The West has fallen and John Howard is deflecting blame. How long can he last?

Goodbye too to “Dodgy” Doug Shave, Call-the-Police Minister Kevin Prince and “Bent” Bob Bloffwitch. Bent Bob deserves a special mention. He complained about Dodgy Doug’s behaviour over the finance brokers scandal, chaired Parliament’s privileges committee, charged with overseeing the register of MPs’ interests, and sat on three committees that reviewed the rules on disclosure of interests while running one of the most blatant attempts to circumvent pecuniary interest rules ever seen.

Pauline’s paranoia will be up. Last week, she complained that biased polls failed to report the strength of One Nation support. Pauline, Hillary knows you don’t like that book learnin’ stuff, but if you study the 1992 British election, you’ll find exactly the same phenomena. Then, the poor old Welsh Windbag Neil Kinnock thought he had the top job in the bag because people were too embarrassed to tell pollsters they intended to vote Tory. The same thing happened in Queensland in 98 and now in Western Australia. It speaks volumes for the public’s perception of One Nation when even its own supporters are too embarrassed to admit they’ll vote for it.

RARA rorters are in a tizz. Bob Katter has called for every town of more than 1,000 souls to be given a ten lane freeway, an international airport and facilities similar to those at Homebush Bay, while De-Anne Kelly demands that the budget surplus be divided amongst cane growers. The unfortunate fact is that farmers have been whinging ever since humankind dropped the hunter-gather business. The crops either fail, so there’s no money, or else they’re successful and the markets get flooded, so there’s no money. Up to a couple of hundred years ago, God or the gods were to blame. Now, it’s only logical to blame the government – any government. The kindest thing to do to people who’s philosophy can be summed up in the four words “we’ll all be rooned” is to ignore them in the hope they wise up one day.

The poor PM must be dizzy after his spectacular Sunday show spinning. Of course the WA election result was decided long ago, on purely local matters. It’s only an incredible coincidence that Cabinet will be looking at Business Activity Statement changes on Monday morning. And who’d be surprised if petrol prices snuck onto the agenda?

Saturday’s results were a win against sleaze – but as our own Windbag from the West, Kim Beazley, reminded the faithful, Geoff Gallop was a groomsman to Tony Blair. And Geoff, how old was Tone’s sleaze-free New Labor government before Mandy and Derry Irvine were out the door over their dodgy dealings?

PS The WA Election Sweepstake winner will be declared next weekend when the final results are known – and a free subscription to Crikey is still up for grabs for the best forecast of the Queensland outcome. Entries close Friday 16.

Still at it

They’re still at it up in Queensland. Hillary hears that there is likely to be a stampede to the phones on 18 February to dob in a certain somnolent MP who has escaped mention – so far.

This fine tribune of the people and his family have lived outside the electorate since a redistribution, so are all on the roll at the address of a staffer. Even the member’s daughter – now a Darwin resident – is on the roll in this once safe seat.

The member has secured preselection, but is said to be running dead – thanks to the benefits of the generous super payout that would follow an election loss.

This happy arrangement is said to be quite widely known by those who count in Queensland – but there has been a conscious decision taken to protect the status quo to maximise the chances of Tweedledum and Tweedle-even-dumber in next weekend’s popularity sweepstakes.

Avoid the rush

Congratulations to Ol’ Redneck Rob Borbidge for getting in early and conceding defeat a week before the polls. B2 seems to have a very clear idea of what his political future holds.

Congratulations too to the Sunday program’s Graham Davis for provoking such a spit from media tart B1 over what he knew when about roll rorts. Banana benders – if the Packer media are providing the only effective opposition, then you’ve really got problems.

God help him, he was only 19 years behind the times

Hillary hears that failed folkie, One Nation preference beneficiary and chief of staff to “Mystic Meg” Lees, John Schumann, could be out the door at any moment.

Schumann’s main contribution to Mystic Meg’s office is to wander from room to room serenading staff with renditions of Redgum favourites such as “I’ve Been to Bali, Too”, punctuated by mad dashes out into the courtyards to hug trees. No wonder there is a move on to get rid of him “for complete dickheadedness”, as one Democrat insider put it to Hillary.

Baby Love

Awww! Ain’t he cute! Mark “The Voice in the Wilderness” Latham got a great run last week when he took three month old son Oliver into Question Time.

However, it was nothing new. Victorian Labor backbencher Anna Burke takes her little ‘un into the Chamber all the time – but doesn’t get coverage. Surely the media savvy Voice didn’t tip off the Gallery that a photo-op was at hand?

ComCar Driver

For most people, the big issues in Canberra last week were the BAS, petrol prices, and Michael Wooldridge’s continually compromised position.

But in the squalid digs that opposition backbenchers are forced to inhabit, something else was on two tragic minds. “Someday a rain’s gonna come”, they muttered. The twisted misfits stared at the mirror. “You lookin’ at me?”, they’d say, as their mania built. “I don’t see anyone else, so you must be lookin’ at me.”

Finally, it was all too much. Their anger erupted. They shaved their hair into Mohawks and, armed to the teeth with words too foul to repeat in the Chamber, the two sad souls set off for the Holy Grail to wreak havoc – spurred on by their psychotic obsession with a pooncey Teenage Toecutter.

Physician, cure thyself!

With all the shit flying over Health Minister Michael Wooldridge and his links to the drug trade, has anyone remembered that the staffer at the heart of the MRI scandal ended up spending a stint straight after she left with Mike’s mates at Pfizer?

