Hillary has been doing this on anonymously a weekly basis for 27 months and shows no signs of slowing down if this little effort is anything to go by.

So John-Boy Brogden has been off praising public-private partnerships but says that there’ll be no McDonalds on school grounds.

Watch out Clover he clearly wants to win Bligh back. And his Macquarie Banker wife will be loving the prospect of a few mega-fees putting the financing together for PPPs. Shame he’s already promised not to flog off the electricity industry.

The bottom line feels better now

PP McGuiness furiously fulminated on the subject of anti-Howardism in Oddrant a few issues back but missed a key reason why his readers should loathe the little’un. He trashed all his economic management credentials in the panic that followed Ryan and the polls in Queensland and the West.

And now surprise, surprise when the surplus looks shoddy, the privatisation of Medibank Private appears on the agenda.

There’s absolutely no reason for Medibank Private to be in government hands. It’s a political sop from quarter of a century ago in an industry regulated to the hilt. But a sale now? It’s just proof of how ratty Rodentism really is.

Walk the plank

Shock horror at the kids-in-the-watergate inquiry! A senior PM&C bureaucrat tried to influence the evidence of a key naval witness! No wonder Max the Axe has been ordered to carry out an urgent investigation into himself!

Yawn. The Government’s lies the Rodent’s, the Cadaver’s and poor old Wraithie’s have been unravelling for months.

The most interesting part of last week’s revelations was where the Assistant Secretary (Defence Branch) of PMC, Brendon Hammer, sought to have his “briefings” with department’s former defence liaison officer RAN Commander Stefan King in his home and, when that fell over, at the Hotel Kurrajong. In other words, off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush.

The Prime Miniature says it would be quite unacceptable if people have been encouraged to do anything other than tell the truth to a Senate inquiry. And in other words again it’s fine that he and his government have been keeping up a shabby charade for more than six months. They’re not going to find themselves in the water overboard. No. Instead, some poor sods from Defence and PMC will be made to walk the plank.

PS First Sharon Stone bags the meeja, then George Washington Brandis goes ape when some Gallery journos make a submission to the kids-in-the-watergate inquiry. The Government really has to settle down and come to terms with a very basic concept it’s called freedom of speech as Glenn Milne so eloquently pointed out in last Monday’s Oz.

Out of the wild west

First it was cab-drivers, but now the question’s being asked is anyone safe from the furious fists of that paranoid pugilist “Iron Mark” Latham?

It’s OK if Iron Mark wants to mug the Monk he’s got a boxing blue and can look after himself. But kicking away walking sticks with his reference to Liberal cripple Tony Staley as “deformed”? Not very third way, is it.

The only game in town

Hillary like all Liberals believes in family values, and it has been heart warming to see Ros and Gretel Packer standing by young James in his moment of need.

But the missus? Hillary would have thought that poor Jamie would have had enough of people who chose curious spellings of Jody.

Empire building

Crikey readers no doubt saw Au Grattan’s piece in the Herald a couple of Friday’s back where Hindenburg Hockey put a good spin on his demotion last year by saying he was spending more time with his family not Babs, but the New South Wales wets.

Now, the news comes forth that the Hindenburg’s tea boy, Mark Coure, has got higher ambitions than running for the Young Liberal state presidency and instead wants to contest the preselection for the seat of Georges River.

It’s great to see the Hindenburg’s labours producing results already. Now for the portfolio, hey Joe?

Political insurance

And how’s the Hindenburg’s nemesis, Helen “Coonan the Barbarian” faring in his old job.

Well, Hillary was privileged to pop down to the insurance industry’s annual shindig last week. Not only was the meal not repossessed or seized by ASIC as material evidence but the crowd got to hear a speech from the Barbarian. It read just like the fine print in an insurance policy. Must do better, dear.

Hillary was in full star-spotting mode, as the Barbarian wasn’t the big name there. Her opposite number, Stephen Conroy, was clocking up the frequent flyer points once again as he attempts overseeing the regulation of the largely Sydney-based finance industry from poor old Melbourne Town.

Young Broggers was there too, looking very dapper in his tux but not all that relaxed (or comfortable). Hillary hears that John-Boy was advised to wear a name tag. It’s always better to prevent embarrassing moments, isn’t it?

Another young star of politics was also present but Hillary was most disappointed not to get a close-up squiz at her much discussed rock. The fiance51e was there, too. He must really have a thing for blondes. He almost knocked his intended over to shake the hand of another blonde guest at the dinner. Twice.

CRIKEY: Oi, your going close close to breaching our be nice to Natasha decree here HB – ed.)

Hedging his bets

Bookburner and new-boy Tasmanian Liberal Guy Barnett hopes he’s kissing the right bums but clearly isn’t leaving anything to chance, if this item from his first newsletter is anything to go by:

“The Federal Treasurer Peter Costello flew to Tasmania with his wife Tanya last month to launch the Senate career of small business advocate and supporter Guy Barnett.

“Anointed by John Howard as very probably his successor and the next Prime Minister of Australia, Mr Costello said Senator Barnett’s commitment and character would ensure strong representation for Tasmania.”

