Hillary Bray and cartoonist Mark Cornwall have come up with some rippers this week spanning the Dems, Queensland branch stackers, the Parrot and the Mad Monk.

Natasha Stott Despoja has always been engaging, intelligent and completely unable to accept criticism.

That’s a fault permissible in a backbencher but not in a leader. As long as she refused to change, last week’s events were going to happen, sometime or another, in some form or another.

That might seem short for an obituary, let alone an analysis, but it is all that needs to be said to explain what happened. Britney’s leadership was always fatally flawed because she herself is flawed.

Paranoia

Britney should have known she wasn’t going to have a good day Wednesday after Andrew Murray was spotted leaving Parliament House with Meg Lees on Tuesday.

The fairy from the bottom of the garden

Last weekend, at his meeting with local party members, Andrew Murray circulated a table outlining the membership of the party National Executive, National Management Committee and the National Compliance Committee showing how easy it was for Fundi factional warriors to hijack the body and drive Meg Lees out of the party. Brian Greig’s sudden elevation to the Dems leadership by the same body should come as no surprise.

Simon says

Slimey Simey seems to have given up on the Dems. Until last week, he was prepared to give Britney the benefit of the doubt, presumably because of her GST stance. Then along came Brian Greig and the Dems suddenly were “a riven rabble”.

Keeping their spirits up

Times might be tough for the Demmies but the rank and file are keeping their spirits up, as this snippet from the ADnet shows:

—– Original Message —–

Wrom: IYZUNNYCGPKYLEJ

Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 11:19 am

Subject: The Democrats Party … crude joke!

The WA Democrats decide to have a theme party in honour of Andrew Murray where guests are asked to come dressed as different emotions eg. anger, fear, love etc. etc.

On the night of the party Mark Reynolds [National executive member for WA, runs the dreadful Dems national website & Andrew Murray supporter] arrives covered in green paint, with the letters N and V painted on his chest. Everyone asks “Wow great outfit. What emotion have you come as?” And Mark says “I’m green with envy”.

A few minutes later the doorbell rings and Andrew opens the door to see Jack Evans [former WA Senator, Democrat stalwart, national administrator & strong backer of Andrew Murray] covered in a pink body stocking with a feather box wrapped around his most intimate parts. Again, all the other guest ask “Wow great outfit. What emotion have you come as?’ And Jack replies “I’m tickled pink”.

A couple of minutes later the doorbell rings again. The host opens the door to see Collin Mullane [Britney fan and ADnet regular] and Rod Swift [ditto], stark naked, one with his penis stuck in a bowl of custard and the other with his penis stuck in a pear.

Everyone is rather shocked and Andrew says “What the hell are you doing? You could get arrested for standing like that out here in the street. What emotion is this supposed to be?”

Rod replies “Well I’m f**king disgusted and Collin has just come in dispair”!!!!!!!

😉

Bird brain

The Dems have nothing to be worried about or so Alan Jones thinks. The Parrot shocked the nation by being the only pundit to react favourably to the ascension of the Fairy from the Bottom of the Garden.

Perhaps getting up so early for so long has permanently damaged his judgement. What else could explain why the Parrot seems so fond of Brian Greig:

“Well, the Democrats have a new interim leader, and at this early stage, he’s like a breath of fresh air.

“He’s only 36, and only entered politics three years ago.

“He’s openly gay, and lives with his partner of 16 years, Keith, in Perth.

“He grew up in a small fishing village, where he worked on his father’s cray fishing boat.

“He says he remembers being ‘miles out to sea in the wee hours of the morning, surrounded by rotting cow hocks and fish heads, and crashing face first into strong headwinds’.

“He said: ‘Some might say this was good preparation for a career in politics’.

“He’s certainly right in terms of the current mess he faces.

“Mike Seccombe calls it the ‘reeking imbroglio that is the Democrat Party room’, where Senator Greig is ‘pushing against the wind once again.’

“But he’s definitely got a sense of humour.

“Last night, after he was elected he said what had always struck him about the Democrats was that the ‘most unlikely people seem to become deputies and leaders’.

“He’s been doggedly loyal to Natasha Stott-Despoja, the only one to sit beside her in the Senate when she resigned.

“He’s a social activist in the true sense of the word.

“As a student, he campaigned against tertiary fees and for compulsory student unionism, and helped organise the Australian Council for Gay and Lesbian Rights.

“He’s also been an environmental activist, and a local government councillor in WA.

“And in his relatively short time in politics, as Mike Seccombe says today, he’s been as ‘conspicuously active as Aden Ridgeway has been conspicuously inert’.

“He’s out of left field, Brian Greig, but if he becomes leader, I think the Democrats still have a chance.”

