Conferences stripped bare. Have event managers ever been busier? In the wake of last week’s burlesque brouhaha, rushed audits of conference entertainment are being held across government.

Not the Wright stuff. What did we say? The Australian Electoral Commission has abandoned its proposal to call the new Queensland federal seat Wright in honour of poet Judith Wright. The locals have complained that it was more likely to be associated with the disgraced MHR and, er, morals campaigner Keith Wright, who went to jail for the rape and s-xual abuse of children. The seat will now be named Flynn, in honour of the Reverend John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Aid package. The revelation AusAID made a series of grants to Marcus Einfeld’s failed company Australian Legal Resources International  is sparking some muted but concerning corridor talk. There’s a feeling that if Einfeld is guilty of impropriety, there are a lot of others, too. It’s all a matter of resources. Who’s going to take a look at all the NGOs who get grants, what they do, how they spend the money and how many have closed over the years.

Couple have s-x shock. A film festival isn’t a film festival without the censor slapping a ban on something – and Sydney’s QueerDOC, billed as the world’s only gay and lesbian documentary festival, presents a tempting target. The Office of Film and Literature Classification has stopped the screening of Damon and Hunter, a documentary on a couple which shows them doing what couples do. This makes it p-rnography, apparently. But all is not lost. We’re told the film can legally be screened in public in a video peep booth in a Canberra s-x shop.

Reading the polls. Labor heavyweight Bob McMullan delivered a master class yesterday afternoon in the House on polling. He warns reporting of polls and pollsters themselves raise concerns about the nature and health of our democracy. “Many Australians, probably most, would be surprised to know that the unequivocal evidence from the published opinion polls is that the Labor Party has been clearly and consistently ahead in federal voting intention surveys for the last six months, and not just a little bit.” McMullan has called for a code of conduct for polling companies and the major media organisations that report their findings. The full speech is up on the Mumble Politics website.

Questions and answers. Senate Estimates may have been neutered, but the idea of actually answering questions still sends a chill down the spines of public service pen-pushers that even the chunkiest Canberra cardigan can’t cover. So the spin doctors are pitching for their trade. “Are you in the media spotlight or the Senate Estimates heat?” an ad in The Public Sector Informant asks. “We are experts in high level media skills training and Senate Estimates preparation and performance coaching.” Which leads to the question – how much public money is being wasted by public servants so they can try to plausibly explain how they waste public money? Crikey revealed earlier this year how Human Services Minister Joe Hockey is making his helpful contribution to democracy by attaching a price tag to answers to Questions on Notice. Surely the Government will want to be equally upfront about this.

Wiki wars. Introducing an exciting new word. “Flegged“.

Peter Fray

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