She’s emerged at last. After weeks of fill-ins, we finally have the hard working Hillary Bray back in the saddle for Crikey.

This week subscribers will receive Hillary’s How to Vote featuring exclusive advice on whether your MP deserves to keep their seat or get the boot. If you want the real inside information, click here: here.

From the barriers

Racing cliche51s are compulsory at this time of year ? so here goes.

Across the country as they come out of the turn and into the final straight candidates are clinging to the reins of their galloping neuroses as they thunder down towards the finishing post because they know that there can only be one winner in the Great Election Derby?

When you read this it will be little more than 100 hours until the first polling booths start to open. And as we begin the final week of the campaign, what’s the question on the punters minds? Yep. You guessed it. Will we see Satan starkers?

She’s been teasing us all week. First, there was the Satan Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Then, we saw the two pert little dogs standing up barking in the mirror at Mambo. So will she get her kit off? The week will tell.

Hillary has approached Centrebet for odds, but has not yet had a reply at the time of going to screen.

Overseas example

Wasn’t it interesting to see the Sydney Yawning Herald’s claims that the Cadaver Philip Ruddock had helped a Liberal candidate?s father get a visa.

An interesting precedent in this sort of matter was set in Britain earlier this year when Tony Blair immediately sacked his close friend Peter Mandelson from the Cabinet when a similar matter was raised – and we all know how much our Prime Miniature places on ministerial propriety.

Their ABC

The ABC staff union and various ageing lefties broke out the champagne (a rather bourgeois drink, one would have thought) to celebrate the departure of Jonathan Shier after he committed the ghastly crime of trying to run the national joke, sorry, broadcaster.

They’ve won a battle – but the war to take the ABC from the Trots and give it back to the Australian people continues. Indeed, this is one of the very few times that the likes of Hillary are happy to quote Ted Kennedy: “the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die”.

PS Who noted Robert Manne’s sensible suggestion last week that Imre Salusinszky be appointed Chairman of the ABC. It’s most peculiar to see Manne to be talking such sense.

Johnny, we hardly knew ye

Hillary shed a tear of nostalgia for poor old Dr Who reading his column in the Fin on Friday. In case you missed it, here are a few choice quotes:

“Some have said that Howard consciously played the race card with the Tampa. They recall, in equally difficult circumstances, his anti-Asian immigration campaign of the mid-1980s, when his leadership was similarly under question and threat. Maybe he did play that card, again. At the very least, he undoubtedly tapped what is a latent racial prejudice in significant sections of the Australian community. Howard’s stance on the Tampa resonated with a substantial section of the Australian community. Disturbingly it doesn’t seem to have mattered that he was immediately inconsistent in his treatment of the next boatload of asylum seekers. It also doesn’t seem to matter that Howard has flip-flopped on dozens of issues since 1996. Nor does it matter just how ludicrous was his final solution – paying small Pacific Islands and New Zealand to take these asylum seekers is little short of ridiculous. Beazley is right. The only effective solution to our particular asylum-seeker problem is to reach an agreement with the Indonesian Government.

The damage done

The well known pinko rag The Economist has also ratted on the Rodent again, broadening the line of Hewson’s attack. Read it and weep.

“AS AUSTRALIANS prepare to vote in a general election on November 10th, the political mood has rarely seemed harder to read. A few months ago it was easy: opinion polls and commentators alike were sure that John Howard, the prime minister of the conservative Liberal-National coalition that has governed since 1996, would need a miracle to have any chance of winning a third term.

“Two miracles duly came along. The arrival of the Tampa, a container vessel that had rescued hundreds of people from their leaking boat, allowed Mr Howard to embark on a war against mainly Afghan and Iraqi asylum-seekers heading for Australia from neighbouring Indonesia. Then came the terrorist attacks in America on September 11th, heightening the sense of insecurity many Australians were feeling closer to home. Mr Howard’s opinion-poll ratings soared above those of the opposition Labor Party, and he has not stopped playing the security card since. “We will decide, and nobody else, who comes to this country,” he declared to thunderous party applause when he launched his campaign on October 28th. As the campaign entered its final week, opinion polls indicated a partial recovery in Labor’s fortunes. It could even be enough to prevent a third Howard victory. But if not, the election outcome could see Australia taking a journey back to its more isolated past.

