I can’t quite see the point of the outrage on journalists shuffling through the rubbish in the public interest. I confess to the careful and delicate retrieval of discarded credit card carbons from illegal brothel bins in Queensland in the mid-1980s.

This helped me considerably in stitching together a well-documented picture of who owned what for the lawyers and later, the Fitzgerald Inquiry. Save the outrage for the act of rifling through the rubbish when no conceivable public interest is involved.

If the pollies want to save us from the necessity or temptation to peek into the waste paper basket they could start by winding back the Freedom from Information edifices they have spent two decades building up under the cover of hypocritical cant about open government.

Stephen Mayne writes:

It was interesting that Channel Ten’s respected Canberra chief Paul Bongiorno chose to go public defending Mark Riley and garbage sifting generally in yesterday’s Crikey Daily, while also having a slap at Iron Mark. Is Paul copping grief from his Canberra colleagues after Latham revealed he was a supporter? This is from page 396 of The Latham Diaries:

Thursday, 9 December, 2004

Hosted Christmas drinks for the press gallery in our new press office. Gritted my teeth and tried to be pleasant. Naturally, all the grubs bagging me were there to drink my grog (er, the taxpayers’ grog, perhaps – ed) and see if I’m still alive. I have hardly any allies left. One of them, Paul Bongiorno, told me that during the election campaign Howard rang the head of Channel Ten to complain about his reporting. That’s what I should have done: rung my mate Kerry Packer to fix up Jabba (Laurie Oakes). Situation hopeless.

There’s another interesting insight that hasn’t popped up anywhere else. John Howard predictably gets an excellent run in the Murdoch and Packer press during last year’s election and he’s out there bullying the smaller players to do the same. Another reason to be strongly opposed to Ron Walker’s appointment as chairman of John Fairfax.