Hillary has some strong views on politics right across the spectrum this week. Sit up and take notice.

Erica told the Committee that he is “not a believer in www.crikey.com.au”, stating “I do not avail myself of the misinformation that is usually available on www.crikey.com.au”.

But a little later Erica made a reference to the fact that Crikey subscribers receive free t-shirts. Surely one would need to be a regular reader to know that?

It seems that a guilty little secret has slipped out.

Apocalypse not

The Australian media is over-excitable at the best of times – and currently they seem to have lost all restraint as they forecast the immediate disintegration of the Howard Government.

The Sydney Sundays lead with respective polls suggesting both Coalition leaders would lose their seats, the Sunday Age splashed with a story on a breakaway rural party (now where have we heard that before?) and the Murdoch papers ran big on a poll showing disaffection with the GST.

At the same time as people were reading of the coming apocalypse, Kim Beazley, was giving a thoroughly ordinary – if orotund – performance on the Sunday show. The Windbag from the West waffled woefully when he refused to give a promise to return the latest petrol excise increase to motorists if he wins the next election: “If the government does not eliminate the windfall, and they may well do that at the time of the next election, then what we do with the petrol excise regime will be featured in the totality of our plans on rollback.” Is that clear?

The election is still a long time away. Hillary believes the Coalition will lose for the simple reason that it has too many marginals to defend. They’re not being helped by panicky – or just plain mad – backbenchers, but let’s wait a few months before we start writing the political obituaries.

The Vicar of (Hillary) Bray

John “The Cowardly Lion” Anderson gave a strong demonstration last week of why he is qualified to lead the National Party by offering several different stances on competition policy simultaneously.

That got Hillary thinking. John, please correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the pioneer of what is known as “economic rationalism” a farmer turned politician, Bert Kelly, who exposed the ridiculousness of the old Australia in his wonderful witty way? Didn’t he go into politics because he saw how tariffs and other business lurks and perks hit primary producers? And weren’t the two most prominent politicians who followed in his path also farmers – John Hyde and Peter Walsh?

Right and wrong

What remarkable timing! As John Howard prepares a budget that is looking more and more as if it will be just like the one he opposed so strongly back in 1982, as populists, opportunists and economic nostalgics try to wind back almost two decades of reform, it was fascinating to see the phrase the “new right” pop up in the Financial Review Magazine.

Hillary can only agree with Gerard Henderson’s statement that the term was “intended as a kind of a term of abuse”. The “new right” covered a sweeping range of ideas.

Hillary – and no doubt many other readers – roll round the floor laughing when they recall Des Keegan’s and Katy West’s “New National” fantasies of the mid eighties. Then there’s the forefathers of One Nation and the other mutant descendants of the League of Rights that the left tried to tar with the same brush. And at the same time the term included valuable and liberal minded institutions such as the Centre for Independent Studies.

The “New Right” was a term of abuse from the old left, from the central planners, from the isolationists who thought Australia could hide from the world – the relics who still embraced Keith Hancock’s “socialisme sans doctrines”. And what a motley crew these were in the end. Who can forget the bizarre love affair that blossomed between that old social fascist Bob Santamaria and whole range of old lefties in his last years. The poor old bastard probably died from the shock – and talk about intellectual bankruptcy.

As One Nation, the Windbag from the West and gutless government backbenchers try to wind back the achievements, it might do us all good to remember what the “new right” in its best form stood for – insuring that Australia was equipped to deal with an internationalised economic environment.

In another bit of interesting timing, the World Investment Prospects Report appeared on Thursday, ranking Australia as the fifteenth most attractive place for investment.

The report commended the Howard Government’s economic reforms, saying Australia’s image as an inefficient, uncompetitive economy governed by trade unions has disappeared.

However, it also noted that Australia’s ranking had not improved since 1996 as other countries improved at a faster rate.

If we’re already slipping, why would we want to do the full Helen Clark act?


Labor backbencher David Cox went on the offensive last week, bagging Shell’s attempted takeover of Woodside.

By a remarkable co-incidence, Cox used to crash down in Canberra with former Labor National Secretary Gary Gray – nowadays a consultant to, er, Woodside.

More than just friends

Dazz the Doormat may sack his staff for sleeping with the enemy – but even in Tasmania, scarcely a hotbed of enlightenment, such behaviour seems to pass without mention. Hillary hears reports of a fascinating high level political liaison – but will name no names as it’s their own business.

Sack flack

Talking about sackings, Hilly understands that the Cowardly Lion’s former chief adviser, Stephen Oxley, has been completely devastated by being forced to sacrifice his career to placate the Rodent’s small man syndrome.

