Another week, another enormous pile of fascinating political gossip from Hillary Bray that putsher top of the Crikey billing in our April 1 edition.

Here’s a bold prediction – John Herron will be resigning at the end of this week just as Parliament goes into recess for six weeks in the lead up to the Budget.

His Senate spot is likely to go state exec member Russell Trood – although there is believed to be some tension between Trood and Neville Stewart for the spot.

Hillary’s last bold prediction was – of course – that Bob Tucker would win Ryan. Fingers crossed this time.

Life after politics

Hillary, like many other Howard Government staffers, is thinking about life after the next election – and for financial security has bought a significant interest in a flea circus.

Fleas, of course, are very small and very irritating. With this in mind, Hillary has named one of them “Little Johnny”.

Little Johnny can do some amazing tricks – and is particularly good at doing backflips. Today, Little Johnny is going to do a backflip over a pot of beer. One, two, three – whee! Splash! Little Johnny! Little Johnny! Are you OK? Oh, gosh!

An offer they can’t refuse

Parliament House occupants can now enjoy two Foxtel freebies – the Fox Sports and Fox Sports 2 channels – so Crikey is getting into the act offering a cut rate subscription service for the building. Here’s one of the letters we sent to Speaker Neil Andrew and the President of the Senate, Margaret Reid, last week

Mr Neil Andrew MP

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Parliament House

CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Mr Speaker

I have read with interest over the last few days that pay-TV operator Foxtel has made the channels Fox Sport and Fox Sports 2 available through the Parliamentary broadcast system.

I am writing to you and the President of the Senate offering to add a significantly more relevant media service, the subscribers version of Australia’s leading independent political, business and media news source, www.crikey.com.au, to the online facilities available through the Parliamentary network.

Crikey has a significant readership amongst people who work in Parliament House at all levels, and has been cited several times by parliamentarians since it was founded last year. During this period, it has broken a number of political stories ranging from the resignation of former Social Security Minister Senator Jocelyn Newman to the per recruit costs of the Australian Defence Force’s advertising campaigns.

Unlike Foxtel, economies of scale make it impossible to provide the subscription version of Crikey free of charge. However, I am more than willing to offer this service at a significant discount.

I understand that on sitting days some 3,000 people occupy the Parliament. The usual subscription charge for Crikey is $55 per annum, but I am happy to offer the subscription version to the Parliament for an overall annual charge of $100,000 (including GST).

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Mayne

Publisher, Crikey.com.au

Staffers – start agitating now!

Tense times

“Everone’s a bit crackers at the moment”, a backbencher said to Hillary this week. Too bloody right! It’s been an odd week in Canberra – and paranoia levels keep climbing.

Hillary hears that retiring Nat backbencher Tony Lawler has written to Jocelyn “Three Pensions” Newman complaining about, well, her three pensions. He says it’s an issue in his electorate.

The Prime Miniature told the Party Room that marginal Members are not to go on overseas trips – and the Coalition’s taxpayer funded campaign unit, the Government Members Secretariat, has suddenly redefined marginal seats as all those held by less than eight per cent. Un-bloody-believable!

Days of tribulation

The coming rule of Ah Satan (Natasha for first timers) will bring days of tribulation for the Government – or that’s at least what the Opposition hope.

Sinister figures in the Senate such as John Faulkner and Nick Bolkus rub their hands with glee as their candidate looks better and better for the Dems top job.

Labor believe that Ah Satan find it impossible to work with the Government, that she is much too left wing – but will be able to be “managed” by them.

Even better, they believe that she will end one of the key traditions of the Dems – double sided how to votes – and award preferences strategically in the manner of the Greens. You can guess who they suspect will benefit.

After receiving cover story treatment from The Bulletin and The Australian Magazine on successive days we hear that Australian Story has canned a planned episode on Natasha. After a week of filming they just did not think there was enough substance in the story. If Aunty have given up on her what hope does Ah Satan have.

I coulda been a contender

Poor old Wreathie! All the focus on the leadership nowadays says it’s a battle between Cozza and the Monk. He scarcely gets a look in.

Still, Wreathie remains Leader of the Government in the House and does tactics and puts together Question Time each sitting day. That means he can give himself a dixer as a platform to maintain his profile in the Parliament.

He’s already answered the same question on submarines about six times this year – and backbenchers are beginning to ask what will happen first. Will they get bored to death – or will Wreathie lose his seat?

