Full support. Communications Minister Helen Coonan told journos at the Liberal Party’s  Federal Council meeting the Government was 100% behind John Howard. Using a footy analogy, that means he has one foot out the door. Players always say they are at least 200% behind the coach. A mere 100% seems pretty light on.

Happy customer. A business observer writes: “As a newbie to both the Labor and Liberal Party conferences, I’d like to make a few observations. Yes, the ALP conference was very well run and, yes, all the shadow ministers sat dutifully through the business meetings. But what did they do as a demonstration of their willingness to engage with the business community? Julia Gillard went out during the conference and announced that the ALP is going to screw business on IR. I didn’t meet Kevin Rudd at the ALP conference and never had any opportunity. For $6,000, I saw him talk at a lunch and watched him spend his own business observers reception standing in a corner talking to Anthony Albanese. The Liberal Conference has had its issues. They were a bit late in telling us our meeting schedules and we were being shuffled around a bit for meetings and functions. But access and willingness to engage with business is a different issue. Not only did I get to meet the PM yesterday in the business observers centre and at his function on Saturday night, I saw him there again Sunday morning. I think he went around and talked to every single person there. His advisors were about and we could talk to them without scheduled meetings. I had meetings with all the ministers I wanted to, chiefs of staff were available to talk to and followed up on issues, along with the state leaders and party directors. The message I got from the council was that these people were genuine about listening to the business community – not just going through the motions.”

Slim picking. The Liberals did little to endear themselves to journalists covering the weekend’s Federal Council. They failed to lay on any food for hungry hacks –despite asking them to turn up at 7:30 in the morning – and instead provided heavy-handed security paranoid that the ladies and gentlemen of the media might be from The Chaser.

He don’t get no respect from anyone. A local passes on news of the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Bathurst: “The PM chatted to several young guys for about 10 minutes on global warming, but as he left the guys started shouting “Vote Labor!” and yelling abuse at his car. I heard one of them turn to a mate and say, ‘Before I shook his hand I rubbed my hands over my balls!’ ” 

Shergold’s form. As you peruse the Government’s report on carbon trading, you may also like to look at reports from 2003 that information showing certain groups had been adversely affected by changes to HECS in 1996 was deleted from a higher education report on the orders of the then secretary of the Education Department, Peter Shergold.

Buzzing beehive. The Liberal pre-selection in Bronwyn Bishop’s seat of Mackellar is turning into quite a spectacular stoush. Bishop says she wants to stay on to achieve her ambition of becoming Speaker. Her opponents say she has neglected the grassroots in what should be safe Liberal turf, holding only two electorate committee meetings in the past two years. They say she’s an embarrassment, pointing to her attack on the Prime Minister over tax deductibility of child-care costs. And they’re not impressed with her other policy initiatives – banning burquas, banning flag-burning and banning signs in foreign languages. They point out that the last one means that French restaurants couldn’t advertise escargots. That’s a very big issue on the North Shore.

Charity case. AFL is big business – and big dollars. Which makes you wonder if you plough through the list of the Immigration Department’s Settlement Grants Programme why the Government was handing over taxpayers’ funds to the Footscray Football Club.

Drug abuse. The Sunday Age has very unfairly attacked Chris Pyne, the junior minister in the health portfolio, for smoking. Give him a go! He doesn’t smoke all the time. He only smokes when he’s p-ssed.

Who do you trust? Now more than ever you need our John Howard “Who do you trust” ringtone. Get here it here.