At the same time, Coalition staffers have noted that no dismissals have occurred over the Sydney Airport tax blunder. They are also speculating if this could possibly have anything to do with the fact that a certain little shit didn’t get his ego dented by the matter live on radio?

Procedural matters

Hillary was interested to note ABC boss Jonathan Shier’s comments on Thursday that he was not advised of the decision to call in the Federal Flatfoots over a leaked document until a week or so ago.

In Hillary’s experience, the top person is always told immediately when such an inquiry is taking place – but not in the ABC, it appears.

It’s not their ABC

It says a lot for Shier, however, that he’s prepared to stay in his job when you hear the crap he has to deal with.

ABC staff are already in shock and denial after being told that the organisation does not exist to further their agendas and that they are actually answerable to other people.

Now, ABC employees interrogated by the FP over possible leaks have reportedly sought counselling. Graeme Thomson, the Commercial and Public Sector Union official responsible for ABC employees has told the Sun-Herald “The ones I dealt with were completely traumatised”.

Poor petals. Perhaps they should consider a less taxing career.

Bishop or pawn?

The extraordinary opportunism of self professed rising star Julie Bishop and Rich the Runt has backfired on the pair big time.

Rich has ended his career with ignominy, and Liberals in Curtin are seeing Bishop’s stunt as an extraordinary act of disloyalty to the Prime Miniature.

The normally supine Liberal branches of Perth’s leafy suburbs had fits in 1994 when NCB forces replaced long time MP Alan Rocher with the West’s own Roger Clinton, Ken Court. The local Libs revolted and returned Rocher as an independent.

Rocher did not contest the 1998 election, and Bishop was chosen as his replacement and duly elected to the safe seat. Now, her attempted jump to the state leadership shows just how shaky things are beneath Nedlands’ placid faade – and given Labor’s Geoff Gallop a dream start in his new job.

PS Bishop styles herself as a moderate, but has some very curious friends. In the past, she has been linked to part time pornographer “Raunchy” Ross Lightfoot and Perth’s homophobic Lord Mayor, Peter Natrass.

Bishop also kept a very low profile in the republic campaign despite being a close colleague of the ARM at the Constitutional Convention. It is said she didn’t want to cruel her frontbench chances in Canberra by supporting a cause opposed by the PM.

Man on a mission

Hillary hears Buddhist bodgie Lee Bermingham is preparing to spoil the sheen of Peter Beattie’s post election glow with a whole new range of revelations.

How very entertaining.

Unnecessary intervention

Why all this talk about federal intervention in the Queensland Liberal Party? As far as Hillary knows, all the big guns from the Fed Sec were already up there overseeing the disastrous state election campaign.

And remember Hillary’s tip that John Herron could be bought in to, er, reconcile the warring factions of the Queensland Libs as a new state president? The story has developed a whole new lease of life over the past few days.

PS Hillary hears that whinging Pom Michael Johnson – despite all his claims in the lead up to the Ryan preselection that he is a loyal Liberal – failed to turn up for a stint on a booth in the state poll and has declined offers to doorknock for Bob Tucker in the by-election campaign.

Spoils of defeat

Now that Santo Santoro has finally bowed to the inevitable and accepted defeat, there is much speculation over who will be the new Qld Liberal Leader.

There are only three of them, so getting the job will involve an exciting new task – getting the number.

How to swap factions and influence people

One time moderate and Piers Ackerman pin up Helen “Coonan the Barbarian” swept all before her when the New South Wales Liberals chose their Senate ticket on Saturday. No-one had any idea that the one time pro-choice campaigner and Piers were so close.

After the drubbing, Hillary hears citizen-elect Marise Payne approached the PM’s powerbroker Bill Heffernan, screaming that he had “screwed her”. Others says she calmly asked who would do the subsequent media duties.

Making an exhibition

There has been more bloodletting in the Victorian Liberal Party state secretariat with political affairs manager and the right hand man of former director Peter Pogolli, Brett Barton, departing.

Hillary hears that Barton had gone AWOL after the Christmas break and there is much speculation as to whether he was pushed or not.

Journeyman hack Richard Allsop – a contender for the top job when Pog was pushed – has been tipped as a likely replacement.

A long way from home

Since our report on Nick Bolkus’ bourgeois shopping habits, a whole range of reported sightings of him in Double Bay have come in.

What’s it got that Port Adelaide hasn’t?

Boom, boom!

Yeah – it’s probably turned up in your e-mail, too, but what the hell

One day, Pauline Hanson is being chauffeured to a One Nation rally in the Queensland outback, when her driver swerves to avoid a pothole and hits a cow on the side of the road, killing it instantly.

