The army mightn’t have enough ammo but Hillary’s still blazing away.

With less than a week to go in the Tassie election the bombshell breaks Liberal leader Bob “Buttocks” Cheek has sold his gym.

Members were told that the pool and spa would be fixed last weekend but only the spa got done. The pool remains freezing. It’s clear. It was sell it or resign.

Johnny we hardly missed ye

The Prime Miniature has returned from his tour of scenic spots in Europe but if it wasn’t for the slight problem that the supply of battlefields to visit has run out, he really could have kept on going. Politics is going swimmingly without him.

Look at Saturday’s Newspoll. All he needs to do is leave the country and the Short Fella ends up with two and half times poor old Slimy Simey’s rating as preferred Prime Minister.

“Modernising” the Labor Party is proving to be a difficult task. It must be hard enough for poor old Simey to sit still and keep smiling while John Button slowly empties a bucket over his head. How must he feel when “Slick Pierre” Dowding, the successor to Brian Burke as Premier of Western Australian whose best political decision was suddenly resigning and moving overseas for a decade or so, sounds off?

Jenny Macklin is seen as a key part of Labor’s future and she says the internal review is intent on developing a more diverse party with greater contributions from the women’s lobby, environmental groups and non-affiliated unions in the teaching and health sectors, traditional Labor policy staples.

To Hillary’s ears, that sounds as if Macklin is referring to all those soft left groups who have helped turn Federal Labor into the soggy mess it is today plus making the risible suggestion that big spending middle class welfare is the way of the future.

Then when “Iron Mike” Lithium, sorry, Latham, makes some half relevant comments like his remarks on the “feudal lord” John Howard who has thrown the concept of internal party democracy out the window their swamped by gratuitous gags that suggest he’s forgotten to take his medication again.

And there’s the problem for Simey that all this modernising talk focuses on the relationship between Labor and the unions after all, as a former ACTU boss, Sime looks decidedly old Labor.

He isn’t going to go through another few months of this only to be replaced, say, in 12 month’s time when its all over is he?

That’s just the ALP. And the Dems? They deserve an item all of their very own over here.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Washington DC, US of A: Foreign Minister Lex Loser is busily applying his own tongue to sensitive sphincters in DC. He takes time out from his brownnosing to point to a map of Iraq and declare “All the way with Dubya, yay!”.

Near a camel, North Africa: Trade Minister Mark Vaille is doing some arse-licking of his own, this time to the Gandhi-like figure of Mummar Gadaffi.

Nothing like a coherent foreign policy, is there.

State of readiness

While Lex beats the drums, Hillary has been hearing disturbing rumours from friends across the lake in Defence at Russell Hill. It seems that there have been some worrying cutbacks in next year’s allocation for the forces from the ammo tin cutbacks on little things like tank ammunition, artillery ammunition, anti-tank rounds and hand grenades.

But wait a minute! Isn’t the country at war? Don’t we need these things to help out ol’ buddy Dubya? Our own great warrior, El Rodente, and Hyacinth can do Europe on the public tab but there’s no bullets to fight the war. Curiouser and curiouser.

Readers will also recall that Hillary likes to don the little black cocktail frock occasionally to be squired to the Mess by some gorgeous man in uniform. Well, if the separation rates from the forces continue at current levels, there soon won’t be enough men in uniform left to squire Hillary and her friends about let alone take part in action in Iraq, stay in Timor, keep the peace in Bougainville, maintain Operation Token Presence

Late news

Overheard at the PM’s table at the Press Gallery Ball Sean Micaleff’s monologue about how Garfield Barwick always forgot his advice interrupted by Hyacinth commenting on their differing ages and how it can’t have been surprising, giving that Gar must have been in his nineties.

It’s a joke Joyce.

Parliamentary liaisons and travel rorts

In the wake of the Evans/Kernot revelations, people are talking once again of the liaison between a still serving Liberal MP and a convicted travel rorter.

