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Another crackerjack column from Hillary. Give yourself 10 minutes to really enjoy every last barb.

If he gets the boot, however, Hillary has a great idea. Sharon can go and work for One Nation. His sense of humour could do wonders for Pauline’s speeches – the line “Some Liberals seem to think manual labour is a Spanish tennis player” brought the house down.

Sharon’s unique political mind is clearly suited to subtle areas of policy development that sit better with One Nation than the Libs – like locking up blacks for stealing biscuits. After all, in the wake of such a brilliant legal manoeuvre only the most churlish objectors could have quibbled at Sharon’s decision to make himself a QC.

PS All you subscribers who read Hillary’s mid-week update will be interested to know that Sharon has been complaining that politics isn’t played this way in the Territory. Presumably he means that down south – gasp! – journos ask questions.

Conspiracy theory of the year – I

Enter the Dragon Lady. A very nice little rumour has done the rounds that Jeanette Howard gave Sharon’s memo to the Sphere of Influence to protect hubby’s legacy.

Conspiracy theory of the year – II

And are you sitting down? Well, some particularly paranoid political types have come up with the theory that Peter Costello leaked the memo – but from what Hillary has heard haven’t quite yet managed to determine why.

Plugging the leaks

Back in the real world, there seems no doubt that the Stone memo came from the PM’s office – but where did the alternative account of the now famous Queensland meeting seep out from?

George “Washington” Brandis cannot tell a lie. Perhaps he should be asked. Or did John Moore have one final farewell present to give to the Little Fella in addition to the Ryan by-election?

Keeping the natives quiet

Let no-one say that John Howard is harsh on the unemployed. Hillary hears that his office used Santo Santoro to try and calm the waters in Queensland after Sharon’s memo went public.

Santo is said to have been very keen to oblige – there are claims that his fledgling business has already benefited from contracts awarded by the Monk and Ho.

Intervention

Santo will not be happy, however, with the decision of the federal executive of the Liberal Party to intervene in the Queensland branch.

At Friday’s meeting all of fed exec – apart from a Mr Howard, a Mr Costello and a Mr Stone, who were occupied by some other matter at the time – voted to intervene, with the exception of Young Liberal federal president and Queenslander Gerard Paynter, while Queensland state president Con Galtos abstained.

Interestingly, Young Liberal VP Daniel Clode, who owes his job to Santo’s intervention on behalf of the Monk and Ho at AGM time, supported intervention. This demonstration of Santo’s judgement will impress Queenslanders no end.

It is expected that the Queensland Liberal executive will agree to a federal takeover of the division’s finances. The feds will appoint a new finance committee, which is expected to include the increasingly unpopular Santo.

Business talent, however, isn’t the Queensland Libs real problem – party powerbrokers like Bob Carroll and Bob Tucker are successful figures in their own right. Their financial – and political – woes have more to do with their links with the increasingly unelectable National Party – who managed to lose Rob Borbidge’s old seat of Surfers Paradise after suffering a massive 40 per cent swing on Saturday.

The curious coalition agreement drawn up before the last state election saw the Queensland Libs win more primary votes than the Nats, but end up with only three seats.

Quality media

Crikey’s Sydney readers no doubt rejoice every day that the Sydney Morning Herald is there to save them from the horrors of Holt Street.

Still, Hillary was surprised that the subs came up with the headline “Stone-throwing MP scores a king hit” for a comment piece on Sharon’s memo.

No specific MP is referred to in the article – and surely our quality media don’t think Sharon is a Member of Parliament.

Insurance policy

Ah Satan has cut a swathe through the ranks of underlings – but has been very smart and restored Sam Hudson as the leader’s chief of staff.

Hudson is a formidable asset – she was the Dems’ national secretary for 16 years and knows where all the bodies are buried – but was purged by Mystic Meg for not backing her for the leadership when Cheryl ran away from home.

Restoring her to power has one other advantage. Sam also controls the Senators – most of whom don’t support Satan.

