Crikey sends out 6-10 email editions a week to subscribers and here is a sample of recent stories in those sealed sections.





Windsor’s knot tightens

Friday, 19 November

Our man in the press gallery, Hugo Kelly, reports from beneath the Golden Guitar in Peel Street, Tamworth:

So, Tamworth bigwig Greg Maguire has turned his back on his old mate,
Tony Windsor, and denied he was the conduit for a bribery offer by
Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson.

Giving a lunchtime press conference in his massive Powerhouse Pub, and
looking all shocked and offended, the local business overlord rejected
outright Windsor’s “offensive and untrue” allegations.

Maguire
declared with the straightest face worth mustering: “The reality of the
meeting at the centre of the controversy is that Mr Windsor has
responded badly to personal comments and criticisms about how he was
becoming ineffective in his representation of the New England area.”

In the words of Mandy Rice-Davies: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

What choice did he have? Make a full and frank admission, backing up
Windsor’s story, in the face of staunch denials from the Deputy Prime
Minister. And, for his troubles, face charges of bribery by the Federal
Police.

Did anyone expect him to come bounding into the front bar of his pub and exclaim: “Fair cop, Gov’ner. Yep, I done it.”

No, Maguire took the safest option available: turn your back on the renegade Independent and burn him to a cinder.

Joe Hockey was quick to move in, calling on Windsor to quit – even
before Maguire made his statement. Fat chance, Joe. Windsor’s just been
re-elected with a 72% all-party preferred vote. You’d have a better
chance blasting him out with dynamite than getting him to meekly resign
into oblivion.

And what of the two witnesses Windsor cited who, presumably, have
backed up his version of events to the police: his campaign helpers
Helen Tickle and Stephen Hall. Does this come down to the word of the
Windsor camp vs the Maguire faction, and are their statements still in
play?

There are plenty of loose ends yet to be tied up in Tony Windsor’s knot.

School’s In

Tuesday, 16 November

Our man in the Press Gallery, Hugo Kelly, reports on Day One of the 41st Federal parliament:

All right, who was the comic who sat Malcolm Turbull in the back row next to that troublemaker Wilson Tuckey?

Was it Leader of the House Tony Abbott or the wise guys in the PM’s
office? Either way, it all adds up to fun and mischief for Iron Bar and
a whole lotta earbashing for the new boy in school for the next three
years (although Malcolm hopes for a reduced term on the backbench for
good behaviour).

Malcolm was also squeezed next to immutable backbencher Alan Cadman
in a crowded Coalition team that reminded everyone just how dominant
the government is going to be, especially after June 1.

Spotting the celebs was part of the fun of Day One. On the Labor
side, Peter Garrett was sat next to Latham recalcitrant Bob McMullan.
It’s not clear who was told to keep an eye on who – probably both.

Another Odd Couple sat behind them: Big Dick Adams and Lindsay
Tanner. Adams the lumberjack seems determined to be thrown out of the
party over his hatred of anything green. Tanner, the sensitive new age
inner suburbanite, refused a frontbench job after Latham wouldn’t give
him Treasury.

Together they sit, fuming for very different reasons, a potentially
volatile mix of woodchips and suburban angst. A few benches down, sits
the man who believes he may just have another shot in the locker, Kim
Beazley.

Crikey’s campaign to elect Bronwyn Bishop Speaker failed – but the
lady herself wasn’t letting it get her down today. With fixed, steely
smile in place and dressed suitably in black, Bronny managed to get a
couple of heckles in this morning as Parliament welcomed the man who
took the job she so badly coveted, mild-mannered man from the Mallee,
David Hawker.

While Hawker’s colleagues jovially welcomed Hawker to the Chair, it
was Mark Latham who inspired Bronwyn’s participation. “As a reformed
bad boy myself,” Iron Mark told the new Housemaster “I would add my
support to constructive attempts by you as speaker to take a more
independent role.”