Some observers still feel that the couple’s arrangements warrant a recount of the nights when the rorter claimed travel allowance and a closer look at why the other party’s staff were asked to help him work out his TA “because it’s complicated”.

Strange for a family newspaper

It was very strange to see Paul Sheehan start off his comment piece on Lawrie Oakes and the Chezza luvs Gareth affair with an extended reference to the Sydney bondage emporium, Salon Kitty.

Just what was he trying to get at with his curious lead?

How the parties line up

Crikey has been keeping subscribers informed on the big issue of the Tasmanian election campaign the showdown between Jim “Crispy” Bacon and Bob “Buttocks” Cheek but now that Buttocks has sold the gym, what else is happening. Nothing.

The Mercury, ever civic minded, has set up a special election forum at this address but when you click through, all you get is a blank space and the message “Return here in a day or two to read what others are thinking about the election campaign”.

Obviously no one has been thinking anything.

In a way, it’s understandable that people aren’t interested in the Tasmanian election because everyone thinks that Labor will win.

The Launceston Sunday Examiner isn’t usually part of Hillary’s weekend reading but their poll on voting intention was worth tracking down. It suggests the Libs will be decimated.

The House of Assembly currently has 14 Labor members, 10 Libs and one Green. If the Examiner’s findings were replicated next Saturday, it would have 15 Labor MPs, seven Libs and three Greens. The Liberal vote has collapsed. Buttocks would be left fighting it out with Hillary’s old drinking buddy Michael Hodgeman for election from Dennison, as it suggests that the Libs can expect to only win one of the five positions up for grabs there.

Curious candidate

With five days left of campaigning in the Tassie poll, interest is being shown in Labor candidate for Bass, Jenni Jarvis.

Jenni has had an interesting path to her current role. She spent four years as a staffer to Launceston-based Liberal Senator Jocelyn Newman and currently works through their Comalco subsidiary as public affairs bastion for that well known bastion of left wing politics Rio Tinto.

The green economy

Perhaps it’s unfair to say that there are no issues in the Tasmanian poll other than the water temperature at Buttocks’ gym. Various beard and Birkenstock types have been debating whether clearfelling in old growth forests is acceptable, or if their should be a complete ban on all logging in them.

This hugely significant debate was reflected in last week’s unemployment figures. Tassie was in the pride of place once again. It fact, it took the trifecta. Unemployment in the Apple Isle was the highest in the nation, more than one full percentage point higher than the second worse state, Queensland, and more than two per cent greater than the national average.

Perhaps the Greens should start looking at how many trees have to die to produce all those Centrelink forms.

Hulun Cluck gets tough

Those two other big islands off the coast of Australia that we know as New Zealand are having an election as well and it is proving to be a fascinating echo of the poll in Tasmania. Labour is set to win a majority of seats but is hoping like hell they won’t have to rely on the support of the Greens to stay in power.

Indeed, Labour leader Hulun Cluck has given the Greens the right belting around the earhole. The shrubhuggers claimed on Wednesday that genetically modified sweetcorn had been accidentally released into the wild, where it will presumably kill off all the Hobbits and strangle the tourist trade that is keeping the Shaky Isles afloat.

Cluck, however, wasn’t having any of this. She let loose with the wonderful comment “I wonder how the Greens can care so much for the planet when they seem to spend so little time on it.”

Another nature lover

There are few pleasures in life more enjoyable than laughing at the antics of local government and the Northcote Leader in Melbourne has given us a doozy of a front page story about a frog fancier:

“DAREBIN councillor Melissa Salata says her fellow Darebin councillors “haven’t done their homework or simply don’t care” about endangered wildlife.

“Cr Salata stormed out of a Darebin Council meeting last week over the issue, slamming the door on her way out.

“She later issued a press release explaining her actions and attacking her fellow Labor councillors.

“Cr Salata said she called for a review of an upgrade of Edwardes Lake because frogs in the nearby Leamington St wetlands were being buried alive under soil in the works. Her call for a review was rejected by other councillors.

“After the meeting she accused the other councillors of being callous in their approach to the matter.

