Hillary Bray = great columnist. Nuff said.

How can Labor stop the rot and combat the swing to the Greens? Easy! It can move to the left. After all, this approach worked so wonderfully for Britney and the Dems and er um

Remedial Labor history

Strict but fair thats Hillary. And Hillary is making Sime stay back after school for some lessons in remedial Labor politics. Its for his own good and after looking at the history books in the wake of Labors defeat in Cunningham Hillary has discovered a rather peculiar parallel.

The last time an opposition lost a by-election was in 1921, in the Queensland seat of Maranoa. It was a loss for Labor and its new leader, former Queensland Premier T J Ryan, who was seen as the great white hope for the party after the conscription split.

This is what Ross McMullan has to say about it in the official centenary history of the Labor Party, The Light on the Hill The Australian Labor Party 1891-1991:

The Labor Partys declining stocks of ability and experience dwindled further. In June 1921 Labor lost an amiable stalwart with the death of Jim Page, who had held Maranoa in western Queensland since the inception of federal parliament. Another veteran, McDonald, was now the only other Queensland Labor MP in federal parliament; Ryan was determined that Maranoa would not share the fate of other rural seats and fall to the Country Party. Labors by-election candidate was W J Dunstan. Formerly a roving bushworker, Dunstan had risen through the AWU in SA to become secretary of the enlarged, all-powerful Queensland AWU; but in the by-election context he was a party official from the city rather than a popular western Queenslander like Page. Ryan felt ill and very tired as he began the long journey (against advice from friends and colleagues) north from Melbourne to assist Dunstan’s campaign among the people he used to represent in the Queensland parliament. He began coughing blood, but persisted with his schedule. The night before polling day he addressed a meeting at Queensland Labor’s spiritual birthplace, Barcaldine. Immediately afterwards he was taken to hospital. Two days after Maranoa voters elected a Country Party member to succeed Page, Ryan died of pneumonia. The Great War had severely shaken ALP supporters confidence in the inevitability of their party’s progress, and their hopes for its revival largely rested on Ryan. His death at 45 was a shattering blow.

Oh dear. There are just so many parallels. Has a by-election defeat left the leadership of another Labor leader in terminal condition?

And Hillary also couldnt help but notice that the chapter heading on the page opposite the above quote reads There was a Crookedness in New South Wales. Poor old Simey must be thinking the same thing.

All politics is local

Most of the analysis of the Cunningham upset has centred on wider issues the Great Satan of economic rationalism and pro-market policies and Sussex Street thuggery. However, the biggest reason for Labors loss may well come down to local factors.

Green Michael Organ got many votes in the northern half of Cunningham for his anti development views, particularly his long running opposition to development at Sandon Point in Bulli. There, developer Stockland wants to build 600 homes aimed at the higher end of the market on a beachside site originally owned by BHP but considered by Gong locals to be defacto public land.

The Sandon point rallies have generally drawn about 1,000 people a good turnout with at least the same number other locals sympathetic, despite being either too busy to attend or not the protest type. The Cunningham count suggests that 1,500 extra votes would have kept the seat Labor.

The former Labor Lord Mayor of Wollongong and now State Member for Keira, David Campbell, originally a supporter of Sandon Point, has been lobbying Planning Minister and Deputy Premier Andrew Refshauge to intervene in the matter. Now that Labor has suffered rebuffs at a local and federal government level, he will no doubt redouble his efforts before Labor falls victim at a state level as well at next years election.

Mr Eighteen Per Cent the remake

Down at Aussies Capital Hill General Store on Tuesday, the day Simes polling hit 18 per cent, it looked like business as usual. Peter McGauran was explaining the papers to his differently-abled brother. Bob Brown was holding court while Ben and Kerry perched at his feet. But, at a table wedged up against the wall, there were men with serious faces and low voices.

Who were they? Wayne Swan, Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith. Who seemed to be taking the running? Wayne Swan already tipped by Hillary as a likely Labor leader. And what were they talking about? That, dear reader, is private

Small silver lining

In all the talk over the rise of the Greens, theres been little on how it may assist Labor. Thats right. Assist.