“With your election, we’ve got two for the price of one. We’ve got a
Liberal party speaker and his shadow sitting right over there,” noted
Latham, pointing at Bronny, and suggesting that she might want to
ensure her own independence by removing herself from the Party room.

“No,” cried out Crikey’s Queen in the Parliament. “No!” It’s good to seem that Bronny isn’t going to spit the dummy.

The Australian’s abortion backflip

Monday, 15 November

Is this proof that The Australian
takes its riding instructions from John Howard? Before the PM
intervened here’s what the paper had to say about the abortion debate:

“If Health Minister Tony Abbott and
his parliamentary secretary Christopher Pyne want to engage in a debate
about abortion, they have every right to do so without being shouted
down by hysterics.” – Australian editorial November 3

Now Howard says the abortion debate is bad – guess what?

“It is therefore a pity that debate on what might be achieved has been hijacked by the sideshow over abortion.” – Australian editorial November 15

If a politician had done this, The Australian would have called it a backflip.

Latham’s horror stretch

Friday, 12 November

Political Editor Christian Kerr writes:

Let’s get in and say it early. Parliament resumes on Tuesday for what
will be the worst week of Mark Latham’s political life. It was OK if he
just stood there looking like a fish on dry land the week he lost the
election. He had a certain amount of slack then. Next week it’s going
to be different. If his mouth moves, words will have to come out. Some
pretty good words, too.

He
has squandered goodwill with the party and the Gallery since. He’ll
face intense pressure to perform – politically and personally. Next
week is going to be Rodentism rampant – and the Treasurer will want a
look in, too. God knows what sharp little one-liners his crew are
beavering away on.

At least the Labor leader has been given a prime example of what not to
do by his National Secretary, Tim Gartrell. Gartrell fronted up to the
National Press Club on Wednesday with what read like a note from Mum
about Labor’s campaign.

The ALP’s failure to counter an “undeniably effective… potent scare
campaign rivalling Tampa” on interest rates from the Government was the
main cause of its defeat, he said. Well, d’oh!

“This led to a victory of old politics, negative campaigning and
pork-barrelling over the notion that you can break through from
Opposition with an overwhelmingly positive agenda…

“Our mistake was to rely too much on a wait-and-see attitude, to wait
too long for the campaign dynamics to unfold. We’ve learnt the hard way
that you have to fight every lie, deal with every weakness as early and
as often as it takes.

“As it was once famously put: ‘Leave no shot unanswered’…”

But why not fire the shots off first? From its very earliest ad, the
Government talked about eight years of economic growth. These are just
eight of 13 years of economic growth. The Government ignored the fact
that the foundations of these, the first five, were laid by Labor. So,
oddly enough, did the ALP.

When Gartrell was giving his address in Canberra, Paul Keating was
launching a book in Sydney. He gave a vintage account of Labor’s proud
record of economic reform in the eighties and early nineties.

“When the government I led abandoned general centralised wage fixing
… productivity went off,” he said. “Productivity went to 3 per cent
through the 90s, the highest rate of any of the OECD countries.”

There was no shyness from PJK. This productivity reform lead, he told
his audience, to a 20 per cent increase in incomes – “the highest
growth in real incomes in any decade of the 20th century.”

“You can’t believe that we still have critics for this policy,” Keating rightly said.

“I used to say to some of my colleagues in the current Opposition who
wanted to go back to sort of centralised wage fixing ‘why don’t you
tell people [they] have got a 20 per cent real increase in incomes?’

“Oh yes, but that’s not their perception [they said]. Well it’s handy
to let them know. And it’s not a bad reason for the policy.”

Keating made it very clear how Labor has been able to deliver sound
economic policy that provided tangible benefits for ordinary
Australians.

“You can buy a reasonable quality small car for under $15,000 today.
Before tariff reduction] that would have been nearer to $30,000,” he
said.

