Back in February, Phillip Hudson in The Age tipped that the prime minister’s chief of staff, Arthur Sinodinos, could end up as the next Australian ambassador in Washington. Today the yarn is everywhere – and we don’t think the PM’s office is given to April Fool’s gags.

Sinodinos is an economist and career bureaucrat who has been the key backroom boy in Howard’s office since 1995. He has shunned the limelight – other than a walk-on role in some of last year’s “Governing for Australia” campaign ads – but his presence is felt throughout the Government. And while the Howard Government has a shameless and shoddy record when it comes to appointing mates to key positions, this is one appointment few people would argue with. After all, Keating chief of staff Don Russell – a staffer with a much higher profile – was dispatched to DC by his boss.

What’s more interesting is the latest overseas post speculation surrounding the prime minister himself – the yarn that he may be in the running for Kofi Annan’s job, kicked along (gently) by expat Aussie and former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk on Lateline last night. Doesn’t he remember what happened to the first president of the UN General Assembly? You know, that other Aussie bloke. Evatt.

PS: Talking about Our Men in Washington, what about this tale of an Australian patriot: “The defence contractor Boeing has won the right in NSW to discriminate against employees whose nationalities do not meet US security requirements,” The Sydney Morning Herald reports today. “A three-year exemption from the anti-discrimination act allows Boeing to exclude employees at its Bankstown plant from working on projects using US technology. Only Australians and other nationalities approved by the US will be issued tags granting them security clearance…” And Boeing Australia’s president? One Andrew Peacock.

Peter Fray

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