Paradise lost

Why is former Democrat leader and Satanist John “Blinky Bill” Coulter doing his utmost to stop the newly unemployed John Schuman from standing against Lex Loser?

Blinky Bill says Schuman is not a suitable candidate because he had strongly supported the GST, which is “against Democrat policy” – despite the fact that, with help from One Nation preferences, he came close to beating Lex last time and a recent poll in Mayo showed the Dems increasing their support.

So why would Blinky want to block a high profile candidate from running? It couldn’t be because of an obscure clause in the Democrat constitution that says any Dem who gets into the Reps will automatically become leader, could it?

Career move

Hillary hears that former Victorian Liberal state director, Peter Pogolli, has taken up a job as Count Yorgu’s (David Kemp) chief of staff.

Presumably he is chasing yet another redundancy package.

One Nation, no notion

Over in Western Australia, the new Gallop government isn’t having quite the dream run Labor enjoyed when St Steve was elected in Victoria.

Some of the West’s unions are a little bolshie compared to eastern counterparts, and after a couple of years of having their wings clipped under Graham Keirath’s industrial relations reforms, they are keen to show a little muscle.

Already the CFMEU is running a “No Ticket, No Start” campaign, and with industrial problems with bus drivers and nurses, federal Labor must already be a little bit nervous about its four marginal seats in Perth.

That would be if the Liberal Party can manage to get over its sulk after losing the state election. First there was Rich the Runt making a mess of trying to parachute Julie Bishop into the state leadership, a bizarre scheme that made a mockery of the journalistic standards of the West Australian’s editor Brian Rogers as well as Richard’s political competence.

Of course the party is also still furious about having been forced by John Howard not to do a preference deal with One Nation. Some in the party blame this as a major reason for the government’s defeat. But as the new parliament meets for the first time, perhaps the Libs should talk to One Nation – to protect the Coalition from One Nation’s complete ignorance of preferential voting.

Since One Nation was formed, it has amazed observers with its lack of knowledge of electoral law. After its breakthrough at the 1998 Queensland election, it had a bizarre meeting with the Electoral Commission to explain how he had counted the votes incorrectly and denied One Nation many seats. (The Commissioner was right, of course.) Then Pauline Hanson herself seemed oblivious of the need to have a preference strategy to win her seat of Blair in 1998. And in Queensland in February, many One Nation supporters had the view that if enough of them filled in their votes ‘Langer’ style with duplicate preferences, the result in an electorate would be void if no-one got 50 per cent of the formal vote.

(They somehow missed the fact that the electoral act makes clear this condition does not apply under optional preferential voting. They could also have just left their preferences blank, but there was another conspiracy theory that vote rorters would fill in the blank squares and steal the election.)

Now another example has become clear in the West. In three weeks, the Legislative Councillors elected in February take their seats, and for the first time in the state’s history, parties of the left will control the Legislative Council. Of the 34 new Councillors, there will be 13 Labor and 5 Greens – not enough to change constitutional laws, but enough to pass normal legislation.

And how did this come about given that the quarter of the electorate that lives outside of Perth elects half the chamber? Simply because One Nation made a mistake with their preferences.

In country WA, both One Nation and the Greens elected 3 Councillors, despite One Nation polling 16.5% of the vote to the Greens’ 6.5%. The Greens recorded just a quarter of a quota in Mining and Pastoral Region, and in Agricultural Region, but managed to elected a representative from both regions. Everyone’s favourite old Trot, former Senator Dee Margetts, was elected to represent Agricultural Region, which covers the state’s wheatbelt. This is hardly a hotbed of left wing radicalism – see Walshie and John Hyde – but a terrible mistake by One Nation meant that when finally elected, her quota contained more votes with a primary vote for One Nation than for the Greens.

In both these regions, One Nation gave their preferences to the Greens ahead of the Liberal Party. They just didn’t think the Greens would win, and where in other Regions they gave preferences to the Liberal Party despite the absence of a deal, in those two Regions they thought they would put a couple of unelectable candidates on their preference tickets ahead of the Liberals as a symbolic gesture.

