If we don’t get sued this week as a result of Hillary’s efforts we never will.

It’s Budget week, so let’s fit in with the theme and start with something dull, economic and potentially explosive.

Why has the British Conservative party been dead in the water since 1994? Why have the voters they won over in the eighties the same lot who were even prepared to return John Major in 1992 deserted them? It hasn’t been sleaze Tony’s cronies gave voters more of that in his first term of government than they got under 18 years of the Tories but Labor romped home last year.

It’s not just because they lost their economic credibility when Britain was forced out the Exchange Rate Mechanism although we’re getting close.

No, the Tories lost their supporters because of negative equity, when voters were left paying off mortgages way higher than their houses had suddenly become worth.

The Australian economy has been driven by the housing sector of late which makes last Friday’s warnings from the Reserve Bank over house prices and borrowing very, very interesting.

Negative equity? Could it happen here and if so, where would all those aspirational voters in the mortgage belts of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane who have got the Coalition over the line go?

That’s something for the Government to consider over Budget week.

PS Stay tuned during the week on Tuesday night, when the big speech is over, the lock-up emptied and all the pols, hacks, staffers, lobbyists and political parasites who infest Canberra at Budget time have headed off to ease the stresses and strains of the big week in Kingston and Manuka (or Fyshwyck, for that matter), Hillary will be back in the House preparing Crikey’s exclusive Budget analysis. Later in the week, when people are conscious, Hillary also hopes to be able to provide readers with the partial recollections of how the, er, informal parts of the evening were marked around the nation’s capital.

Over-excited

Hillary always is concerned when journos get over-excited. It’s bound to end up in a crying match.

Take the Liberal leadership, for example. We all know that our humble and self-effacing Treasurer would love to leap from his current job as the loyal first mate and appear as Captain Smirk, commander of the federation starship Free Enterprise but is much too polite to mention it.

Hillary observed on Tuesday just here in case you missed it that the Gallery, like nature, abhors a vacuum and given the absence of anything else coming from the Government would turn their naughty little minds to the question of the leadership.

Well, lo and behold, the Bulletin gets all effusive about the Treasurer on Wednesday and by Friday the front page of the Oz was screaming “Costello will storm The Lodge next year if necessary”.

Hillary hears that the author of the piece, Dennis Shanahan, was massively overcompensating for the Bulletin’s efforts and the story is bosh, but hasn’t it been interesting following the newspapers and the Sunday morning shows ever since not to mention just how ratty the Rodent got after seeing the story.

Sydney or the bush

The ABC our ABC makes sure we all know that it’s the national broadcaster. Note the emphasis. National. N-A-T-I-O-N-A-L.

Trouble is the ABC seems to see things in fairly simple terms Sydney or the bush. Even Southbank can be a long, long way away.

That’s what made Four Corner’s report on Alan Jones so disappointing. There was nothing that’s new to the hard-core Crikey fan. OK, so Sydney’s our pre-eminent city and Gloriana the reigning shock-jock – but the ABC’s remit is to look wider.

A pissed off journo in lil ole Adelaide got the ball running on cash for comment years before Media Watch discovered the practice existed just down the road from Gore Hill.

So Gloria influences Bob Carr. Yes, it’s a story – but there are five other premiers plus two chief ministers. Who’s got them, their mates, their ministers and their minders programmed into the speed dial – and stands over them with great big sticks? That would be the whole story.

Why not Adams?

Michael Kroger asked in the wake of the “expose” of the Parrot why Four Corners didn’t do one on Phillip “Pallid Mishap” Adams.

The Mishap, of course, is Australia’s leading dissident forced to live in internal exile in the slums of Sydney’s inner-east or the wasteland of the Southern Highlands and dependent over the years on the inky sheets produced in secret by those brave samizdat publishers, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer and, oh yes, a taxpayer funded national broadcasting network to get his message to the oppressed masses.

In answer to Kroger’s question, could it be that Gloriana is genuinely popular, giving him real power and influence while only a handful of leftover sixties people are interested in the Mishap’s predictable pap?

NB “Pallid Mishap” is a registered trademark of The House of Imre Newcastle, Hornsby and Budapest.

No comment

As the waves from Four Corners spread through the week, Hillary heard Chris Masters may have made a more interesting program if he simply reported on who wouldn’t talk to him.

