Some columnists never rest and Hillary has churned out this fine composition of political gossip on the Australia Day long weekend.

The South Australian Libs are denying that they’re playing the race card a nasty political ailment known to spin doctors as Crosby’s Syndrome but there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary.

At the start of the campaign, the Australian quoted an unidentified Liberal staffer as saying “Maybe we can arrange a boat load of refugees to arrive off Glenelg”. They forgot that there’s already a good supply of refugees available at the Woomera detention centre in the state’s north.

Over the past week Community Services Minister Beige has called in the Cadaver and talked about prosecuting “barbaric” and disgraceful” refugees while about the only spark at the Liberal campaign launch on Sunday came when Premier Kerin claimed Labor’s detention proposals could cause even greater problems.

Political theorists are starting to wonder if Liberal strategists have decided that trashing foreigners is the way of the future. They got away with it in the federal election and look as if they will in South Australia, too but they should look at the demographics of this country. It doesn’t look like much of a long term option then.

PS At the end last week the Cadaver announced that his department would resume processing refugee applications from Afghan asylum seekers at Woomera the issue that has sparked the latest wave of protests. He took time out from pulling the wings off butterflies to tell journos that “when there are significant changes in the circumstances in your home country, they have to be taken into account”.

As part of the process, the Cadaver might care to consider this item from the London Daily Telegraph about the wonderful new spirit of freedom our boys have helped establish in the new Afghanistan and remember he’s reading a report from an arch-Tory publication run by the slavishly pro-American Lord Blackadder, not some pinko rag:

“Afghans to carry on stoning criminals

“CRIMINALS in Afghanistan will face Taliban-style punishments including amputations and stonings as part of the interim government’s drive to keep down crime, the chief justice said yesterday

“Chief Justice Fazul Hadi Shinwari said he wanted adulterers whipped or stoned to death, the hands of robbers amputated and murderers publicly executed. Proselytising Christians may face the death penalty and Muslims who drink alcohol could be given 80 lashes.

“Mr Shinwari criticised the Taliban for ‘turning Islam into a monster’, but said: ‘God says that some people need to be present to witness the punishment as a lesson’

“‘The main issue here is that infidels or Westerners protest against a hand being chopped for theft,’ said Mr Shinwari. ‘But since the robber has committed a crime then he has to be punished for obvious and justified reasons – ridding society of crime.’ He also warned foreigners against trying to convert Afghans from Islam.

“‘The Islamic government, according to sharia, is bound to punish those who get involved in anti-Islamic activities,’ he said. ‘We can punish them for propagating other religions – such as threaten them, expel them and, as a last resort, execute them, but only with evidence.'”

Suffering at Woomera

Of all the tales of horror from Woomera last week, none is more harrying than that of Satan. A major political party and its once high-profile leader have slipped so far that she is forced to indulge in the crassest sort of publicity stunt imaginable. What a tragedy!

Economic rectitude

Is it really true that staffers for Special Minister of State Erica Betz have taken to ringing journos looking for transcripts rather than getting them from Media Monitors or Rehame? Such concern over public monies is rarely seen.

Cheesy story

Amanda Vanstone took a break from belting the poor over the head to enhance up her kinder, gentler side in the Sunday Life throwaway last weekend. The substantial Senator recalled her days as a cheese salesperson, and posed with a pile of curdy comestibles in her Commonwealth car.

However, PR pros have been in touch with Hillary and suggested that the 13 wheels of camembert look as if they’ve been Photoshopped in. What happened? Did Amanda eat the originals before the photographer finished?

Nothing personal?

It was fascinating to see the spat over public liability last week between Coonan the Barbarian and Hindenburg Hockey.

The Barbarian and the Hindenburg, of course, were factional allies in the New South Wales moderates before she decided that ratting would boost her preselection chances.

Then, of course, the Barbarian is now the assistant treasurer while all the Hindenburg has nowadays is the corner shop of the Small Business portfolio and some fun in the sun as Tourism minister.

Still, Hillary is sure that there was nothing personal in their debate. Strange, however, that it was conducted in public.

Positive Campaigning

Back to the South Australian poll and after all round good bloke Kero promised to run a positive campaign, political observers were a little surprised to see that when the first Liberal TV spots finally appeared they featured an attack on “professional politician” Mike Rann.

They were even more surprised that the Libs had been thick enough to miss the obvious riposte to their own message do you really want an amateur running the show.

PS An intriguing tale has done the rounds in Adelaide suggesting that Buffy already had his election ads in the can when his political career went down the can last year. Given that and the fact that the Libs controlled the timing of the election announcement why did it take them a week before their TV ads finally appeared.