He then challenged the critics: “One has to ask, will people have
better values and be better put together if their car costs twice as
much? Is that extra call on their disposable income going to produce
some astringent moral effect on them?”

Compare and contrast with Gartrell’s timorous effort. A Napoleon
complex may have turned Treasurer Keating into Captain Whacky – but one
maxim from the French Revolution guaranteed his economic reputation.
“De l’audace, et encore de l’audace, et toujours de l’audace.”

It’s all a question of balance. Mark Latham, take note.

Why Bruce Baird will make a great speaker

Thursday, 11 November

Australia needs a decisive speaker
in the Federal Parliament to keep the boys and girls in Canberra in
order and Crikey has quickly come to the view that Bruce Baird is the
man for the job.

Bruce Baby rang on the Crikey mobile this morning and made two brief points:

  • Everything we ran yesterday was rubbish
  • If we do it again he’ll sue the pants off us

Anyway, we’ve conducted a thorough
investigation of Bruce’s fine record as a Minister in the Greiner
Government and reckon he was unfairly maligned in yesterday’s missive.
Many of Bruce’s political staff over the years remain friends and
admirers of the man.

It is an interesting point that often
comes up in terms of how Crikey operates. Political editor Christian
Kerr has given a couple of speeches arguing that one of Crikey’s roles
is to report on how power operates at the grass roots of political
parties.

The proverbial smear campaign or “sh*t
sheet” is often very influential in terms of internal party votes and
Crikey has been used to change a number of outcomes over the years by
publishing such material to our politically connected readers.

The most celebrated example is
probably the 30,000 words we published from various Victorian ALP
insiders in 2002 ahead of the state conference in which the Greg
Sword-Left alliance took control from Labor Unity.

As one Bracks adviser said later,
“That’s probably the first time in the world that a major political
party power struggle has played out in public on an independent third
party web site.”

A more specific example is probably this piece which was credited with defeating Paul Cronin’s campaign to be Liberal Party Deputy President in Western Australia last year.

Yesterday’s missive on Bruce Baird
certainly falls into the “sh*t sheet” category and we accept it was
unfair but the fact it is being circulated as part of a campaign to a
shift a few Liberal Party room votes still makes it relevant.

The fiasco of Rupert’s poison pill

Tuesday, 9 November

By Stephen Mayne, Tiny News Corp shareholder

Consider the actual mechanics of how
Rupert Murdoch’s poison pill works and you will soon realise how
farcical and outrageous it really is. At the moment, John Malone’s
Liberty Media is easily News Corp’s biggest shareholder as this is how
he stacks up with Rupert Murdoch’s stake after last week’s $2 billion
on-market raid and side deal with Merrill Lynch:

Voting Shares

Murdoch Family 313.5m (29.86%)
Liberty Media 180.7m (17.2%)
The Rest 555.8m (52.93%)

Total 1.05bn shares worth $23.824bn

Non Voting Shares

Liberty Media 421.5m (21.79%)
Murdoch family 108.6m (5.61%)
The Rest 1.32bn (72.6%)

Total 1.935bn shares worth $42.86bn

Combined Shares and Values (based on yesterday’s closing prices)

Liberty Media 602.2m shares worth $13.436bn (20.73% of total value)
Murdoch Family 422.1m shares worth $9.518bn (14.69% of total value)
The Rest 1.876bn shares worth $41.847bn (64.58% of total value)

Total 2.985bn shares worth $64.80bn

So, what happens if Liberty Media buys
a further 1.01 per cent of the voting stock and triggers the
“Stockholder Rights Plan”? Well, Malone has to sit there mutely and
watch his 20.73 per cent stake worth $13.436 billion almost halve in
value and become a negligible 2.57% of the expanded capital base. Talk
about getting diluted!

