonising an economic vandal who lead an incompetent government that was the captive of public sector unions.

Still, Hillary has got to admit that unlike that other great Age hero, Peter Singer, Kirner’s never suggested killing anyone.

Subliminal Message

A horde of top Liberal names turned out recently for Peter Reith’s birthday party – minus the obvious one.

To mark the occasion, he had a picture taken with – in order – Malcolm Fraser, Andrew Peacock and John Howard.

Do you think he was trying to say something?

Back To School

Parliament resumes – and all the little staffers are in for a treat.

Travel Allowance – the money they are supposed to use for their accommodation, meals, transport and whatever while away from home – has been increased to take account of the GST in every capital city bar the obvious one, Canberra.

Nothing like knowing that they’re loved and looked after.

Carpetbagger For Christ

Elaine Nile is giving up her seat in that den of iniquity, the New South Wales Parliament, to be replaced by former federal Liberal MP, John “Colonel Klink” Bradford.

Klink is just the man for a career in New South Wales state politics, having, er, represented a Gold Coast seat in Canberra for eight years before losing a bid to be elected to the Senate in 1998 as a Christian Democrat candidate.

But where’s he been since he lost his seat in 1998? Hillary hears that Klink has been spreading the word in Ulan Bator. Yep, that Ulan Bator. Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Apparently the locals didn’t like him much, so he ended up back in Oz and looking for a job.

Lyons Hearted

Talking of Bradford, Hillary hasn’t heard much about those morals watchdogs, the Lyons Forum, since he left the Libs and the prominent anti-sodomy campaigner Chris Miles lost his seat.

There was, however, an event for the Lion’s Forum – geddit? – earlier this year, where some twit in a lion costume presented Meg Lees with an award “for tolerance”.

Yes, Hillary finds it hard to believe too – but John Schumann’s publicity stunts are even worse than his music.

Speaking In Tongues

Thank God that prominent member of the National Party socialist right, De-Anne Kelly, is still around to articulate family values in the Parliament.

Here’s what she had to say about protests over the Army’s Bougainville “Mardi Gras” tape: “The biter doesn’t like to be bitten, especially when the foot is on the other Army boot”.

That all make sense?

Playing Favourites

Talking about the importance of the family, one person who knows all about that is scion of the clan Moran and monarchist manque, Kerry Jones.

Kerry has her eyes set on John Hannaford’s vacant spot in the New South Wales upper house – and the PM seems to be happy to help, even if it involves landing yet another blow on the embattled Chikka.

So much for all his kind words of support.

Dream Team

While we’re on New South Wales preselections, members of the Liberal right are hoping that former Kosovo captive Steve Pratt may be the answer to their prayers.

In the upcoming Senate preselection, they will really need to vote for one of two moderates, Helen Coonan and Marise Payne.

Coonan has been doing her best to become acceptable to the hard right, but if Howard enthusiast Pratt runs, all her efforts may be in vain.

Job Application

Still in New South Wales, Chikka’s would be successor, Fatty O’Barrel, has been demonstrating his skill at walking both sides of the fence again.

Fatty recently hosted a lunch at Macquarie Street for Monarchy 2000, better known as the Monarchist League, a bunch that make Kerry Jones look like Phil Cleary and stand for such marvellously democratic and Australian values as supporting Orangeman marchers in Ulster.

Fatty’s actions surprised many republican Libs who could have sworn that he told them last year he was a closet republican. In fact, ARM Campaign Director Greg Barns kept a campaign diary with an entry which records a conversation he had with O’Barrel in October last year at the Sydney Institute where the Fat Man said he would be voting yes. Other Libs recall similar conversations.

Barrel’s excuse for hosting this bunch of maddies was that they needed an MP to sponsor a function at Parliament House. Other Libs are less generous in their interpretation. These cruel souls say it might have something to do with currying favour from the right before a leadership challenge. Never, surely!

Queen’s Man

A reader spotted ABA head David Flint on a flight out of Canberra last week – apparently engrossed for most of the journey in that well known journal of moderate opinion, News Weekly.

Learnt Nothing, Forgotten Nothing

Monarchists, meanwhile, are popping corks at the news that Tim Costello, Natasha Stott-Despoja and Malcolm Turnbull have all nominated for positions on the Australian Republican Movement’s national committee.

You plan to lose the next referendum too, guys?

Puttin’ On My Top Hat

The Canberra Press Gallery is getting ready for its big social event of the year, the inaugural Midwinter Ball, to be held in the Great Hall at Parliament House on Wednesday.