Questionable tactic

The Treasurer gets very few questions – from the Opposition, anyway. That is because he is the Government’s best performer by a mile and they are unwilling to give him an opportunity to bollock them.

Given this, the current moves to undermine Coz – the Geoffrey Barker Fin feature was a prime example of selective briefing – are strange.

Why damage your best asset? Undermining Costello undermines the Government.

Foot in mouth spreads

Foot in mouth disease has spread from Newspoll House in Surry Hills and infected the very heartland of rural and regional Australia. National Party Leader John “The Cowardly Lion” Anderson is infected.

Last week he began a dixer by saying “Mr Commitment” – instead of, Hillary presumes “Mr Speaker, my commitment”. In another boob, he spoke about “confected outraged and indexation” – not indignation – then corrected it to “infuriation”.

Obviously he will have to be put down. Presumably Dick Smith and Tony Windsor are standing by.

Much loved

Tony O’Dreary, the PM’s popular press sec and celebrated footy tipster, features predominantly in posters throughout the Press Gallery promoting this years comp, run by the Fin’s resident lefty Jason Koutsoukis.

Within minutes of the posters going up, O’Dreary’s friends and admirers took the opportunity to enhance his picture – by adding Hitler moes and Charles Manson “Xs”.

Hillary’s heroes

Politics is depressing at the moment. A neurotic lightweight unable to think beyond the next photo-op is likely to lead the party with the balance of power in the Senate, the Government jumps whenever anyone says “Boo!” and Opposition Leader Fart Boy Slim offers Hanson-like economic platitudes.

However, four beams of light have shone through the gloom over recent days.

As Hillary writes, the dollar is at a record low – but three cheers for Parramatta MP Ross Cameron and his fellow feds who signed at a letter to the Treasurer urging him not to block the Woodside takeover and completely shatter Australia’s image as a place to do business.

Nat backbencher Stuart St Clair spoke for the nation – or all the nation minus One Nation – when he described Bob Katter as “a pain in the arse”. Three cheers for him.

Three cheers too for Tim Fischer and his jab at Dick Smith and his range of Pauline’s Pantry Foreigner Free Foods for creating confusion between Australian made and Australian owned goods. “The Dick Smith twist to this is xenophobic, it’s fortress Australia, it’s ultimately devastating to the longer-term future of Australia” Fischer said in his first appearance as an ambassador for Australian Made.

Tim was absolutely right when he said “we can get bogged down in xenophobia or we can get on with the promotion of magnificent Australian Made product generating Australian jobs. The Kraft jobs at Strathmerton in northern Victoria are not to be regarded in any way as inferior jobs to jobs at a 100 per cent Australian-owned company”.

Finally, three cheers for Greg Barns for reminding us that Ho, Bronny and the Monk do not represent the entire range of views or the traditions and achievements of the Liberal Party.

A horrified e-mail from one of Ho’s former staffers – now an acolyte to the Monk and junior apparatchik in the Ustachi faction of the New South Wales Libs – is already doing the rounds in response. It proposes a very liberal response – a motion that “no party member, other than the State President or their nominee and members of Parliament, may talk to the media on any matter during an election year”.

Friends of the ABC?

The Institute of Public Affairs held a conference on Saturday where such luminaries as Christopher Pearson, Piers Ackerman and Pru Goward showered praise on Jonathan Shier who, incidentally, was onto his seventh Crownie in two hours when a Crikey spy left the Westin Hotel bar last Thursday.

A vast crowd – at least 30 – attended the IPA talk-fest, presumably to see with their own eyes that Piggy and Piers are not, in fact, one and the same.

No media could be bothered turning up – but for some inexplicable reason David Armstrong from the Oz sent along not one but two journos and a photographer. So what’s the story?

PS Armstrong was in a corner of the O Bar – just around from Holt Street – having a quiet beer with Lachlan Murdoch when Sydney Crikey readers met for a drink with the Mayne Man on Friday night. Hillary is pleased to report that no unseemliness occurred – although, for some inexplicable reason, Dan kept yelling out “Poonce!” at no-one in particular.

PPS Simpering Errol has apparently stormed out of the Oz and would no doubt be shocked with the directives to support Shier coming from his superiors.

