Quote of the Day: From yesterday’s Government Party Room briefing:

Senior journo: Was there any swinging from the rafters?
Government spokesman: I don’t know what you mean.

(The Government spokesman is an ex-army bloke. They clearly don’t have much of a sense of humour.)

The Professionals:
“Yesterday was a very good day for anyone who has ever been employed by a political party,” Daniel Finkelstein writes about David Cameron’s election as leader of the Conservative Party in The Times today. Finkelstein says Cameron’s experience as a political professional was central to his victory. Don’t say political staffers are finally getting some respect and acknowledgement?

The Crikey Christmas card list: So many playgroups and potential preselectors, such little time. We may have actually given MPs an idea – that Question Time provides the perfect opportunity to do their Christmas cards. Beavering away yesterday were John Anderson, Phil Baressi, Michael Danby, Graham Edwards, Annette Ellis, Craig Emerson, Trish Draper, John Forrest, Jill Hall, Michael Hatton, Luke Hartsuyker, Julia Irwin, Michael Keenan, Andrew Laming, Margaret May, Chris Pearce, Chris Pyne, Rod Sawford, Alby Schultz and Ross Vasta. If there are fewer Labor MPs than Coalition MPs on the list, it may be because they’re godless secular humanists. A special mention to Queensland Liberal Peter Lindsay who had a large cardboard box of envelopes sitting on the desk in front of him that remained untouched throughout.

Devoted to the cause: Some Coalition members seem very keen on voluntary student unionism – but not so keen on voting on it. They know Barnyard is going to rain on the parade, so right wing Senators Alan Ferguson and Bill Heffernan both raised concerns about the legislation in yesterday’s party room meeting. What was more astounding were the comments on the subject by Queensland Senator Santo Santoro, who has pitched himself as the voice of the young hard right for much of his career. He not only said the bill wouldn’t be passed, but also warned that it was divisive. Which will come as a great surprise and disappointment to many, many of his allies – particularly the ones who sponsored his return to politics after he lost his state seat.

Accountability and transparency: The following Notice of Motion was not supported by the Coalition in the Senate yesterday:

SENATOR MURRAY: Mr President, I ask that General Business Notice of Motion No.348 standing in my name for today, relating to appointment to the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia, be taken as a formal motion.

To move – That the Senate –

(a) notes strong public concern that the checks on appointments to the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) may be inadequate; and

(b) asks the Government, unless the matters are already on the public record, to ensure that any appointee to the Board of the RBA be required to declare whether the appointee has any personal, family, professional, business or entity involvement with tax havens, or material disputes with the Australian Tax Office that are or could be subject of administrative or judicial penalty.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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