There really is something for everyone in this effort from Hillary but Crikey is especially fascinated by the Labor love nest tale.

So the Dalai Lama is touring again. Good on him. He’s a man of wisdom with a message of peace. Deng Xioaping greatest legacy is a uniquely repugnant synthesis of the most rapacious aspects of capitalism and the most repressive parts of communism, so no wonder His Holiness wants to draw attention to the occupation of his country by China.

But what about some of the pollies who are most enthusiastic about his visit Bob Brown, his fellow Greens and the Dems. Hillary can’t recall them ever coming up with as much as a squeak about, say, the persecution of Chinese Catholics who believe that Rome is the centre of their faith, rather than Beijing.

Perhaps they just don’t have enough new age cred, hey Bob, Natty?

Oh no, Ho!

Or so the PM bellowed from Beijing as his former favourite, Ho Chi Minchin, rose to speak to the cockies’ conference last week and suggest a merger between the Libs and the National Party.

The Prime Miniature is furious. John Anderson is furious. Virtually every one else who matters and more than a few who are completely irrelevant is furious, too.

Minchin has been publicly pilloried. He didn’t return Anderson’s calls when he rang to express his concern. Anderson was forced to ring the short man in Beijing while he was meeting his Chinese counterpart Zhu Ronji. He then had to get on the blower to Ho back in Oz and tell him to pull the offending parts of the speech, while his office worked frantically to set some sort of spin on the schmozzole.

Ho was giving the speech on behalf of the Prime Miniature and so people are amazed he didn’t check the controversial parts with him first.

No, Ho has pissed of the Nats, made the Rodent ratty, caused considerable doubt about his judgment and made a mistake that has demonstrated beyond any doubt that he’s not the golden haired boy he used to be.

Running sore

The Government appears to have got away with the Budget for now the fun and games will begin when the bills reach the Senate but nothing can staunch the bleeding wound that is the leadership debate. The Treas has been off doing the Budget roadshow but no-one wants to talk about that. It’s the leadership that they’re interested in.

The Short Man won’t be huffing and puffing to blow out those 64 candles until July 26 next year but you can bet that he and his senior ministers will be asked about the leadership almost every day until then.

It’s going to be divisive within the party and an almighty distraction from the Government’s main message. And all because of a few moments of Prime Ministerial self indulgence

Their ABC

Poor old Closet McCloset, aka Donald McDonald. He’s got the Victorian heavy brigade staring down the back of his neck as the ABC tried to find a managing director his Minister, Richard “Milhous” Alston, Michael Kroger and now the Man Who Would be King, Peter Costello.

Up in Sydney Alan Jones is squawking away. Only the Prime Miniature seems silent but with the blood flowing thick in the arena, when the crucial times comes will Closet get the thumbs up or the thumbs down for Little Caesar.

PS There’s more on Alan Jones and the ABC from Hillary and the Crikey Bird-watching team here.

Say it isn’t so!

Hillary hears that Brendan Hammer, the PMC heavyweight whose actions over kids-in-the-watergate have caused so much interest of late has already been moved on.

Is this true and, if so, what does it mean if the Senate wants to drag him back for a chat? Can anyone help?

Conspiracy theories

It’s official according to the Parliament House rumour mill. Tony Walker’s comment piece on Malcolm Turnbull in the Fin a week or so ago was definitely the result of a conspiracy. Trouble is, there are so many possible suspects that it’s rather hard to single anyone out as the instigator.

Meanwhile, more and more people are connecting the FAI/HIH shambles and mild-mannered Malcolm’s battle with Hitman Heffernan to get into parliament earlier rather than later.

Position vacant

Speaking of the Hitman, speculation continues over who will replace him as Cabinet Secretary. Slippery Pete Slipper, the distinguished Queensland parliamentarian, is acting in the role but there’s just one problem. The Prime Miniature won’t let him attend Cabinet meetings.

Dr Who?

Andrew Theophanous might hope that he soon vanishes into obscurity but his conviction last week makes that unlikely.

Funnily enough, stories of his activities in the pants department have been around as long as Hillary can remember. Hillary even hears that the womyn of the Victorian Socialist Left pulled him in for a Cutural Revolution-style “self-examination” session.

Funny, that. Theophanous still stayed on as a parliamentary representative of the caring, non-sexist Labor Party, despite the allegations just the way the comrades didn’t care that Mal Colston had his hand in the till until after he crossed the floor.