Bureau Chiefs have been at pains to explain to their underlings that the $135 a head do will be a class event, not some piss-up at the Press Club. Indeed, organisers hope it might even become the equivalent of the Washington Press Club Dinner.

Hillary is a little less idealistic. In fact, Hillary hopes nothing too big breaks on Thursday morning.

Kinder, Gentler Parliament

Are we finally seeing the kinder, gentler Parliament so much has been spoken about of late?

Last week, an e-mail went round inviting staff to participate in the “House @ Work” project. This offers art workshops, with “evening and lunchtime art sessions for anyone interested in lino-printing, silk painting, drawing, mixed media and collage …….you name your medium!”

There will be the opportunity to “enjoy art exercises, workshop the House @ Work theme, receive friendly feedback on work, informally discuss and share ideas, meet others and have a say about Parliament House. Workshops will be held every Tuesday between 5.00 pm and 7.00 pm and every Wednesday between 12.00 am and 1.30 pm until early September in Area 4B.B (in the basement)”

Staffers will also have the opportunity to submit items for the House @ Work publication, with “Writing workshops facilitated by Veronica Calarco, Project Officer (Visual Art) on the House @Work project.”

Bet the Dems haven’t been so happy in years.

From The Gulag

The Senate, meanwhile, has found an exciting new way to waste public money, with Chris Schacht’s declaration that he will use estimates to investigate claims that the ABC board wanted radio host Phillip Adams sacked.

The Pallid Mishap (thanks, Imre!) is clearly Australia’s leading dissident. His story is a tragic one.

After failing to destroy capitalism by infiltrating the advertising industry, the Mishap has been forced into internal exile in the Southern Highlands. His words trickle out to the oppressed masses through samizdat publications bravely published by fellow freedom fighters Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer. Occasionally – occasionally – snatches of his voice are heard on pirate radio – sorry, on the national broadcaster.

To increase his torment, Mishap is subjected to one of the ghastliest forms of forced labour – attending cutely catered luvvie functions across the length and breadth of the nation.

The latest cruelty – the suggestion that Mishap might have his timeslot moved – and his six figure salary cut – is not just a matter for the Senate. Where’s Amnesty International?

Happy Families

Some New South Wales Libs are not too impressed by Brendan Nelson and his comments in support of the Dear Leader’s stance on IVF.

The media-shy medico MP told the Australian that too many children suffer by not having a father – which has provoked more than a few remarks about Nelson’s own marital history.

Victorian Values

A fascinating study of Victorian politics has been going on over recent months. Political observers have discovered several beetles and an earwig in Fitzroy Gardens that make a much greater impact on Spring Street than Opposition Leader “Dynamic” Dennis Napthine.

As the Victorian Libs sink deeper into despair and disarray, fascinating tales of the glory that was Jeff are seeping out.

Hillary hears that Kennett told Phil Gude that he was resigning on his 50th birthday in March 98, but changed his mind after the split with Flick. Mark Birrell and Rob Knowles were apparently most spirited in persuading him to stay.

Around this time Dynamic Den was supposedly doing a deal to support Gude in a leadership challenge in exchange for the deputy’s job. It’s also being claimed that Jan Wade was another surprise Gude backer – and that the Nats were solidly behind the idea.

Where Are They Now

Life can be tough for ex-ministers. Hillary understands that poor Alan Brown can’t get a job and is stuck at home – or at homes, doing up his Hawthorn and Gippsland properties.

Rob Knowles has lost his gig at the millionaires’ factory, Macquarie Bank. Not so Alan Stockdale, who has just put a bid in on behalf of Macquarie to project manage privatisation of the Israeli electricity industry.

While we’re talking about Stockers, Hillary hears a fascinating story about, er, a friend of his and a prominent political put-it-abouter – but can’t get it past the lawyers.

Blowtorch

Gosh! Scrutiny of the Bracks Government? Whatever next?

Yes, the opposition that denounced the evils of gambling has actually felt a little heat over its plan to introduce a national footy tipping competition – where 40 per cent of the proceeds go to the government. Even Ted Baillieu has been able to get a run with the story.

WorkCover is shaping up to be a real problem for the Government, with Bracks intervening and Minister Bob Cameron forced into an embarrassing back down after formula changes delivered premium increases of up to 40 per cent to some businesses.

