She may not have won the Quill award for best columnist but Hillary Bray has hit back with a fabulous and vast column that gives everyone on our political stages a good slap. Victims include Natasha, the Greens, Kim “the fart man” Bezaley, the PM, Ross Lightfoot and all those heir apparents to the Lodge.
The Dwarf’s decline continues unabated. In a wonderful vote of confidence in his leadership and the Government’s, four people are currently running for the top job.
There’s the heir apparent, Peter Costello – who is at least having the decency to stay silent.
Poor old Wreathie seems unaware that one has to be a Member of Parliament to become leader – or else lives in blissful ignorance of the polling figures in his home state of Victoria.
The Mad Monk – fighting fit and ready to go – has spent much of the past week beating his chest and roaring. Hillary understands that this is perfectly reasonable behaviour for assertive young males in gorilla colonies. It may be a different matter in the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party.
And candidate number four? Well, Hillary hears that our beloved Foreign Minister, Lex Loser, has been trailing his coat around Sydney talking up his chances for a return to the top job.
Lex’s golden reign as Liberal leader even outshines Michael Wooldridge’s record as John Hewson’s deputy in the wake of the 93 debacle. Indeed, few people volunteer to be national laughing stocks two times round.
Lex apparently claims to have changed – although it’s never been denied that he threw an absolute tanty and screamed at Andrew Thomson and the other ratbags who went to see him late last year trying to block the Konrad Kalaes extradition treaty with Latvia.
Still, as far as Hillary can recall, standing up and yelling, then laughing, then crying, then blowing bubbles, then yelling some more and then wetting your pants is an untried tactic for an Opposition leader to use in Question Time.
Concentrating the mind
In the wake of Ryan, facts and figures are rolling off the tongues of even the most unlikely backbenchers.
In a corridor encounter, a marginal member Hillary thought had problems remembering their own name reels off the ghastly stats – the Government has 22 seats with a majority of 2.9 per cent or less.
Subscribers will know by now the shocking story of how Crikey’s Grandma found a Rodent in her Brisbane home last week.
Hillary, however, is glad that the Rodent was in full listening mode. Now he knows what a “nice young man” our editor really is.
Jobs for the boy
Hillary understands the reports of “retired” Aboriginal Affairs minister John Herron being awarded a diplomatic posting to the exotic climes of Ottawa are indeed true – which begs the question “What about Jocelyn?”. In return for her obedient behaviour, surely the Prime Miniature has a nice job lined up for her.
Surely it’s not the GG’s gig? The Little Fella could actually make a popular decision for once and give that one to Tim.
Reflecting on Malcolm Fraser’s midweek speech, Hillary wondered why anyone would feel any need to vote for One Nation. The Government is doing a sterling job adopting and implementing its policies.
The Rodent has steadfastly refused to apologise to Indigenous Australians for past wrongdoings, and despite his own background as a lawyer stands silent in the face of laws that not only have a disproportionate affect on Aboriginal Australians but also denies justice by awarding discretion to police but none to magistrates. Presumably he only ever did conveyancing at Clayton Utz.
He treats refugees from such enlightened regimes as Iraq and Afghanistan in a punitive and vindictive way.
The Monk has promised that the upcoming federal Budget will contain a “substantial package” of measures aimed at tightening “mutual obligation” – also known as bludger bashing.
Now, the Short Man even seems to have turned his back on the sole area he had any liberal credentials in – economics.
The Aussie has already fallen below US 49 cents – yet all the talk suggests that the Shell bid for Woodside will be blocked. How much will the dollar drop then, once it becomes clear that people who want to put their money in Australian enterprises are not welcome in our scared new world?
A poll taken in Ryan – true, by Shell’s spindoctor Ian Kortlang – found that a mere four respondents out of 600 would change their vote from Liberal to Labor over foreign ownership.
Gosh, our Johnny’s a brave boy.
It’s an ill wind
When Hillary started to refer to Kim Beazley as the Windbag from the West, Hillary – of course – was referring to the emissions from his oral orifice, as opposed to the posterior portal.
