Saddle up hombre, it’s Monday and the quickest draw in Australian politics is waiting in the main street for you. Best pack your best pair of six shooters, you gunna need ’em.

Fair coverage

South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas got in early to make sure that there would be no media bias during the state election campaign. He rang the Adelaide Advertiser Monday morning – more than 24 hours before the poll was actually called – to complain about its coverage.

True, The Advertiser hasn’t run the headline “Vote Labor and be struck by a plague of boils”. Otherwise, it couldn’t be more sycophantic – whether by policy or due to the laziness and ineptitude of its fourth rate political reporters.

Strange marketing tool

One of Crikey’s South Australian Liberal moles dropped by the state secretariat and was shocked to see none other than Graham “Bingo” Ingerson, the twice disgraced, twice forced to resign former deputy premier who is stepping down at the election working the phones trying to drum up donations from the top end of town.

You’d think they’d hope people had forgotten all about him.

Chivalrous spirit

Bingo may have been forced to resign a couple of times, but he remains chivalrous enough to come to the aid of a damsel in distress. His great buddy and fellow Auditor-General’s report victim, Joan “Elvira” Hall, is still contesting the election despite being forced to resign as a minister.

As Hillary has reported in the past, Elvira’s branch members have been keen to remove her, but after pleas to Buffy Olsen the state executive intervened to save her preselection. Elvira is now finding it is hard to conduct a campaign when the great majority of the party faithful think you are a disgrace who should not be there – but Bingo is apparently letting her blow the postage allowance he has left.

PS Hillary hears that local Liberals in Elvira’s seat feel that that she, Buffy and Bingo have been the three great embarrassments for the South Australian Liberals since they were elected in 1993 – and that Elvira should join the other two in departing from the political scene. To help this end they’ve adopted a proactive stance in the campaign – rather than just not helping Elvira they’re hoping to have a credible independent Liberal candidate all signed up and ready to go before nominations close next Friday.

Big names missing

Big names from the right and the left of the South Australian Liberal Party have had a bruising over the nominations for Buffy’s old seat of Kavell.

As Crikey reported last week, a move by the moderates on executive to have their perennial candidate Michelle “Always the Bridesmaid” Lensick drafted to fill the spot failed to get up. When nominations for the preselection closed, her name was missing.

However, that was nothing compared to the antics of immediate past party president, state executive member, little known sporting great and general boy wonder Cory Bernardi. Bernardi was one of the exec members who opposed the Lensick move, and therefore there was great surprise – not to mention extensive speculation over how his participation in the Lensick decision could be anything other than a gross conflict of interest – when he announced 48 hours after the vote that he was interested in nominating.

Bernardi chickened out of running for the preselection in the seat of Morphett last year, much to the chagrin of his backers from the right. After his very public announcement over Kavell he got cold feet, too. There’s now a growing feeling in the party that young Cory might just not be suited to a career in politics.

Yawn

He used to be the court jester but now he’s just a joke. After Fart Boy Slim crashed and burned, everyone thought Bob Ellis’ career as a professional Labor luvvy was finished – but he must still play in the provinces.

The bedraggled beer-bellied behemoth bore from Barrenjoey’s beaches has been spotted by Crikey operatives lumbering around Adelaide.

South Australian Labor Leader “Media Mike” Rann is already lagging in the polls – yet he reportedly let Ellis accompany him to an Italian religious festival. Suicidal, surely?

New guru

The South Australian Labor Party imported Bruce Hawker, former chief of staff to the Malthus of Maroubra Boob Carr and principal of the eponymous spin doctors Hawker Britton, to run its campaign in 1997.

Despite the trouncing Malthus handed out to Cherry Kowalski in 1999, New South Wales comrades must be on the nose, as Hillary hears that this year’s campaign guru is Victorian Labor state secretary, David Feeney, whose tactics in student politics raised plenty of eye-brows in the 80s.

Render unto Caesar…

God-botherers are on the rampage in the lead up to the South Australian election. A new party known as Families First is contesting seats in the Legislative Council. Hillary gathers that if the leading lights of Families First wanted to be a little more Christ-like they should use the name they’re better known by – the Assemblies of God.

Strange behaviour

New South Wales Liberal state director Scott Morrison is acting as a man possessed as he insists that a limited state executive preselection be carried out for the Hornsby by-election.

The Libs are claiming that they’ll have a top notch candidate for the seat – someone of the calibre of Alan “Gloria” Jones, Kerry “You can’t trust politicians” Jones (who if daddy isn’t good for the campaign bills anymore may have lost her sheen) or even Mark “Tubby” Taylor.

However, after the political disaster of the new Bridge tolls, an issue that hits the locals directly – let alone the first Newspoll to bring a smile to Cherry’s lips for yonks – why the hell would Malthus rush off and call a by-election in any great hurry. Scott, pet, take it from Hillary. There’ll be plenty of time for a nice, normal preselection.

Media diversity – theory and practice

So Labor’s communication’s spokesman Lindsay “Open Australia” Tanner has declared in the broadsheets that “diversity of media ownership is fundamental to the health of our democracy”, while opposing proposed changes to the decade and a half old ownership rules that would broaden ownership diversity by allowing in the overseas groups who have indicated at that they would like to become players – Vivendi, Viacom, AOL-Time Warner, Disney, Pearsons and Hollinger, to name a few?

What fascinating thinking.

With the weaker sex in mind?

Hmmm. One well known ladies man, Greg Barns, has already headed off for a career in Tasmanian politics this year. Did the ALP federal exec have this in the back of their minds when they decided that Duncan Kerr better keep on spending at least some of the year in Canberra?

Positions vacant

Keen-eyed Crikey readers may have noticed three separate ads for staff for Helen “Coonan the Barbarian” in the Fin recently – two for receptionists in Sydney and Canberra and one for an insurance adviser.

The keener-eyed may have also seen that the ad for the insurance adviser proudly proclaimed that our new Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer is an equal opportunity employer – but that this line was missing from the other two.

Presumably that means that we won’t hear any baritones answering the phones in the Barbarian’s office – another good strike against gender typecasting (not).

PS The Uptown Girl, Sophie Panopolous, is also recruiting – and seems to be very picky. She advertised at the beginning of December for a research officer and then the same ad appeared word for word in Saturday’s Oz. From Hillary’s experience, ads like this usually pull in several hundred applications. It’s quite peculiar that the position is being advertised again. The Uptown Girl must have unique standards.

Alas, poor Yorrick

There’s been uproar in the little Libs over “Yorrick Young Liberal’s” report in Crikey on the Young Liberal AGM. Many of the youngsters says that Yorrick’s main accusation is just plain wrong.

They are also interested in the choice of “Yorrick” as a handle. After all, they reason, what does it say about an individuals current political influence when they christen themselves after a dead jester.

Prize pigeon

Crikey’s reporting last week on the brilliant political career of Brisbane establishment scion and Santo Santoro acolyte Alan Pidgeon has revived fond memories of his past successes.

It’s thought Pidgeon wants to run for Indooroopilly – or than Santo wants him to, anyway.

His friends recall the last time this prize pigeon went for a seat, back in the 1992 state election. Alan’s campaign against lefty Judy Spence, assisted by daddy’s money, daddy’s personal community connections and his own overwhelming charisma resulted in a 4.4 per cent swing to the ALP.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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