Hillary is late this week but it’s better than ever.

Sorry about that, dear readers. Hillary naturally attended the Liberal Party Federal Convention over the weekend, and must have dozed off. Not surprising, really, when you look at what was on offer.

There was a bit of excitement at the beginning, when the Prime Miniature dropped a hint to the Liberal ladies that “When I’m 64” isn’t his favourite song on Sergeant Pepper’s (and no, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” isn’t his favorite, either).

Then, of course, there was the jolly jape those scamps Malcolm Turnbull and little Johnny Roscom played on Education Minister Brendan Nelson dumping a whole schools policy without telling Brendan first. That was a wizard wheeze. After all, it all looked like good Blairite stuff to Hillary or the sort of stuff Blair used to talk about when he was a brave, principled, visionary leader (about two years before he became PM).

Finally, Sharon Stone had to have his two bob’s worth. Back when Ming was starting the task of putting what became the Liberal Party together, he gave his famous “Forgotten People” series of broadcasts. In one he said “the whole essence of freedom is that it is freedom for others as well as for ourselves: freedom for people who disagree with us as well as for our supporters”.

The principals of Rodentism are somewhat different to those of Liberalism, so Sharon put a match to an effigy of Greg Barns then mounted the podium to name and shame various journos guilty of deviating from the party line and developing incorrect thoughts.

Other than that, the convention could be described as a love in, with no acrimony, and no policy motions being lost. The motions were strictly along the lines of “We believe in motherhood”, even by Liberal standards, and anything that may not have got across the line was withdrawn.

There was only one exception to this. The ACT put forward the perennial chestnut of increased representation for their division in the party’s bodies. With two Federal seats and two Federal members, the ACT division gets four votes at Federal Council, as opposed to the eight enjoyed by the states. The motion was voted down by a most unusual rag tag collection Sharon supporters from Victoria, South Australian moderates, half of the Queensland delegation and Western Australians not in the grip of Lord Voldemort, AKA Noel Crichton-Browne.

Top marks for keenness during the convention must go to the Victorian party president, Ian Carson. When he couldn’t find a good policy point to be made, he sufficed with points of (dis)order.

Carr’s queer behaviour

New South Wales Premier Bob Carr, as everyone knows, is an intelligent, cultivated and cosmopolitan individual. That’s why he has people like Eddie Obied in his Ministry..

And as part of his plan to make gentle the condition of man, how did he respond to the election of John Brogden as Opposition Leader? Well, he sent a front page story from the long-established gay newspaper The Sydney Star Observer reporting Brogden’s support for an equal homo and heterosexual age of consent to every rural, regional (and redneck) media outlet in the state.

Carr got rumbled by the Sun-Herald but how did the left-wing Gay and Lesbian Rights lobby group deal with it? They tried to hush it all up and keep it in house as this e-mail that fell into Crikey’s hands shows:

—–Original Message—–

From: Anthony Schembri [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Tuesday, 9 April 2002 6:50 PM

To: ‘Names Withheld

Subject: Urgent Lobbying Required!!!

Importance: High

Hi all,

We’ve been very busy responding to some ugly developments. It would appear staffers’ in Bob Carr’s office have been attempting to drive a wedge between the Libs and Nats by faxing out copies of the SSO age of consent article where the elevation of Brogden is reported. Regional and rural media [hundreds of them] were sent copies. Plus Tony Kelly MLC [Deputy President Upper House and Convenor of Country ALP] issued a media release [at the same time] calling upon the Nat’s to say whether they agree with Brogden’s ‘radical social view to lower the homosexual sex age’. NOT HAPPY JAN!! The SSO is running a front page story which is going to be pretty detailed.

We’ve spent the day talking with Debus and Carr’s Offices, Larry from Clover [Clover has a question without notice on the issue for tomorrow’s question time], the media and between Alex and I with some thoughts from Kathy trying to make sense of all this.

The bottom line is that it would seem the ALP [or at least some within] are making the call that there are more votes to be made in homophobia than in g/l equality. We need to change this now before it gets too out of hand and cemented in strategy. Debus and Carr offices have felt the full fury of the Schembri scorn on our behalf, yet we need punters to also let the two bobs know they are not happy with the govt. on gay and lesbian rights. The SSO are going to run with this in the edition this week. So what we need is YOU and your friends to call Bob Debus and Bob Carr’s offices are ask to know ‘what they are doing today for gay and lesbian rights’. Debus is on 9228.8188 or Carr on 9228.5239. We really, really need everyone to make the calls before the weekend.

Other parts of the public strategy are to call for funds to finance our major campaign to be released in winter and a meeting with Carr which we have an assurance through our calls today to get some priority in a time soon. Plus we’re calling for ALP MP’s to stand up in caucus and support the call for homophobia to not be an election strategy. We’ll be speaking with some key ALP MP’s personally over the next few days before next week’s caucus.

Also we’ll be sending out an email alert for all members and volunteers to call the two bobs on Thursday when the SSO comes out.

Thanks everyone for your help with this but I guess this is where the election fun begins…

Anth and Al

Uniting the nation

It’s only April, but a pair of almost unbeatable contenders for the award for the unlikely political couple of 2002 have emerged Victoria’s gorgeous, pouting, youthful Sophie “Uptown Girl” Panopolous and Western Australia’s very own veteran lord of darkness, NCB.

Princes of old used to exchange hostages to seal agreements. In this case, Voldemort has dispatched his loyal servant and Western Australian Young Liberal heavy Tammy Atkins to work in the Uptown Girl’s electorate office. Hillary is sure the residents of Wangaratta appreciate her depth of local knowledge.

A Lib too far

South Australia’s new Labor Premier, Mike Rann, must be having a ball if his appointments to various boards and bodies are anything to go by. He keeps on demonstrating a wicked sense of humour by giving jobs to Liberals from John Fahey to Carolyn Hewson.