Rort rat

God! More on our favourite young Victorian Parliamentary-put-it-abouter. Our hero thinks state Liberal leader “Dynamic” Den Napthine is useless and that deputy Louise Asher is definitely deputy only material.

The matter of his electoral enrolment broke in Melbourne media last week. Why is he bagging his leaders when, pretty soon, he may well need their support to survive?

Bush telegraph

The Rodent has dropped by Benalla this weekend – scene of that famous by-election – to help the Uptown Girl Sophie Panopolous break in her RMs for the Indi campaign.

However, there’s already been a catfight over who’s responsible for the visit. The Border Mail claims state Labor MP Denise Allen and Federal MP for the neighbouring seat of Murray Sharman Stone have been battling it out over who’s actually responsible for the little fella’s visit. After the PM’s paranoid push through Peter McGauran’s seat of Gippsland a couple of weeks ago and the recently leaked Liberal polling for Victoria, Hillary is inclined to say that Denise can take the credit.

One person who hasn’t entered the fray is the retiring Liberal Member for the seat, Lou Lieberman. Perhaps he’s realised that it’s a cert that the Nat’s will piss it in Indi come the poll.

The West Wing it ain’t

The dramas of Australian politics are very petty. Take the latest scandals to hit the offices of Helen “Coonan the Barbarian”.

Ms Barbarian recently discovered that a now hostile Young Lib had been boasting of the after hours access he had to her office, prompting the sensitive Senator to call in the Feds for an investigation, including interrogating past and current staffers. But the problems don’t end there. An ex-staffer – the one who is so concerned about the deaf – gave Coonan a parting gift by dobbing her in to DOFA for exceeding her entitlements. The Barbarian has been officially cleared but not even the two kilos of make up she applies every day can cover up her red face.

Santo’s slippery slope

The Carroll-Santoro faction suffered a major body blow in Ryan last week when Bob Tucker defeated young Matt Boland for preselection. Hillary hears that Boland’s speech was so terrible it made some of the Pope’s recent efforts look like brilliant oratory.

Now, attention has moved to Moncrieff. The Carroll-Santoro camp are worried that another Tucker faction win will give his supporters the momentum needed to take back control of the Queensland Libs. All the talk last week in Canberra laid the blame for Boland’s defeat squarely at Santo’s feet. If they fail to win the next battle, Moncrieff could end up being Santo’s Waterloo.

And what of poor, excluded Michael Johnson? Hillary hears he’s won a new nickname – the Whinging Pom.

Rage against the rock machine

Ah! These CFMEU chicks are tough. While Natty – no doubt – was off in the VIP enclosure, young ACT Senator Kate Lundy was right in the middle of the mosh pit at the Big Day Out.

And Kate got right into the outrage stakes, too, stealing Natty’s home turf as the first MP to call for free water and overseas style crowd control measures at similar gigs.

“The staging of events, particularly those that attract crowds of 40,000 to 60,000 people, the majority of whom are aged between 15 and 25, places a legal and moral obligation on the promoters and organisers to ensure every step is taken with respect to their security and safety,” she told the Senate. Kate slammed the $4 to $5 cost of bottles of water which, she said, required concert goers to spend $20 to $30 to prevent dehydration when dancing in a crowd on hot days on top of an $80 concert ticket (let alone the price of the E – Hillary’s note).

Kate, what else can you expect? Don’t you realise that the music industry and its hangers on provide us with the most vicious example of rapacious, exploitative and brutal capitalism there is? Doesn’t the name “Bardot” mean anything to you?

Happy coincidence

A copy of the ACT Liberal Party journal arrives on Hillary’s desk – complete with this little gem:

“Due to space constraints, the article provided by John Cziesla for the February – March edition of the Canberra Liberal on the 2001 Young Liberal National Convention was edited after being received from John.

“Unfortunately, during the editing process an error occurred which substantially altered the meaning of one of the resolutions passed by the Convention.

“The reference on page 9 to the ACT Young Liberals motion which condemned the Prime Minister’s refusal to say ‘sorry’ to Aboriginal people for any injustices that may have occurred in the past should have read ‘commended’, rather than ‘condemned’.

“Apologies to John for this error.”

The apology is an unusual touch. Being Liberal means never having to say you’re sorry.

Housekeeping items

If anyone receives an e-mail from [email protected] , it isn’t from Hillary. It’s from a cheeky reader – but as they have turned out to be Hillary’s long lost son, all is forgiven.

At the same time, Hillary can neither confirm nor deny that Ros Reines and Crikey’s own Dan McNutt are an item, no matter what the rumours about THAT night at the Revesby Workers Club say.

Identity crisis

The e-mail is still flooding in after Sandra Lee’s item “Will the real Hillary stand up” in the Oz last Thursday.

The Rodent’s old pressie David “I would rather slit my wrists than write John Howard is a rodent” Gazard moved us all at Crikey with this sob-story: “I wish the whole Hillary interview had never happened. What is it about my friendship with Mayne that seems to see me get pounded all the time. If it’s not internal lawyers who are concerned with the flagrant inaccuracies on a site dedicated to ‘standards’ it’s my professional name being battered around the so-called beltway. I know you have to stick by your mates through thick and thin. But when are the thick times coming? Everyone knows I’m just a little battler trying to get by.” A battler, Dave? Just like all your other neighbours in Double Bay? (Editor’s note: Think Dave’s tongue was in his cheek on this one and I’ll probably get a bollocking for it appearing in print. Thin times indeed!)

Hillary favourite, however, has been “If it was not such a bizarre thought why not Jeff as Hilary?”

Who knows? It might just be right.

Hillary can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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