Hillary’s got something for everyone this week.

Guess who, don’t sue. Which Minister employed two staff on a stud with a unique salary package getting them to claim the dole then topping up the difference with cash?

Laughs with Lex

Foreign Minister Lex Loser is a laugh a minute guy. We all know where the hilarious “the things that batter” gag got him – and he was up to his old tricks at the launch of a shark repellent device last week. He started joshing how useful it could be, “when we throw the refugees overboard”. And he thought that no journos were listening…

Successful campaign

There was a hell of a hullabaloo over the weekend when the American wonk’s bible Campaigns and Elections named Queensland Nat heavy Ken Crooke as an international “rising star of politics”.

Crooke was cited for his work on the 1995 campaign that lead to the demise of Wayne Goss although most people recall Liberal ad guru Toby Ralph, along with a range of other Lib heavies including Bob Tucker and Jim Barron cooked it up and that Crooke had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it and even then wouldn’t buy the whole message. Indeed, as they recall, if Crooke had been a little more enthusiastic, the overall swing may have been bigger and the Coalition wouldn’t have had to wait until the Libs won Mundingburra a couple of months later to get into office.

Still, by managing to be cited as a “rising star” when you’re losing MPs and steering a party ever faster downhill Crooke must be able to run some campaigns.

He’s got the desk will he get the drag?

Hillary, overcome by grief at the death of the Queen Mother Gawd bless ‘er, remember the Blitz has turned to the British papers for succour in this time of need and found this interesting fact amongst the words of comfort in the Daily Torygraph:

“The death of the Queen Mother has left vacant the post of Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports, once one of the most powerful appointments in the country.

“The Queen Mother was installed as Lord Warden in a ceremony at Dover Castle in August 1979, succeeding Sir Robert Menzies, the former prime minister of Australia, who himself had followed Sir Winston Churchill.”

The Rodent’s already got Ming’s desk. Does he have further designs? And to think everyone believed he was only going off to London to the funeral because Hyacinth insisted.

PS The Rodent isn’t the only member of Cabinet suffering a dose of the Mings. Lex Loser has offered to provide diplomatic help in Middle East peace talks. Here’s hoping that there’s someone brave enough in DFAT to remind him what happened when Menzies decided to fix Suez.

The Curse of Ian Smith

Hillary was gobsmacked by the Satan ‘n’ Schmitty announcement but, for the sake of some of our correspondents, isn’t going to say anything cruel. Instead, Hillary has a terrible warning for the blushing bride to be is she aware of the sad fates of the pols her fiance51 is linked with?

Rhodesia’s first political boss was the short lived South Australian Liberal leader Dale Baker. Baker – somehow – managed to make little headway against then premier John Bannon, despite the small matter of the collapse of the State Bank. He stood down as leader, tried to get Buffy Olsen back in his stead and instead sparked off a counter coup by the moderates that resulted in the right’s worse nightmare – the return of Dean Beige. He then got done for drink driving, was forced to stand down as a minister over conflict of interest matters after the Libs won and, finally, lost his ultra-safe blue ribbon seat to an independent candidate.

Rhodesia entered into a political relationship of another kind when he married the daughter of former South Australian state Lib Graham “Bingo” Ingersen. Bingo, through his unique mix of low cunning and low intelligence, had a roller-coaster career. He became deputy opposition leader, got dumped, became deputy premier after the Buffy coup, was forced to resign over some dodgy decisions – humiliatingly making the announcement while corned in a lift by a media scrum, somehow managed to get reappointed to Cabinet in one of Buffy’s deckchairs on the Titanic reshuffles, was forced to resign for the second time in the term of one Parliament after being damned in a judicial inquiry and then retired at the February state election. His strong local following showed in the result – his seat of Bragg was one of only two where the Liberals recorded as positive swing towards them.

Rhodesia, meanwhile, moved to Melbourne and took up with Jeff – and no-one knows his terrible fate better than Crikey readers.

Of course, Natasha’s position is already weak. Her loyal deputy Aden Ridgeway said last week that party would probably have been better off sticking with Mystic Meg. At the same time, only three of her eight party room colleagues said they considered her leadership a success. The Adelaide Advertiser published a lovely Hello magazine-style feature on Satan on Saturday then Tash offered a whole range of metaphysical musings to the social worker of the air, Geraldine Doogue, on Life Matters that all seemed to be clearing the decks for retirement.

Perhaps Satan knows it’s all too late to be worried by the Curse of Ian Smith.

Satan’s super

Is Bill O’Chee about to suffer further ignominy and lose his status as Australia’s youngest pensioner?

The only time Hillary ever really thinks about pollies super is when Hillary begrudges them for it but Satan’s possible raises a few interesting issues.

According to the Parliamentary Handbook, Satan was “Chosen by the Parliament of South Australia on 29.11.1995 under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate, vice JR Coulter (resigned) (term expired 30.6.1996). Elected 1996 (term began 1.7.1996) and 2001.”

When Hillary knew the rules, pollies had to serve in three Parliaments or do eight years to qualify for their super. Does this mean the Impossible Princess will be with us until November 30 next year or what? Where does Satan stand?

Poetic justice

Joy oh joy! An unpleasant right winger cruelled by a refugee detention centre.

