After years of speculation, it seems that Julian Burnside QC has finally decided to make the long-anticipated move to the bench. It has been well-known in Melbourne legal circles that Burnside has knocked back 3 judicial offers from state Attorney-General Rob Hulls – County Court, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. His practice and political interests have always centered on the federal jurisdiction, so he has been holding out for a federal Labor Government to appoint him to a position worthy of his talents. According to those in the know, Hulls and Julia Gillard have now convinced Kevin Rudd to appoint Burnside as Chief Justice of the Federal Court when the position becomes vacant. The court’s current chief justice, Michael Black, is understood to be delighted with the deal, and is likely to retire early in order to facilitate a smooth transition. Black has held the position since 1991 and reaches retirement age in March 2010, but if Labor is elected he is likely to go a year early and take a long sailing holiday.

I’m a bit concerned about these mailouts to every Australian household. I live in inner-suburban Melbourne and my father lives further out. He has received his brochure on how to talk to his children about drugs about two weeks ago (timely given his children are all aged 36-48). I have not received mine, nor have I received this latest brochure on the evil of porn on the net. Do I expect to receive the brochure on climate change? Third time lucky? I’d be interested to know just how many Australian households have received their brochures? Are they just being sent to marginal electorates? (I’m Goldstein, Dad is in either Holt or Flinders.)

Following on from the ALP’s question just now to Malcolm Turnbull asking why John Howard or the Howard Government is not mentioned on a brochure distrbuted in his electorate … Joe Hockey has circulated a similar brochure in (and outside) his electorate which make NO mention of Howard or the Howard Government either!

Word on the street (or at least up the Mountain) is that the ABC has found a potential new home for its staff in Brisbane, currently spread across the Four Corners of the city. Word is that Aunty is to share a new building with The Courier-Mail newspaper and other News Ltd stock. Apparently News want to build afresh at Bowen Hills and a joint development with the national broadcaster would certainly help with the costs. It’s not like Aunty is unused to sharing facilities, as most TV and radio staff are currently holed up at the Channel 10 studios anyway. But with the newspaper editor’s wife already working at the ABC local radio site, is this a move too close for the two so-called media rivals?

Apparently both the ABC and SBS are refusing to screen a new documentary, Constructing Fear, because it is too political in the lead up to the federal election. The doco, by director Joe Loh, tells the stories of workers who have been harrassed and prosecuted by the Australian Building and Construction Commission in an attempt to destroy building unions. It will run on Channel 31 in the next couple of weeks and is available on the website.

Tony Abbott claimed on ABC radio today in Darwin “I’m confident that all of these remote townships are going to have the health check teams through them by the end of the year”. How come the health teams, as Anna Lamboys from Crikey pointed out a few weeks ago, are taking Christmas holidays before they start again in the New Year. So far, they have not scheduled visits to Borroloola, Minyerri, Urapunga, Ngukurr, Lajamanu, Daguragu, Kalkaringi, Ali Curung to name just some communities. And so far there have not been any health checks in the town camps the Australian Government is taking over … or is Abbott saying health in those places is a bed of roses?

In the land of AFL. Mark Thompson is rumoured to have agreed unofficially to join Essendon as senior coach within three days of Geelong’s season ending. Among other things, the insult of the “stupid” football department review undertaken last year. It is why Essendon has no senior coach announced yet; you can be sure they will not go into trade week – with Chris Judd no less – available.

West Coast Eagles: The tip is Chris Judd gave Dalton Gooding WCE Chairman the ultimatum, its either Cousins or me. Cuz may be taking a year off next season to get his head together

In the foyer of Cable Beach Club Resort at Broome on Saturday afternoon a check in staff member was on the phone to housekeeping breathlessly announcing that Ben Cousins was due in soon, and make sure there was a complimentary bottle of champagne in his room. He must have booked that trip on very short notice as the Eagles had lost only 12 hours before. Maybe he had a premonition. Guest in the foyer suggested they make sure there was plenty of “ice” with that.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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