Well, under the incomprehensible Hare-Lip electoral system, anyone trying such games can come unstuck. At the last Federal election, a similar trick by the Christian Democrats, where they refused preferences to the Liberal Party’s Sue Knowles, accidentally elected Australian Democrat and prominent gay activist Brian Greig.

One Nation’s little game has proved just as disastrous. As a result, the Greens won two seats that would otherwise have gone to the Liberal Party.

Instead of One Nation having the balance of power, and the ability to combine with the Liberal and National Parties to defeat government legislation and form committees to investigate government actions, the conservative side of politics has delivered four years of political influence to the Greens.

Why are Liberal leaders so dull?

St Steve made a nice appearance on Roy and HG last Monday – reading the RARA news, would you believe.

While it wasn’t as funny as Joan Kirner and David White doing “I Love Rock and Roll” a couple of years ago, it wasn’t bad. But it does raise the question, which recent Liberal leader could have handled the situation?

Buffy Olsen is so wooden on camera that he looks like he has been hypnotised by the autocue even when he isn’t using one. Rob Borbidge so lacked a sense of humour he never understood why everyone was laughing at his party. Joan Sheldon was funny, but only as a sight gag. Peter Costello always looks like he knows a good joke, but unfortunately never lets anyone in on what it is. Richard Court lost his best joke when Noel Crichton-Brown was expelled from the Liberal Party, and John Howard seems to only like the sort of jokes told at vicars’ tea parties (maybe that explain how Hollingsworth got the GG’s job).

Compare this to some of Labor’s troops. Bob Carr could have done it, though he probably would have preferred to engage Roy and HG on Proust or obscure US Presidents than sport. Beattie would have romped it in. Hillary’s not so sure about Geoff Gallop, Jim Bacon or Mike Rann, but Fart Boy Slim could go on, light the cabbage gas and do the roman candle act. That would be good for a few belly laughs.

On the conservative side of politics, only the Jeffmeister could have coped – but given how he lost the election, perhaps reading the rural and regional news would have been a bit risky.

Ideas man

Wouldn’t you know, after writing all that about One Nation in the West, Graeme Campbell suddenly announces he is joining the party and wants to be their number one Senate candidate. Hillary is salivating at the thought of Campbell up against Ross “The Redneck” Lightfoot, recently demoted to the third spot on the Liberal ticket, for the final vacancy on the right of politics. Talk about a clash of towering intellects. It’s hard to know which of them will make the more insulting claims about the inadequacies of Aborigines.

However, Hillary is starting to wonder whether Graeme Campbell is trying to break Billy Hughes’ record on the number of parties represented. Fifteen years as a Labor MP, then elected as an Independent, he become the sole MP for Australia First. In February he was reported to be working on the successful Liberal campaign for the state seat of Kalgoorlie. Now it is One Nation. At least, like Hughes, he has never lowered himself to joining the agrarian socialists.

Mind you, Campbell has not always been kind about our Pauline. At the time of the Lindsay by-election, at least one journalist reported being told by Campbell that Hanson had stolen all his ideas, but lacked the intellect to argue for them – presumably meaning he did.

Hillary wonders what ideas Campbell has to improve the image of Pauline and One Nation. Some with long memories remember a previous colourful suggestion he had to improve the image of a political leader. During the 1993 WA State election coverage, Campbell was asked by the late Andrew Olle for suggestions on how to fix Paul Keating’s problems. Campbell’s reply? “A state funeral”. Almost as good as a pre-recorded address to the nation in case you are assassinated.

PS There have also been reports that former Liberal Federal MP for Moore, Paul Filing, is considering joining One Nation. Funny. When he was pushed out of the Liberal Party by the Noel Crichton-Brown faction before the 1996 election, he claimed he was a moderate.

PPS The quote of the week award about Campbell must go to the greyer of One Nation’s Two Davids, David Etteridge. He stated that Campbell’s joining reinforced the view that One Nation was just a red-neck party, but that might not be a bad thing for the party electorally. Spot on there!

