Another week, another terrific spray from Hillary Bray.

So Peter Costello is Glenn Milne’s “senior cabinet minister”? Think again.

Still, the Black Dwarf may have done Hollingworth a big, big favour with his article. Hillary understands that the GG was gone Monday’s Cabinet meeting would just tie the loose ends but once his beloved Hyacinth’s name came up, the Rodent dug in and wouldn’t budge.

Just how credible is the GG’s chief pursuer?

Too many people who have felt disenfranchised since witch-burning became socially unacceptable have discovered a new lease of life by climbing on board the child sexual abuse bandwagon. The bizarre mix of hysteria and half-truths peddled by some activists not to mention episodes such as Franca Arena’s improv take on The Crucible seriously damage the credibility of the lobby.

There are a few questions that need to be put to Hetty Johnson, paedophilia activist and one of the key pursuers of Governor General Peter Hollingworth, too.

Johnson used to work for the organisation Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse. ASCA instituted White Balloon Day, and activists have said white balloons will be used as symbols in protests against the GG during Brenda’s visit.

Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse has these words on its website:

“What about our memories?

* Some people are constantly aware day & night/ tortured by memories, the pain, the confusion & aloneness they felt. Some plagued by constant nightmares. Some people in adulthood begin to get an inkling that something happened in their childhood because of e.g. panic attacks for no reason; body feelings which don’t make sense; fears that don’t make sense, or in my case, constant pain in their body with no explanation as to why, etc.

* Some recall all the feeling, but not the events * Some recall the events but have no feelings at all * Others have no memory until an event (e.g. deep depression) suddenly triggers off a memory. * For most, memories come gradually bit by bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

This sounds to Hillary just like the discredited repressed memory syndrome. Does Johnson support this?

The ASCA website also claims that one in four girls and one in eight boys are abused. Johnson repeats this claim in her own newsletter (available from her website) and says that 150,000 children under the age of 17 in Queensland have been abused, along with 420,000 over 18. This makes the total number of abused people in Queensland 670,000 getting up towards the same number as the entire population of Brisbane.

The figures come from an ABS serial but Has there been just a teeny-weeny bit of exaggeration here?

Economy drive?

Has the Member for Ryan, Michael “Khemlani” Johnson, been forced into a round of belt tightening since he remembered that his “loan” to his campaign committee was really a donation? The Parliament House rumour mill claims says he spent the first sitting week of the new year in a motel but crashed down on the office sofa during the second.

If it’s true, here’s hoping he wasn’t claiming TA.

Swayed by the occasion

South Australia should only have one Premier after Parliament meets this Tuesday. Both turned up on Wednesday last week to welcome Brenda as she began her royal progress through her possession, but there was no such niceness earlier in the week when President Clintstone called by.

Hillary hears that Premier-elect Mike Rann was disinvited, while outgoing Premier Rob Kerin appeared to have been swayed by the gravitas of the occasion and come over all emotional.

Surprise, surprise

Australian policy makers wisely decided when 10 years or so ago? that unlike the third world countries that seem to find them a matter of national pride, there was no reason to have a government owned airline. Nothing has changed since then, so it shouldn’t even come as a shock to the most unreconstructed ACTU member let alone Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew that the government isn’t was going to pay for an airline it doesn’t even own.

Timing is everything

Is it a coincidence that Admiral “‘Barassment” Barry got to his feet to make the momentous announcement “I was well aware I was right or I was wrong” so soon after the news that the Tesna deal had fallen through? Hillary hears that a fragrant hackette in Defence PR who rejoices in the name of Tina Turner thought it might be a good idea.

Cossie’s casino

Is Peter Costello beginning to share his brother Tim’s dislike for gambling? The Rodent has been holed beneath the surface and is listing badly in the wake of kids-in-the-watergate but the Australian Office of Financial Management’s forex follies haven’t helped the Treasurer’s leadership ambitions.

The AOFM has lost billions by gambling that the Australian dollar would rise relative to the United States dollar. It didn’t. It also took a punt that Australian interest rates would remain significantly higher in Australia than the US. They didn’t and for most of the life of the Howard Government the policy hasn’t worked.

Here is Hillary’s guide to the problem based on quotes from AOFM’s own material:

“The USD exposure in the Commonwealth net debt portfolio hovered around the top of the benchmark range of 10 to 15 per cent until mid October 2000, notwithstanding the valuation effects from some currency weakness. However, a significant fall in the size of the net Commonwealth portfolio resulting from the unanticipated increase in term deposits in late October/early November (see above), combined with the effect of a weaker currency to push the currency share outside the benchmark range.”

Hillary: So, OK, we break a guideline by going outside our benchmark.

“Given the planned review of the portfolio benchmark and, as a result, a necessity to reconsider the general strategy on portfolio foreign currency exposure, a decision was taken to suspend the foreign currency benchmark target and rollover existing exposures pending the outcome of the review. A consequence was that the currency share remained outside the benchmark range for the remainder of 2000-01. The review of foreign currency exposure was completed towards the end of 2000-01 and its findings are now under consideration.”

Hillary: OK, we are having a review so we won’t get our exposure back into our bandwidth due to the review.