The plan entitles the non-predator
shareholders to buy $US80 worth of stock for every share they own at
half price, what Goldman Sachs estimates is effectively an
eight-for-one rights issue for everyone except Liberty Media, assuming
they trigger this by buying more than one per cent. Based on
yesterday’s closing prices of $22.69 for the voting stock and $22.15
for the non-voters, The Murdoch family and The Rest would be entitled
to buy the following new shares if that happened:

Murdoch Family

Buy 2.903bn new voting shares at $11.35 a piece for $32.95bn
Buy 1.03bn new non-voting shares at $11.07 a piece for $11.41bn

Total purchase of 3.933bn new shares for $44.36bn

The Rest

Buy 5.1463bn voting shares at $11.35 for $58.51bn
Buy 12.527bn new non-voting shares at $11.07 a piece for for $138.72bn

Total purchase of 17.673bn new shares for $197.23bn.

News Corp would then have 20.358 billion shares on issue and the allocations would look like this:

The Rest 14.4bn shares (70.73% of the total)
Murdoch Family 4.246bn shares (18.17% of the total)
Liberty Media 602.2m shares (2.57% of the total)

That would leave Rupert Murdoch in complete control again, so you can
see how this scheme is designed to never actually take effect because
it is so bad for Liberty Media which merely wants to pursue its legal
right to buy shares on the market in a publically listed company.

Given that News Corp is currently
capitalised at about $64.8 billion, the injection of $197.23 billion in
new cash would increase the value of the company to $262 billion and it
would be housing the largest pile of cash every assembled in history.

With the shares on issue expanding
from 2.985 billion to 20.358 billion, the average share price would
theoretically fall from more than $22 to just $12.87.

John Malone would have been diluted
from 20.73 per cent to just 2.57% and a $13.5 billion investment would
suddenly be only worth $7.750 billion. The $5.76 billion in lost value
for Liberty Media would be split between the other shareholders with
Rupert stealing about $1.2 billion of value from his largest current
shareholder.

Then again, can anyone really imagine
Rupert writing out a cheque for $44.36 billion to take up his
entitlement? The whole thing is completely farcicial and an absolute
disgrace and we urge Liberty Media to sue all the News Corp directors
personally.

Given that Rupert has moved to the
land of the great class action, why don’t the minority shareholders,
who have now been denied a takeover premium in the share price, take
legal action against the board as well?

News Corp ordinary shares recovered
55c to $23.24 today and the non-voting stock gained 41c to $22.56, so
half of yesteray’s losses have been recouped. Maybe the next item is
already getting some currency?

Andrew Denton speaks to Crikey

Monday, 8 November

By Terry Television

Andrew Denton, host of the well-performing ABC program, Enough Rope,
Monday nights 9.30pm (and now on holiday till next year) says he
doesn’t want to see a shift in the program, especially if it is at the
expense of 4 Corners.

He was speaking to Crikey after reading the piece on our website – Are Media Watch and 4 Corners next?
The piece speculated that ABC management might be thinking of shifting
the venerable current affairs program from its 8.30pm slot, or even
swapping it with Denton’s high rating Enough Rope.

Denton said he regarded 4 Corners as an icon of the ABC and should not be changed.

He said Enough Rope was doing well in its 9.30pm slot after 4 Corners and Media Watch and viewers had become comfortable in watching for the program at that time.

Meanwhile, ABC managing director Russell Balding has today issued a
statement defending all the recent programming changes and we’ll have
more on this development on the site tonight.

All these blokes and the abortion debate

Sunday, 7 November

By acting political editor Paula Piccinini

Where on earth are Australia’s women
in this bloke-driven abortion debate that Health Minister Tony Abbott
inappropriately started and Governor General Michael Jeffrey has even
more inappropriately stoked?

Crikey has an 80-20 male bias in our
subscription base but even we wouldn’t have served up blokes, blokes
and more blokes talking about something that is a personal choice for
women.

Consider today’s Sunday papers. The GG was interviewed by the blokey Lincoln Wright for the Murdoch Sunday tabloids and by old Sunshine boy Phillip Hudson for their Fairfax competitors. It was on the front pages across most of the country.