You can get enough of a blow running into those big boofy blokes who play rugby, but Hillary understand Masters got some even nastier knockbacks making the program. John Anderson obviously said no, and even John Hannaford, the former New South Wales Liberal attorney-general who got pecked to death by the Parrot, was noticeably absent. Perhaps he’s learnt the lesson of being quoted in the David Leser profile of Jones several years ago.

With that in mind, there’s been some talk that Sydney councillor Nick Farr-Jones was courageous (in the Yes Minister) sense in going on air particularly given the endless rumours about him going into politics.

Farr-Jones was treated badly while Gloriana ruled rugby but later went on to captain the side and win a reputation as a national treasure in boardrooms down the length and breadth of Pitt and George Streets – and out on Struggle Street, too.

Indeed, Farr-Jones might be the only person with enough clout where it counts to stand up to Jones. Shame Masters missed that story.

The Parrot’s pal

Yes, this is the final item on Four Corners but readers who watched the program will no doubt recall Michael Darby, the sartorially challenged Kojak look-alike, praising the Parrot.

Darby has staged the political triumph of being preselected at number 14 on the 15 spot Coalition Legislative Council ticket for next years’ New South Wales state election.

To while away the time between now and March, he publishes a curious conservative e-mail bulletin called, originally, The Darby Report. Edition 226, dated last Tuesday, refers to “the real enemies of Australia” and numbered amongst them is “islamist anti-bourgeoisism”.

Hillary is most surprised that the state ALP hasn’t made more of Darby’s presence on the Liberal ticket. Some further fascinating information on the man has made its way to Crikey along with a warning, alas, that the lad is litigious but Hillary hopes to report on the matter in more detail in Sealed Sections during the week and would be keen for any other material.

In the meantime, here’s hoping Broggers isn’t chasing the Muslim vote.

Dedication

Hillary was in the Gloomy City Wednesday, and for the lack of anything better to do popped along to the Law Institute’s hypothetical on refugees.

Ever the ligger, Hillary wandered into the green room, and was surprised to bump into the Cadaver’s chief of staff, Ann Duffield, another non-participant, sitting surprise, surprise next to the Hun’s Andrew Bolt.

Duffield was apparently helping Bolt and the obscure neophyte Northern Territory CLP Senator Nigel Scullion with their tactics. How very noble of her to travel to Melbourne no doubt at her own expense to assist with roughing up the reffos.

Tribute to a tart

This week’s state wrap begins in Queensland, and no higher tribute can be paid to a media tart than ripping off one of their stunts which no doubt explains the smile on the dial of the Big Banana himself, Peter Beattie.

British Deputy PM John Prescott has covered one of Beattie’s greatest hits diving with sharks in an aquarium. And yes he also made the bleeding obvious crack about meeting sharks in politics too.

D2 cops another big loss

In Victorian preselections part three billion “Dynamic” Denis Napthine has started to completely unravel and it’s his own supporters who are setting him up for a fall. Last weekend he attended the preselection in Koonung where long time member Gerald Ashman was being challenged by Geoff Gough, a councillor in Manningham.

Dynamic Den had pledged his support to Ashman and so had senior honchos like Carson and Peter Clarke. However on the day they all not only voted for Gough but were actively doing numbers against Ashman on the floor of the preselection.

Hillary knows that Den will not be pleased to discover that Gough’s round-table prepping actually happened in David “D2” Davis’ office and Gough describes himself as Louise Asher’s best friend.

Ashman got up by 3 votes, so one can imagine what that means unless the party is totally wiped out he is back for eight more years sitting there just waiting for the right moment.

The axis of evil

It has always been thought that the strategy of the D2/Maclellan/Asher/Baillieu axis in Spring Street is to let Dynamic Den take the fall for the next state election loss. However, their overarching greed and ambition has changed that plan, as Hillary explains in an extraordinary expose51:

Maclellan was not simply acting out a long held ambition to be a scout leader on Monday when he suggested the Liberals should be prepared. His extraordinary pre-amble came following a long and typically cryptic preamble “after what some little person has been doing to me out there (Robert Dean, perchance?) Members in this room should be prepared for a by-election in Pakenham in the middle of the year. He is now using the “fig leaf of health” his own words, remember he did go to school with Barry Humphries as a way of creating more confusion.

This whole saga stems from the bitter hatred Maclellan has for Dean and he has been threatening to resign since December when preselections opened. Neither Den nor Carson had the balls to reign him in then and all is now coming home to roost as he continues to blackmail the party that has fed him and helped him feather his nest for 32 years. Dynamic Den is now telling his closest confidants “you know Rob; I can’t really control him or tell him what to do”. Den seems to have accepted that he is unable to stop Maclellan in whatever maniacal plan he has come up with so he is simply waiting to see what will happen.