The Queensland Libs are tearing themselves apart over the proposed Pinkenba detention centre not that they really need an excuse. The location of Camp Cadaver is not only a gift to Wayne Swan but is a massive problem for Santo Santoro, as it falls neatly in the boundaries of his Clayfield stamping grounds.

Man overboard?

Hillary’s square thumping pals have watched in delight as Brigadier Michael Silverstone has squirmed in the box at the kids-in-the-watergate inquiry.

His colleagues already regard him as a careerist and an opportunist and more than a few wish he was shot at dawn after the Blackhawk disaster a couple of years back when, as CO SAS, he stayed back in Perth studying for an exam.

It seems that in a moment of rare concordance, both Russell Hill and Gruntsville are less than impressed with the Silverstone show. His previous appearance in the wake of the Blackhawk crash where he discussed his role as CO of the SAS failed to endear. H of one Brigadier Silverstone.

Now, his comrades in arms hope he has been handed a sufficiently large entrenching tool to dig a whole he’ll never escape from.

Egg on face

Tassie Liberal new boy, Godbotherer, bookburner and all round nice guy Guy Barnett has been the subject of many a derogatory comment from his colleagues after his ill-timed remarks on stem cell research.

The neophyte Senator approached the Prime Miniature over a conscience vote on the vexed matter like many other Coalition MPs but then very wisely announced he would introduce a private members bill banning stem cell research the day before the Short Man announced the Government’s position and the much expected conscience vote.

Barnett was left with a lot of egg on his face but, luckily for his beliefs, it wasn’t donor egg. It was well and truly put there all by his own efforts.

PS Teenage Toecutter Chris Pyne can usually be found off at the far left end of the Liberal spectrum, but has lined up with the creatures of the right on the stem cell issue. The Toecutter, you see, is a devoted follower of Rome. Perhaps he plans to set up a moderate faction in Opus Dei.

Mr Justice Daz?

It’s too good to be true, surely – the yarn doing the rounds in the west that Attorney-General Dazzling Daryl Williams is keen on filling Mary Gaudron’s spot on the High Court bench.

There’s the tokenism, to begin. Daz is the only Western Australian in the Cabinet. Justice Gaudron is the only Sheila in the Court. That’s an interesting juggling act to begin with.

No, what is probably happening is that a few trigger fingers are getting itchy in Daz’s seat of Tangey – Perth’s second safest.

Two names are already getting mentioned – former state MP Katie Homes, now Daz’s branch president and local Mayor Katie Mair, a pal of Crikey’s old friend “Dodgy” Doug Shave. Another divisional president, Anthony Jarvis, also rates a mention – just.

Daz QC, alas, unlike former Members for Tangey (insert Peter Shack joke here) has his mind focussed on a higher legal plane rather than crude politics – and has lost control of his branches. The dreaded initials “NCB” are being whispered in the dark, and the appearance of Young Liberal branches in his electorate are seen as a harbinger of doom. Particular interest is being shown in the new Applecross branch, which appears to recruit from such diverse destinations as Kalgoorlie and Melbourne.

Moderates are now wondering if Daz goes, what it would mean for Judi Moylan or Julie Bishop. Lord Voldemort – sorry, NCB – controls very few divisions in the city, and the loss of Tangey would be a grievous blow.

All this talk is quite speculatory and it may all come down to a simpler sub-text – the state seats in Tangey. South Perth and Alfred Cove should both be Liberal and a couple of wannabes might just be getting their claims in early.

Still, the broader picture in the Western Australian Liberal Party is quite interesting. Since the last State Conference, around 60 per cent of the Party have been allied to Ellison/Campbell’s Centre-Right coalition. However, probably 35 per cent of that group are soft and could be swung. With both Campbell and Ellison (and Sue Knowles) facing Senate pre-selection in little over 18 months, should Tangey fall over, it becomes a very likely scenario that Campbell or Ellison may be bumped down or off the ticket.

On a lighter note, well known geriatric, WA State Director, Peter Wells is set for retirement. Names flying around for the job include an Ellison staffer (Mathias something?), Dean Smith, Peter Collier (Julie Bishop’s Divisional President), Jeremy Buxton (Policy Committee Chairman) and a young bloke called Andre Shannon. Shannon, who joined the party little over a year ago, was one of the few Liberal candidates in the country who managed to get a swing towards Labor but he is popular with the blue-rinse biddies. That always counts for a lot in the Liberal Party.

Musical chairs

Yes folks, it’s time for Hillary’s regular and 100 per cent reliable round up on the latest preselection rumours.

Let’s start off in Sin City, where out in Baulkham Hills there’s talk that we might be seeing the beginnings of a Merton dynasty whether Wayne wants it or not with talk that daughter Rachel will stand.

Sydney’s north-west was always going to be interesting for the Libs in the lead up to the next election with a few preselection stoushes tipped and guess what. It’s just got a whole lot more interesting.

Seat number two is Moggill in Brisbane, where the vultures circle the corpse of lost Liberal leader David “Dr Who” Watson. Penny Behan, the wife of federal Young Lib president Grant Muller has her hand in the air, but local federal MP wait for it Michael “Khemlani” Johnson thinks one Russell Galt is the man for the job. Galt, of course, was Khemlani’s campaign treasurer and about the only person willing to back him up during February loans affair. Not the best qualification.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at hillar[email protected]

Peter Fray

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