One Nation moves upmarket

One Nation’s Tasmanian Senate candidate is one Bronwyn Boag – as in Boag beer.

It’s good for recognition – but surely Boag’s is a little upmarket for One Nation tastes.

Environmental victory

If the Green vote is going to be important at the next election, Liberal strategists must have really loved Wilson Tuckey’s little effort on Sunday the other week. Talk about pouring oil on burning water. Saying fashion designer Liz Davenport hugs trees every time sales drop off in her shops was tactically brilliant. Now, reports say Davenport plans to carry the Liberals for Forests banner into the Senate election in the West.

This may yet provide a lifeline for the Democrat’s Andrew Murray – presuming he survives John “Blinky Bill” Coulter’s mean-minded attempt to purge him from the party. Liberals for Forests may yet split the Green vote and give Murray a chance of beating the Greens.

Would you vote for this man?

The Rodent is repulsive – but then Fart Boy Slim suddenly shows his substance, like these great thoughts on the Woodside decision that really deserved more coverage:

“We accept the decision, it’s over, finished, gone, out of it, 05 But if you say support, it means you support the process they went through and decisions which are not yet transparent. Why would any decent opposition say that.”

Such vision! What a fraud!

High quality political discourse

It’s been yet another great week for nicknames, as this excitable live cross to Crackers Keenan shows:

“Yes, Smirkin’ Pete Costello, ace centre half-forward for the Blueblood Bombers, has been fronted by Shagger Shane Stone, burly beer-swilling Bombers’ President, in a carefully aimed report targeted at Smirkin’s erratic off- field behaviour, which had seen him single-handedly demolish a number of small businesses, sickening even hardened Bombers’ supporters.

“Level playing field sources suggested the rat in the ranks who had leaked the report was likely to have been the Rodent ,who as current captain-coach, was said to be wary of Smirkin’s ambitions to replace him next season, 05”

Indeed. Who needs Sharon? Crikey readers are a veritable font of inspiration when it comes to thinking up nasty names for our beloved Treasurer. Here are just a few of the contributions Hillary has received this week:

“Peter Costello – the man who put the ‘N’ back into ‘Tax Cuts’.”

“I have always liked the association of Peter Costello with Cassius as in ‘Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous’.”

“Captain Smirk is better than The Great Smirk, but just Smirk could work.”

“PC does bears a resemblance to a dog, a hyena, a jackal or a wolf. Is Canis or K9 too obscure? The Shorter OED defines a jackal as ‘one who does mean work for another or ministers to his requirements’.”

Oh dear. Hillary thinks that Crikey better just rotate a whole pile of names when referring to him.

Still, the Treas can take comfort from the fact that he is not alone. A pair of cluey readers have sent in a wonderfully abusive anagram for Simon Crean – Cronies Man.

There’s also been more correspondence about “taking the soup” and – very cutely – this useful suggestion:

“Hillary, I noticed you mention Lynton Crosby as being the federal director of the Liberal Party. Is it not more correctly ‘funeral director’?”

Ho, ho, ho.

Legal news

The AQIS whistleblower case against Slippery Pete Slipper was in the High Court last week, with the whistleblower is asking for $2.8 million after being refused an Act of Grace payment.

The decision has been reserved for six weeks – but a new precedent will be set if the case succeeds.

Conspicuous bravery

Hillary, like all Liberals, likes to sink the boot into public servants – but only has praise for the fine folk at the Public Service Merit Protection Commission.

Why, you ask. Don’t they represent the worst of all that is cardie-clad?

Well, they are brave enough to link their official website – www.psmpc.gov.au – to Crikey.

Wonder what their minister, the dreaded Count Yorgu, thinks.

Family business

Just one new addition to the Conservative Nepotism list this week – New South Wales Nat Don Page is a grandson of accidental PM Earl Page.

Chikka doesn’t count in this case – well, she doesn’t really count anyway – as her old man wasn’t an MP.

Hillary can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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