Christmas is a time for giving – yet Democrat Senator Andrew Murray
didn’t get a little something from the Treasurer he’s been waiting for
since May.

Back then, he put a question on the Senate Notice Paper – a
question, we’d better declare, that we have an interest in. It goes
like this:

864 Senator Murray: To ask the Minister representing the Treasurer—

1. Will the Minister provide the eligibility criteria used by the
Government to determine media attendance at the 2004 and the 2005
Budget lock-up.

2. Will the Minister provide a definition of mainstream media, taking
into account the following extract from Mr Peter McGauran’s second
reading speech, for the Broadcasting Services (Media Ownership) Bill
2002 on 21 March 2003:

Technological progress and globalisation are changing the
structure of the Australian media market and patterns of media
consumption—undeniably Australian media organisations are responding to
these changes by investing in new technology enterprises and forming
broader strategic partnerships, but the regulation of ownership and
control of Australian media has been largely static. This creates
ongoing tension between the trend towards convergence in the
communications market and a regulatory framework which is based on
sector-specific regulation and an assumption that influential sources
of news and opinion are limited to the traditional domestic media
outlets…The government is committed to the need for ongoing diversity
of opinion and information in the Australian media.

3. Will the Minister provide a list of media outlets attending the 2005 Budget lock-up.

4. Will the Minister provide a list of press gallery members, that is
those members with press gallery accreditation, who have been excluded
from the 2005 Budget lock-up.

5. Will the Minister provide an explanation why some staff members of
crikey.com.au gained accreditation to attend the 2004 Budget lock-up,
but none have been granted access to the 2005 Budget lock-up.

Nup. The Treasurer’s given nothing away. Murray’s question remains unanswered.


Now, we’ve given Costello a fair bit of stick over his performance
during the year, but we’ve got to admit he’s given us plenty of
entertainment. He remains the best Question Time performer in the
Parliament – and we’d better give him credit as the heir apparent to
the top job, when the short fella goes.

Indeed, this being the season of goodwill and all that, we decided that
we’d better give Peter Costello a present to show that there’s no hard
feelings.

You’ll recall how last month we jumped on Miranda Devine’s revelations
that the Treasurer is a wrestling fanatic. We ran a competition for
subscribers to coin a ring name for him. The winner tagged the
Treasurer as “The Smirking Assassin” – winning a World Wrestling
Entertainment DVD, along with the two runners-up.

Except it turned out that our champion’s only into political wrestling,
not the sport. We had a leftover. Until yesterday. The DVD was suitably
gift wrapped by the Crikey staff, and dispatched by express post to
Peter Costello’s Treasury Place office.

So, while there’s plenty of bangs and bruises in wrestling, there
are
no hard feelings on our part, Peter. We look forward to seeing you and
praising your remaking of the tax system in next year’s Budget lock-up.

And please, please, please don’t read anything into the title of the DVD we’ve sent you – Unforgiven.