Green voters tend to be disciplined with their preferences and unlike the Dems (or the Dems of old, anyway), the Shrubhuggers arent going to have split how to votes with preferences going off to both the major parties.

If Labor can grab back a decent amount of the centre and blue collar vote even 1998 figures would do and get Green preferences, then theyre in with a chance.

The figures on the Labor left who say the party should chase the Green/left vote have got it completely back to front. That sort of approach is guaranteed to scare of votes from the vital centre. Instead, the party needs to reconnect with the middle and hope the preferences from the left do the rest.


What is it with the Prime Miniature and luck? Some sort of Faustian bargain? The kids overboard report is about to be handed down and, with Bali still running strong, the Monash Uni shootings happen and the story gets buried.

The Dems regain momentum

New South Wales sole state Democrat, Arthur Chesterfield-Sofa, is determined not to let their disastrous performance in Cunningham hold the party back. Just a couple of days ago party members received this up-tempo e-mail from his office:

G’day Dear Democrat,

There’s a number of events coming up this week and the near future. NSW Democrat members need to be seen and heard like never before if we are to regain the momentum we need

And what are these? Well, to take one example, on Wednesday 6 November they can turn up to the Non-Smokers Movement 25th Anniversary Dinner. Somehow we think the Dems will need something more than that before they can breathe easy.

Blowing the war chest

Hillary has received a copy of the submission to the Democrats party review from the very interesting group of John Cherry, Aden Ridgeway, Lyn Allison, Vicki Bourne and John Woodley.

The most fascinating thing it contains only really comes out when you read between the line.

After their strong performance in 1996, the Dems received an unexpected windfall in public funding money that let them set up a one million dollar war chest. Now, it seems that all but a quarter has been blown with precious little to show for it.

Democrat obsessives can read all about the story and the rest of the submission here.

Communication problems

Why do staff to the Incredible Bulk, Amanda Vanstone, look so shellshocked? The Bulk, alas, now seems only able to communicate by shouting or so Hillary hears.

A loss

Queensland, the Liberal Party and indeed the nation suffered an enormous loss when would-be Senator Jim Bernard pulled out of the race for John Herrons old seat last Friday.

The contest had been lacklustre until Bernard circulated details of his web site to preselectors who when they logged on were amazed to discover he may well be the most advanced medical researcher in the world. Heres just a sample:

Jim Bernards health book attempts to find the missing links in the pursuit of enduring health and physical well being.

Hospitals around the world are full of sick people who are only ill because the medical profession is ignorant of the real causes of diseases, and unaware that with the right approach the human body can restore itself to perfect health- without the need for drugs or anti-biotics.

It is our intention to show you how to live for well over a hundred years in excellent health and physical fitness, and free from all illnesses including even the common cold!

Jim Bernard has been researching health matters for several decades. He may be the most advanced health researcher in the world.

He puts into practice all that he has learned through research and has no physical ailments at all (not even a touch of arthritis).

We may not be able to enjoy his gifts in Parliament, but all this is still available through his website click here for just $19.50, including postage.

Hillary, however, must advise potential buyers that it says little on mental health. A sad omission, it seems.

No surprises

Santo Santoro is the new Senator from Queensland. No surprise. And eyebrows are being raised over the selection of delegates from our old pal Khemlanis electorate of Ryan. Sadly, thats no surprise either.

The great man himself was still in Canberra when the Ryan electorate committee met last week to chose its delegates to the preselection, but his loyal foot soldier or should that read puppeteer? Bernie Mac, made sure all the faithful had a ticket to follow. Strangely, the order of people on the ticket followed the order on the ballot paper, supposedly independently produced after a draw in head office and unseen to that time.

PS All the would be delegates had to affirm that they were on the Queensland electoral roll and when Khemlanis name was mentioned there was quite a snigger. Such lesse majeste!

Firing blanks

How are gun owners reacting to the looming new restrictions on their hobby. Very, very poorly in some cases, if the Sporting Shooters Association web pages are anything to go by.

