By Crikey, there might be some lawyers earnings some fees out of this week’s Hillary column but the world now knows there’s nothing left in the can after Steve Price finished with us so just email in your complaint and we’ll deal with them swiftly on the site.

Parliament sits this week and a torrid time is guaranteed but first we’ve got to wish the Prime Miniature happy anniversary. Yup. Last weekend marked the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the Rodent’s regime. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun.

Interesting week

Parliament should be fascinating this week. In the wake of the belated confessions by Australia’s very own Sir Joseph Porter, Admiral “‘Barassment” Barrie, and Wreathie that they knew kids-in-the-watergate was a loud of bull, all eyes will be on the Prime Miniature as he tries to explain how the very top bloke somehow managed to be the only one left out of the loop.

We already know he’s a mendacious midget. In the next few days, we’ll also be able to see just how much of deceitful dwarf our nation’s leader is, too.

Kids-in-the-watergate will also be a challenge for Slimy Simey and the opposition, too. They have an incredible weapon to attack the Government with. The Prime Miniature has already been wounded badly by the whole affair so now is the time for finesse. The challenge now for Simey and Co is to drive the attack home and dispatch the PM. They won’t succeed if (pardon the pun) they go overboard.

Cozzie’s Casino

Unlike the last sitting fortnight, the PM’s loyal deputy won’t be able to sit back and enjoy the fun of Question Time. He’ll be in the firing line, too, as the Opposition try to find out just how much money lost by the AOFM in Cozzie’s Casino.

Coz says it’s all the fault of a sad gambling addict called Fart Boy Slim, who in his days as finance minister just couldn’t keep away from the tables. Up to a point, he’s right but Coz still has to explain why he let the croupiers keep playing after they lost their best customer.

Wild and Woolly tales

So the AMA is concerned that Michael Wooldridge diverted funds to the College of General Practitioners? What’s the difference, you ask?

Well, Hillary hates to come up with such an anoraky reference, but readers not skilled in medical politics should pop down to their local video outlet and hire The Life of Brian. When you get to the bits about the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea you’ll find the answer.

The other dragon lady

Much has been made about Hyacinth’s role in the appointment of the GG and the fact that he’s managed to keep the job but what about the other dragon lady, Ann Hollinsworth? Hillary hears that the Bish wouldn’t have even had the job if she hadn’t decided he was going to become Governor-General.

Nasty, very nasty

A cruel and defamatory story that stretches the bounds of credibility and is good for a laugh reaches Hillary. It claims a senior organisational Liberal from Victoria, deep in distress possibly due to repeated failure to win preselection decided to dispatch themselves. The attempt failed when their makeshift scaffold collapsed beneath their weight.

How governments are made

The ALP took office in South Australia last week when the nation’s last non-Labor administration lost a confidence motion on the floor of the House of Assembly. As expected, earlier in the day ratbag independent Peter Lewis was elected Speaker with the support of Labor and fellow Liberal defector, Bob Such, giving Labor the numbers on the floor but an intriguing new tale about the wheeling and dealing needed to lock Lewis in has just reached Hillary.

When the count finished on February 9, the night of the South Australian state election, no party had a clear majority. In a 47 seat House, Labor had 23, the Libs 20, Independents 3 and the Nats 1. Labor hoped to pick up the still undecided country seat of Stuart, to give them government in their own right, while the Libs kept their fingers crossed just in case the inner city seat of Norwood would go their way and let them continue to govern with the support of the crossbenchers. Neither did but from that evening the ALP was foreshadowing a Court of Disputed Returns challenge in Stuart.

Stuart takes up a huge landmass virtually everything north and east from the regional centre of Port Augusta. It has long been a Liberal seat, under a range of different guises, but it was hoped changing demographics, boundaries, issues such as a planned detention centre in Port Augusta and a bright young Labor candidate who provided a sharp contrasted with the ever-crustier sitting MP would make a difference. Labor campaigned strongly in the seat, and even tipped in resources from out of the state, including a keen young Labor hack from the New South Wales branch.

At the close of voting, this bright young hack as bright young hacks are wont to do went off to scrutineer. However, something strange and inexplicable moved within him and he went off to scrutineer with his video camera.

Again, as bright young hacks are wont to be, despite being tender in years our hero was an experienced scrutineer who new what was acceptable polling practice and what wasn’t. He knew it was only normal to expect the electoral office officials to be the worst exponents of beadledom and that it was quite unusual, if not downright wrong, for piles of votes to be left unattended in a dark corner of another room, away from the counting. So he was bright enough to pull the camera out and get shooting then draw the problem to the attention of the booth manager.

Our hero then carried on scrutineering as usual, but reported the issue of the pile of votes to the party heavies. It went right to the top of the food chain and reached the ears of Labor leader Mike Rann.

Rann sat on it but wisely asked for a copy of the tape.

A few days later, the Liberal Party was madly involved in negotiations with the crossbenchers Nat Karlene Maywald, independent Rory McEwen and Liberal defectors Bob Such and Peter Lewis. The Libs needed all four votes if they were to supply a Speaker and stay in power and Lewis was the stumbling block.