Spooky!

More spooky parallels emerge between our two young blondes facing career crises, Britney and Britney.

That fine paper, the London Sun, ran a large feature on Saturday headed “Decision time for Britney”, where showbiz editor Dominic Mohan asked “the questions she should be asking herself” like “So what does the future hold for Britney and why has she allowed her crown to slip?” and “Can she reinvigorate her career and public image and reawaken the generation who made her so rich?”

Home and dry?

Before we leave the Dems, two questions must be asked. What did the Fairy from the Bottom of the Garden mean when he told the Sphere of Influence on the Sunday program yesterday “what happened in the national wing of the party seems to have happened in the state division and I regret that it’s become pretty much dysfunctional” and just how popular is John Cherry with the folks back home.

It’s going to be another great week off in Fairyland.

Turning to other matters

Parliament had only been back for one day when a doozey of a conspiracy theory doing the rounds.

Last year, one of the key reasons a certain short man gave for his re-election was that it was inappropriate to change leaders in “difficult times”. So what happens, it was asked, if he gets a war with Iraq for his 64th birthday next year?

Groupers out (of the Liberal Party)

South Australians will have an opportunity of hearing the Mad Monk Tony Abbott speak at a $160 a head fundraiser on October 31 – not for the Liberal Party, but the National Civic Council.

It would be fascinating to know how the Monk defends helping the NCC given that, unsurprisingly, as the right rump of the ALP from half a century ago, it remains steadfastly opposed to economic freedom, as well as personal.

Drowning her sorrows

ACT Senator and hairspray enthusiast Margaret “La Stupenda” Reid was quick to recover after being tipped from the perk-a-plenty post of Senate President on Monday she was the first MP to arrive at the Australia Hotel’s Association shindig at the big house on Tuesday night and get stuck into the free stuff.

Something on his mind?

It was very strange to see former federal deputy Liberal leader Neil Brown – of all people – describe state government as “a strange form of penis envy” in the Oz yesterday. Has he got something on his mind?

Alas, poor Dennis

As predicted here last week, poor old Dynamic Dennis Napthine went down in a big heap when the Victorian Libs met last Tuesday.

Hillary hears that a good number of his colleagues felt so sorry for the poor sod that they couldn’t bring themselves to tell him that they weren’t going to vote for him making the defeat even more crushing.

And alas for the loyal deputy

The biggest loser out of Tuesday’s Victorian Liberal Party leadership ballot is Dynamic Den’s loyal deputy, Louise Asher. Her hopes of getting the top job for herself have been dashed for the foreseeable future.

Den, no matter what, was doomed. Unless he pulled of a miracle, he was always going to be ritually executed after the state election. His loyal deputy, however, had hopes of not only surviving but being promoted to fill Den’s shoes.

Asher did not even attend the Shadow Ministry meeting on Monday night because she was still coming back from her holiday at Port Douglas. Now with the new team of Doyle and Phil “Bodie” Honeywood, AKA The Professionals (we’re trade marking that Honeywood nickname from today in case it catches – ed), her hopes are dashed – unless, of course, they manage to pull off a Chika.

Whodunit?

There’s much murmuring behind closed doors and finger pointing behind backs in Brisbane, as a rumour circulates that one member of the Liberal Party state executive was quite generous with a political donation in 1996 to the ALP.

The way to a man’s vote is through his stomach

Queensland Liberal Leader, Bob Quinn, seems to think the way to a person’s vote is through a publicly subsidised dinner.

With State Convention coming up for the Queensland Liberal Party in September, Quinn is in full swing, with dinners at Parliament House lined up right through to the convention to discuss his preferences on how and by whom the Queensland division should be run.

Last Monday, Hillary hears, he dined graciously with the good people from the Griffith FEC, Michael Caltabiano’s stamping grounds – and orders to dump their man were high on the menu. On Tuesday, the Brisbane FEC had the pleasure, while it was Moreton’s turn on Wednesday and another lot booked in for Thursday.

Most interesting of all, Quinn has invited Khemlani (Ryan MP Michael Johnson) and his factotum and FEC Chairman, Russell Galt, to join him this Wednesday. Khemlani, of course, will be required in Canberra but Galt still plans to attend. Come the brandy and cigars, will he be feeling cosy enough to confess his ambitions and secret desires and what will his master say?

Champion efforts

As the Queensland Liberal AGM draws near and delegate entitlements – based, of course, on membership – are decided, much tallying is also going on to decide who will win the prestigious Stacker of the Year Award trophy.