Cogitate, don’t litigate

Who is the overambitious opposition frontbencher and Crean confidante who has been kicked out of the marital nest and whose wife will not even let anywhere near the house since discovering his extra parliamentary activities?

His poor Queensland constituents definitely not aspirational but instead rusted on Labor types often don’t see the lad for weeks on end. Instead, Melbourne seems to be exercising a strange attraction over our hero. And what, pray tell, is he doing there being consoled by an equally very high profile and ambitious frontbencher or just holing some very private cross-factional meetings?

Mal practice

The Queensland Libs have gone back to their favourite game of faction fights and relations between the Prime Miniature and his Employment Services Minister, Mal Brough, appear to have chilled of late.

The Rodent had a recent heart to heart with the Queensland Liberal Ministers and was not happy when Denis Atkins of the Courier Mail published a well-briefed account of the meeting. The Short Man has been particularly irritated as it seemed to be the complete opposite of what was said.

The meeting was sparked by an angry call to the PM conveniently on Budget Day from Queensland Liberal pres Michael Caltabianco after Brough, Ian Macfarlane, Gary Hardgrave and Ian Macdonald had the temerity to send a letter to rank and file members urging them to support state leader Bob Quinn and his attempts to make the party vaguely electable by throwing out the rulebook so lovingly authored by George Washington Brandis.

Earlier, Macfarlane had been monstered by Caltabianco, Washington and the distinguished parliamentarian Slippery Pete Slipper on the matter.

Hillary reported last month how Brough’s campaign to reform the Queensland Liberal Party constitution had raised eyebrows amongst Caltabianco and co and as the meeting discussed this, fingers have been pointing in his direction. Now, however, some insiders are of the view that while George Washington might be unable to tell a lie, he got it out to the meeja and pinned it all on Brough.

Getting away with a trick like that has been assisted by Brough’s behaviour of late. He keeps on turning up at branch meeting up and down the state demanding to talk on the subject and the poor presidents get very embarrassed when they have to introduce him because although he’s in the Ministry, no-one knows who he is.

State pride

Queensland Liberals seem determined not to let their Victorian comrades outstrip them in the dodgy recruiting stakes.

Strong interest is being shown in the Springwood Business Branch, in Marlboro Man David Jull’s seat of Fadden. Oddly enough, for a “business” branch, most of its members have signed on at the concessional student or pensioner rates and paid cash.

Marlboro country

Whatever the facts behind the Springwood branch, there’s certainly stirring in Marlboro country.

Jovial Jull smokes three cartons a day and is fond of tucker and a tincture. He has been round for ages and despite his obvious ability seems stuck on the backbench while the Rodent remains. A number of locals fear the Marlboro Man may well drop of his horse or at least ride off into the sunset leaving a prime seat free, and want to prepare the groundwork.

Over the Pacific Highway, in Forde, there is also talk that Jully’s colleague, Kay Elson, who has held the seat since 1996 is being stalked. At the same time, rumours abound of property purchases by the mild-mannered Malcolm Turnbull. Would he really leave the Emerald City especially given wifey’s role for the Gold Coast in the search for a seat? A few of the locals should have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie-down.

Meanwhile, in Victoria

The Liberal preselections roll on and even Hillary is getting sick of it all.

Uptown Girl Sophie Panopolous will need more of that one-on-one training she’s been getting from NCB after Andrew Dwyer got up in Benalla. Chalk up another vote for Louise Asher (Shurely a mistake, where’s that Staley gal – Ed) can’t we for the top job if he gets elected.

After a frantic game of musical chairs, Maree Luckins has grabbed the seat of Narree Warren just as the music stopped. Various calumnies and lies have been circulated in the wake of her win and Hillary wept at the very thought that the malicious souls behind them thought a family scandal sheet like Crikey would publish such scurrilous stuff.

Richard Della Riva has bagged East Yarra, but only after a complex deal between David “D2” Davis and Ted Baillieu, under which D2 supports Baillieu staffer Di Rule (wife of Age journalist Andrew Rule) in Burwood. Hillary is keen to know what D2 has had to say to Clem Newton-Brown and the 235 or so other candidates he said he’d back for the seat over the years.

Rob McLellan is expected to create fireworks in the next few weeks. If a by-election follows and the Libs lose, Exhibition Street staffer Michael Brennan may enjoy a sudden change of career but that’s all very hush-hush, hey Louise?

In other seats, keen recruiter and candidate for Forest Hill, Vasan Srinivasan is seriously considering changing his name to something more dinky-di Aussie. How does Michael Johnson sound?

