On the road again. We left our wandering Liberal Leader last week having an “absolutely fabulous” first day of his Listening Tour of Australia on the Gold Coast. Since then his adventure has taken him to Brisbane where Brendan really learned about life and actually went to a petrol station where “one lady I gave a hand to get some petrol into her car, who put $30 in, was saying ‘gee, I really hope petrol comes down soon. I’ve got to buy groceries; we’ve got other commitments with the house and interest rates and so on'”. Fancy that! Real people actually pay for things – which he saw when he helped bag people’s groceries at a Woolies and learned that people are “not too happy about the idea of some sort of tax on plastic bags.”

To illustrate the point that he’s not afraid of being chastised by that big, bad Peter Garrett he put that happy snap on his diary website with its plastic bag and all. And so to Sydney for a day which was far too busy to make a diary entry. Friday in Adelaide was back-to-school day with a visit to “St Ignatius College and address and field questions from year 12 students on issues as diverse as Aboriginal issues, Iraq, my political journey and what the school was like when I attended in 1975.” Not that our new Liberal Leader wants to appear elitist. He went to see the kiddies at Campbelltown Primary too and, surprise, surprise, they “were just so magnificently polite, well-behaved and impressive in the way that they responded to their principal, teachers and our visit.” We are not sure how the kiddies were in the Northern Territory. No diary entries yet for the weekend spent up north but stand by for the excitement of the current visit to Tasmania.

The power of Word. I am grateful to my colleague Bernard Keane for this little bite revealing that the offices of Bob Debus and Peter Garrett – both relative newcomers to the Federal ALP – have evidently not heard of the bitter lesson learnt by the Party in 2004: never publish media documents in Word format. A Mark Latham speech in 2004 was distributed with edits available to anyone who clicked on “Track Changes” – prompting many Coalition Ministers to revise their own processes to ensure everything they sent out went as PDFs, sparing them similar embarrassment. A Debus-Garrett press release yesterday on a new Customs boat to operate off the north-west coast came in Word format, and Track Changes revealed a variety of edits, most trifling, except for the removal of “dugongs” from the list of animals being illegally fished in the region. Dugongs apparently can swim off the northern Western Australian coast in safety.

Put him on the list? The talk around Canberra is that Treasury Secretary Ken Henry will not have to register on the planned list of lobbyists because there is an exemption for people making representations on behalf of their own family. The grey kangaroos will be thankful for that as Mr Henry is being given the credit for the continuing stay of execution for those inhabiting Defence Department land right slap bang in the middle of suburban Canberra. We drew attention last year in Crikey to his assistance in preparing for the animal rights group Wildcare Queanbeyan a submission to the Department of Defence urging that the kangaroos be transported to NSW rather than killed. Now the defenders of the earless dragons, which share the grasslands with the roos, are muttering about the propriety of a senior public servant intervening in this way to assist an organisation of which his wife is a leading member. The delay in deciding the fate of the kangaroos, these dragon defenders claim, is threatening the very existence of an endangered species.

No Coalition polling joy. The bad news just keeps coming for the Coalition of Liberal and National Parties. As if the Newspoll on Federal voting intentions out this morning in The Australian was not bad enough, the latest Newspoll state figures show that only in NSW is the Coalition even at 50:50 with Labor. Everywhere else the pollster is pointing to a continuation of the Labor monopoly on power.

Latest Newspoll

Last Election

Labor

Coalition

Labor

Coalition

Federal

59

41

53

47

NSW

50

50

52

48

Victoria

56

44

54

46

SA

53

47

57

43

WA

53

47

52

48

Queensland

60

40

56

44

The power of an email reminder. Goodness knows how these chain emails start but they can be a powerful weapon in political campaigning. This one I received from a friend yesterday has probably reminded millions of people by now of the kind of people President Clinton and her first man would be back in the White House.

The Daily Reality Check

It appears you cannot beat a family story when it comes to getting readership. The Adelaide dad with the daughter who had his daughter clearly tops the most read lists on the internet for the second day in a row. On two of the sites we survey there were actually two stories in the top five and it featured prominently on another seven. Even the ABC finally decided that incest was worth a mention and covered evidence given in an Adelaide court concerning the death of a first child of the father and daughter that died of a congenital defect and readers responded by ranking it number four. The Australian relented as well but its journalists did not dirty their own reputations by doing the writing, leaving the coverage to what the website described as “agencies”. Maybe if Paul Kelly had done a crafty commentary on the social implications it would have made the top five but as it was, it nestled down the list in eighth place.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.