“‘Darebin Council either haven’t done their homework or simply don’t care,’ she said.

“She said she was ‘horrified and disgusted’ with opposing councillors’ views that a review would be a ‘waste of time’.

“‘If Darebin Council seriously rates itself on preserving the environment, they should illustrate this to concerned residents,’ she said.

“The media release states Cr Salata stormed out of a council meeting because she ‘couldn’t comprehend callous attack on these defenceless creatures’. ‘We as a community must ensure that our natural heritage is not lost because people keep burying their heads in the sand,’ she said.

“At the meeting, Cr Chris Kelly laughed as Cr Salata called for the review. After apologising for laughing, Cr Kelly spoke against the motion. She asked Cr Salata if she wanted a separate report on frog numbers or for the information to be included in an environmental audit the council had commissioned earlier that night.

“Cr Salata said she wanted a separate report done.

“Cr Kelly said: ‘I think this is just a waste of council officers’ time.’ “After the meeting Cr Salata said: ‘How can councillors laugh at environmental destruction? I’m sure if pet dogs were being massacred councillors would take notice,’ she said.

“After the meeting Mayor Vince Fontana said Cr Salata had been immature and could be counselled over her actions.

“Cr Salata has been a Darebin councillor since the March elections.

“At 19, she is the youngest councillor in the city’s history.”

Hillary can neither confirm nor deny reports that the Impossible Princess has asked Ms Salata to take the number one spot on the Victorian Dems Senate ticket.

Hawking their wares

Much interest greets the news that Hawker Britton, the charm school for New South Wales Labor, has established a market research outfit.

They are polling soft issues now but J-Bro and his Liberal colleagues are watching the space closely for some aggressive anti-Liberal issues closer to the State election. The though of spotting some push polling already has them salivating.

Chika’s revenge?

The New South Wales Parliament has risen for the winter, J-Bro is out of the country and, so some local Liberals claim, the vanquished Kerry Chikarovsky is planning revenge with special spite reserved for the Gang of Five, the key conspirators in the successful challenge: the Boy Wonder himself, Chris Hartcher, Andrew Humpherson, Peta Seaton and Mike Gallacher.

The following dark scenario is being painted. Andrew Humpherson, Member for Davidson, is currently facing a pre-selection challenge, with rumours of a Melbourne Cup field at the close of nominations. The main challenger for Humpherson is Lane Cove Councillor Steve Bowers. Stories claim that Chika has been hitting the phones hard to inform local preselectors about what a poor deal they have been getting from their current local member and how much better a job Bowers will do and that she even going so far as putting Bowers forward as a future Minister.

Peta Seaton and Chris Hartcher both saw their political lives flash before their eyes in March 1999 when they were challenged by celebrity candidates. The rumour mill claims that Chika is happily saying current polling shows things may not be much better this time.

Peter Collins is the lifetime nemesis of Chika and her Bartels clan. He will soon face a pre-selection challenge from popular Willoughby Mayor Pat Reilly who, if unsuccessful, has made no secret of his intention to then run as an independent candidate in the forthcoming state election. Local insiders say Reilly could give Collins a run for his money and guess which family he is close to.

Finally, Chika has kept a special space in hell reserved for Hornsby MP Judy Hopwood. She still seethes that Hopwood backed the Boy Wonder when she supported Hopwood in the Hornsby pre-selection challenge. When Hopwood scraped in at the by-election, it was great triumph for Chika. Now, the stories say Chika will happily tell one that the seat cannot be held.

If all of these go, J-Bro would lose significant support and, if you can believe the yarn, guess who would be back in the top job.

Repositioning

As the Western Australian Liberal AGM looms, Graham Keirath, the former Court Government IR hardman who came a cropper in last year’s poll and presidential candidate of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters (AKA the NCB right), has made his last minute bid for support in a letter to all state council members. Hillary has been charitable and is presenting it here in an annotated format:

Dear XYZ

Since I wrote to you, I have become aware of certain rumours concerning me and my candidacy for President of the Party. As I believe in being up front about matters, I shall answer the assertions being canvassed by some members on the attached sheet.