The Kat’s out of the bag

Hillary is shocked to discover the Victorian Young Liberal and former resident of the Big Brother house, Katrina, has an even darker past.

It seems that Katrina is the ex-girlfriend of Victorian Young Liberal Romeo, Brett Billett. Billett, like his mentor David Davis (otherwise known as D2 that’s “D Squared”) is something of a ladies man with the Lib women.

Let’s just hope Brett Billett (known as B2) does not intend to emulate the feats of Davis by romancing Louise Staley (also known as the “Square Root of D2”).

Big Brother: The Liberal Party Edition

Of course, the Victorian Liberal Party has its own version of Big Brother. D2 is watching his branch members 24/7.

On Saturday’s pre-selection in the seat of Burwood, either of D2’s candidates was expected to win in a canter.

Burwood, of course, is the Jeffmeister’s old seat and blue ribbon territory until his Jeffness chopped its margin in half. Burwood is also in the heart of D2 territory, and he expects total control.

D2’s last candidate was basketball tantrum thrower Lana McLean but when McLean was fouled out in the by-election caused by Jeff’s tail between the legs play, D2 started looking for another player to step up to the free throw line.

In the counting house, as locals call D2’s office, he has been up to his eyeballs in Burwood and East Yarra preselection crunching for months. D2 was backing two candidates Sue Callwell and David Oliver. On both D2’s how-to-vote tickets for these preselections, former Federal staffer Di Rule, was placed second last after Kevin “Dr Death” Donnelly.

In a massive humiliation for D2, each of his candidates were systematically voted out like contestants from Big Brother, as the locals and State Council delegates alike opted to endorse former Karen Synon staffer and current assistant to Ted Bailleu, Di Rule, who is said to have delivered a terrific speech.

Di Rule lost when running in a marginal country seat for the Libs in 1999 but is a much better chance to seize Burwood which will make life for her award winning journalist husband Andrew Rule interesting to say the least. We have the makings of another list here – journalists married to politicians.

The preselection shock has added to the growing rift within the Davis/Howley/Poggioli/Staley/Xanthos camp, as everyone from MPs to grassroots members scurry to disassociate themselves from D2’s bleak house.

It’s also a result that is unlikely to alleviate D2’s legendary paranoia. D2’s branch members can expect closer scrutiny then ever from Big Brother. Or, in the words of that classic hit by The Police:

“Every breath you take

Every move you make

Every bond you break

Every step you take

David Davis will be watching you.

“Every single day

Every word you say

Every game you play

Every night you stay

David Davis will be watching you.”

Berk’s backyard

The Smellie told the tale last week how the Howard garden had become the shame of the Nor Shore Hillary feared John Hewson might mistake it for rented premises but residents of Wollstonecraft can now breathe easy.

The Rodent’s retreat is now spic ‘n’ span as the News Limited Sunday’s reported:

“Revelations of the sorry state of his family abode in Sydney’s lower North Shore prompted a swift reaction from Prime Minister John Howard.

“Within hours of being told last Saturday afternoon that photographs had been taken of his unkempt garden, rickety fence and uncleaned pool, the garden at his Wollstonecraft house was spruced up.

“The fence is still a bit wobbly, but by Sunday morning the lawn had been trimmed and the hedges clipped to the disappointment of several television crews which had arrived to film the disarray.

“By Tuesday the pool which had turned a vibrant shade of green from mould had been cleaned.

“Mr Howard’s spokeswoman would not confirm whether the Prime Minister had made the 3.2km trip from his official residence at Kirribilli House to clean his yard. The neighbours were not much help either they did not recall seeing Mr Howard armed with a lawnmower, hedgetrimmers or pool scoop and the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman would not comment on whether the publicity had sparked the backyard blitz.”

What’s a big white car worth

Hillary hears that the South Australian Libs are getting cold feet about the Court of Disputed Returns appeal they have launched against the election of Peter Lewis the loopy Lib turned independent whose vote put Labor into power.

It’s not so much the political implications of the case that is worrying the South Australian Libs, but the possible legal bills. If things go bad, they could face bills of almost half a million if the costs of the various parties were awarded against them.

Now, there’s even some talk that the party will drop the case. It will be hugely embarrassing and exacerbate the leadership tensions that are just bubbling under, but that’s the terrible choice the Libs now have to face. If they win the case, force a by-election in Lewis’ electorate and pick up the seat, they might be able to form a government might.

It’s still a gamble, as they have to deal another renegade Lib, Bob Such. He abstained from the vote that saw Labor get up and there’s no guarantee at all that he’ll support his former colleagues.

If the Libs withdraw, there’ll be egg on everyone’s face. If they lose, they could be up for massive bills. So just how much is driving around in those nice big white cars that ministers get to use worth? That’s the question the South Australian Libs are finding it very hard to answer.

PS Last week Hillary said that former ALP MP Murray Delaine had allegedly been involved in business dealings with Lewis. Hillary, of course, meant to say Peter Duncan the former state and federal Labor minister whose name adorns the letter ahead of the legal firm suing Crikey on Nick Bolkus’s behalf – Duncan Basheer Hannon.