Now, however, we read in the Daily Telegraph that Kim suffers from chronic flatulence due to his 10 bowls a day cabbage soup habit.
According to the Tele, nutritionist Catherine Saxelby has warned “cabbage is notorious for producing wind”. Hillary’s Caucus sources confirm that party meetings have become an agony and that a round robin petition on the matter has been submitted to party whip Leo “Evel Kneivel” Macleay.
There are benefits, however, from being both prolix and proud and fit and flatulent. Hillary hears that once the TV crews had left his home on the Ryan by-election night, the newly athletic Windbag entertained close friends and colleagues with his “Roman Candle” act – turning cartwheels while simultaneously setting his farts alight.
Ebony and ivory
Hillary applauds Parliamentary Secretary for Aboriginal Affairs, Christine Gallus, and her wonderful suggestions for National Harmony Day.
You may have forgotten about Christine – but she was the shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs on that trip out to the desert where Lex Loser’s leadership suddenly started to fall apart.
Poor Christine has been over looked since then – and what a light the Libs have been hiding under their bushel. Last week, she offered ideas to promote unity that outshone anything expressed since Jacko and Paul McCartney penned Ebony and Ivory all those years ago.
Christine recommended that we say hello to a person of different ethnic grouping, buy ethnic food at the supermarket and see the indigenous movie Yolungu Boy at the cinema – and ask for a discount for Harmony Day.
Hillary got right into the spirit and had Chicken McNuggets for lunch – with both sweet ‘n’ sour and curry sauce to go with them. Hillary happened to be in Sydney on Tolerance Day, and decided that night to see if Yolungu Boy was playing in Parramatta.
On the way out, Hillary stopped in Lakemba to say “g’day” to some young men of middle eastern appearance. Unfortunately, Hillary didn’t get to the film. Instead, Hillary was rushed to the RPA after being shot 28 times – but it’s the thought that counts. (Editor’s note: Middle Eastern objectors should contact Hillary directly.)
Hillary, however, was delighted when this Teach Yourself Chinese in Five Minutes guide – clearly produced by Ms Gallus – was sent through to Intensive Care. Enunciate each phrase aloud a few times and you will soon get the best table at the Flower Drum:
That’s not right – Sum ting wong
Are you harbouring a fugitive – Hu yu hai ding
See me ASAP – Kum hia nao
Stupid man – Dum gai
Small horse – Tai ni po ni
Did you go to the beach – Wai yu so tan
I bumped into a coffee table – Ai bang mai ni
I think you need a face lift – Chin tu fat
It’s very dark in here – Wai so dim
I thought you were on a diet – Wai yu mun ching
This is a tow away zone – No pah king
You know the lyrics to the Macarena – Wai yu sing dum song
You are not very bright – Yu so dum
I got this for free – Ai no pei
Please stay a while longer – Wai go nao
Our meeting is scheduled for next week – Wai yu kum nao
They have arrived – Hia dei kum
Staying out of sight – Lei ying lo
He is cleaning his automobile – Wa shing ka
Conversations at polling booths between people from different parties can be hilarious. A Ryan worker reports that a Democrat he encountered last weekend told him Ah Satan (anagram for Natasha) would make a great leader – and was “nice to look at”.
Oddly enough, looks don’t count. The polling doesn’t matter, either. The facts do. Natasha Stott-Despoja is on track to win the Democrat leadership – and with Ah Satan as leader, the Dems will move from strength to strength. Not.
Natasha is both physically and psychologically incapable of handling the job. It will be a disaster. The Democrats will disintegrate.
Generation X is already laughing at her. Have a look at this snippet a visitor of sydneytribe.com sent in:
“Would you support Natasha Stott-Despoja to be the leader of the Democrats?
c) Only if she demonstrates responsible leadership skills.
d) Only if she wears sexy lingerie during parliamentary debates.”
There are a couple of other questions that could be asked about Ah Satan, too. The stories have been round for ages.
Perhaps an outlet with more resources – and a better legal team – than Crikey could follow up these questions – did Ah Satan ever inhale or ingest – and if so, just what and when?