“A retreat from that past had gathered steam when Labor ruled for 13 years up to 1996. Under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, its successive leaders, Labor dismantled much of the protection surrounding Australia’s economy and engaged more closely with Asia. Mr Howard then took economic liberalisation much further by embarking on a badly-needed reform of the tax system, including the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST), in return for lower income and corporate tax rates. Almost 20 years of reform by both sides of politics have paid dividends: as the economies of Japan and some of Australia’s other main trading partners teeter, Australia’s, at least for now, remains robust.

“Mr Howard, though, was never comfortable with the other side of Labor’s formula, which included promoting Australia as an open, multicultural society, reconciling past wrongs with its indigenous people, becoming more Asian in focus and ending the last constitutional links with Britain by becoming a republic. He has wiped all these issues from the political agenda. At 62, Mr Howard happily boasts he is the most conservative leader the conservative Liberal Party has ever had. Rather than denouncing the emergence four years ago of the anti-immigration, isolationist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, a former Liberal Party member, Mr Howard has been preoccupied with how he could win over the disgruntled voters to whom she appealed.

“He found an answer in late August, when he sent the Australian navy and armed soldiers to head off asylum-seekers approaching Australia’s shores, declaring that none would be allowed to land, even for processing. The government has since set up processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, and is approaching the tinier Pacific micro-states of Palau and Kiribati to set up more. On almost every front, the policy has been a mess. It has not deterred more boats from arriving, as Mr Howard said it would. It has cost about A$150m ($75m) to implement. And Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesia’s president, has ignored Mr Howard’s approach for talks on the issue. But it did appeal to a mounting sense among Australians that they were being invaded by people whom Mr Howard and his ministers painted as a threat to national cohesion. And it has helped to neutralise Mrs Hanson politically; she has complained that Mr Howard has “stolen” her policies.

“Kim Beazley, the 52-year-old Labor leader, has felt obliged to support Mr Howard’s stand on asylum-seekers and on sending Australian forces to join the war on terrorism. He has tried to shift the focus to domestic issues – which Australians say they care about far more than immigration – by promising to spend more on schools, universities and hospitals and to reform the GST. But many voters seem to see little to choose between the two main parties. The strongest critics of Mr Howard have come from elsewhere, including the Australian, an influential newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, which has attacked the government on asylum-seekers and education.

“Whichever side wins, it will have a hard time implementing its agenda. A budget surplus of A$1.5 billion last May has been whittled away by two-thirds since Mr Howard went on a spending spree in a bid to arrest his government’s plunging popularity earlier this year. Mr Beazley came close to unseating Mr Howard at the last election in 1998. This time Labor needs a swing of just 0.8%, for a gain of six seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives, to win. If Mr Beazley pulls off his own miracle, his biggest challenge could be to restore a sense of openness and tolerance that seems to have gone missing in Australia during the Howard years.”

Remember last time

Pauline and her happy band of bigots (or is it Graham Campbell’s now?) are being written off by the know-alls of the media-spindustrial complex.

They may care to recall that One Nation always polls below its actual level of support. At least we can take some comfort from the fact that many of it’s supporters are too embarrassed to publicly admit they vote for a rag-tag bunch of nutters.

We love our audience

And they love us, apparently. Five Feds – Chris Gallus, George Campbell, Jacinta Collins, Patrick “Sick Rat Pecker” Secker and Mal Washer – have told Triple J’s online survey that Crikey is their favourite website.

Of course, none of the bastards subscribe. Typical bloody politicians.

Just fancy that

“Satan’s campaign is the political equivalent of masturbating in front of a mirror.”

— Crikey Sealed Section, 30 October 2001

— Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 2001

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Peter Fray

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