Vigorous competition

The Sydney Yawning Herald has killed off one of its few amusing features, Mike Seccombe’s Kookaburra column. What was Fred the Bumbling Bookkeeper thinking. (Ed’s note: it was probably a decision taken by that former Murdoch tabloid editor Alan Revell who now finds himself running Australia’s finest broadsheet. We’re also tipping that Fred will be looking for a new job by year’s end.)

There’s very little in the way of competition in political gossip – Hillary only ranks the Age’s House on the Hill as a rival – which saddens a good economic rationalist and competition lover like your columnist. Perhaps Allan Fels should intervene.

Quality media

The escape of schizophrenic murderer Neville Garden kept Melbourne media breathless for a few days last week.

But what media outlet ran the hysterical headline “Police continue the hunt for an escaped psycho killer in Melbourne”? The Hun?

Step forward our quality ABC.

PS An honorary mention to the Fin for illustrating a piece on the Government’s decrepit Boeing 707 VIPs with a shot of the Rodent riding in one of the Falcon jets.

Summatime – and the lying is easy

What will happen to the Midsumma Libs – the brave MPs who signed an ad in the program of Melbourne’s mini Mardi Gras headed “We’ll fight for you”.

The local Libs have got into such a state over Saint Steve’s Relationships Bill that they were even incapable of fighting about it last week. Hillary hears of desperate efforts to broker a conscience vote on the matter – but things are far from being resolved.

Victorian Libs are a rare species nowadays and the gay vote is crucial to at least three seat. If Lower House Members Louise Asher, Leonie Burke, Robert Dean, Robert Doyle, Lorraine Elliot, Andrea McCall, and Andrew Mackintosh, along with Legislative Councillors Andrea Coote, Peter Katsambanis, Ian Cover, Mark Birrell, David Davis, Cameron Broadman, Andrew Brideson, Maree Luckens, Bill Forward, Carlo Furletti, Andrew Olexander, Wendy Smith and John Ross are seen as putting posturing ahead of policy, their numbers will shrink even more.

Dude, where’s my car?

One of the few things that currently unites the Victorian Libs is disdain for Deputy Leader Louise Asher. Indeed, she may soon lose the chauffer driven car she enjoys as part of the job.

Asher’s performance has been under intense scrutiny for some time. Her media profile has been largely restricted to the length of her skirts and her marriage to National Party MP Ron Best. Even her own faction, led by Victorian Lib VP Peter Clarke, has run out of patience.

Word has it that Clarke woke up one morning and decided to try his hand at being a power broker. Realising that no-one in the Party would condemn him for rolling the hapless Asher, Clarke decided she would make as good a target as any to flex his muscles on.

Clarke allegedly did a ring around a week ago and told state MPs that he would like their vote on Tuesday fortnight but already had the numbers anyway. Unfortunately Clarke overlooked a crucial element of a “surprise coup” – the surprise part.

As soon as Asher got word of the plot she recruited the services of Chairman Jeff to work on Napthine. Napthine, who Asher barrackers blame for not giving her the support she needs in her portfolio, appears to have quelled the angry masses in the Party.

Asher will probably survive this Tuesday, but few in the Party believe the dudette will hold on to the car for much longer. Sweet!

Dude, where’s my conference?

Would be Member for Kooyong, David Davis has landed himself in hot water following a no-show at a conference in Canberra last weekend. The cost of his no-show to taxpayers, including airfares and accommodation, was a lazy $1,000. Party sources say Davis had some AGM’s to take care of and so decided to pull the pin on the out of town gig.

His non-attendance hasn’t surprised his fellow Victorians. They say Davis hasn’t taken a holiday in years for fear of losing control of his branches. Obviously this intellectual and policy dynamo has got plenty to be self-assured about.

Dude, where’s my predecessor?

The Prime Miniature told Victorian Libs on Saturday that Kim “Fart Boy Slim” Beazley is one of the worst Opposition Leaders of all time.

Don’t say he’s forgotten Lex already!

Faithful to the cause

Buffy Olsen is Australia’s last remaining Liberal Premier – and six months out from an election he wants to get the Liberal candidate for the most marginal Labor seat in the state removed. Morphett is held by just 0.5 per cent – but Buffy believes candidate Hugh Martin could do better.

Martin is the partner of Ho acolyte and former SA Liberal Party president Corey Bernardi in a financial advisors firm. He is also invisible in the dclass electorate, and is said to have raised a grand total of 75 cents to fund his campaign.