Still, he seems to have baulked at one Liberal. Despite her deep and intimate involvement with the yartz and yartz practitioners in South Australia, Nikki Downer Lex Loser’s little wifey has been dropped from the board of the Adelaide Festival. Clearly a case of a Lib too far.

On the ball

Has Victorian Lib David Davis been left exhausted after winning his titanic tussle against Kevin Donnelly for preselection in East Yarra? A glance at his website suggests so. The latest news release is from last year. Surely his time is consumed by representing his constituents, rather than internal party matters.

Gloria goes global

Alan Jones is finally getting the international recognition that he deserves. The Parrot’s pic is on display at this site – yes, that famous one of him standing in front of the country banner.

Rotten.com bills itself as “a gallery of disturbing imagery” so what better home for the Parrot.

Angry ant

Has anyone else noticed the pattern of Glenn “The Black Dwarf” Milne’s columns of late?

After he offended Queen Hyacinth, they were grovelling in their support of the government for a while. Then, last week, he raised the question of the leadership succession and Monday’s piece attacked dear Sharon Stone.

Is he now on the angry pills?

Will you kids please keep it down!

There’s anger and angst in the New South Wales Young Liberals after party state director Scott Morrison banned a motion for their upcoming council meeting condemning Hitman Heffernan for “misuse of parliamentary privilege” and condemning “the Federal Government’s response to the Justice Kirby affair”.

The little Libs doubt the party constitution gives Morrison the right to gag debate and members of the left plan to move the matter anyway as an “urgency motion”.

Whatever happens, though, is irrelevant. Morrison has already given the motion brilliant publicity.

Relevance

Teenage Toecutter Chris Pyne spoke at the Henderson Family Polytechnic formerly the Sydney Institute on Monday night on how politics can be made more relevant to young people. He need have looked no further than the Victorian Young Liberals for Big Brother Contestant Katrina is a member of the Brighton branch.

Yes, the Victorian Young Libs are plugged right in. There’s even a photo of Katrina on their website at last year’s ball (the one so enlivened by Cameron Boardman) and here it is.

Katrina’s in the second photo from the top, on the left, along with Rebecca Gauci the “friend” who was on Big Brother when the housemates went in.

Hillary also hears a few other stories about people featured on the page and would you believe it, the Victorian Young Libs have got their pop-culture references covered here too. There apparently could be some brilliant tie-ins to Temptation Island and Sex and the City.

They’re at it again

It’s Liberal Party annual general meeting time in Queensland and, yes they’re at it again. The Springwood Business Branch has doubled in size in the last few weeks forcing the state director to write to all the members to make sure that they’re sure they actually signed up.

Hillary hears that interesting things are going on in Slippery Pete Slipper’s seat of Fisher and it will be worthwhile keeping an eye on Alex “Somnolent” Somlyay’s seat of Fairfax and surprise, surprise on Steven “Showboat” Ciobo in Moncrieff and “Khemlani” Johnson and Ryan.

PS Parrot isn’t high on the menu in Ryan. Khemlani is hosting a dinner with Gloria this week and the replies haven’t been coming in too fast.

With friends like this

In Adelaide, swirls of intrigue surround the loopy Lib turned independent Peter Lewis who won the Speaker’s job after delivering government to Labor along with sackfuls of shit being thrown by his erstwhile colleagues.

At the centre of it all is Lewis’ business dealings with convicted fraudster and bank robber Terry Stephens.

Lewis to put it politely is eccentric and claims he severed his business relationship with Stephens when he discovered his past record but he didn’t really let the bloke fund his election campaign, did he?

Flashback

Hillary has received a partial transcript of a fascinating phone call:

“Er Slater and Gordon?”

“Gidday. My name’s Dwight. For the past 25 years, ev’ry mornin’, after brekkie, I’ve bin bashin’ me head wif a bit of two-by-four until I concuss meself, an’ now the doc says I ‘ave brain damage and”

“Yep yep.”

“So you reckon I can sue the hardware shop I bought the wood from an’ the lumber company what made it”

“An’ the blokes what cut the trees down, too!”

“Well, I’ll just wait for the cheque then”

Let’s just forget for a moment about what Clayton Utz and BAT may or may not have done and look at a few key lines from an Action on Smoking and Health fact sheet:

 Smoking was first linked to lung cancer and other diseases in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

 In 1956, a Surgeon General’s scientific study group determined that there was a causal relationship between excessive cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

 In England, the 1962 Royal College of Physicians report emphasized smoking’s causative role in lung cancer.

 On January 11, 1964, the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health concluded that cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer in men.

To put it simply, it’s been known that smoking has been deadly for more than a generation but courts are still prepared to indulge ambulance chasing lawyers and their professional victim clients.

Coonan the Barbarian might like to widen her brief as she looks at litigation and public liability. A statute of limitations, anyone?

Gang warfare

Yes it’s gang warfare in Sydney. Citizens hug the sides of buildings as they walk warily down the street, terrified of being caught in the crossfire between “Mad” Mike Carlton and his boss “Rumbler” Ryan or Gloria the Gangster Moll, the darling of the Costa crew.

And as the shock jocks shoot it out (OK, Mike, you’re the thinking person’s shock jock) over how Sydney should be police, just how many people in the real world were shot and killed last weekend? Was it two or three?

Whatever you’re doing, lads, it’s working.

Just fancy that

“The point about this trip is that Howard neglects Australia’s national interests to fulfil Menzies-like fantasies that were irrelevant even when Robert Menzies was enacting them. What next – Lord Howard of the Cinque Ports?”

— Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 11 April 2002

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.

— Crikey, 7 April 2002

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

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