Another cracking column from our gun Liberal insider Hillary Bray as she covers all manner of issues ranging from Peter Costello’s Jewish connections to Phillip Adams’ conversion.

As Sime continues to suffer the Death of 1,000 Opinion Polls, a reader
shares magic moments with Labor wannabe Craig Emerson with Hillary: “My
single most vivid memory of Craig Emerson is of him breakfasting on a meat
pie with tomato sauce in the foyer to the Wentworth in the eighties while
his boss, Peter Walsh, waited for a car to the airport. Emerson dripped
sauce and meat on the floor while various well-dressed corporate entities
were arriving for a conference. It wasn’t a good look.”

How desperate is Malcolm Turnbull?

Oh dear. It seems that Malcolm Turnbull will do anything to get a seat.

How else can we explain the news that he will be appearing at the “Activist
Conference” of the provisional wing of the Liberal Party, the Australian
Liberal Students Federation, come December. The former republican boss and
the junior bookburners are scarcely a cosy fit.

Rodent revisionism

Hillary was interested to note that nobody on Insiders seemed willing to
speculate just who the carefully un-named “Labor icon” who had invited
pallid mishap Phillip Adams to reassess our friend the Rodent.

There are rumours already flying that the individual involved was none other
than the Emperor Paul himself, to whom the Mishap has become confessor and
confidante in his lonely exile.

And they should know. After all, it was their self-indulgence that did so
much to entrench the Rodent’s regime.

Cot cases and curious company

So Telstra wasn’t guilty of misleading the Senate and perjury before the
Victorian Supreme Court. In this case, it was best all along to give the
telco giant the benefit of the doubt.

The group COTS – Casualties of Telstra – have some interesting links with
the Queensland Nats, financial and otherwise. In particular, they’re
friendly with the sort of Nats who like to talk free enterprise while
remaining the strongest defenders of socialism this side of the 38th
Parallel. The whole affair should be considered as nothing but a
privatisation spoiler.

Born again Wet?

What’s got into Bronny’s Mini-Me, Indi MP Sophie Panoupoulos? There she was
in the Party Room Tuesday, opposing the full sale of Telstra. She isn’t
going soft, is she?

Policy consistency

Remember how earlier this year Trade Minister Mark Vaile trudged off to
Libya to visit the new Middle East moderate, Colonel Gadaffi.

Is this the same Colonel Gadaffi who the Times reported last week has a $2
million bolthole ready for his pal Saddam?

Great work, guys.

The hard right greet their own

Being sworn in to Parliament is like being given away at a wedding. There
is normally at least one father figure standing just behind you.

Last week, lucky Santo Santoro had two – Ho Chi Minchin and Erica Betz.
Together, the three of them will make up the unholy trinity of the ugly
right in Canberra.

Oddly enough, there wasn’t a Queenslander in sight. And here’s silly old
Hillary thinking that the Senate was the states’ house.

Santo makes new friends

He’s only just made it to Canberra, but Senator Santo seems to have a new
best friend – none other than our old friend Khemlani. And to think the lad
wants to be in Crikey less…

Too close to the story

Hillary, like anyone else who’s ever been stuck in traffic while Critical
Mass stage a demo, believes that New South Wales Police should follow Bob
Askin’s instructions when dealing with crustie protesters.

That said, we must wish injured Australian journo Patricia Karvelas a swift
recovery after her tangle with a police horse during Thursday’s WTO protest
in Sydney. It is ironic that she should end up injured now.

Before she took Rupe’s shilling, Patricia was a good student trot. As RMIT
student union campus co-ordinator, she was involved in a number of protests,
including a two week occupation of the university’s administration building
in a 1997 action against student fees.

Perhaps her former colleagues think it is poetic justice for joining the
capitalist cause.

Very important person

What makes Alex Slipper, the daughter of our old Queensland friend Slippery
Pete, so special?

She has her own Parliament House e-mail address and is described in the
directory as “daughter of member”. Why? She’s not on staff. How many
other members of pollies’ families enjoy the perk?

Celebrity tales

The Federal Parliament has been celebrating the return of staffer Josh

Josh used to work for then small business minister Geoff Prosser. When
Prosser, after considering the meaning of the words “conflict of interest”
for several months finally discovered what they meant and resigned, Josh
launched himself into a career in the private sector where he will happily
tell you he was raking it in.

