Hillary has something from every state in Australia this week as the only political commentator in the country who literally covers the length and breadth of our fair land.

There they go overboard the Prime Miniature, the Cadaver (Ruddock), Lex Loser (Downer) and Wreathie. Why, you ask? It’s a basic safety measure you know the old saying “Liar, liar, pants one fire”. Better toss ’em in the water to put the blaze out.

PS Let’s not forget another liar who was caught out this week, South Australian Community Services Minister (for not much longer), Dean Brown. Dean gets a mention with the big boys for claiming during the state election campaign that children at Woomera detention centre had their lips sewn together by parents or adults despite being advised there was insufficient evidence.

Wazzums a poor Pwime Minister, then?

Hillary being one of Australia’s top spin doctors is always happy to help and the Prime Miniature clearly needs a hand at the moment.

“People are playing fast and loose with my reputation,” he told a presser in Sydney on Friday, “, 05and quite understandably I feel strongly about it.”

Quite. And here’s Hillary’s solution. Don’t allow your government to tell monumental lies, you repulsive runt. (Ed – now, now, let’s not get too abusive.)

Saved!

It’s an ill wind etc, etc and Satan must be overjoyed at how the week played out.

Monday morning and it looked like a matter of days before the Dems would have a spill motion up. By the end of the week she’d been able to do the outraged voice and facial expression dozens of time as anger over the Government’s lies raged.

Satan has got through the week in much better shape than most people ever would have predicted but the backlash is growing. The “Tash” skit on Backberner suggests her welcome is wearing very thin such a politically correct program would not have dared lay a finger on Natasha 12 months ago.

And wasn’t it nice to close the week with a soft little piece on Natasha’s new beau, spindoctor Ian Smith, in the Sunday Herald Sun. Ironically, the piece was written by Donkey Dave Wilson, the ex husband of former Kennett spinner Tania Price who Smith hired to work with him at Gavin Anderson before she headed down to WMC.

The new boys (Part I)

Parliament might have just returned, but already a few members of the Class of 2001 are making their mark.

Peter King, the man who took the posh New South Wales seat of Wentworth from mature aged student Andrew Thomson, seems to have made the biggest splash. Hillary hears that amongst other things he has already demanded a more up-to-date computer monitor, better crockery in his suite and asked for his office coffee table to be stained a different colour.

Also noted has been the new Member for Casey, Tony Smith. Smith has been wandering in and out the Reps door ever since he showed up as a staffer to the newly elected Peter Costello back in 1990 but woe betide any attendant who is unaware of how important he has now become.

Our final new boy or girl must be a shy and retiring type, despite their great achievement, but we cannot let them remain anonymous. If anyone knows which new Member send their staff down to the Serjeant-at-Arms’ office to unsuccessfully demand that somebody unpack their boxes for them, Hillary would love to know.

Barns bashing

The open season on Greg Barns continues by the way, isn’t Hillary rocked by the claim that Greg (gasp!) didn’t vote Liberal at the last election?

The new boys (Part II)

It was going to happen. The Michael “Whinging Pom” Johnson (Crikey passim) stories won’t go away and the new Member for Ryan really deserves a section of his own rather than being lumped in with the other members of the Class of 2001.

Hillary reported stories of new shenanigans in Ryan in the last column with this:

“After the preselection, John Moore’s resignation, the by-election and the second preselection, what more could happen in the Queensland federal seat of Ryan? Well, it seems that the fun just won’t stop when the Whinging Pom Michael Johnson is around.

“The latest yarn claims that when the electorate committee met last week, campaign director Karen Racey went troppo to hear that the candidate had “lent” the campaign $18,000, had been repaid $10,000, and was claiming he was still owed $8,000.