When they arrive at their destination, Pauline suggests to the driver that he should go back to the farmhouse and apologise for the accident and offer to pay for the damages.

Three hours later, the driver returns, with all his clothes torn, holding a bottle of wine in one hand, a Cuban cigar in the other, and swaying left to right as he walked. Pauline asks the driver “Please explain?”

“Well,” says the driver, “the farmer gave me this bottle, his wife gave me this cigar, and his beautiful 19 year old daughter made passionate love to me.”

“Bloody hell! What did you tell them?”, asks Hanson.

The bloke responds “I said, ‘Hi, I’m Pauline Hanson’s driver and I just killed the cow’.”

Election competitions

Hillary hasn’t forgotten the election sweepstakes competitions. Nobody got them remotely right, but Hillary will still give subs to the nearest entries. Hillary is just waiting for the final Queensland results, as so many people lodged joint entries.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]


If you enjoyed that, check out last week’s column or subscribe and surf the archive at members.crikey.com.au.

Jumping off the Storey Bridge

What a week! What a week! If you believe in economic and personal liberty, if you believe in openness and accountability – if you’re the sort of person Crikey’s written for – then you, like Hillary, must have turned on the radio first thing in the morning and started every day weeping into the Weeties.

Here are some of the low points of the week:

Kim Beazley is possessed by the restless ghost of Rex Connor, and declares that Telstra has a “nation building” role. Former BCCI executives dance in the street and Saddam gets the cheque book ready. Unfortunately, the nation remembers his record as Communications Minister. The Telstra share price promptly plummets. Imagine what he could do with your investments across the board if he every becomes PM?

Richard “Milhous” Alston has a sudden bout of moral panic over the classification of “Hannibal” and calls in the censor. Compared to a few of the monsters currently stalking the Australian political landscape, Dr Lecter is quite cute and cuddly.

Pauline declares competition policy is bad – and half the National Party leap up saying “me, too!”. Taxpayers and consumers are so much better off when they are paying a whole range of hidden subsidies to protect inefficient producers or businesses that lack any economic justification.

The top end of town catches onto what’s happening, and decides to get into the game. They have a go at Alan Fels. After all, cabals know best.

Dazz the Doormat, the Federal Attorney-General, discovers that consenting adults form relationships. That cannot be allowed to stand (Hillary won’t comment on Kacky Jelly – it’s fairly clear from her own behaviour that she’s too young to understand).

Mad Bob Katter pens a stirring defence of socialism for the Fin. Eighteen of the 23 workers at the Cloncurry railway workshops lost their jobs. Blood will flow on George Street – and only one of them economic rationalist bastards would wonder if the few million other Queenslanders were having their taxes spent in the most appropriate way by having those 18 blokes there. Why not try to run a dairy farm in the middle of Sturt’s Stony Desert? Don’t the battlers deserve a fair go?

Finally, an idiot with the broadest grin since Mister Ed wins a landside election – despite overwhelming evidence of damned dodgy dealings, the grossest hypocrisy over One Nation preferences and an unemployment rate even worse than the rustbelt dump of South Australia

Anyone want to meet up with Hillary, hold hands and jump off the Storey Bridge?

No dummy

Hillary welcomes guest election commentator, Parly Sec Warren Entsch, with the best and most concise analysis of the Queensland election results. This is what he told the ABC:

It was the only way it could have gone. I think that Rob Borbidge had major problems when there was fragmentation within his own candidates getting in the middle of the election and then to have a leadership challenge at the end.

It was too much of a risk for Queenslanders to take and while I’m sorry to see them go on a personal perspective, I think it was the best possible outcome for Queensland.

Spot on, mate. Hillary agrees completely and promises not to call you Crocodile Dummy until at least next week.

Informed debate

With the ABC steadfastly refusing to broadcast state elections outside of state borders, election junkies had to resort to watching the Queensland results on the internet, listening to the confusing coverage on Newsradio, or for those lucky enough to have pay-TV (not common in the AB demographic that reads Crikey), to watch the ABC’s coverage on Sky.

Well, that’s what happened in Western Australia and was supposed to happen with Queensland. Then suddenly at the last minute, Sky chose to take Channel 9’s election version of the ‘Footy Show’. So there was Ray, Laurie, Richo and Michael Kroger lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery. At least they left Eddie Maguire at home this time, but they still had the usual sight gag with food, this time in the form of a birthday cake for National Party Deputy Leader Lawrence Springborg. Better than the usual one with Richo and a plate of hotdogs.

