Is a special Immigration Department pow-wow happening in Canberra next week,
with high level officials being brought in from around the country? If
so what’s the subject? The official line is that it’s a training
session. That excuse is so boring and the timing so suspicious that the
meeting is certain to attract attention. If it happens. Going by the
level of competence they demonstrate, the DIMIA droogs mightn’t be able
to find their way to the national capital.

“Keep politicians out of sport, ban Howard at Lord’s,” Marina Hyde urges in Britain’s Guardian
newspaper. “If ever there were a case for the separation of powers
between sport and politics,” she says, “Mr Howard is it. A serial
infiltrator of the commentary box, he sees nothing untoward in
punctuating wildly unenlightening ruminations on play with the
announcement of a foreign policy initiative or a riff on the war on
terror.” Cheeky!

Peter Costello’s image-broadening RARA road trip is getting an even more cynical response from his colleagues than Steve Lewis’s “The Treasurer’s bush trek won’t lead to the Lodge
yarn in yesterday’s Oz. More and more it’s looking as if Costello will
have to go to the backbench if the prime minister doesn’t decide to
stand aside for him early next year – and try to win the top job from
there. How much help will his big backers be? Chris Pyne? Tony Smith?
The Brandis & Mason duo? They carry no clout, sceptical Coalition
MPs say. They couldn’t get the numbers for a challenge. The treasurer
will be trekking in the wilderness for a while yet.

More on yesterday’s reports on the bitter battles in Australia’s smallest parliament,
the ACT Assembly. The affable Liberal Leader Brendan Smyth is said to
be polling poorly. Last year he led the local party to an unprecedented
defeat. So reports of a challenge from newcomer Richard Mulcahy, the
former Australian Hotels Association CEO, are not unexpected –
particularly given that the local Liberal director, Andrew Wilsmore,
used to work for Mulcahy.

South Australian Liberal Party president Bob Randall just can’t help himself.
Local Libs say he is busy trying to gain control of the Lady Wilson
Foundation, set up to honour the wife of Menzies minister Sir Keith
Wilson and mother of Fraser minister Ian Wilson and further the
interest of Liberal women. The Foundation has always been linked to the
party’s Women’s Council. President Bob thinks it would be better if he
and his mates from the right who run the state executive would be
better equipped to run the show. Yes. Even after the latest Newspoll – a sort of dead parrot sketch for the South Australian Libs.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey