Greens v boys in blue? “The Greens’ chief policy strategist in Victoria has admitted she helped organise a cannabis festival,” the Melbourne Herald-Sun reported over the weekend. “Freja Leonard, chief-of-staff to Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber, used to be a coordinator at Mardi Grass, Nimbin’s pot celebration,” it breathlessly continued. The story has left more people than just a few old stoners scratching their heads and asking what Greg Barber has done to cop such a story. Could it be calling for an independent crime commission to be established in Victoria along the lines of those in NSW and Queensland? Such a body in Victoria might well cause embarrassment for both the ALP and the boys in blue.

Bronwyn Bishop takes centre stage. It was Crikey who broke the news back in January that that pioneer of Australian TV drama, Bronwyn Bishop, was returning to acting, taking on a role in a production of Every Picture Tells a Story at the Bayview Seascouts Hall. Yesterday, The Australian warned of her upcoming performance as Captain von Trapp’s spurned lover, Baroness Elsa, in a Manly production of The Sound of Music. From what Crikey hears about the decline of membership in her electorate, she’s spurned plenty of local Libs. So why is she actually bothering to contest the Mackellar preselection this weekend. Just to be Speaker? The wig that comes with that role would spoil the Bronwyn beehive.

Big government conservatism. The Government yesterday rejected the Australian Democrats’ attempt to the tax-free threshold of $6000 to inflation from 1 July. Again. “The Government continues to prefer handouts to building in an automatic adjustment for inflation,” Democrats’ taxation spokesman Andrew Murray said. “The tax-free threshold is of most importance to low-income earners. If the tax-free threshold of $6000 had been indexed since 2000, it would be over $7500 in 2007… Australia’s current $6000 tax-free threshold is estimated at less than half the OECD average.”

More money that isn’t real? Poor Swannie. Yesterday the shadow treasurer claimed motorists were only saving around seven cents per litre thanks to the Government’s 2001 desperate decision to stop indexing petrol excise. The Government says the change – and other associated measures brought in with the GST – actually means motorists are saving a total 17.2 cents a litre, which translates to an annual excise saving of around $448 for a family using 50 litres of petrol each week.

Bad karma. ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope is our most infantile leftist leader – Terry Hicks as Father of the Year, anyone? – yet yesterday he declined to meet the Dalai Lama when the holy man of the Himalayas visited Canberra. A spokesthing for the head honcho of a pissant parliament declared he was “too busy”. Perhaps he was following up on his recent trade mission to China.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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