Which high paid, senior federal public servant travels each week between Canberra, where he works, and his home and family interstate? He clocks up a lot of airfares, FFs and taxi fares. Who foots the bill? Would he be defensive about answering such questions?

Becker Group is about to announce the sale of their cinema and film assets to guess who? Richard Becker, the same person (and major shareholder) who tried to buy them a year ago without getting an independent valuation. In the meantime earnings have dropped and the price has likewise dropped! The same consultant (ANZ) who advised Prime and put together the first takeover and sale agreement between Prime and Becker (ruled to be very naughty by the takeover panel) has been appointed to again oversee the sale process. Pity the poor shareholder…

Rumour has it the raw sewage incident in Bathurst hospital was no accident… disgruntled contractors may be able to cast further light on this. Also at Bathurst, the new security system prevented an obstetrician from attending a late-night birth.

Rumour has it that The Australian is starting a climate round in its Canberra Press Gallery office, and that earmarked to take this role is none other than Crikey’s Christian Kerr. Clearly The Oz editorial have no intention of shifting to serious coverage of this complex issue. (C.Kerr writes: “They know something I don’t.”)

Re. Tips and Rumours: Reba Meagher and Mardi Gras. I can very much confirm that Reba Meagher be on the parade route, but will be with Albion Street Centre and Ankali (Two HIV-aids organisations), and will be walking with them, and not be in a convertible. Reba did approach the organisation to come and open something, but I understand that the Board saw this as incompatible with its aims, unless she was going to be releasing a plan on Gay or Lesbian Health (which, surprisingly, is not a vote gainer). Other politicians on the parade route will be part of their party floats, Greens, rainbow Labor etc, and Clover Moore in front of the City of Sydney Float, with the Mayor of San Francisco. And the convertibles will be reserved for the people who got us here today – the 78ers! As well they should be.

The Golden Carriage of North Head. You’ve misplaced the coach. Your red circle should cross the road and move about three buildings to the north. It’s a stunning piece. 23.5 caract gold and diamond encrusted. Inlaid pieces of wood from historic places. No questions answered on issues of security such as “is that glass bullet-proof”. There’s no real secret about any of this. The Manly Daily has been reporting on its progress for quite some time and Alan Jones has been promoting it to the hilt. Jim Frecklington has been taking touring parties for quite some time at $10 a head which includes a nice cup of tea and a biscuit. He has a presentation that lasts an hour and he then takes questions until the crowd disperses. It really is worth seeing and there’s really no attempt to keep it secret. Give him a call and I’m sure he’ll invite you along. He expects to deliver the carriage over the next few months. He will put it on a jumbo jet and fly it to London. I saw it twice last week!

On Tuesday, 12 February during the condolence motions in the House of Representatives, almost all members were present during the speeches for Kim Beazley senior. When the condolence speeches for Peter Andren began, while most members of the house remained, three prominent new backbenchers — Peter Costello, Alexander Downer, Mark Vaile — and one frontbencher — Tony Abbott — walked out. So much for civility in the new Parliament.

I was on the lawn outside Parliament house last Wednesday. Here are two photographs that I took. The top photograph was taken at the end of Kevin Rudd’s speech; the bottom photograph was taken after Brendan Nelson mentioned the r-pe of the four-year-old girl.


  See today’s Adelaide Advertiser, page 30 for a picture of Messrs Turnbull, Nelson and Hockey in Federal Parliament. The hands over mouths are conspicuous. Is this because they fear lipreaders watching them on TV?  

Peter Fray

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