Despite their being no love lost between Lewis and his old party, it was thought that Dean Brown, the former Liberal Premier who’s dumping lead to Lewis’ departure to the crossbenchers, it was thought after giving in on pile of Lewis obsessions, a deal had been nailed down. Lewis called a press conference for the afternoon of the Wednesday after the poll to announce which party he would support and that’s where this story becomes interesting.

When Lewis left the Libs, he was sent into internal exile in Parliament House and dumped in a top floor office near the Opposition Leader’s suite. He was pulled into Rann’s on the way to the presser and here, this yarn says, was shown the tape with the alleged electoral irregularities.

Lewis may be mad but even he could realise that if a new election was held in Stuart and Labor won, they would have a majority in their own right rendering his deal worthless so he reversed his stance and cut a deal with the ALP. When he appeared at his press conference an hour late he announced he would be backing Labor.

Of such governments are made.

The dust settles

With the new state government sworn in, the dust from February 9 is finally settling in South Australia. Still, one candidate doesn’t seem to realise it’s all over. Michael Harbison, Deputy Mayor of Adelaide and unsuccessful Liberal candidate for the seat of Adelaide, had an ad in this week’s City Messenger freesheet.

Harbison was certainly the wealthiest candidate at the election and tipped tens of thousands of his own money into the campaign. Former Labor deputy premier Frank Blevins, who ran the campaign against him, said it was like being up against the Reserve Bank. So does this mean that Harbo happily booked and paid for space right through to May, a mooted date for the poll, or what?

Meanwhile, reports come through of a new power. Loopy Lib turned independent Peter Lewis is the kingmaker who let Labor take office so, according to wife Kerry, that means she’s the queen, or so her performance at the opening of Parliament seems to suggest.

With the government about to fall on a vote of confidence the place was packed to the rafters with all the usual suspects for an opening of Parliament plus a whole lot of stickybeaks come along to see the drama but her highness needed to get a group seated. The doors to the galleries had already shut early, leaving invited guests and Members’ spouses locked out, but that was no excuse.

Mrs Speaker did a carry out to one gobsmacked attendant about how her guests needed to be let in, who summoned another attendant. They knew just what to do and threw out a pile of Liberal guests.

Satan lets rip at the Gras

After appearing in last weekend’s Mardi Gras parade, Democrats Leader Ah Satan turned up in the VIP lounge at the party on Saturday night – or, at least, someone recognised as and who was claiming to be her. You never can tell at Mardi Gras. There is one Sydney drag queen who is the spitting image of Kerry Chikarovski, though most cross dressers would find it hard to be quite as petite as young Satan.

Our heroine, anyway, was sounding off to all and sundry about Laurie Oakes and appeared to be unhappy about something he has reported about her recently. However, she did receive some strong moral support from well known Imperial Hotel drag queen Keiren St James, who managed to perk up Natasha’s mood enormously. Just what do drags keep in their hand bags?

Position vacant

Malcolm Turnbull, chair of the Menzies Research Centre board (he got the gig after handing over 100 grand or so as part of his touchingly naive belief that tossing lots of cash around will guarantee him preselection) is looking for a new head for the Liberal think tank.

What about his old mate Greg Barns? Doesn’t he need a gig?

Let the bloodletting begin

With the Hornsby by-election now behind it, the NSW Liberal Party is trying to get on with business as usual preselections. Most political parties with little or no chance of success in a coming election, and at least another five years of irrelevance, would be using the time as an opportunity to bring in some new blood, to show some evidence of regeneration in the their ranks. Not so, the NSW Division of the Liberal Party.

Hillary hears Chika and Liberal State Director Scott Morrison had been hoping for a 10 per cent swing in Hornsby to give a number of high profile would-be candidates the impression of a ground-swell running against Bob Carr and Labor, offering a good chance of a change of government next year. These would be-s, in appears, are only interested in leaving their current high profile, high paying positions if they are headed for the ministry and the Treasury benches.

The end result has not exactly created an impression that the Libs are on their way to government and this has had an effect on the field that is presenting itself for a number of up-coming pre-selections, starting with the Upper House.

In the northern NSW province, veteran back-bencher Dr Brian Pezzutti is likely to make way for former Collins staffer and state executive member Catherine Cusack.

Another Collins alumni expected to contest a preselection later this year is Gladys Berejiklian, who will probably come up against a third ex-Collins staffer, David Elliott, who went over to the dark side and worked with the Rodent, the Monk and on the “No” campaign in the republic referendum. And the preselection? They’re both likely to run for Willoughby against their old boss. Other contenders are likely to be local councillor Stuart Coppock and popularly-elected Mayor Pat Riley, who is being supported by Chika’s Dad, former Willoughby Mayor and tobacco company executive Greg Bartels.

In the Central Coast / Hunter Province, Opposition Leader in the Upper House, Mike Gallacher, is likely to run largely unchallenged after his main rival, Greg Hansen, crashed and burned in the State Executive elections.

In the North-west Metropolitan Province, right-wing convenor David Clarke is expected to win easily, possibly unchallenged after a long-term campaign to consolidate his support in the local branches. This has sent shock-waves through the moderates, who have been looking for a celebrity candidate for months challenge Clarke, believing this to be the only way to beat him. It is thought that the poor result in Hornsby has all but ruled out this option.