In politics, as in other areas where people are passionate about their beliefs, it is natural to gravitate most to people who share many of the same views. This applies to the Liberal Party as much as any organisation. What the party needs is a balance between competing views, without the personal attacks which surface from time to time. I know what it is like to be the subject of personal vilification, and I don’t want other members of our Party to suffer personal attacks just because they dared to express their own opinions. Freedom of personal expression is surely the biggest difference between Liberals and Labor and we want it to stay that way! (HILLARY: How amusing, how about he try being a moderate in the WA Libs?)

As a result of my standing for election as State President, colourful and imaginative stories about why I am standing have already been spread by those few who fear they have something to lose by the Liberal Party becoming more open, inclusive and democratic. However, nothing will really change for the better unless we have someone who is prepared to stand up and lead by example. I feel that my experience as a long-time party member and a former Parliamentarian gives me the unique combination of skills, determination and strength, experience and understanding of politics which I believe can help reinvigorate the Party. I can attract new members to help those, like you, who have worked so hard for so long.

Being non-factional (HILLARY: ?!?!?!?!?!?!), and have no political agenda in seeking the office of State President (HILLARY: thinly veiled attack on new Senator David Johnston), all my energies can be directed towards what is best for the whole Party. I do have ideas as to how the Party can grow and prosper, but ultimately I shall be guided by all of you. Any initiatives which I have in mind will go straight out to all branches for their consideration, not to a select who sometimes consider the Liberal Party their own personal fiefdom (HILLARY: this coming from a NCBer? At least the Centre Right is a two-headed hydra)

We in the Liberal Party believe that decision-making should be decentralised as much as possible, that the ultimate power should reside with all the branches (HILLARY: Put the blue rinse set in charge of marginal campaigns…. yeah!). I will reinforce that, to empower all of you to make the decisions, and in return I will ensure that your wishes and decisions are carried out. That is the commitment I am offering you. If you feel the same as I do, I ask to you to give me the opportunity to deliver, by supporting my nomination for State President.

If you wish to discuss this with me further, please contact me.

Yours sincerely

Graham Keirath

ATTACHMENT

Factionalism

For at least the last twenty years, there have been at least two factions, the so-called Crichton-Browne faction and those opposed to them. I have, at various times been accused of being aligned with one or the other. Where is the evidence for this claim? I can honestly say that in nearly 30 years in the Liberal Party I have never belonged to any faction. I was never a factional person when I gained pre-selection, in fact I defeated certain factional candidates, because luckily the branches involved were not factionalised. I was never a faction member when I was appointed a Minister. Therefore, as I was independent of factions when there was everything to gain, why on earth should I join one now, when there are no personal benefits to be gained? That allegation is patently rubbish, and ironically enough is being propagated by certain members who were themselves members of the Crichton-Browne faction, gained senior positions in the party and then formed a faction of their own (HILLARY: Campbell/Ellison etc. This whole rant is funny as Keirath always has caucused with NCB’s minions i.e. Dodgy Doug Shave, Norman Moore etc. It is a source of constant amusement to see Crichton-Browners pretend they are not factional warriors when they created the mess we are in today)

My “Parliamentary Agenda”

I get asked on average at least once a day if I am planning a return to poitics. It is only fair that I address this issue with you too. I can state categorically that I shall never stand for any Federal parliamentary position, as the tyranny of distance is still very real, and my family is very important to me.

State politics then? Currently I am earning more than I did as a minister, and I’m no longer still doing paperwork at 1am! As each goes by, any passing flirtation with a return to politics becomes less attract. I am not getting death threats any more, and my spare time, which I now have again, I can spend with my family, and playing and watching sport. I have not totally ruled out a possible return to State politics, but even were that my main agenda, being State President would be more of a distraction then a help. If I were to consider a return to State politics, it would be in the general area of my old seat. Furthermore I would never stand against a sitting Liberal. (HILLARY: Another veiled attack on David Johnston rolling Winnie the Shit. I suppose that rant means that Keirath will be running in the next state election. What a disgrace.)