Why the late switch? Well, first Nine is a shareholder of Sky and had been applying pressure. The final clincher for Sky to alternate between Nine and the ABC came about thanks to someone at the ABC being impolite enough to have asked Pauline Hanson a tough question on Friday night. The Oxleymoron apparently chucked a hissy fit, stormed out of the interview and agreed to go on Nine’s panel from the start of their coverage at 6:30. So Nine then told Sky there was no point taking the ABC coverage as Pauline Hanson would not go on the ABC panel. (She eventually did, though apparently with no idea about what seats her party had won.)

So there was Pauline at 6:30 trading lines on the Footy Show, sorry – Nine election coverage. So captivated were Nine, that unfortunately they completely forgot about telling anyone the election result. Next morning, the Sunday program replayed the usual pantomime that follows Richo calling the election. (Cue – Laurie Oakes, “So at 7:10 your calling the election Graham?”). However, Hillary has to ask why it took him so long?

Hillarys hears from the Deep North that the ABC’s Antony Green actually called the election at 6:42, a conclusion agreed to by Wayne Swan at 6:50. By seven o’clock, the ABC was confident enough to go off to a news bulletin, though you wonder quite why they bothered to include a story on the day’s voting and opinion poll predictions when the news had actually become the election result.

No doubt Nine will crow about their ratings victory over the ABC on the night, but if Nine hadn’t been so mesmerised by the Ipswich witch, they might have spotted the election was already over.

Conflict of Interest. Please explain?

This all brings us to another question. Just what is Michael Kroger doing on Channel Nine’s election panel? He is a member of the board of the ABC, or does he hope everyone will conveniently forget this fact. At a time when the ABC has begun a new promotional campaign painting itself as the ‘National broadcaster’, what is Kroger doing as a regular on the Nine Network.

Over the past few years, Channel Nine has been running its election coverages commercial free in an attempt to stop viewers switching to watch the ABC’s coverage. The last time Nine ran ads in 1993, their audience slowly leached over to the ABC and didn’t switch back. Running commercial free is part of Nine’s attempt to paint itself as the national network. So once again, what is Michael Kroger doing working on a program which is specifically designed to diminish the audience that will drift across and watch the network on whose Board of Directors he sits?

Kroger seems to be very quiet about the issue. But what about Jonathan Shier and Closet McCloset? Surely the Managing Director and Board Chairman have some view on Kroger’s conflict of interest? Have they asked Kroger not to appear, and if so, what has been Kroger’s excuse to continue with his appearances?

All very odd really.

Saving Ryan – privately

Hillary hears that Bob Tucker, the Liberal candidate for John Moore’s old seat of Ryan, is prepared to tip over a quarter of a mil of his own cash into the campaign.

That mightn’t do much. On Sunday, Liberal Federal Director Lynton Crosby told his Queensland counterparts that on he state results the Libs would only score 39 per cent.

Bitten by a Rodent

All round Parliament House Ministerial staffers are busy updating their resumes. It’s got nothing to do with the WA or Queensland results. They’ve just learned that their bosses don’t give a shit about them.

Last week’s sacking from John Anderson’s office were a disgrace. Hillary understands that Max Moore-Wilton had already lined up a sacrificial departmental Deep Sec – but the Dwarf demanded blood be shed in Anderson’s office.

Oxley and Walshie were both good guys and good staffers. It was a grotesque touch to make Stephen Oxley issue a statement on the matter. Who would have ever thought that the Rodent was such a student of Stalin’s show trials or the excesses of the Cultural Revolution?

Anderson lay down and played dead while two of his staff had their careers destroyed – just to placate the PM’s ego. Talk about small man syndrome. One embarrassing morning on talkback and two of your Government’s better servants need to go.

Hillary has nothing but contempt for John Howard – and John Anderson, join the list. The Hex of Hillary is now upon you.

PS Hillary is certain that a certain daughter and step daughter of two certain very close allies of a certain Prime Minister had a relationship a certain number of years ago with a certain married member of Labor’s front bench but was not forced to resign. Funnily enough, this certain individual was on the staff of a certain minister who at one stage had shared certain digs in Canberra with a certain short bloke from the North Shore who was allowed a certain degree of leniency when certain dealings of his and certain members of his staff were revealed to the Parliament. Hillary would love to go further but does not want to encourage litigation – it will only annoy Steve Price.

Change of heart

Hundreds of battlers shelled out $1,000 a head to join “state and federal Labor leaders” at New South Wales Labor’s Centenary of Federation dinner last Thursday at Sydney’s Regent Hotel.