Hawkesbury and Berowra electorate committees president Rick Forbes has been mooted by some as a possible contender for the seat but vehemently rejects any such suggestion and Hillary deeply regrets any earlier inference that he could ever have such aspirations.

The region causing the least angst is the jewel of the Liberal crown – the Northern metropolitan region. Eastern suburbs resident, recent aspirant for Vaucluse and key Chikka backer Greg Pearce is believed to have the numbers all sewn up, with his staffer, Young Liberal president Ben Franklin delivering key support from the Hornsby electorate. The lack of a contest in the Liberals’ heartland has some in the Party quite miffed, particularly when the favourite doesn’t even live in the area. It is widely tipped that this may change in the next couple of days if someone is not seen in any North Shore real estate agents’ offices.

Pathetic

Bob Carr, the Malthus of Maroubra, likes prophesying environmental catastrophe, but when he’s asked about an issue a little closer to home, political assassin Phuong Ngo’s Long Bay shindigs, he dismisses them as a “ridiculous beat up”.

Corruption has become as big a part of the Sydney landscape as the Harbour and yet the Liberal Party is not regarded as a serious alternative.

Meanwhile, the front page of the Smellie trumpets Carl Surly’s latest rail tunnel plan but the current project, Parramatta-Chatswood, has been cut in half and is way behind schedule.

Again, the New South Wales Liberals are not seen as a party able to form a credible government.

Just how pathetic are they?

New South Wales guess who, don’t sue special

To celebrate the uselessness of Chikka’s crew, Hillary is proud to present a cornucopia of New South Wales Liberal dirt:

Which metropolitan Sydney council is believed to be facing dismissal, possibly meaning the end of pre-selection challenges against a state Liberal parliamentarian by one of the councillors? Never fear, word has it that Liberal HQ has a news-reader ready to go for this beachside seat.

Which Kogarah city councillor is lining himself up for a Liberal pre-selection tilt at Cronulla MP Malcolm Kerr following a flurry of local activity – including the recruitment of a few dozen Lebanese from the western suburbs? Rumour has it that a gold medal winning Olympian may also have similar ideas.

Which lower north shore Mayor is believed to be positioning himself to run for Liberal pre-selection in the state seats of Baulkham Hills and the Hills? This is believed to have confused a number of Liberal insiders who believe an opportunity may be imminent in the seat in which he lives – all you need to work out is who that State MP is!

Which former Young Liberal President is rumoured to have ‘jumped the fence’, following the recent break-up of his engagement? Word has it that this might affect his pre-selection prospects in a seat that is currently held by a federal parliamentarian who is believed to be considering retirement.

Which right-wing Liberal state Upper House MP is being nudged by colleagues to take over the seat of Camden where the incumbent member is believed to be getting ready for retirement? He should be very cautious about stepping forward as a recent Mayor of Camden is equally keen on this seat.

Which newly-elected state Liberal MP is going to be soon re-endorsed for the 2003 election by State Executive to head-off a likely pre-selection challenge in a few months time? Rumour has it that a couple of other challenges (including a millionaire lawyer) have stepped forward. Previous challengers for this seat are believed to have their eyes on seats in outer north-west Sydney and the mid-north shore.

Which former rugby league player is the Liberal Party courting to run for state Labor seats Ryde and Parramatta? A clue – he recently married the former-wife of a jockey.

Which north shore independent mayor is getting ready to take on a Liberal front-bencher in next year’s state election? The Liberals are believed to be getting the mud ready with rumours of dodging property dealings involving a pro-development spouse.

Victorians on the move

After six months of unsuccessfully searching for a job in Sydney, Louise Staley has moved back to Victoria – buying land next to pirate lieutenant Joy Howley in Wannam. They intend to open up a market stall together, and are even talking about making wine. Hillary just hopes that they don’t drink all the profits!

This presents an interesting dilemma for Ian “the cardboard cut out” Carson, the patron of FOOLS, or Friends Of Our Louise Staley.

Since Louise’s departure, he had taken up a new patronage, heading up the Sneddon Heroine Investment Trust. This important organisation undertakes good deeds for our Heroine, in making up the shortfall between the single mother’s pension and the cost of a $2,000 a month apartment in South Yarra. It also covers incidentals such as Winfield Blue cigarettes and extra large riding pants.

Creditors of FOOLS have indicated that they see the second patronage as a conflict of interest for Carson. Hillary disagrees. As both organisations are morally bankrupt and completely devoid of political capital, Carson’s experience as an administrator should come in handy.

Ed: Jeepers Hillary, that’s pretty rough on poor old Louise Staley. What’s she ever done to you?

Petty cash

An interesting story has come Hillary’s way regarding a $10,000 donation from the horny handed sons of toil at the CFMEU better known as the Come F*ck Me Union to a Western Australian Labor Member of the Reps that somehow went missing along the way.

As well as the MP in question, the yarn also involves a certain former premier and a Senator and shadow minister and reflects the long-running factional troubles of Labor in the West. If anyone can help join the dots, you know the e-mail address.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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