Winning on the pokies

Hugh Martin, Liberal candidate for the marginal seat of Mitchell, appears to have become the beneficiary of a strong campaign being waged by the Australian Hotels Association against sitting Labor member Chris Hanna.

Hanna, you see, has called for tight control on poker machines while, just like the AHA, we all know that it is a terrible attack on freedom to try to restrict the right of losers, drunks and morons to waste their money this way and deny them the opportunity make themselves more expensive burdens on the rest of the community.

If the AHA campaign keeps up, Martin will be smiling all the way the green leather benches.

Democrat talk sense on economics!

Readers may like to sit down before reading the following item from the ABC’s website. It gave Hillary quite a shock:

“Democrats question value of ‘corporate welfare’

“The South Australian leader of the Australian Democrats, Mike Elliott, has questioned whether Mitsubishi should be given more government handouts as a way of ensuring the company keeps its Adelaide operations.

“Mr Elliott has attacked what he sees as the Liberal Government’s corporate welfare mentality during his party’s official campaign launch at Rundle Park.

“He told about 200 supporters Mitsubishi jobs are important.

“However, he says the money spent on handouts to Mitsubishi and the Port Stanvac refinery will not really determine whether the operations choose to stay or leave Adelaide.

“Mr Elliott says the money should be used to create new jobs.

” ‘In the overall scheme of things, Mitsubishi is a huge international company and the money we’re offering is peanuts to them,’ Mr Elliot said.

” ‘They’ll make a decision on the basis of what price they can produce a car for and out it into export markets.

” ‘If the Australian dollar goes up they’ll leave, if it goes down they’ll stay.

” ‘I think we should stop putting money into these large international companies that will make a decision as to stay or leave not on the basis of the money that we give them.’ ”

Democrats talking sense on economics and the economics of such as sacred cow as the car industry! Amazing. Elliot will be quoting Bert Kelly on the subject next.

Battlefield tours

Remember those great by-elections that followed the collapse of the glory that was Jeff – Burwood and Benalla? Well, the Libs and the Nats seem set to make idiots of themselves once again as they preselect candidates to try and win them back again.

A field of Boorondarah councillors are busy in Burwood preening themselves for preselection but their ambitions may be thwarted by the Member for Bennetswood, Ron Wilson.

A swathe of Bennetswood is now Burwood and Wilson is considered to be a credible candidate with a very good chance of winning Jeff’s old seat back. He is also mates with Mark Birrell, whose Legislative Council seat of East Yarra covers the same terrain and would be able to supply plenty of useful votes.

Party vice-president Peter Clarke is rumoured to be weighing up a bid, too. Clarke apparently considers himself more than able to fill Jeff’s shoes. He has got some of the way there, being as unpopular as Jeff was in about October 1999.

Hillary’s old friend and Peter Costello obsessive David Davis has expressed interest in the seat in the past, but won’t step on Clarke’s toes. That just leaves one other name, Ros Clowes, the candidate of Chisholm in the federal election.

Back then, Clowes ran a cashed up campaign and distinguished herself as the only Liberal candidate to have a swing against them. In the wake of that disaster, many people fear she will never be able to overcome an unfortunate physical disability a very strong South African accent.

Meanwhile, the cockies are gearing up for the battle for Benalla, with the Nats likely to call for nominations any day. Unsuccessful by-election candidate Bill Sykes is yet to declare, but former local newspaper editor turned spin doctor Michael Gorey already has his hat in the ring and has set out to dazzle the locals with gasp a web site. He’d better keep the ideas coming, because the site makes him look as scintillating as a sock.

Over in the Lib camp, the punters seem to have forgiven Strathbogie Shire Mayor and unsuccessful candidate for preselection in Indi, Stephen Merrylees, for his youthful indiscretion working from Democrat Sid Spindler and put him in as favourite.

All of this is said to be rattling the accidental Labor member Denise Allen and there’s even a rumour that the bruvvers are thinking of dumping her for another candidate.

Stay tuned.

Flying the flag

Crikey subscribers have learnt of the bravery of one of their number, Bill Gollan, chairman of the federal electorate committee for the Queensland seat of Lilley, in turning up to the first campaign meeting for last year’s federal poll in a Crikey t-shirt. Eyewitnesses tell us that Liberal federal deputy director John Burston specially flown up to give a briefing at the meeting and humourless at the best of times was particularly unimpressed on this occasion.

Lobbyist Andrew Parker has been spotted wearing his Crikey t-shirt in the gym, while a South Australian ministerial staffer and subscriber who thought Crikey clobber made perfect dress-down Friday wear copped a bollocking from Buffy when he ran into the late premier in a lift.

So, readers, what other tales of Crikey t-shirts are out there? We’re waiting.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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