Ignored reports

Where has the Sydney Morning Herald got its stories
this week about the lack of follow up to parliamentary committee
inquiry reports? Well, much is on the public record. I seem to recall a
twice-yearly publication, for example, called something like the Report
to the Senate on Government Responses Outstanding to Parliamentary
Committee Reports. That makes research easier. It also raises a new set
of question about the Labor Party and its tactics.

Kim Beazley was out early Monday talking about the failure to respond to inquiries, as was Julia Gillard.

However, it took two days of special “investigation” by the SMH
before Labor asked any questions in parliament on the matter –
investigation that involved material available to the public that,
surely, opposition members with an interest would come across. Sharp
tactics, comrades.

Lost her head

Crikey readers will recall Mark Day’s big splash in TheOz
at the end of April – that Communications Minister Helen Coonan was
considering winkling former frontbencher and Liberal communication
spokesman Warwick Smith out of the Millionaire Factory and into the
chair of the government’s new super-regulator, the Australian
Communications and Media Authority.

It was not to be. She tried, appears to be the general consensus. And
tried and tried and tried, we understand. Nothing’s been consummated,
despite four candidates being wooed.

Now it looks as if Communications Department head Helen Williams will
be dumped in the job – and that the prime minister’s office has taken
over the running of policy. Are they looking after the new cross media
ownership laws, too?

Joh lives?

Turn to page 24 of yesterday’s Rep’s Hansard.
A question from Labor’s Tony Burke to small business minister Fran
Bailey at about 2:50 was hijacked by the prime minister – with the
words “Mr Speaker, I am the best advocate in this House for small
business. Don’t you worry about that.” Joh lives?

Unrepresentative swill?

Victorian Liberal Senator Tsebin Tchen turned up in issue three of
Crikey back in 2000 when stories circulated that he found his
Parliament House office sofa comfier than digs in Canberra. In his last
days in the Senate, a curious email response in his name to a message
on IR reforms is doing the rounds. Senators don’t speak this way – even
dumped Senators, surely? All the valedictory speeches have been
terribly polite. Has his email account been hacked?

From: Tchen, Tsebin (Senator)

[mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Tuesday, 21 June 2005 2:56 PM

To: ***** *****

Subject: RE: IR laws

What a load of hogwash. If those diggers who sacrified their
lives to protect democracy could hear your snivelling they would be
spinning in their graves. Are you ashamed of being such a useless
pinheaded prick?

SMS cheats

We ask if Australian ministers and members are being prompted in sticky
situations via SMS – and instead get told about a WA
state Liberal who has just unveiled SMS and MSN Messenger services for
constituents.

According to a media release
from his office, Tony Simpson, the Member for Serpentine-Jarrahdale,
yesterday became the first politician in Australia to offer constituent
services by SMS and internet chat, a move praised by the WA Deaf
Society.

“This might be breaking new ground for politicians, but as a father of
two I know SMS and internet chat are actually the preferred method of
communication for many people in the real world,” he said.

Yeah, but did he need any prompting by phone?