Hillary Bray = great columnist. Nuff said.

God. When did Hillary first tell you, dear gentle reader, that Foreign Minister Lex Loser wants to be deputy leader when the Short Man goes? Last year? Before Easter, certainly.

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“Why is Foreign Minister Lex Loser so bellicose? He almost outstrips Dubya and leaves Tony the Poodle eating dust in his keenness to kick raghead ass in Iraq.

“Well, as exclusively revealed in Crikey before, Lex still dreams of returning to the leadership team. (You at the back, stop laughing!) True. He’s egged on by the noted comedy double act of his former staffer Greg Hunt, who now holds Reith’s old seat and loyal adviser Joshua Frydenburg. Together, the three think a war would be great for his chances.

“We even hear that Lex has a gag ready for when the first digger gets his guts blown all over the desert. He’s going to talk about the things that splatter.”

And, whaddya know? Suddenly on Friday, there it was in the Oz, under Dennis Shannahan’s byline: “Alexander Downer is adding his name to the contenders for the Liberal leadership team and the role of Treasurer if John Howard retires next year”.

Now, Lex cops a lot that is unfair. Take the way he gets stirred about his accent, for example. A certain class of person still speaks that way in Adelaide.

What he does lack, however, is a sense of timing. A sense of what’s appropriate hence the fishnets photo, hence “the things that batter” and hence letting the leadership matter leak out now.

The Dems are ripping themselves about, poor old Simey’s having a hard time trying to convince the bruvvers that the spinning jenny is here to say and what does Lex do? He puts the leadership back on the agenda.

What a loser.

Buttocks’ painful parting

Results continue to dribble in from Tasmania and it’s pull out your pinstripes, pick the best carnation for your buttonhole and give that picture of Her Gracious Sovereign Majesty the Queen a good dusting down ‘cos the Hon Michael Hodgeman QC MP is back in town.

Bob “Buttocks” Cheek has vanished into a crack and the former Fraser Minister for Looking Very Important, Enjoying a Few and Chasing After Honeys in the Press Gallery has become the sole Liberal elected from Dennison.

And while Hillary’s old drinking buddy has indicated that he won’t be putting forward his name for the leadership, he says one of his colleagues in the new parliament may do so.

That wouldn’t be son Will, a newly elected member from Franklin, would it? Two votes in a party of six isn’t a bad position to be starting from.

The cheek of it all

Buttocks has not only managed to lose his own seat. His deputy, Denise Swan, has also lost in Lyons.

We should all take time to reflect on the magnitude of this achievement. Hillary is still checking the books to see if this is some kind of record it may have happened to the Queensland ALP at the hands of Joh back in 1974 but whatever the case we need to acknowledge that it takes a very special type of incompetence for both an opposition leader and their deputy to lose their seats.

Back to the future?

Six Tassie Libs? We spoke too soon. In an nail biting finish on Friday, the party managed to pick up the final spot from the ALP, making the overall outcome of the new Parliament Labor 14 the same as before, the Libs seven, down from 10, and four to the Greens, up from one.

There’s still one problem Braddon Liberal-elect Brett Whitley has been charged over a breach of the Electoral Act and then there’s the matter of the leadership.

While Michael Hodgeman would love the job, he can’t be taken seriously as a contender. Hodgeman, God bless him, is yesterday’s man. The thought that he could take the top job shows just how desperate the Tassie Libs have become.

The two likely leaders, the people with the experience needed to get the party back where it might be able to win again, are Rene Hidding and Sue Napier one of Buttocks’ biggest critics and the person he rolled to get the top job respectively.

Oh the irony!

PS Hodgeman fans need not feel left out entirely. Will Hodgeman is being mooted as Liberal deputy.

Dirty deeds done Dem cheap

Thing have got very different at the bottom of the garden. The e-mails have been flying thick and fast over the weekend since claims that a supporter of Dem Deputy Aden Ridgeway used the University of New South Wales Aboriginal Education Centre to assist in his campaign.

ICAC has said no corruption occurred but Captain Hook and his forces of reality are cutting a swathe through the Democrats Never-Everland as paranoia and recriminations flow.

Quick, children. Repeat after Hillary! I believe in fairies. I believe in fairies. I BELIEVE in fairies. I BEEEEEEEELIEVE in fairies.

Britney and Natasha new parallels

Spooky new parallels are emerging between fading blondes Britney Spears and Natasha Stott Despoja.

That inestimable paper, the London Sun, claims Britney is facing a boycott from angry fans in Mexico. It sounds just like Andrew Murray’s decision to declare himself a Democrat in exile.

Meg and Hilly the awful truth

Shock, horror! The first e-mails has arrived at Crikey detailing Meg Lees’ affair with Robert Hill and how she was going to join the Liberal Party before sinister backroom forces decided it would be electorally damaging.