More fascinating news comes about Ah Satan’s friends at the McDonald’s of coffee, Starbucks. Crikey readers already know that Starbucks have helped tobacco giant Phillip Morris diversify by letting PM distribute it’s coffee to supermarkets. Now they’re causing more angst amongst the types of people one would just assume were Democrat-friendly.
Ah Satan has been very vocal in her support for ignorance – sorry, opposition to genetically modified organisms – but green groups in the United States are attacking her favourite multi-national for using milk from GM cows.
The Organic Consumer’s Association and five allied environmental groups are targeting Starbucks Corporation in a nationwide protest dubbed “Frankenbuck$”, with protests planned in 100 cities across the US outside Starbucks stores.
To add more fuel to the fire, an expat reader in the states sent the following message through last week: “An add to the Starbucks saga (as featured in Crikey subscriber mailouts). Magic Johnson has teamed up with Starbucks to ‘help the kids’. Wait for it. He’s formed a company which aims to help put a Starbucks into ever inner city ghetto in the US so that the kids can ‘turn on to quality’. At US$2.75 for a latte, I’d like to see that.”
What strange friends Natasha has.
Poor Buffy Olsen is about to go through yet another inquiry into whether or not he mislead Parliament over concessions offered to attract communications giant Motorola to South Australia.
The latest inquiry was forced on the Buffed One when it was discovered that documents relevant to the 1998 judicial enquiry into the deal had spent several months with his chief of staff, Vicki Thomson, but never made it to the inquiry itself.
Now, there have been accusations that the latest inquiry’s terms of reference fail to meet the requirements laid out for it by a vote in the State Parliament.
According to South Australian readers, these were responded to in the Adelaide Advertiser by a spokeswoman for the Premier – one Vicki Thomson.
Surely there’s a conflict of interest there?
PS Hillary hears of at least two different tickets being lined up for a run Buffy – one involving his loyal numbers person Elvira and the other featuring his deputy.
Having heard so much from Jonathan Shier about his desire to make more money out of the ABC’s assets, Hillary hopes he is charging the Greens for the use of ABC facilities as their host broadcaster. So much brown nosing in such a short time.
Two weeks ago, the first two stories on AM were devoted to a deal between Labor’s environment spokesperson Nick Bolkus, and the Green’s Bob Brown. Talk about sucking-up to each other. You’d have thought Brown had found a new soul mate.
And what for? A deal that would see Green preferences directed to Labor. Ooh, ah, what a surprise. Talk about a “dog bites man” story. The Greens directing preferences to the Liberal Party would be news, but to Labor? Were they ever going to do anything else? Labor got 71 per cent of Green preferences in Ryan in 1998, and Green preferences almost never get above 75 per cent anyway. Come on who ever was responsible for devoting that much time on AM to the bleeding obvious, how about some real journalism.
The same goes with several other appearances on ABC current affairs recently. So the Greens may yet deliver Ryan to the Labor Party. If you are going to get Bob Brown on for an interview, don’t just give him a free platform to sprout his drivel. Ask some real questions. He goes on about winning up to five Senate seats at the next election (more on that rubbish later), and getting the balance of power. Well if that’s the case, why doesn’t anyone from Aunty bother to ask a hard question like “And what will you do with that power Bob?” No, just give him a free run to talk about his preferences. And honestly, aren’t we all a little sick of hearing about Bob’s preferences. I mean, what ever happened to the love that dare not speak its name.
Now Hillary is hardly a friend of the Democrats. It is a party that represent people who can’t make up their mind, and behaves as such in the Parliament. But at least they come at issues with an open mind, even if it is a little confused. When the Senate had its inquiries into the Prime Miniature’s tax package, at least the Democrats, and even Senator Harradine, entered into the discussion to elicit information. Not like dear old Bob and his ideological position of never mind the evidence.
If the Labor Party think that governing with the Greens is possible, they have a short memory. Don’t any of them remember the mad amendments those great WA Green intellects, Tinkerbell and Wendy, imposed upon the Mabo Bill? They would have happily defeated the entire bill for their amendments, which proved to be some of the most unworkable aspects of the bill.
