Another week, another great column from Crikey’s site-making insider, Hillary Bray.

No, John Howard has a vision – in his own rodent-like way. Hillary is happy to bet that he has a plan to launch a big spectacular in the lead up to the election – and how’s this for a guess? He’s going to revive an old favourite and bash the unions.

The BLF bogey has been out and about for a while now. Building unions have been stroppy at Saint Steve and helped deny Geoff Gallop a honeymoon.

The Sydney Morning Herald has been running lurid stories for a while now on BLF activists in the CFMEU and revived another great union name, Tom Domican.

Talk is that Four Corners has now joined the happy throng and is working on a program on the same topic.

It’s an incredible stroke of luck of luck for the Government, as the initials BLF are powerful talismans to conjure with.

At a time when some of the strongest supporters of the conservative parties are in an almighty bate over the GST and fuel prices, it would be hard to find something better to scare them back into line with than the rebirth of a union that embodies all their industrial fears.

It’s a great threat – vote Labor, and look what happens. See what’s going on under Steve Bracks and Geoff Gallop and Bob Carr? Do you want that happening nation-wide?

There’s already been talk of a Royal Commission – and wouldn’t that be a useful way of filling the news bulletins between a boring Budget and election day.

And who would be leading the campaign? The Workplace Relations Minister. Our friend the Mad Monk, Tony Abbott.

If he pulled it off, why, he would become the man who saved the Government from all the nasty negatives of Captain Smirk and his GST – the logical choice for the next leader.

Even if they lost and the Rodent went, the Monk’s ambitions would have been advanced no end.

And you can bet a certain short man would be delighted with that legacy.

Federation frolics

Wasn’t Melbourne a great success. Didn’t the PM inspire the nation. Has the Government given up completely?

The Centenary of Federation sittings have been dissected in detail – but Hillary is happy to pass on a few details that otherwise might have been missed:


Liberal moderates gather for a dinner at Il Duca restaurant. An effort to recall history is made, with a speech by Deakin great-grandson and BHP political fixer Tom Harley. John Fahey is back, fired up and spoiling for a fight. When the moderates met at the same venue back during last years federal council, New South Wales right winger Anthony Roberts dropped by for a while then reported to the Rodent that it was a meeting of people disaffected with his leadership – and “One Tree” Hill was called in for a please explain. This evening is not interrupted.


Down to the Exhibition Building for the big shebang. Senate President Margaret Reid has really made an effort for the occasion, borrowing her headgear from The Cat in the Hat. The pollies all have a special little pack of commemorative Cadbury’s chocolates on the seat, while there’s a bottle of water for everyone else – sustenance for four hours of sheer tedium, as one MP later tells Hillary. While this is an official sitting of the Parliament, it does not open with prayers, much to the chagrin of some God-botherers. Mad Bob Katter is late. Peter Andren is too sanctimonious to attend. Ah Satan is crestfallen – Hayley Eves is not only younger than she is, but also belongs to more minority groups. Liberal right wingers have their do, a dinner at the Bamboo House organised by invisible Senator Jeannie Ferris. Curiously, Jeffed Senator Karen Synon attends.


Up to Spring Street for the Joint Sitting. Mad Bob is late again. The Speaker, Fart Boy Slim and the Cowardly Lion all pay tribute to Peter Nugent in their speeches. The Rodent forgets. Labor MPs are cock a hoop at the garden party afterwards. It’s been their week. The Libs are furious. Howard has been useless and not a single function has been arranged. Malcolm Macboringoldfart is also there. Just to cheer them up, he happily forecasts doom for the Government to anyone who cares to listen.

Saddling up the GG

Talk doing the rounds says that not only was there strong support for the job to go to Tim Fischer, but that he was happy to take it on. So why did it go the Vicar of Bray? By-election tensions?

From the Deep North

Queenslanders! Don’tcha love ’em! There’s been talk that John Herron will take over the state presidency as a voice of moderation etc, etc – but when Tony Staley turned up last Friday evening to read the riot act, Herron kindly pointed out that it was a federal election year, so the feds needed the Queenslanders more than they needed the feds.