The Sunday Herald Sun is
perhaps the best paper to demonstrate our point. It is owned by a
patriarchal chap called Murdoch who has churned through three wives in
his time and doesn’t see fit to appoint any of his daughters to the
News Corp board, let alone a woman of any description since second wife
Anna was booted off six years ago.

This paper doesn’t have a women in any
position of serious responsibility and all the blokes sat around and
decided that this abortion issue really needed to be discussed in full.

We had that charming bloke Matt Price
telling us that the Mad Monk is really annoying Liberal women with his
stance. Below him on page 85 was bearded burbler Derryn Hinch but at
least he was warning women about the posse of blokes coming after them.

On the opposite page was that hard
living short bloke Glenn Milne who appeared to be delivering another
Peter Costello message that Tony Abbott has cruelled his leadership
chances with his abortion stance.

The Age’s Misha Schubert tried to get a word in on the topic during the ABC Insiders
couch debate this morning but another aggressive Murdoch-employed bloke
called Andrew Bolt, who is on record arguing that women are clearly
inferior to men, was condescending as he talked over her.

Then we have the spectable of another couple of blokes, Insiders
host Barrie Cassidy and Family First senator-elect Steve Fielding, also
discussing the issue. Labor put up Kevin Rudd to talk these Liberal
blokes down on Meet The Press.

Let’s hope some women get to be heard
in this debate some time soon and the first point they should be making
is that John Howard, a great advocate of stay-at-home wives, shouldn’t
have allowed his pet Health Minister to spout personal views in a
sensitive part of his portfolio. He has a very large and obvious
conflict of interest.

The PM then allowed his hand-picked
Governor General to add to the community division when he should be
sticking to his main gig of being a marginalised GG who cuts ribbons.

Remember all that hot air that used to
come from John Howard’s office about Billy Dean’s outspoken positions
on indigenous matters. If Michael Jeffrey is not slapped down pretty
damn quickly then the PM is saying Billy Dean was well within his
rights.

Stand by for the calming hand of John
Howard to offer some soothing words to a troubled and divided nation
after two of his lapdops did his dirty work this week.

CRIKEY: Okay Paula, you can go back to changing the nappies now. Just joking!

How Dubya did it

Thursday, 4 November

The final result in Ohio was very
close but George W Bush seems to have received a clear vote of approval
from the American public with more than 51 per cent of the popular
vote. Even his most vehement critics won’t have any grounds to
challenge the legitimacy of Bush’s presidency during his second term.

A
breakdown of his performance with women and minority groups – as
discussed on Fox News earlier today – is very interesting. The
incumbent increased his vote with women (up from 43 per cent to 47),
Hispanics (35 to 42) and blacks (9 to 11 per cent) since the 2000 poll.
He’s the first President since 1936 to increase his vote second time
around and more than 59 million votes is the highest figure ever
achieved. You can’t argue with that and it seems Americans just didn’t
want to change Commander in Chief mid-war.

The New York Times examines how Bush won, particularly the efforts of his chief political advisor Karl Rove, here:

“Mr Rove succeeded, as Mr Bush was re-elected with a margin of 3.5
million votes, in the first presidential election in modern history
with an equal turnout of Democrats and Republicans. Mr Rove’s
relentless focus on turning out more Republican voters, many of them
evangelical Christians, was the critical factor in Mr Bush’s victory,
Republicans said.”

Meanwhile, Bill O’Reilly was jubilant as he explained on Fox News why Bush emerged victorious on The O’Reilly Factor this afternoon. According to O’Reilly, Kerry’s fatal error was that he never let the US people get to know him.

Former Clinton political svengali Dick Morris appeared to offer his
view and signed off by declaring Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat
candidate for 2008.

Yeah, and Dick said that John Kerry would win and Mark Latham would
snooker John Howard. When you also consider the way his vote.com
flopped, maybe it is time Dick Morris retired from the field.