Now, followers of the hot bed of intrigue that is the Victorian Liberal Party know Maclellan hates Dean but why would he create a by-election knowing as he surely does that internal Liberal polling shows that the Libs are about 10 points behind Labor in the outer south east mortgage belt seats?

A by-election in Pakenham right now would show a landslide to Labor and highlight to the nervous nellies in the Libs that they are doomed with Den as leader.

Well, just look at Asher’s behaviour over the past month or so. She is back with a vengeance looking confident and hitching her skirts ever higher. Doyle and Honeywood may have made some noises last December, but they are completely resigned to supporting the Leadership team through to the next election. Asher is now trying hard to reconstruct herself as a potential, er, saviour. Her line very quietly being developed by her henchmen is not that she is in the best position to win the next election but the best person to stop the disaster and ensure at least some members survive the impending state election wipe-out (polls don’t lie that much).

Asher would not want to challenge directly. That would be most disloyal for a deputy. However, Asher and her cronies know that if the Libs are wiped out in Pakenham, Dynamic Den would surely have to go. He would have little option but even if he refused to go and was pushed it would not seem like Asher had knifed him but had done the only decent thing for the party.

Asher, no doubt, would point out she has a media profile and she would claim she could stem the losses. The Baillieu/D2 forces would join with the old Kennett rump in an attempt to ensure she had the numbers to win the ballot and become leader. They may insist that Baillieu become deputy or else they may con someone like Honeywood into accepting it. He is ambitious enough and stupid enough not to realise it is one more trap for him to fall into.

Hillary’s view is that an Asher leadership would simply ensure the decimation of the Libs at the next poll. She would make Chikka look good. But a combination of her raw ambition and the back bench’s desire to save their own butts at the next election could see her achieve her goal of being the first ever female Liberal leader in Victoria.

So, in short, it is highly likely that Maclellan will quit. He will do so to advance Asher’s cause by making it impossible for poor old Den to continue after the inevitable Pakenham wipe out and ensuring the leadership spill is brought on before Doyle or any other person not wedded to the old Kennett regime can mount a winning challenge themselves.

Have a look at the candidates for Gembrook running against Robert Dean. One is some local yokel having a go as is often the case in the Liberal Party. But the other is one Geoff Hayes. He is a councillor at the City of Boroondara which takes in leafy Kew, Camberwell and Hawthorn and is a million miles from Gembrook. Curious locals have asked him why he is standing out there for no apparent reason. His bold faced reply has been “my friend David Davis suggested that this would be a good seat for me to win”. If anyone doubted that the D2/Maclellan/Asher/Baillieu axis was not working in concert this should be a strong wake up call.

Meanwhile, the only certain bet in the Victorian pre-selection round is that Ron Bowden’s candidates for Hastings – Wayne Peterson and Gerard McRae – will be destroyed by Robyn Cooper’s forces.

Clem Newton-Brown brought in for the big cover-up

Clem Newton-Brown – the man who bought us the on-again-off-again (it finished off) deal with Labor Pledge faction heavy Peter McMullin during their ill-fated Mayoral campaigns – has been bought in to do the really dirty work in the Young Liberals.

Last Monday’s YL state council saw what should have been a completely uncontroversial become a bloodbath? What was the motion? That the Tiny Tory executive members have to submit a criminal record without indictable (serious) offences before taking office?

No only did the Xanthos/ Brett “B2” Billett forces go to the wall and standover every one of their numbers to stop the motion, D2 sent down his factional hatchet-man Clem Newton Brown to speak against the motion. Hillary wonders why are Xanthos and B2 are so concerned.

Still, more cynical voices have suggested that D2 sent Clem to deliberately tar him with Xanthos’ special stench ahead of the East Yarra by-election. In the light of his massive loss in Burwood, D2 has dropped Clem like a hot potato, and is now backing Richard Della-Riva. Word has it that Clem is so angry at D2’s treachery, he has cut a preference deal with Kevin “Dr Death” Donnelly to ensure that Richard Della-Riva can never win, adding to the growing rift within the Davis/Howley/Poggioli/Staley/Xanthos camp

Not B2’s girlfriend – not now, not ever

Sources close to the luscious, “Kit-off” Katrina, have been at pains to point out that the only place B2 ever dated Big Brother’s Katrina was in his strange fantasy world. Apparently B2 re-arranged the entire YL Ball seating arrangements last June to sit himself next to poor Katrina, after telling all his buddies that they were dating. Heard form the topless Tory, “I am not your girlfriend, I have never been your girlfriend, and I will never be your girlfriend!” She then went on to make the point crystal clear by kissing her female flat-mate in front of poor B2.