Ah well. As Malcolm Farr, the president of the Canberra Press Gallery so sagely says “Crikey.com.au is a terrific little website, but it can be inaccurate at times”. Hillary is keener than ever for any info on this matter, and the e-mail address is at the bottom of the page.

Trotfest

May Day sorry, M1 has come and gone, with all of its associated merriment. Hillary is always amused when the extreme left stage world wide protests against globalisation. That is an oxymoron, isn’t it?

Sydney Trots staged an impressive show, throwing marble and fireworks at police horses. Funny. They’re probably vegans, too but such are the contradictions of capitalism, alas.

Hillary thinks they could learn from China, where, according to news reports “authorities who once derided private enterprise as evil capitalism awarded May Day medals to successful businessmen”.

However, the best reaction to it all came in the London Sun, Rupe’s finest paper.

In an article headed “Crusty chic sweeps streets”, the Sun declared “Anarchists have a reputation for dodging soap, dressing in rags and leading dogs around on bits of string. But now there is a new-style rebel Crusty Crumpet. Among anti-capitalist demonstrators in London this week were real babes who turned heads in raunchy ripped tops, hipster jeans and punk belts. Today The Sun shows how YOU can look crusty a nickname which comes from the state of protesters’ unwashed clothes.”

You can learn how to get the look at it here but you’d better be quick. If the Sun can keep it up, this lot are going to be laughed out of existence.

Parrot droppings

In the wake of M1, Hillary was listening the Parrot have his morning squawk on Thursday and was amused to hear him ask “Why don’t these people demonstrating outside the Israeli Consulate go back to their own country and try doing that?”

Gloria should perhaps remember that (a) most of them were Australians and (b) if they were Palestinians, then the Israeli government probably won’t let them go back.

Jawbreaker politics

Following elections in non-English speaking countries can be easy. Take France, for example it’s pretty damn clear what Front National means.

Thinks have been a little harder, though, with the election held last week in the Danish dependency of the Faroe Islands. Hillary is an experienced poll watcher but has found it all too much.

The Faroes’ assembly has only 32 seats, but six parties and after trying to sort out the difference between the Sambandsflokkurin, the Javnadarflokkurin, the Midflokkurin, the Tjodveldisflokkurin, the Folkaflokkurin and smallest, but with the longest name the Sjalvstyrisflokkurin, Hillary was left with quite a headache.

Dare-ing

When in Surry Hills, Hillary can usually be found at the Shakespeare Hotel, not ’round the corner in News Limited’s Holt Street headquarters so Hillary has never met “Simpering Errol” Simper, the ABC staff union representative on The Australian.

However, Hillary was amazed to see Errol’s new pictorial by-line in the excitingly redesigned Oz Media liftout. Does he really sport a lopsided fringe of the sort last spotted on Human League lead singer Phil Oakey back in 1982? He must be quite a dude.

Terms of trade

Hillary knows there are some big name economists who read Crikey and hopes they can help with a problem posed by an article in last Thursday’s Age. Here’s an edited version:

“Perth prostitutes were reeling from exhaustion following an influx of United States sailors stressed from a stint in a war zone, a well-known madam said today.

“Mary-Anne Kenworthy said she was forced to close the doors of her famous Langtrees brothel for only the third time ever yesterday because her prostitutes were so worn out they could no longer provide a quality service.

“When she realised the sex workers just couldn’t cope any more she closed Langtrees doors for a day rather than risk the brothel’s reputation

“Langtrees did a week’s business in just three days after 5,500 American sailors disembarked in Fremantle on Sunday, many of them stressed from their encounter with war, she said”

And now for Hillary’s question: is the provision of these services is recorded in our balance of trade figures and if it is, how? Does it come under primary produce, services, intangibles or if it’s really kinky – elaborately transformed products?

Attack of the clones

Hillary has reported claims in the past that the Liberal Party’s provisional wing, the Australian Liberal Students Federation has done dodgy things with internal ballots. Now it seems as if they’re trying to sway other people’s polls, as the following e-mail from corporal punishment enthusiast Ross Lightfoot’s stepson shows.

How are they supposed to teach young people the values of democracy carrying on like this, Hillary wonders.

Sender: “Matthew Fergusson-Stewart”

Recipient: [email protected]

Time: Thu, 02 May 2002 12:00:53 +0800

Dear all,

The poll question today at ninemsn.com.au…

“Were M1 protesters to blame for May Day violence? Vote now”

Vote early and vote often!

Matt

Bad company

What have Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Australia all got in common? This recent statement from Human Rights Watch may give you a hint:

“Today the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations elected new members, of which 6 already held a seat on the Human Rights Commission, and nine were new members, including the United States. Other new members included Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Australia.

” ‘The commission has a growing number of countries with very poor human rights records,’ said Joanna Weschler, United Nations representative for Human Rights Watch. ‘We’re dealing with abusers’ solidarity here.’ ”

OK. So there are bleeding hearts and there are bleeding hearts but how happy are you to see the company we’re lumped in with under the Rodent’s regime?

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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