“Racey is alleged to have said she was unaware of the loan, had not approved the payment as required by the Committee and that campaign treasurer Russell Galt and the other signatory should not have signed a cheque for that disbursement as the money had been a donation from the candidate albeit a pretty reluctant one. Strange things happen in Queensland at this time of year, so who know what the case is. People from the preselection, however, seem to recall Johnson promising to make something along the lines of a “sizable and significant donation to the campaign”. They don’t remember anything about a loan.

“Oh yes. And Michael Johnson is no longer being called “the Whinging Pom”. His new name is Khemlani.”

Well, the meeting resumed on Thursday and what a fun night it was. The venue was even shifted to the Liberal secretariat, just to add to the sense of occasion.

All eyes were on treasurer Russell Galt, one of the hordes of members recruited by Johnson and the self proclaimed next member for the state seat of Moggill and the evening got off to a good start when he read a prepared statement warning that both he and Johnson were prepared to take legal action should any person present so much as utter a defamatory word about either of them.

Galt then tabled a 12 line financial statement for the campaign something of an improvement on the three line statement of the previous week and was then required to detail every payment made on behalf of the campaign.

This flushed out an unexpected gem a payment to Michael’s Mum of $4,800 for “catering services”. Galt put up a valiant defence of this expenditure, but when committee chair Penny Behan called for a vote to approve the item, support for Johnson was thin on the ground and the vote was lost.

That was only a warm-up, however, for the big one Johnson’s claim that his $18,000 was a loan or a “float”. Rasey denied any knowledge of a float and claimed the money was the candidate’s contribution or the candidate’s very reluctant contribution, to be precise.

Galt stuck with the Johnson line (Johnson, sadly, was unable to get back from Canberra to attend the meeting) and proposed that the $10,000 repayment remain in place and the $8000 showing as a loan from Johnson be converted to a donation.

The mood was tense and then state director Brendan Cooper made the interesting contribution that Johnson had advised the candidate vetting committee the night before preselection that he would be contributing $20,000 to the campaign.

It was downhill all the way after that for Johnson. A vote to approve the payment was lost with only Galt in favour and then came the call for Galt to resign.

Galt surprise, surprise announced he wanted to consult Johnson first, and then tried to make a fight back. The matter of leaks to journalists and certain websites was raised. Galt then went after the well-connected Behan over the leaking of the earlier financial statement, which has supposedly ended up in the hands of committee secretary Scott Malcolmson, flatmate to Young Liberal heavy Matt Boland. A motion calling on Malcolmson to account for the piece of paper at the next FEC meeting was carried without dissent

Things may get even more interesting if Johnson picks a fight with Behan and Boland..

Address unknown

Labor had bigger fish to fry last week than Speaker wannabe Alex Somlyay and the sad memory lapses that caused two members of his family to be enrolled at an address they had never lived at but the issue has not been forgotten.

Somlyay also has other crosses to bear including an unfair dismissal action taken against him by a former staff member.

The staffer claims to have taken on the role of Fairfax electorate committee chair at Somlyay’s request on the understanding that the time spent at the various meetings the job would entail could be claimed as overtime. Everything went well until the staffer got the boot supposedly for improper use of the overtime provisions.

The staffer is now working for another Queensland fed, baby minister Gary Hardgrave, and new Fairfax home owner Lynton Crosby is said to be very happy with proceedings to date.

Independents day

It’s been a very weird week in South Australia as the Labor and Liberal parties sought to thrash out deals with the independent members needed to put them in power.

Labor seems to have struck lucky, with loopy Murray Mallee MP Peter “Lithium” Lewis coming on board but the negotiations almost seemed stuck on a very peculiar snag for an awkward moment or two.

Lewis astounded the Parliament last year when, in a speech on prostitution, he spoke of how frustrated residents of Macau are known to seek sexual solace with ducks. (have a listen to this). Labor leader Mike Rann and his advisers were equally gobsmacked when, in the middle of horse trading, Lewis demanded a campaign to stamp out broom rape.

They were horrified. Murray Bridge, the largest town in Lewis’ electorate, is a public housing dumping ground with a huge range of social problems, but this was too ghastly to be true.