“As a matter of portfolio benchmark policy, the exposure to the movement in the Australian dollar is not hedged. As at 30 June 2001, the following foreign currency assets and liabilities were not hedged”

Hillary: Whoops! We have a policy that means once we start haemorrhaging money we don’t hedge our exposure as that would contravene our guidelines. And we can’t break guidelines can we.

Leaks and spills

Is a petition to spark a Democrat leadership spill doing the rounds? Furtive glances are being cast in the shadows and whispered rumours flit through empty rooms

Derailed at Hornsby

The Greens appear to be the only party feeling anything near relaxed and comfortable in the wake of last weekend’s Hornsby by-election, with the Liberal Party, Labor and the Democrats all indulging in bouts of back-biting.

Judy Hopwood’s narrow win over independent John Muirhead to retain the seat for the Libs has done little to lift the morale of the New South Wales party.

With a general election due next year, Muirhead campaigned on the theme that voters had a chance to trial him for 12 months before deciding to keep him on. Many key Libs feel that the punters liked the idea and decided to apply it to them. They believe Hopwood is on probation and that Hornsby will take the independent option she and the party don’t perform between now and next March.

The Liberals are despairing at the result, and with MP’s phones running hot over the weekend talk of a leadership spill has emerged once again this time when Parliament breaks for Easter.

Hillary hears that the New South Wales party spent around $200,000 on the campaign big bucks in what should be safe Liberal territory and much is being made of the campaign committee decision that it would be better if the how-to-votes and booth posters didn’t feature Chikka pix.

Some party hacks are also seeing Saturday’s outcome as an opportunity for some blood-letting before next year’s poll.

Hornsby pre-selection candidate Stephen Pringle is now casting his eye in the direction of neighbouring Hawkesbury, where sitting MP Kevin Rozzoli is sure to come under strong challenge and murmurings over prominent local party organisation member Rick “butterfly on a pin” Forbes could add an extra fission to affairs.

Meanwhile, recriminations are flying in the ALP over just who leaked an e-mail to party members that stated it would be “in our interests to support John Muirhead, who is standing as an independent” to the Telegraph and colourful pamphleteer Clive Troy and who IDed a figure handing out Muirhead pamphlets in sensational (not) photos as a Labor member.

The bruvvers are pointing the finger at one John Inshaw, a local Labor member who has clashed with Muirhead over Hornsby Council decisions, and been muzzled by a Supreme Court injunction for speaking out on another unrelated matter and, worst of all, is suspected of getting Green MLC Lee Rhianon to raise a few of his pet issues in the Parliament.

Finally, hard-headed Dems (all two or three of them) are pointing out that the party did particularly badly given the very strong Upper House vote they usually receive in the area and the absence of a Labor candidate. The Democrats usually poll around the 25 per cent mark in parts of Hornsby like Dangar Island their highest vote outside the best booths in South Australia. To see their overall vote fall to just seven per cent is a disaster.

The preselections continue

Warmth, unity and a sense of common purpose continue to spread amongst Victorian Liberals (not) as the preselection season continues.

It seems Ross Smith was well loved in his electorate of Glenn Waverley, and the admin committee’s decision on which branches go where post-redistribution may have been motivated by a desire to stack the votes in favour of Ron Wilson.

On some others, Maree Luckins thinks she has a good show of winning Forrest Hills, and she may just sneak up the middle of Vasan and Rolly Richardson despite both having strong numbers locally.

In the end East Yarra has only seen a field of about a dozen turn up for the fight, but it is interesting that education consultant and part-time trouble maker Kevin Donnelly has nominated against David Davis. The Doc thinks he has a chance.

The whole of the Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland regions have been attacked in what looks like a well planned attack from the powers that be. Are they worried about the numbers controlled by MLC Ron Bowden? It looks like it.

Many rank and file Libs still remain upset at the loss of democracy inside the party titular party president Ian Carson and his eminence grise, Joy Howley, are still felt to pay too little attention to the spirit of the constitution of the party. If they don’t like the candidates they keep the preselection open even though a convention has the ability to vote on that fact as well. If they like the name, they close it quick: Oakleigh has noted whistle-talker Peter Goudge as its only candidate. He was a big Howley supporter. Closed. Narree Warren South and North both have fields good enough to keep the locals happy enough to consider a convention, but they have been kept open.

Smart thinking

Peter Beattie continues to top opinion polls as the most popular pol in Australia but just how good is his team? Well, if the Brisbane Sunday Mail is anything to go by, Natural Resources Minister Stephen Robertson is a real genius.

Property valuations are climbing in parts of Queensland, and as they form the basis of rates assessments, there’s the usual murmurings over the valuations themselves.

Robertson, however, has the solution. He’s been canvassing alternatives and come out with this beauty: “one option would stop basing valuations on sales, which sometimes produced unrealistic figures”.

So what are they going to be based on? Pick a figure and see if it’s the same one the Minister has in mind? That would make objecting to valuations a tricky process. How would the judges know the answer? Would they have to unrealistically assume that the Minister even had a mind a big ask after this comment. Perhaps it could be based on the spin of a wheel sorta bit like the way the old board game Shares used to determine what your BHP stock was worth and, more appropriately, like that other veteran, Squatter.

VIP

The folks who have dropped by the Prime Miniature’s web site and signed up to receive media releases by e-mail got the Rodent’s welcome to Australia to Chief Olesugun Obsanjo of Nigeria seven times.

He must be a very, very, very, very, very, very, very important person.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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