Amongst the door prizes offered to attendees, according to the invitation, was a trip to Fiji – which jogged Hillary’s memory.

A quick browse through shadow Foreign Minister Laurie Brereton’s press release archive, and there it was: “There is only one satisfactory resolution to Fiji’s crisis, and that is a prompt and peaceful return to democracy and a non-discriminatory political system. Until then, sanctions should remain in place and Fiji will remain an international outcast.”

So why the change of heart, brothers? Hillary thought Laurie was one of the heavies of the New South Wales party. Or does policy go out the door when fundraising is involved?

PS: The class war is likely to start in Double Bay. Crikey’s local operative nearly spilt his matzos ball soup on Sunday when he discovered the beared man strolling past the Cosmopolitan Centre was left leading light Senator Nick Bolkus – clearly spying out the lie of the land. And what a long way he was from his heartland in the western suburbs of Adelaide. Poor man. You’d think he’d at least be able to stop home at weekends.

Questions that have to be answered

Hillary – no doubt, like many readers – has been entertained by The Australian’s big splash on the ABC over recent days.

Hillary has been interested to note that the ABC Staff Union representative at News Limited, Simpering Errol, has not been allowed anywhere near the series. It is odd – but very gratifying – to see Murdoch media uphold principals of objectivity.

Hillary, however, felt that the Oz’s team scrimped on the Newspoll. Hillary would have loved to heard answers to questions such as “Do you think the ABC remains politically neutral or adopts a bias towards the left view of politics?” and “Can you recall an instance where SBS’s objectivity has been compromised since it started accepting advertising – and a few others along those lines.

Contract killer

Hillary was fascinated to hear that Paul Barry is demanding a quarter of a million in damages from the ABC for not renewing his contract. Surely someone who has done so well from the public tit – not to mention the cross promotional opportunities it offered his books – should not be suing.

Funnily enough, around the same time that Barry’s contract was not renewed – remember, he was not sacked – the same thing happened to a friend of Hillarys who, ironically enough, is on nodding terms with the only Media Watch host who did more than reveal split infinitives in the Murrumbidgee Irrigator.

Hillary’s friend was forced onto welfare – along with all the indignities our mean minded government demands – and the support of friends for a few weeks before finding a new job.

Oddly enough, this friend didn’t have such nice little extras as book or even public lending royalties as support.

So why does Barry think he is so special?

Boys keep swinging

More on Hillary’s pal in the Victorian Upper House! Our regular guest apparently suffers from Gingrich’s Syndrome, where recipients refuse to acknowledge oral sex as a sex act at all.

One unfortunate sufferer, a William Jefferson C of Little Rock, Arkansas, showed just how embarrassing this condition can be.

When will our poor afflicted individual seek help?

Buffy backs the winner

Three cheers for Buffy Olsen, Australia’s last remaining Liberal Premier. The Buffed One is set to run and run – after the weekend demonstration of his political skills.

Buffy’s Minister, Michael “Lord” Armitage, had decided to level feudal rights on the state seat of Bragg, after feeling a little heat in his own electorate of Adelaide. Unfortunately, a peasants’ revolt resulted in his Lordship being dumped, some 50 votes to over 100.

Even Scoop Kelton – the brilliant journalist at the Adelaide Advertiser who has redefined investigative journalism as getting out of his chair to see if there’s something from Buffy on the fax – hedged his bets on this one. Scoop’s preselection preview took Buffy’s views on the numbers – but lauded Armitage’s opponent, lawyer and former party president Vickie Chapman.

Number crunching

Some time ago, Hillary was fascinated by the following message:

“As a recent mover from Canberra to Sydney (ex ministerial staffer to boot) I thought I would do the right thing and become a member of the party in the state I resided and in the electorate I lived – I know kinda old fashioned and naive! Anyway, off I go to the NSW Liberals website to get details of membership. What do you think I got? Nothing, zip, nudda. A Party web site desperate for members and there is no information on their website. I can read Chikka’s latest speeches and see her press releases (cause you won’t read em in the papers – ouch!) but nothing on how to become a member. Thinking this odd, I clicked on the email section and fired off an email asking for details on membership – I even helpfully suggested I may be in Wentworth. Still no response 8 weeks later. Maybe they thought Andrew Thompson has enough members to face his pre-selection challenge?? Or could it be the NSW Party HQ is incompetent and Howard has much to fear in the next federal election – especially western Sydney? Lynton needs to send in some more cavalry into NSW me thinks.”

The weeks have passed – and out brave pioneer is still to hear from the New South Wales party.

Perhaps they need federal intervention?