Pay and rations – and rationing. There are unhappy campers on both sides of the House over the delays on the signing off by the PM’s office of permission letters to hire staff, but particularly in the ALP. In some cases, Crikey has told, Labor offices have had to wait up to five months to have replacements for departing staff – not new positions – approved. One up and coming Labor MP was recently told a letter would be signed off on in a week. They advertised the position, shortlisted candidates, started arranging interviews – and then launched a well publicised attack on the Government. Now they’ve been told the letter won’t be ready until the end of the year.

The JSF dog and pony show. The head of the Joint Strike Fighter Joint Project Office, US Air Force Brigadier Gen Charles Davis and Lockheed Martin are in town to push the JSF and ensure Australia signs up to the next MOU – despite the price tag and concerns over whether the project has wings (so to speak). In the meantime, Crikey understands the folks over at Boeing in St Louis are confident that Rick McCrary, their Business Development Manager down here, has convinced ADF bosses Super Hornets are the way to go as an interim fighter solution since the JSF Program is, as the Minister has admitted, risky and likely to be delayed.

CSI Brisbane. Just what were a police van and the dog squad doing outside Queensland’s Parliament House this morning?

A hard-earned thirst needs a big cold beer. Seven and Ten are at war. Not over their televisual offerings – but about the beers available from their Canberra bureaus. Signs have appeared outside their Press Gallery offices plugging the pilsner, lauding the lagers and boosting the bitters awaiting journos in need of refreshment inside. (Crikey’s Canberra bureau has nothing on offer but a much refilled bottle of still water and half a packet of spearmint Wrigley’s Extra, but visitors are always welcome in Room S2-108 in the Press Gallery during sitting weeks.)

Davros forum. Communications Minister Helen Coonan had a curious contretemps yesterday with her opposition counterpart Stephen Conroy. She paraphrased Robert Ray and called him a factional Dalek. Which she pronounced “day-leck”. Coonan obviously isn’t a Dr Who fan. She must think the Daleks are a clan from somewhere in what used to be Yugoslavia tied up in ethnic branch-stacking in the Melbourne burbs.

Word power. There’s a fun Cole Inquiry exhibit up on the web. Some DFAT wag seems to have amended the stationery to properly reflect the Department’s job, punning on the word minute – as in departmental minute – to turn it into minute – as in size. Size as in this definition “Characterized by careful scrutiny and close examination: held a minute inspection of the grounds.” Yup. It’s a very old document from the very earliest days of the Howard Government.

Peter Fray

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