Some unattractive types have been running rampant in the guestbook. Theres too much to fit into this column, but you can read all about it here.

Sons and daughters?

Is this another episode in the never ending story of Labor nepotism? Crikey was delighted to get a media release from the Queensland Environment Minister, Dean Wells, with an Annastacia Palaszczuk listed as the contact person. Could she be a relative of the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries and Rural Communities, Henry Palaszczuk?

Workers online

Hillary has been having some fun at the expense of the Liberal and National parties websites, so to even things up heres a Labor website that is looking a little out of date.

It is now less than six months to a state election in New South Wales, but the state Labor Party site, click here, seems to have gone into post-Tampa paralysis.

On the front page, we have pointers to the Auburn by-election campaign, Labor having won the contest on 8 September 2001, just after the Tampas arrival.

There is a copy of Bob Carrs mid-term address, delivered mid term some 18 months ago.

And further down the page, lots of cuddly campaign shots of Kim Beazley kissing babies in the election campaign, also a year old.

Given the rumours about the NSW Right wanting Beazley back as leader, maybe they are just leaving it up for the big mans return. Or more likely, everyone has been too busy stacking branches and rorting preselections to get around to doing something about the website.

The pathetic Phillip Adams

Does our independent and bias free national broadcaster realise what depths of self-parody it plumbs?

In the wake of the Bali bombing, there on Late Night Live with the Pallid Mishap was Shirley Shackleton, widow of one of the newsmen killed in Timor in 1975 when they strayed into the middle of a war zone and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire griping about the trouble she had getting his remains back compared to the assistance being given to repatriate bodies of the Bali bombing victims.

One Nation homeless

News of further developments to our story on One Nation Oberfuhrer, Frank Hough, and the contretemps over the partys head office reach Crikey.

When the lease on the building expired, two different factions tried to renew it hence last weeks lock-changing incident. Now, the landlord has come up with a simpler option. Hes decided not to give it to either side and the ratbags are out on the street.

Arselicking live on stage

No its not Kings Cross or deepest darkest Darlinghurst. Its the latest effort by Melbourne playwright Darren Valentine an allegorical satire named Howard the Arselicker, inspired by Iron Marks famous remarks.

A reading of the play will held on Saturday November 2 at 2:00 pm at Melbournes legendary La Mama Theatre at 205 Faraday St Carlton. Admission is $5:00 and any interested Crikey subscribers can book tickets by calling Maureen on 9347 6142.

Organ grinding

Last week Hillary asked readers for suggestions for a puerile nickname for the new Member for Cunningham, Michael Organ and you have been more than equal to the task. Here are some of the suggestions sent in:

Penis Vert (green organ)sounds good.

How about the 6′ pianist?


I have been thinking about a nickname for Michael Organ and thought Eminem or alternatively M&M. Reasoning goes something like this: Michael Organ the Member for Cunningham. Michael Member the Member for Cunningham …. shortened to M&M or Eminem . Eminem seemed to fit the character because he is no doubt going to be a out-spoken bastard who people like Slippery Pete will always be complaining about. Only problem is that his colleague Bob Brown is gay … perhaps a sense of irony for Eminem.

Michael Organ surely it is Mick Dick

Stopper? Grinder? Wurlitzer? Church? Glam?

What about Huuuuuuuge?

How about Mouth Organ (were sure to hear enough of him)?

Hammond makes a big, out-of-date noise.

My Korgan is fo-net-ic.

Michael Organ Green Member perhaps.

I fell that similarly to the way ALP members have the prefix Bruvva added to their names, ALL Greens members should have the prefix Hugger (as in Tree) added to the front of their names. Hugger Organ and Hugger Brown have a certain ring to them.

Michael Organ Nickname: My Organ

Perhaps a nickname for Michael Organ could be Mick Dick or the Grinder.

At the moment, yours truly is leaning towards Hammond. Grinder is nice, but it smacks of onanism something we cant have in a family scandal sheet.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]