And doesn’t Labor remember what the Greens did to Michael Field’s Labor government in Tasmania. Thankfully, Frank Devine reminded a few people with his column in Tuesdays Australia. He reports Field as saying “Their cause is too virtuous or too urgent to let other concerns get in the way. You could live with that if they would bargain and negotiate, but they won’t. In Tasmania in 1992 there were constant public statements about how ratshit the government was, though they were part of it. Labor was the majority, but we hardly dared answer back because we needed their votes.”
Labor should learn that the Greens are the One Nation of the political left. If the Coalition gets in bed with One Nation, the political middle ground deserts to Labor. If Labor’s gets too close to the Greens in government, as Labor found to its regret in Tasmania, the middle ground will desert to the Coalition.
And mind you, Bob Brown should know better than to trust Nick Bolkus. Honestly Bob, if you think Bolkus can bring the environment into the “mainstream” of politics, you have to have your head screwed on the wrong way. Hillary hates to borrow a Howard-ism and talk about the “mainstream”, but dear old Nick did more harm to the cause of Immigration and Multiculturalism while he was Minister than anyone else in modern times. He was so busy doing deals by appointing factional mates to any government job he could find, and playing ethnic politics with the family reunion program that the whole portfolio began to smell. Don’t think he won’t do the same job on the environment.
Now given our editor’s new political party, and his idea of bringing the politics espoused by the New Zealand ACT Party to Australia, how about adopting some of its environment policies.
ACT has come up with the idea of saving the kiwi by allowing people to eat it. The ACT argument is that if people see a value in the kiwi, it will be saved, maybe even be bred up for the table.
Now that sounds like a great idea for some of Australia’s fauna. I’m sure it will work for the kangaroo. (Not sure about the koala though. Some National Party mates with a good recipe for koala stew say it smells like cough lollies and leaves you farting like a eucalypt forest. But then Hillary has never understood why people drink ouzo either.)
And wouldn’t it get up the nose of the Greens! Worth doing just to see the righteous indignation. I mean, what do the Greens want. Medicare bulk billing for body piercing and tattoos? GST exemption for dreadlocks and body painting? The right of anyone who turns up on our coast to stay here? Tax incentives for corporate pushbikes? Legislation to prevent discrimination against people who wear tea-cosies on their heads or have strange objects inserted through unsightly holes in their bodies?
I mean, this is a party that publishes vast reams of policies that fortunately for the party, no one reads. In 1996, when the Greens Victorian candidate and the Age’s favourite “thinker” Peter Singer displayed astonishing political sensitivity by discussing infanticide and also by hounding Cheryl Kernot about her brother’s murder conviction, Brown was asked lots of questions about policy by Kerry O’Brien on the 7:30 Report. After Brown’s cuddly koala image was punctured by being revealed as a flint-eyed ideologue, the Greens campaign slipped into oblivion.
Just when are gullible ABC journalists going to realise that the Greens use preferences as a means of getting publicity. That’s why they release them seat by seat. Hillary heard a breathless ABC journalist once report the Greens as showing anger by not directing preferences to Labor in the NSW state seat of Waratah. They held the seat by 20 per cent! What the young ABC reporter overlooked was the announcement the Greens would direct to Labor in neighbouring Maitland held by less than one per cent. You don’t need to know much about politics to know which decision is important and put the story in context.
So let’s look at a few recent Green porkies.
(1) The Bracks government would not be in government if it were not for the Greens.
Oh yeah? So, Labor wins 13 seats. The Greens contest seven of them, and in two their preferences bring Labor from behind to win. But what about the rest of the seats guys? Bracks is in government because Jeff was such a control freak he bans his Ministers speaking about policy or debating their opposite numbers. He travels to regional centres and threatens that if they don’t vote Liberal, he’ll move government services to other regional centres. If Jeffrey had run a normal campaign, even some of his younger ministers could have wiped the floor with Saint Steve’s mob. Labor is in power because JGK’s personal style loosened voters bowels, not because of the Greens.
(2) The Greens delivered nine seats to Peter Beattie.