A yarn is doing the rounds that former Jeff enemy Bernie Finn is going for Macedon and that local Labor members are trying to sign up before the pre-selection to ensure Bernie gets elected.

Finally, a reader has asked the intriguing question is the licence of the restaurant run by tiny Tory tyro Conrad bin Xanthos in his father’s name rather than his, and if so, why. Can anyone assist?

Lost in the mail

The Sydney meeja recently reported the windfall New South Wales pollies have received for their postage 10 months out from the election but all the local Libs have been able to do on the matter is tie themselves in knots.

Shadow Planning Minister Andrew Humpherson popped up on the ABC to attack the additional funding and declare that Libs had never considered the matter. Labor then released a letter from Liberal Whip Russell Smith suggesting the party had no objection to the proposal and demanded that Humpherson resign for misleading the public.

Humpherson’s local meeja then got onto the yarn, and he told them that neither the shadow cabinet or the party room considered the issue and claimed that Smith had acted without authority writing the letter and might need to be disciplined.

After that, a number of MPs felt obliged to remind Humpherson that not only was the matter discussed in the party room, but that one of the new Liberal leaders was very pleased with himself for coming up with some clever phrases for Smith’s letter.

The whole tale has been a spectacular stuff up. John-Boy and his crew have forgotten the bleeding obvious that Labor has more members than they do and will benefit more from the measure. Rather than turning it into a snouts in the trough scandal, they’ve acquiesced to a measure that damages them.

Humpherson has compounded the whole matter. Not only has he suggested that there are rifts in the party not a good move, just after a change of leaders but he’s kept the story running while adding to the impression that all pollies for all parties delight in nothing more than ripping off poor Joe Taxpayer.

The whole affair is now leading to the obvious conclusion, with talk that State Liberal VP and adviser to the shy and retiring Brendan Nelson, Rhonda Vanzella, is looking around for a new member for Humpherson’s Nor Shore seat of Davidson. It’s even being said that she has spotted a likely local lawyer who is already being wheeled around to the branch functions.

Cash crisis

Hillary only reads the Smellie for Ros Reines and the “Improve your vocabulary with Leo Schofield” feature on the back page, but noticed a story a few weeks back over a stoush in the New South Wales Libs regarding election funding.

The state director, Scott Morrison, had told MPs that they would be required to appoint him as their election agent if they wanted to nominate for preselection. Public funding in New South Wales is returned to local candidates through their electoral agent and, naturally, the pols saw this as a head office plot to rob them of their readies.

Boy leader J-Bro was faced with a regular roundabout of MPs marching in and out of his office threatening dire action unless the move was reversed.

Lo and behold, when the state exec met last Friday, Morrison’s proposal was moved by the president and only supported by the three VPs, Brendan Nelson, standing in for the Prime Miniature and three other. The rest lead by J-Bro voted resoundingly to wait until Morrison fronts up to Macquarie Street to provide more details of the matter.

This has left Morrison seething and ready for revenge against his more dedicated opponents. Indeed, it looks as if the preselections have just got a little more interesting.

Credit where credit is due

Hillary has upset Princess Tashy and her cheer squad in the past not very difficult to do, admittedly but has to give the Democrat leader her due after the reshuffle that has been announced with the pending departure of Vicki Bourne on the first of July.

Key supporter Andrew “Gary Numan” Bartlett, a strong public backer of the Princess during the ballot to make Natasha Leader, has been stripped of the environment portfolio one of the most important for the Dems. He’s also lost the job of social security spokesman just as it has become a key battleground in the wake of the Budget.

Instead, he’s been rewarded with Defence and as the Demmies believe that bombs should carry health warnings and have seatbelts and child safety caps, it doesn’t rank very highly. It is such a low priority that all the research for it is handled at electorate staff level rather than a specialist Leader’s staff researcher.

So, Hillary is happy to say that Natasha must be more of a natural politician than Hillary has given her credit for. She certainly seems to have a politician’s idea of loyalty. Then again, maybe she’s just clearing the deck chairs for her mate to become whip and keep her numbers solid which is a tougher job than any portfolio.

Media Watch

The Mayne Man loves it, but Hillary thinks David Marr would be better off hosting the stage show at the Hotel Imperial, Newtown, than Media Watch.

Still, Hillary tuned in last Monday, just in time to see the media watchdog rip off Crikey’s Advertiser/Murdoch family driver/guns yarn from more than a week ago completely uncredited.

Great work, guys.