Buffy has reached record lows in recent polling. Martin has apparently decided he has a snowball’s chance and is dedicating his days to pastimes that are much more personally rewarding – much to Ho and Bernardi’s embarrassment.

State of denial

Speculation is mounting about the future of the Queensland Liberal Party. President Con Galtos flagged the possibility of federal intervention in an article in The Australian on Friday – but doesn’t seem to have read his own constitution.

The Feds can’t intervene unless they are invited to by the state division. The federal constitution only provides for federal intervention on finances following a three-quarter majority vote of federal executive. The constitution does not allow federal intervention in the administrative affairs of the division.

In any case, Queensland Libs close to Santo Santoro argue they are already being run by the Feds. They claim the state president and the director are both Canberra proxies – and point to the fact that the state election and the Ryan poll were both being run by feds John Burston, Lynton Crosby and adman Toby Ralph.

The Prime Miniatures tacit endorsement of federal intervention seems to be overstepping the mark and has put the little chap on a collision course with Santo and many other local Libs – which can’t help his already shaky position.

Fundraising made easy?

A Queensland Lib has come up with a brilliant plan for fundraising – printing your own money.

An article in the Gold Coast Bulletin last week claimed former preselection frontrunner for Moncrieff Ian Solomon confessed to a prior conviction for passing on counterfeit money that was produced in a printing business he was associated with.

The preselection for Kathy Sullivan’s seat is likely to be held in May after the by-election in poor old Rob Borbidge’s seat of Surfers Paradise.

Recent recruit to the Liberal Cause Bill O’Chee continues to enjoy support from Federal Director Lynton Crosby and high profile Queenslander Ho Chi Minchin is said to have been working closely with Santo on getting the baby-faced pensioner back to Canberra.

Hillary nicknames deciphered

For any relative newcomers to Crikey and Hillary, here is a glossary of nicknames to help you understand when you subscribe and then read her best 50 columns in the archive.

Ah, Satan! Natasha Stott-Despoja

B1 Peter Beattie

B2 Rob Borbidge (deceased)

Big Fella See “Dear Leader, the”

Black Dwarf, the Glenn Milne

Bulk, Incredible Bulk, the Amanda Vanstone

Buffy John Olsen

Chesty-Bonds, Arthur

Chesterfield-Sofa, Arthur Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

Coonan the Barbarian Helen Coonan

Cowardly Lion, the John Anderson

Crocodile Dummee Warren Enstch

Dear Leader, the see “Dwarf, the”

Dragon Lady, the Janette Howard

Dynamic Den Dennis Napthine

Dwarf, the see “Little Fella, the”

Erica Eric Abetz

Fatty O’Barrell Barry O’Farrell

Hindenburg, the Joe Hockey

Humpty Dumpy see “Windbag from the West, the”

Ho, Ho Chi Minchin Nick Minchin

Kacky Jelly Jackie Kelly

Kim-Il Carr Kim Carr

Little Fella, the see “Prime Miniature, the”

Living Dead, the see “Wreathie”

Loser, Lex Alexander Downer

Lounge bar bore of the Gallery, the Alan Ramsey

Macboringoldfart, Malcolm Malcolm Mackerras

Marlboro Man, the David Jull

Malthus, Malthus of Maroubra, the Bob Carr

Monk, Mad Monk, the The Mad Monk

Mystic Meg Meg Lees

Norriega, General John Della-Bosca

Numan, Gary Andrew Bartlett

Pineapple Face see “Norriega, General”

Porn Star Ros Reines (Ed’s note: apologies Ros, I can’t control Hillary)

Prime Miniature, the see “Rodent, the”

Redneck Ross Ross Lightfoot

Rich the Runt Richard Court (deceased)

Richard Milhous Richard Alston

Rum Corps, the NSW Police Force

Rodent, the see “Big Fella, the

Saint Steve Steve Bracks

Scoop Greg Kelton

Slippery Pete Peter Slipper

Sphere of Influence, the Laurie Oakes

Street Fighting Man Andrew Murray

Teenage Toecutter, the Christopher Pyne

Uptown Girl, the Sophie Panopolous

Voice in the Wilderness, the Mark Latham

Washington, George George Brandis

Windbag from the West, the Kim Beazley

Wotisname, Dr David Watson (deceased)

Wreathie Peter Reith

Yorgu, Count David Kemp

Hillary Bray can be contacted on [email protected]