Now, he’s back in Canberra and back with Prosser, now simply the wealthiest
failure on the backbench. But has that stopped our Josh from emerging as a
celebrity electorate officer? Not at all,

Josh is seen at every party thrown by MPs, whether invited or not. Of
course, in his world, Josh considers himself virtually an MP anyway. A
surrogate Member of Parliament, at the least.

Still, word is that some MPs intend to insert a PS on their invitations
clarifying the situation. How will our hero avoid any unpleasantness?
Perhaps he’s just run a mile. That’s what he did on Wednesday evening,
after this item had first appeared in the Crikey Sealed Section and it was
pointed out that he was the only staffer who had turned up to join the 70
odd Members and Senators at Peter Costello’s drinks for MPs – not MPs and

Go tell it from the mountain

The big, solemn guy with the beard is speaking to his people. Is it God?
No, he takes himself a lot less seriously. It’s Harry Evans, the Clerk of
the Senate, speaking to the Australasian Study of Parliament Group Annual

“In Australia,” he says, “the system of government is waiting for a
Watergate, that is, waiting for an issue of government malfeasance and
concealment sufficiently serious to prompt the Senate to use its legal
and/or political powers to their full extent. Such a case will sooner or
later arise, given the hubris to which Australian governments and ministers
are prone. It is hoped that such an occasion would result in a victory for
parliamentary accountability and a lesson to all future ministries.
Australian governments have not obliged by producing a full-scale Watergate,
only a series of small-to-medium Watergates which do not sufficiently arouse
the public (who are not so easily aroused).”

Thanks, Harry. And who elected you?

NIMBY nerves

The New South Wales government has succumbed to NIMBY nerves and stepped
back from selling the Callan Park property in the hopes of saving Sandra
Nori and its seat of Port Jackson. Now, instead of money being raised for
health and schools, Birchgrove yuppies will have somewhere to take their
dogs to crap.

Despite this, one local resident reports being polled twice last week on the
matter by an outfit that would only identify itself as “Media Polling”.

They’re not in the phone book – but the odds that they are based on Sussex
Street have to be good..

The new Messiah?

There’s been enough written on how one of Sime’s latest bungles, letting
Julia Irwin go ahead with an indulgent little motion last week on Israel’s
occupation of the West Bank, could lose Labor the Jewish vote old Hawkie
courted so assiduously and profitably.

However, there’s been virtually nothing said about the MPs who spoke against
it from the Liberal side – Teenager Toecutter Chris Pyne, Tony Smith and
Julie Bishop.

It would be harder to find three more hard-core Peter Costello supporters.
If Labor loses the support of the Jewish lobby, will the Treasurer emerge as
the new Messiah? Afterall, championing the cause of Graeme Samuel is going down well with the Jewish lobby.

The question is begging. With acolytes like these, could the Treasurer pick
up the goodwill of the Jewish community and the support of a well funded,
well connected and well organised lobby – and how would that influence the
leadership dynamics.

Social Democrats?

Has the University of Queensland Labor Club become the UQ Social Democrats?

The comrades were a little amazed when onetime Andrew Bartlett staffer and
Young Democrat heavy Lisa White, her partner Lauren Proudfoot and John
Cherry’s nephew arrived at their AGM.

Hillary hears the Dems are investigating.

Crikey bribes MPs

Two lucky MPs will soon be enjoying Crikey subscriptions under the terms of
the Subs for Comment Scandal.

Our old friend, Federal Communications Minister Richard “Milhous” Alston,
and ACT deputy Liberal leader Brendan “Bigger than Bass” Smyth both
qualified last week by mentioning Crikey in their chambers, and their e-mail
addresses will be forwarded to the Crikey Marketing Director (AKA Mrs

We’re particularly glad to welcome Milhous aboard. That means that half the
Government leadership team – Milhous, Liberal deputy leader and Treasurer
Peter Costello and National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister John
Anderson – have all referred to Crikey in Parliament.

Boz, ol’ Pork Chop Hill and the Short Man better pull their finger out.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]

Peter Fray

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