They asked a few more delicate and non specific questions and then the nature of Lewis’ demand suddenly became clear. Broome rape is a weed.

Business as usual

It looks as if Labor has the numbers needed to win support and form a government on the floor of the South Australian Parliament but no-one really knows when the Libs are going. To create the impression of business as usual, they’ve decided to embark on a faction fight.

Former premier Dean Brown toppled by Buffy but resurrected as deputy premier after his fall took the lead on the negotiations with the two Liberal independents. It was a logical step, as they both supported Beige as leader and he can string a soundbite together but one that provoked much murmuring in the back rooms. The right were horrified that Beige might be using the wheeling and dealing as a base to make a comeback from and everyone wondered where the Premier had gone.

Beige signed a deal with Lewis on Wednesday just before he held a final meeting with the ALP and then went on to announce he would be backing Labor and went racing up the steps of Parliament House with the document before Lewis had even finished his presser. Beige got the job of playing it tough later in the week, too warning Labor that the government might continue in office and see how Lewis behaved when it came to a vote on the floor of the House.

That was enough to launch a campaign. Word seeped out that the vote threat was Beige overstepping the mark good ol’ Kero would be much more relaxed. Beige was bollocked for not being able to deal with his own mob. And, as for the running up the steps waving the piece of paper, well (chuckle), wasn’t it just like Neville Chamberlain stepping off the plane after Munich.

Positions vacant

Just before the South Australian election was called, a review of the South Australian public service was announced headed by “consultant” John Fahey. Quite how long he will stay in the job is now debatable.

Parrot bites

It hasn’t been a good week for New South Wales’ neophyte Police Minister, Michael Costa, with the collapse of Operation Parrot, his bid to put Gloria and Daily Telegraph editor Campbell Reid on the PYCC board.

Still, Hillary supposes it would be a little too much to hope that as he examines his defeat, Costa might realise that anything that further politicises the police force also further corrupts it.

The wisdom of Wilson Tuckey

Readers have already learned how Crikey got some good promotion at the Western Australian Liberal Party state council meeting last weekend and how Chris Ellison let the faithful have a good laugh by getting Wilson Tuckey to do the federal report, but no-one passed on the details of what he said until now.

Hillary is pleased to be able to present the thoughts of Wilson Tuckey. He’s worried about asylum seekers apparently the Cadaver is “a bit of a lefty”. He thinks Christmas Islanders should all get proper jobs. Most of all, he wants to do something about the Aboriginal tent embassy outside the old Parliament House. Whether or not it involves iron bars was left unsaid.

All change at Hornsby

Fun and games continue in the lead up to next weekend’s Hornsby by-election a crucial test for Chikka.

Hornsby might be North Shore but it’s the grotty end. Despite running a leatherman as its candidate in the 1999 election and still pushing the Libs down to a 2.7 per cent margin, Labor has decided not to contest the seat (perhaps it’s too close to Mardi Gras). That has made the poll a contest between Liberal Judy Hopwood and a couple of former mayors, John Muirhead and Mick Gallagher.

It looks as if the Labor move was a stroke of genius. It removed the Liberals’ main selling point being anti-Labor. The cashed strapped NSW Libs are terrified about how they are going to pay for the campaign, given that they no longer have their head office property to borrow against and are up against two high profile locals, not just Labor and the usual by-elections freak show of candidates.

Muirhead is quietly confident of his chances, and has had great pleasure spreading a yarn about an insert the Liberals placed in a local small newspaper. In contained some charming pictures of Judy Hopwood, but the accompanying text neglected to mention that she even existed. It contained nothing more than the collected wisdom of Chika not a smart move, given how many voters know that the local Libs were railroaded by head office throughout the preselection.

Still, the Libs are getting their own back by raising the business of Muirhead’s former employment as an adviser to federal Labor minister Frank Walker. Was that where he learnt how to be an independent?

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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