Moving on

Staying in Victoria, with the nasty bother of the preselection out of the way, is it true that Hillary’s favourite state MP, Cameron “Thumper” Boardman is selling his house and moving on?

Hillary hears that Thumper’s young lady companion feels that they could chose a more salubrious location. Talks says that while she loves being on the arm of a dashing young parliamentarian, she’s not that happy about the area he represents let alone its people.

This appears to be weighing on her mind so heavily that the services of psychological professionals may soon be needed. Already it is being claimed that the dreaded world “Frankston” rolls off her tongue only with the greatest difficulty and when asked when she lives she replies “the Peninsula” or, when pushed, “just north of Mt Eliza” or “Oliver’s Hill”.

We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson

After wading through the cesspool that is Victorian politics, it’s pleasant to paddle in, er, the cesspool that is New South Wales politics for Hillary hears that things are looking interesting in the seat of Port Jackson as March 2003 approaches.

It seems that Leichhardt Green, Jamie Parker, is now going to brush aside nudist Ian Cohen for the Upper House preselection or at least thinks he is. That means he’s not all that keen to take on Labor’s Sandra Nori plus Leichhardt Mayor and “Community Independent” Maire Sheehan in Port Jackson.

The Libs will run dead in the seat as usual but their preference flow could just help hand a one time ultra safe Labor seat to Sheehan. The natives are restless and as far as they’re concern, Nori’s front bench position is just another reason to vote against her.

If Labor lost Port Jackson, it would be a great fillip for to John-Boy Brogden and make the fragrant Tanya Plibersek very, very nervous in her federal seat of Sydney.

Go West

The Western Australian Liberal state conference looks set to be a doozy even after last year’s explosive event where their election wipeout and inspired One Nation preference strategy dominated affairs.

Incumbent Kim Keogh is likely to recontest the Presidency with backing from the centre-right and the moderates backing, while the forces of NCB AKA Lord Voldemort will be represented by failed candidate Julie Rae or a feral from Kalgoorlie, Will Scott

The WA Liberal Party has managed to fill much of the Upper House with retired branch stackers, social misfits and gun loonies. Poor state leader Colin Barnett has expressed his embarrassment at this set of circumstances but has been unable to do anything more practical than giving frequent speeches to pensioners clubs.

Barnett has said he wants a more open, inclusive and intelligent party and after that preference deal with One Nation, that means virtually anything. He has his job cut out simply because his MPs are untalented and mostly, based in soon to be abolished malapportioned rural electorates plus he lacks a factional base within the Party to give him any legitimacy or security.

Barnett may be socially dysfunctional but at least he isn’t a complete embarrassment. It’s hard to say the same about the rest of the parliamentary party, however. It’s in dire need of a spring clean. Crikey’s old friend “Dodgy Doug” Shave is very likely to end up back in Parliament right beside 16 per cent loser and self-appointed leadership candidate, Graham Keirath!

Half the caucus despise Barnett and the rest simply hate him. “Deputy Dan” Sullivan has been bewitched by Lord Voldemort, and spends all of his time whingeing about evil city folk trying to screw over the honest and hard working salt of the yeomanry as he spearheads the Liberal campaign against the Chartist nonsense of one vote, one value.

Observers of politics in the West tend to agree that the Libs are so strongly opposed to ending the imbalance between the number of voters in city and country seats because their rural MPs find servicing 9,000 electors too much let alone 22,000.

Outside the leadership team the Liberal Party is distinguished by the presence of Rob Johnson, the Leader in the House who famously suggested that gay law reform was like nazi social engineering. His views are mild in comparison to those of Matt Birney, another of Voldemort’s Death Eaters. Observers have high hopes for Ross Lightfoot ex-Sue Walker, the new member for Rich the Runt’s old seat of Nedlands but so far she has only distinguished herself by her curious staff appointments.