My relationship with Colin Barnett

Colin and I have had some differences in the past (HILLARY: Never! Really?!?), but all strong minded people do, we Liberals consider that health. However, we have had much more in common over the ten years we served in parliament together. My first priority as State President is to rebuild the Party organisation into a strong, efficient well-oiled machine, that has the ability and resources to give the level of backing to the State parliament leader his team that they should be able to expect. Colin and his team have my support, and I shal do all I can to ensure we have a Liberal Premier (HILLARY: preferably me) as soon as possible (HILLARY: Note he doesn’t identify Barnett as the parliamentary leader who will be premier). As a Vice President for the last 15 months I have been given nothing to do, which is frustrating, as I believe talk should be backed up with action (HILLARY: attacking incumbent Kim Keogh). That has been my style and my forte. That is what I want to offer, to you, to Colin, and to our Parliamentary team.

The lost weekends

Readers of Crikey’s sealed section would have seen the list of “business observers” Labor in the West convinced to spend $1,450 to attend their state conference.

The local Libs are heading hot on their heels, going for the rip of rate of $1,600 not bad for an opposition party.

Another Opposition a very bedraggled Opposition the South Australian Liberal hope to persuade local business people, PR flaks and assorted hangers-on to cough up $1,450 for the privilege of coming along to their conference.

Aren’t there other ways you’d like to spend the weekend?

Nature abhors a vacuum

Brawling in the Queensland Liberal Party spilled over into the pages of national newspapers last week as Employment Services Minister Mal Brough and party president Michael Caltabiano slugged it out.

And what’s behind all of this? Well, nature abhors a vacuum and Brough is busy trying to fill the space left when former factional heavy Bob Tucker imploded in the wake of his loss last year in the Ryan by-election.

Meanwhile, Queensland Liberal northern vice president hoped not to be noticed when she used he position to oppose the formation of a new branch in Townsville. Local fed Peter Lindsay sought approval to establish a new branch in a growing area of the city but forgot to consider what it might mean for the factions.

A case for the Cadaver?

A subscriber has alerted us to the strange case of 47 missing African golfers, published last week in The Scotsman. Our Immigration Minister has already had to tackle the problem of Olympic overstayers so should they call in the Cadaver?

“Mystery over 47 missing golfers

By Gethin Chamberlain

“ORGANISERS of the Open Championship have launched an investigation after 47 out of 48 Nigerians granted visas to enter Britain to take part in the competition failed to turn up for their games.

“There are suspicions that some of the would-be golfers had no intention of taking part in the tournament but used the event as an excuse to get past immigration controls.

“The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which organises the tournament, has expressed surprise at the size of the entry from a country not normally associated with top-class golf, and concern about the failure of the golfers to show up.

“The mystery deepened yesterday when both the Nigerian Golf Union and the Nigerian High Commission denied any knowledge of such a large entry.

“Top-class golf courses are few and far between in the West African country and the annals of golfing history are not overburdened with the names of Nigerian greats.

“Suspicions began to surface when officials at the Open qualifying tournaments reported that their Nigerian contingent had failed to turn up to play.

“None of the 11 Nigerians expected at the Hadley Wood course in north London turned up, while Orsett in Essex found itself missing all 13 of its anticipated contestants. Only Trentham in Staffordshire reported a Nigerian golfer arriving to play out of ten who had been expected. Ifeanyi Chukwu went round in 76 but failed to make it through the qualifying round.

“Yesterday, Peter Dawson, the secretary of the Royal and Ancient, said: ‘We did have a large entry from Nigeria in particular and a good number didn’t turn up.

“‘We are running a championship and we checked as many of them as we could but with the benefit of hindsight, something strange does appear to have gone on.’

The Nigerian Golf Union conceded that the entry did appear to be considerably higher than they were aware of. A spokesman said they knew of only two golfers who had been recommended to take part in the championship.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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