The little general

The Prime Miniature has been amassing the tanks at the border and preparing for an all out assault on the beleaguered Queensland division. And the Queenslanders have been digging in after their peace plan was rejected.

If the little fella wanted a unified Party in Queensland, then it’s mission accomplished – there is now universal rank and file hatred of him. His stocks have been falling quicker than a dot com in a bear market.

Resistance movement

The impending Federal threats seems to have galvanised some of the old war horses.

Former Party Field Marshall, Bob Carroll, has been out shaking the hat around the state, and collected $200,000 in a little over two days – as much as Howard point-man and current pres Con Galtos raised for the whole state campaign.

What once seemed like a lay down misere is now looking like a difficult exercise, with talk of taking the whole matter off to court. How many more weeks can this carry on fore – it must distract from running the country and slow down the “listening” process ?

The feds also need to ask – if the locals are seriously pissed off – just who will raise the money for the campaign, who will man the pre-polls and the booths on the big day. It’s a bit hard to organise from Canberra.

Quislings revealed

Who will take over if the feds succeed in getting an administrative committee set up for the Queensland division. Inside sources proffer the following names – Con Galtos, Bob Carroll, Bob Tucker, Santo Santoro, dumped Senator David MacGibbon, Llew Edwards, Clive Bubb, Steve Wilson, David van Hommrich and Tony Staley.

After doing such a comprehensive job of stuffing up the Party, it seems amazing that Galtos can be considered part of the solution. In the party rank and file, there is a feeling that both Bobs should butt out. And if Bob T is to be a candidate for the marginal Labor seat of Ryan, he might well have more pressing things on his mind.

Santo Santoro is pretty much irrelevant and the electors gave him the toss many Liberals would have loved to. MacGibbon lost his preselection because he did nothing for close to twenty years, so why would he be any different now.

Edwards, Bubb and Wilson certainly have something to offer, but as the managing partner of the firm that did the Fed’s audit of the Queensland division, van Hommrich surely has a conflict of interest.

Why Staley would want anything to do with this motley crew beggars belief.

From the frontline

Negotiations over federal intervention have continued even over the weekend, with former president Bob Carroll taking the lead, with George Washington Brandis standing in the shadows.

Bound for South Australia

Always a man with a brave (and straight) face, Queensland Liberal state director Graham Jaeschke announced last week that he was heading home to South Australia, declaring he was leaving at “a high point” after the Libs polled 21 per cent in the Surfers Paradise by-election. Still, Buffy would probably consider it an achievement if the South Australian Libs are left with three seats after the next state election.

Reports say at Jaeschke ended up in tears at the famous Friday meeting when it was revealed that he and Con Galtos ran up $110,000 worth of extra expenditure on the Ryan campaign – spending that legally could only be authorised by the state exec. No doubt he’ll be glad to go.

Jaeschke’s campaign assistant Ashlee Falatic is bound for the Victorian secretariat, also heading home.

Neither position will be filled in the foreseeable future.

Happy families

More on political dynasties – Sue Walker, the former wife of Ross “The Redneck” Lightfoot is running for Rich the Runt’s old seat of Nedlands.

How the Monk thought he could go on about Labor nepotism when poor old Belinda Neale is denied a chance to serve a grateful nation is beyond Hillary. Still, the fragrant faction hack is determined to make her mark. She still maintains four posters from the last federal election in a shopfront directly opposite Woy Woy station – where they provide a constant source of delight to bus and train travellers.

Ban the beefcake

Hillary’s favourite P-plate pol, Victorian Liberal Cameron Boardman, has been outraged by a beefcake billboard featuring a naked man at the Melbourne Museum.

Young Cameron says the Bracks Government is guilty of double standards, saying it condemned ads showing women in sexually explicit poses.

He told the Hun “The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Sherryl Garbutt, said the Windsor Smith ad was a slap in the face for women. Well, this is a slap in the face for men.

“The Government has inappropriately used taxpayers’ money on ads which depict men as sexual objects and suggest we just lie naked on our backs and look at ourselves all day.”

Wherever would he get an idea like that from?

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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