Really? As if with his majority he would notice. That’s nine seats only if you count every seat contested by the Greens where Labor failed to win a majority on the primary vote. On Hillary’s reading of the results, there is one definite and three possibles where Green preferences might have decided the outcome. But as if they were going to do anything else with their preferences. Even in Indooroopilly, up against hapless Liberal Denver Beanland, Greens leader Drew Hutton wouldn’t direct preferences. It didn’t matter, cos the Labor Party romped home anyway. The point is, if Labor is ahead on primary votes in these contests, Labor will win anyway. Brown has even admitted as much by saying that if the Greens direct preferences to the Coalition, they split 50:50.
(3) It was the Greens that put Labor in office in Western Australia.
Well, that one at least is closer to the truth. But even there, the real reason Rich the Runt was turfed out was because the Coalition primary vote haemorrhaged. They lost votes to One Nation and Liberals for Forests. From there, the preferences of these Liberal deserters split pretty evenly. The increase in Green vote was at the expense of the Democrats. The Greens also had a ready made issue in the preservation of the south-west forests, and with only Labor promising to save them, where else were Green preferences going to go? Even in the couple of seats where the Greens directed preferences to the National Party ahead of Labor, the preferences went to Labor.
Hillary hopes Labor enjoys governing with the Greens controlling the Legislative Council. Hillary hopes everyone keeps reminding our favourite old trot, Dee “Wendy” Margetts, that the only reason she won her spot was because One Nation thought her so unlikely to win that they gave her their preferences. We hope she represents all the voters that made up her quota, not just the small number of Green voters.
(4) The Ryan results means the Greens will win the Democrats Senate seat in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
You outpoll the Democrats by one per cent in a by-election and think that? With the exception of Tasmania and Western Australia, the Democrats always outpoll the Greens. And more importantly, the Democrats always increase their vote in the Senate. The Greens get the same vote in both houses because they only attract the vote of the committed. Unless the Greens can paint themselves in the reasonable shoes of the Democrats, they won’t get that wishy-washy bunch of “keep the bastards honest” voters that put the Democrats into the Senate.
Even if Labor has been giving the Greens more preferences than the Democrats at recent elections, Hillary thinks that has only been because Labor thought the Greens would not get enough votes to beat the Democrats anyway. Labor preferences will probably be irrelevant at the next election, as the final Senate vacancy in each state is likely to be decided on Coalition preferences. If the Coalition were to direct preferences to the Greens ahead of the Democrats, it would only be to try and make life as tough as possible for Labor in the Senate.
And don’t think concern about the Greens isn’t driving the current Democrat leadership challenge. It is horrible to consider, but Ah Satan looks set to win the Democrat leadership. She is a reversion to the Janine Haines style of leadership, with no one quite sure what she stands for, but my God does she get a lot of attention talking about it. Blonde ambition also has a bit of sex appeal, something certain to attract votes ahead of Bob Brown’s dull earnestness.
So how about it Aunty. Cut the Brown nosing. If you are going to give Brown and the Greens a platform, ask a couple of tough questions. And ask Bolkus what all those corporate donors suddenly sniffing round Labor might think of his party delivering significant political power to a party with economic views not seen since before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Hillary was very impressed to see Sydney arts queen Leo Schofield refer to “schadenfreude” in his Sunday Telegraph column this week.
Hillary wonders how many Smellie readers know what it means.
This means war
The Taliban of the Australian Liberal Students Federation have declared a fatwa on Hillary for taking their name in vain in this weekly column, sometimes known as The Satiric Verses.
Sources close to the ALSF claim they plan to trap Hillary and then, in accordance with Sharia law, stone your columnist to death with Ayn Rand books. They also state that president Matthew Fergusson-Stuart has overcome his Therevada Buddhist scruples to support the plan.
Young Matthew, of course, is the step son of Hillary’s pal Ross “The Redneck” Lightfoot, Senator for Western Australia and part time pornographer, and keeping it all in the family Matt’s mum, Anne Fergusson-Stuart, is on Ross’ staff as media officer.
How nice. The family that plays together
Hillary Bray can be contacted at email@example.com