Employment Minister Mal Brough, whose career looked as if it would be brought to a premature end only 12 months ago due to bodgie GST forms, is the popular favourite to take the prize. The experts, too, believe that Brough has been an assiduous worker since his near death experience.

His efforts to mop up the remains of the Tucker faction have not gone unnoticed, but his work on the Caboolture branch appears to have been his finest. While the Stewards are yet to come up with the final figures, it has reportedly gone from 37 members to over 200, with a good number of the new members’ forms lodged at Party HQ by Brough himself and paid for with only a couple of cheques – obviously just to make administration easier. Brough seems to have won widespread acclaim even before the trophy has been presented – for how else do we explain how many of his new members come from Brisbane seats like Moreton, Ryan, Fadden and Griffith.

Hillary’s old pal David “Marlboro Man” Jull has put in a performance that belies his veteran status and 40 a day habit. The Springwood branch in his electorate of Fadden has seen spectacular growth. Jully’s fame has also spread far and wide, as many of the new recruits appear to come from outside his electorate.

Crikey readers will already be familiar with the name of Aaron Debatista, who is tipped to collect the bronze on behalf of his boss, Bob Quinn, for recruitment to the Robina branch. Aaron won the presidency of the Robina branch by one vote, after getting his grandparents from Maroochydore – two hours drive away – to come along and vote for him. A brilliant future awaits him as soon as he turns pro.

We await the judges’ final ruling with interest.

Confusion

Also tipped for an honourable mention in the stacking awards are the Liberal Party members who presided over an interesting affair in Townsville.

Eleven membership applications were sent to Liberal HQ. Two went missing on the way, but the other nine all clearly stated that they were for the Townsville Young Libs. The new recruits were surprised, then, when they all went into the grown-up Libs Townsville branch which got an extra state conference delegate out of the deal.

The Young Libs protested and the members were transferred into their intended branch and suddenly something changed. A senior party figure who’d welcomed the new members to the Townsville senior branch suddenly decided one of the applications was false and lodged a formal protest.

Variation on a theme

Let no-one think branch stacking is limited to Queensland. And interesting variation has been much discussed by Liberal MPs of late, coming from Western Australia.

That paragon of virtue, Canning MP Don Randall, is said to have been hard at work. There’s even talk about a business whose employees all signed up on the promise of getting work from the Liberal Party never to hear from them again.

Mal sticks at it

Readers will be delighted to learn that Big Mal Colston given six months to live two years ago when charges against him were dropped is still with us and plugging away.

Labor Senate leader John Faulkner revealed in Estimates last Friday that Mal and the missus had each run up bills of $992 in taxpayer funded travel in the 2001/02 financial year, plus $212 on Comcar services before going on to ask if the repulsive rorter had melted his Life Gold Pass down to extract the gold.

Our East German sports program at work

The Australian Institute of Sport and its East German-style programs so generously and extensively funded by us poor taxpayers came under attention again last week, this time in a court in Adelaide. Here’s how the ABC reported things:

“The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has come under fire in the District Court in Adelaide for contributing to the emotional vulnerability of a former elite athlete, convicted of selling heroin.

“Ruth Moniz, 24, was a world-class gymnast who spent 10 years at the AIS.

“Judge Peter Allan said Ms Moniz was 22 when she took up with a 16-year-old boy, a heroin addict and street dealer.

“In November 2000, she was helping him sell tastes of heroin for $50 and was caught by an undercover police officer.

“The judge accepted she was suffering post traumatic stress disorder after her time at the AIS in Canberra.

“As an elite gymnast she was required to keep her body weight at 34 kilograms, less than the threshold for anorexia.

“She could have no boyfriends.

“The judge said Ms Moniz’s early childhood and her 10 years at the AIS arrested her physical emotional and social development.

“He suspended her sentence and put her on a good behaviour bond.”

Hopping mad

Last week’s Preston Leader reported that the Municipal Electoral Tribunal will not make a decision on the future of frog-loving Darebin councillor Melissa Salata until the middle of next month.

Her antics seem to have left the local community in Melbourne’s north east divided, as a glimpse at the letters page shows:

“Cr Salata is a person driven by issues that she emotionally believes in.

“When elected earlier this year, young members of the community had hoped she would represent us as articulate and as an intelligent section of our community, but the reverse has happened.

“Ms Salata has become the laughing stock of the council and community, doing nothing for the interests of young people.

“Cr Salata should act interested, listen during meetings and represent the community as she was elected to do.”

Sarah Scopelianos, Preston

“We salute you, Cr Salata. We pensioners, who cannot afford the big increase in council rates, greet you as our heroine for your brief but brave stand against the budget.

“We old geezers will follow you as you were our Joan D’Arc.”

Jose Caldeira, Preston

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

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