Katie Hodson-Thomas, the transport spokesperson, compensates for being incapable of putting together a soundbite by shouting “Halleluiah” and God-bothering, while IR spokesperson Cheryl Edwards is just like Bronwyn Bishop minus the positives. Rumour has it John Day and Mike Board, the education and health spokesmen are actually dead, although they keep on drawing their wages. (Ed – Shurely we’ll be copping a writ from someone out West after this. Can I say sorry now. That Hillary is very hard to control you know.)

This, remember, is the division that produced Charlie Court, Durack, Hasluck, Chaney, Withers, Hyde, Brand and Cleland. Nowadays they’d be luck to find a new Peter “the dog eat my health policy” Shack.

There’s Daz, the Mattres offers some hope for the future, Campbell’s OK and Old Ironbar offers comedy relief but that’s about it for the Western Australian Libs.

Looking over the dismal landscape, Hillary has to agree for once with the Rodent. They really are under-performers.

They can resist everything but Temptation

Hillary immediately filed this one in the “too good to be true” department the story that the Western Australian Government got its anti-business, anti-employment IR amendments through by calling a division while the Lib MLCs were staring slack-jawed watching Temptation Island and drooling but Crikey’s sandgroper spies swear that it’s true.

God knows how their poor betrayed sweethearts down on St Georges Terrace feel about being cheated on.

Out come the freaks

Hillary hears that the phones were ringing off the hooks in “Iron Mark” Latham’s office last week not in outrage over his comments about former Liberal Party president Tony Staley, but with new claims of dirt.

One caller claiming to be a senior Western Australian Liberal apparently blathered on in vast detail over how Staley, the Prime Miniature and his staff were at the very heart of an attempt on the life of the much-loved Noel Crichton-Browne.

Let this be a warning to you, Miss Katrina

A Liberal-Democratic candidate in the recent British council elections had her hopes dashed when it was revealed that she had appeared on a TV show naked.

Helen Swain, a keen naturist, was stripped of votes after a vidcap of her moment of fame was circulated in a brochure headed “Is this the sort of person you want to represent your interests?”, attributed to the “For Pity’s Sake Don’t Let Helen Swain Win Campaign”.

Ms Swain clearly isn’t suited to the cut and thrust of politics, as she failed to make the obvious “I have nothing to hide I am a clean skin” riposte. However, readers keen to produce a thesis on this topic or looking for some gratuitous nudity can find out more at The Sun (where else?).

Official visit

The Rodent visited Wagga Wagga on Thursday, where he was greeted in the traditional way by students from Charles Sturt University.

They were somewhat bemused but amused when their protest was joined by Fatty Vautin, in town for the City v Country Challenge and an accompanying crew from the Footy Show. Two jokers for the price of one.

Bank bashing

In all the furore last week over bank profits, Hillary was particularly touched to hear on The World Today about the plight of poor old dears out in RARAland who have been forced to learn how to used plastic cards and PINs, thanks to horrible economic rationalism just like how during their lives they have been forced to use, oh, telephones, televisions and, probably, an indoor loo rather than the dear old dunnee down the back.

First crusties, now grizzlies

When G8 leaders meet in Canada next month, they won’t just be threatened by crusties, Trots and all the other inhabitants of the wilder shores of Marx as the Globe and Mail reported last week:

“Hoping to avoid the embarrassment of foreign dignitaries being mauled by grizzlies during next month’s G8 summit in Alberta, the federal government is resorting to electronic tracking in an attempt to keep humans and bears well away from each other.

“An estimated seven grizzlies – a notoriously dangerous species which can climb trees, swim and run brief bursts at almost 50 kilometres an hour – were roaming about last year near the rural Alberta resort town of Kananaskis, where the leaders of the world’s industrialized countries will be gathering on June 26-27. One of them is reported to have regularly travelled the pathways immediately below the village.

“The federal government moved the summit to the remote location in Alberta after a series of international gatherings drew large crowds and caused damage to the host cities.

“Despite assurances from a G8 official, two environmental groups are dismayed that the federal government has provided Alberta Fish and Wildlife with only enough money to monitor the bears until they hibernate this fall.

” ‘We know the grizzly bear is one of the most sensitive species in the Kananaskis Valley and we would like to know where they are and what they doing so we can keep out of their way,’ G8 environmental affairs director Bruce Leeson told Canadian Press.

” ‘We’re doing this for the benefit of the bears and for the benefit of our own staff. It minimizes the stress on the wildlife and safeguards our own people.’ ”

Wise move, too. Now, can someone please control those idiots in koala suits collecting for Greenpeace who are always threatening passers-by in Hyde Park.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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