If there are idiots out there who want to invent some scandal can they please think up something more original than a warmed up version of the Chezza luvs Gazza affair.

Why BB wants a DD

Bob Brown says the Democrat’s woes make a double dissolution more likely. He wishes. Crunch the results of the 2001 election with the lower quota needed for election in a DD, and this is what you get:

Coalition 34

Labor 28

Democrats 6

Greens 6

One Nation 2

The Coalition goes down one, the Democrats lose two, Labor stays the same, One Nation picks up one spot and the Greens triple their representation from two to six.

No wonder Bob’s so keen.


Before the Cadaver collapses in hysterics once and for all over the issue of boat people, he might like to look at the figures reported last week that Britain had 92,000 asylum seekers last year.

Ninety-two thousand. If Australia had that many he’d have to risk ruining the Prime Miniature’s view and dump a few dozen on Fort Dennison to try and keep them offshore.

Crosby moving on?

Goodbye Lynton, hello Brian? That’s what Hillary hears.

Loughnane, no doubt, would love to escape Exhibition Street before fire and brimstone rains down on Dynamic Dennis Napthine.

Russell Savage’s friends

First the NCC and now the League of Rights?

An interesting e-mail arrives at Crikey from a bloke who had a long talk with Eric Butler, the League’s founder and leader, back before Savage became an MP. Our source claims the Mildura independent had already made a mark with Butler who said he was a League supporter who hosted League meetings in his home.

Is this true? Can anyone help?

Richard Alston’s hidden talents

Amazing facts you never knew about Richard “Milhous” Alston:

“Alston’s work has acquired an emotional density which neither clouds nor adulterates the essential purity. We see, we admire but we also feel.” Financial Times

“Alston’s creativity is bubbling with awesome abundance… He seems more commanding than ever and still able to surprise.” London Evening Standard

“Punchy, jazzy, intricate… choreography that sends you home cloud-high.” The Sunday Times

All of the above come from British reviews of the Richard Alston Dance Theatre and to think that we never knew before just what he got up to during the winter recess. What great hands-on experience for the Yartz Minister.

Can Carnell blow ’em away in Drummoyne?

After 20 years, Labor MP for Drummoyne John Murray is retiring and rumours abound that a high profile pair may end up battling it out for the seat.

On the surface it looks safe Labor the majority is almost 10 per cent but a crucial few matters are running against the Carr Government. Murray has enjoyed a high profile so the Liberals have not put up a decent campaign for years. The amalgamation of the two local councils has not been popular, and the growth of huge houses along the foreshore suggest the demographics may be moving the Liberal’s way.

To top it off, some excitable people are tipping that the Liberal candidate may be the former ACT Chief Minister Kate Carnell, a resident of the naice part of Narrabundah when Hillary last dropped round for tea.

Keep an eye out at the local real estate agents or for some failed hack coming back for yet another go.

Dining companions

Was politics on the menu at Brisbane’s Lido Restaurant on Racecourse Road last week? There was Labor front-bencher Wayne Swan enjoying a feed with Jeffrey Wall OBE, a close associate of state Liberal leader Bob Quinn and fading factional heavy Bob Tucker.

With enemies like these, you can understand why these people don’t need friends.

Leo spoils the kid

Can it be true? Has Leo McLeay who, no doubt, followed the Tour de France closely given up on getting the numbers to allow son Paul to inherit Watson?

Hillary hears that he is trying to do a deal with Left heavy Anthony Albanese to get junior the state seat of Engadine with the Left’s numbers in exchange for letting Albo install his own candidate in Canterbury.

Sussex Street is supposedly furious at McLeay’s shenanigans, because it means the Right lose a seat that they control without a whimper. It also puts Watson at risk especially if their worst fears come true and Leo jumps ship before the next election.

The days have been dark for Leo ever since he got rolled for the job of federal convenor of the Right in favour of Julia Irwin. The manoeuvre would be perfect payback the dynasty would continue and his former friends would be screwed in the one move.

Losing Canterbury could bring down the house of cards in the Inner West, because if the Right loses the seat without inflicting some damage on the left in the process, it also means that their grip on Strathfield, Drummoyne and Lakemba and, as a result, Lowe and Blaxland will become much more tenuous.

How business welfare works or doesn’t

News broke over the weekend that former South Australian and Hawke and Keating minister Peter Duncan who recently discovered the joys of life in Indonesia is being chased for a grand total of $16 million over his failed plastic recycling company.

A third of this – $5.5 million was made up of business welfare from sources such as AUSindusty, the South Australian Economic Development Authority and that state’s Business Centre.

Don’t you love seeing your money go on such a good cause?

Hillary Bray can be contacted at hillarybray@crikey.com.au

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