Then, of course, there is the fascinating matter of the replacement of Governor Sir James Gobbo. Steve Bracks has been happy to leave such prominent Liberals as Ron Walker in government positions. Why did Sir James need to go? It hasn’t got anything to do with a minority Premier’s paranoia, has it – and wanting his own man in a job that can have the power of life or death over a government?

Hillary is also fascinated by the timing of the story that followed in the Sunday Age – packaged as a major investigative piece – into payments of $40,000 from Sir James’ refurbishment of Government House to overseas-based front companies.

True, the caveat “the Sunday Age is not suggesting that Sir James or his office knew that this was not the case” is there – but the coincidence of the item turning up straight after he got the boot is intriguing. It would be very interesting to know just how hard the Age needed to look to get the story.

How Soon They Forget

The Queensland Liberal Party’s Blue and White Committee was left red faced after a very poor turn out to a tribute dinner to recently retired Senator Warwick Parer.

Luckily, Parer has a large extended family, so they were able to scrape up just enough bodies for the night to break even.

Name Dropping

The Courier Mail reports on some spectacular name dropping by Michael Johnson, the wannabe MP for John Moore’s seat of Ryan.

Johnson is boasting that he is mates with Ethan Lieberman, son of Democratic Senator and Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman. The young pretender says they met at Cambridge in 1996, and has announced he will campaign with the Liebermans.

Johnson clearly has a lot to learn if he wants to become a Liberal MP. A good first step would be finding American friends with impeccable links to the Republican Party.

PS Hillary understands that another Australian mate of Joe Lieberman’s is none other than Joe Gutnick. Clearly a man of broad interests.

The Tribal Council Has Spoken

The tribal council has spoken – or has it? Sunday’s Ryan electorate committee AGM was billed by the local media as being a showdown between traditional factional rivals and Michael Johnson’s 300 or so Australian-Chinese recruits.

Stories of Johnson bussing in his supporters didn’t eventuate with only 291 of the 1200 Ryan members attending. The Johnson ticket, however, held for most votes on positions on a 180/111 split – except for the vote for Chairman between young blood Penny Behan and long time factional warrior Bob Tucker. Here, Tucker mysteriously turned the 180/111 split into a 146/145 victory.

Celebrations, though, could be short lived. About twenty Tucker votes have been set aside for the Constitutional Review Committee because of anomalies. Hillary understands some of the ballot papers in question had Behan’s name scribbled out in a different coloured pen and had Tucker’s name scratched in instead.

Maybe the failed Queensland Labour candidate and electoral rigger Karen Ehrlman, jailed last Friday, can look forward to some company.

Cut Out ‘N’ Keep Guide To Liberal Party Donors

The Sydney Morning Herald CBD column did all political hacks a great favour last week when it published the names of a select few members of the Liberal Party’s 500 Club – the select group of donors ready to shell out $500 bucks each year for the privilege of a few corporate jollies.

CBD says the Club has attracted all the “expected corporates – with a definite bias towards health care as well as corporate finance types”.

The Herald dropped a few names – Merrill Lynch’s Peter Meurer, Salomon’s Trevor Rowe, Ord’s Peter Mason, Deutsche’s Ken Borda, Gresham’s James Graham, Resource Finance Corp’s Roger Massy-Greene, car dealer Rick Damelian, horse trader Reg Inglis, grocer Jeff David, ASX boss Dick Humphry and banker cum miner Peter Joseph.

Companies represented include Mayne Nickless, Ramsay Health Care, Prime Heath Management and, British American Tobacco, which holds two memberships.

However, CBD observed “notably absent from the NSW chapter’s membership list though are the Packers and Lowys. Noticeably present is Ten chairman John Studdy, the only representative from a media company.”

And, yes, despite the fall of National Textiles Stan Howard has still been able to scrape up the $500 to help back his brother.

PS If anyone has a full list, you know our e-mail.

Mr Popularity

Industry Minister Ho Chi Minchin is still copping flak from Government backbenchers over low volume car importers.

Last week former minister Judi Moylan, Gary Hardgrave and Bob Charles all lined up to give him a bagging on AM.

Ho was forced to fall back on local lackey and factional stooge Grant Chapman, who holds the exalted position of chairman of the Government’s Industry, Science and Resources Committee, to defend his decision.

Gladiators

Queensland National Party backbencher and former motor racing ace Allan Grice has agreed to co-operate with police over his alleged involvement in a brawl.

This follows the stoush earlier in the year between state Housing Minister Rob Schwarten and Craig “Dalby” Brown, the husband of Federal Labor MP Kirsten Livermore.

What do they put in the water there?

Hillary can be contacted at [email protected]