ED: It is very easy to claim credit for breaking a yarn but we simply received an email and published it without even checking with anyone. Media Watch clearly did some more digging and just because we publish something doesn’t make it off-limits for other media.

Hillary’s mailbag

Here’s one to get you thinking:

“Dear Hillary,

“I recently picked up Don Watson’s Memoirs of a Bleeding Heart (God awful title). I had read several reviews that lauded it to the skies. Even Robert Manne, whose columns I really enjoy, said it was the best thing he’d ever read on Australian politics.

“I saw DW interviewed on the telly and thought, He seems a bit up himself. I am 150 pages into the thing and I’ve had to put it down. I think it’s awful. He thinks he’s bloody Marcel Proust or something. It’s chronically overwritten. He thinks he’s some sort of intellectual, but he has nothing to say. I think the book shows more than anything why so many Australians feel adrift from their own politicians.

“What do you think? Have you tried it yet? Do you think I’m wrong and am missing something?

“Regards”

Hillary feels that after “Manning Clarke’s History of Australia: The Musical”, Don Watson’s Bicentennial bomb, it’s amazing that he ever worked again.

Not the done thing

Amongst the Adelaide Establishment or what’s left of it manners still matter. That means that eyebrows have been raised amongst some Adelaide City Council royalty over the omission of the equally establishment former Liberal state arts minister, Di Laidlaw, to RSVP to a birthday party.

Could it have anything to do with the fact that the birthday gal was spotted by Laidlaw lunching with another prominent former Council member, Jane “J-Lo” Lomax Smith, the former Lord Mayor recently elected as gasp the Labor member for Adelaide?

Twilight zone

The provisional wing of the Liberal Party the Australian Liberal Students Federation is getting ready for its annual general meeting and the trouble’s already beginning.

This time it’s to do with the constitution a document that the powers that be in the Junior Ustachi seem to believe should be kept highly confidential, as these e-mails suggest. Read on:

—– Original Message —–

From: “Edwin Dyga”

To: “Andrew Jefferies”, “Anthony Orkin”, “Jefferey Leaming”, “Kyle Kutasi”, “Michael Davis”

Subject: Re: ALSF Constitution and the Twilight Zone

Date: Mon, 13 May 2002 22:19:12 +1000

Dear fellow ALSFers,

Please excuse me in mailing you all in this fashion, however:

1) the NSW executive needs a copy of the current ALSF Constitution in soft copy format (preferably for PC Word);

2) my requests to everybody sent to the ALSF eGroup have not come through on the list;

3) the President has been most unhelpful by telling me that it is “still being typed” by him (which doesn’t make any sense because it was printed and distributed to delegates at the last Conference 10 months ago).

While the Presidency slips further and further into the twilight zone, could somebody who has the document please send it to us – we would really appreciate it, as we don’t want NSW initiatives to be in breach of notice (and other) requirements, for the 2002 Convention.

Regards, Edwin Dyga

NSW Liberal Students’ Association Secretary

—– Original Message —–

From: Chris Bland

To: [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected]

Sent: Wednesday, May 15, 2002 12:44 PM

Subject: Re: ALSF Constitution and the Twilight Zone

Ed

I have to agree with you that it is disappointing if the amendments passed in 2001 are yet to be typed up. It is also unfortunate that the President has had to resort to doing it at all, as it is clearly the Secretary’s job.

Perhaps you should direct your criticism to him and any other under-performing members of the executive. Having been President of other Liberal organisations I know how difficult one’s task can be when you have to do the work of lazy and incompetent executive members for them.

I would also make the further point that ALSF is a voluntary organisation, while we do expect a high standard of performance from all executive members, it is the height of unfounded arrogance for useless shits to start making impolite demands from them.

Perhaps you should consider contributing positively to our cause instead.

Regards, Chris Bland.

—– Original Message —–

From: “Edwin Dyga”

To: “Chris Bland” <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, [email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, ><[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, <[email protected]>, ><[email protected]>, <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: ALSF Constitution and the Twilight Zone

Date: Wed, 15 May 2002 13:40:27 +1000

To my understanding, requesting the document under which the organisation is run seems rather reasonable… insinuating that it might be an “unfounded arrogance” is really stretching it a tad…

Though I agree with your comments on the poor administration thus far; I think it is important to point out however, that albeit a voluntary movement, if people don’t have the will, time, and capacity to do their jobs, they should not be charged with them in the first place.

Dyga

Hillary looks forward to more of the same as the youngsters squabble in the sandpit.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

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