Lots of juicy bite size chunks in this week’s Hillary spanning a dozen different issues as divere as Sir Joh’s funeral to Dodgy Doug Shave and the ALSF.

Tom Hughes eulogy at Friday’s big show got ’em all sitting up in their seats but was it all his own work? Hillary hears some had been prepared in advance by a certain John Grey Gorton.

Their ABC

The lunatics are firmly in control of the asylum and the Government is not happy. Not one little bit.

They’ve appointed the Chairman and appointed the Board and, with the sole exception of Michael Kroger, they’ve all gone native. Questions are now being asked why the Prime Miniature didn’t choose someone tougher to be Chairman instead of his pal Closet McCloset.

Special contempt is being directed towards the IR Cro-Magnon, Judith Sloan. She’s the last person anyone thought would join the Ultimo Macrame51 and Beadwork Collective.

A little order

Government MPs are pleased that Neil Andrew seems to be finally showing a little backbone and a little less bipartisanship in the chair. They’re also amused at the amount he’s copping, too. They see it as payback for not having been more biased from the word go.

Priorities

Good to see that the Greens have got their priorities right that Trotsky’s more important than trees.

They might care to remember that even Cuba’s privatised its state telco.

Still Hillary has got to give Bob Brown marks for tying his political opponents up in knots. He made his Telstra comments on AM. By midday, the Rodent was expressing interest but Forestry Minister at National Party MP Warren Truss was saying that rural phone services came first. By the time the evening news rolled around, Mystic Meg was contradicting the Impossible Princess not good when leadership speculation is running hot. On Sunday, the Nats still hadn’t worked out where they stood, so poor John Anderson had to front Meet the Press and try and say yet another inquiry was needed while keeping a straight face.

Brother can you spare a dime?

At last, a plausible explanation comes out for why the Victorian Libs back flipped and passed legislation that will make poor old Joe Taxpayer foot the bill for elections they can’t squeeze a cent out of Collins Street.

The top end of town has decided that Dynamic Dennis Napthine is dead in the water and that Louise Asher’s just as bad and that party exec members who promise “sure, we can get you a meeting with Peter Costello” then spend the rest of their time undermining him aren’t likely to deliver.

Flogging the whip

The appointment of Closet McCloset isn’t the only gesture by the Prime Miniature that has got government backbenchers shaking their heads. There has been open speculation in the corridors this week about what the Short Man was on when he made the obscure Jim Lloyd Government Whip.

Lloyd’s first gesture was to sack the popular Whip’s Clerk Geraldine Rath. Sacking himself straight after might have made amends, but he chose not to follow this path. Now, a growing number of Libs are openly saying Victorian MP Bruce Billson should get the job.

Minister must go!

Misleading the Parliament is a serious business and when a Minister misleads Parliament, that Minister should go. So, is the Curse of Crikey about to fall on Erica Betz. There seems to be a prima facie case that he mislead the Senate.

This exchange came up in the Senate Finance and Administration estimates on Wednesday:

“Senator Abetz –Next you will be asking about `crikey.com’.”

“Senator Conroy –A well-read magazine. You have just got yourself another subscription.”

“Senator Abetz –No, I have never read it and I refuse to, but I have heard reports.”

The following day however, while the Committee was looking at the strange electoral role practices of the family of somnolent Queensland backbencher Alex Somlyay as revealed by Crikey, he seemed to have something different to say.

“Senator Abetz –A friend at crikey.com? I hardly think so.”

“Senator Faulkner –Should I say `your enemies’?”

“Senator Abetz –That would be right, given the things they allegedly write about me.”

“Senator Faulkner –They must have been drawn to your attention.”

“Senator Abetz –Some kind people print them off and put them on my desk for me.”

“Senator Faulkner –There we go.”

“Senator Abetz –In case I feel too good one particular day, they just run it off for me to deflate me somewhat.”

That sounds as if he reads these print outs and that means he reads Crikey and that he mislead the Senate on Wednesday.

So what’s the truth, Minister? Which way is it? Hillary is sure that Labor’s Senate Leader, John Faulkner, won’t let the matter rest. You may yet regret your description of Crikey as “pathetic, useless, unreliable”.

PS While Erica is technically entitled to a free Crikey subscription under the terms of the Crikey Subs for Mentions Scandal, he has been declared ineligible as he has a silly voice.

Apology to Senator Andrew Murray

Yep. Crikey owes a big, big apology to Andrew Murray for missing his reference to this august e-zine during the Committee stage of the Ministers of State Amendment Bill on March 21.

We’ve fixed him up with a free subscription available to all members of all Australian Parliaments who mention Crikey in either the chambers or committee meetings and in return the Senator has been kind enough to offer a donation to the charity of Hillary’s choice. Your writer thinks that Amnesty is a good cause for media and political junkies to support so a big round of applause for Senator Murray.

Po-mo

He’s no longer George Washington Brandis. No way. After a brilliant post-modern homage in his electorate newsletter last week, it’s got to be John Fitzgerald Kennedy Brandis.

Brandis who has never told a lie published a charming photo of his young son peering our from under his desk, just like the famous picture of JFK and John-John.

The funny thing is that everyone thought Teenage Toecutter Chris Pyne would be the first to try getting away with something like this.

Recruiting drive

Yet another new branch has popped up in Dazzling Darryl Williams territory, with the Young Libs setting up in Bicton. Crikey’s old friend Dodgy Doug Shave is suspected to be the driving force behind these new developments.

Jeff’s genius

Jeff Kennett pulled out all stops and ripped up the Victorian Liberal Party constitution in his bid to get Tsbin Tchen into the Senate at the ’98 poll.

We now know why he tried so hard. Tchen proved his worth in the Senate’s Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee last week when he asked if Fairfax published the Age.

Whoops, I did it again

The Queensland Liberal Party is still having difficulties learning how to use e-mail and stay within the letter of the Privacy Act.

This time round was none other than State Director Brendan Cooper managed to mess up the “cc” function and distribute the e-mail addresses of the party’s members online.

From the sandpit

Oh dear. Members of the provisional wing of the Liberal Party, the Australian Liberal Students Federation, were upset by last week’s Crikey revelations in the lead up to their annual conference.

Preparations do not appear to be going well. Two exec members threw a tanty and hung up on a national conference call to discuss the issue recently. The conference is due to be held at the University of Queensland in just over a month, but Hillary hears that the convenor, Gary “Wombat” Hardgrave staffer Jemma Macginley is yet to contact the host club. To make matters worse, the sandpit is agog with rumours that all the accommodation is booked out already.

In another corner of the sandpit, the New South Wales Young Libs are feverishly excited over a tape of phone call that allegedly provides proof of allegations of bribery amongst alleged members of the alleged Woollahra alleged branch alleged alleged alleged alleged. So excited, in fact, that they converted the tape to an audio file format and started whizzing it round cyberspace. Hillary received copies from around 20 different people last week and at well over a meg each time really appreciated the gesture.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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