Laura Tingle revealed in The AFR last Friday that Treasurer Wayne Swan dined with Glenn Milne at Kingston’s Portia’s Place restaurant on the Saturday night before the News Ltd hitman produced this extraordinary Monday column in The Australian attacking Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens in the following terms:

There’s a view at the most senior levels of the Rudd Government that Stevens needs to urgently moderate his presentation. Not least of all because he’s chosen to spectacularly cut across Swan’s narrative that banks’ rate rises outside the cycle are not always justifiable.

In other words, Stevens now has few friends in Canberra. The description of one of the most senior bureaucrats in the country is that Stevens comes across as “a boring Protestant”. Which, of course, he is; the governor is a committed Christian, a member of the Heathcote Baptist Church in Sydney. As an economics student at Sydney University in the late 1970s, he played guitar at a church youth group run at the Scots Church and met his wife, Susan, there.

Stevens seems to have heeded the message, with yesterday’s speech and Reserve Bank minutes suggesting interest rates are heading down.

Stevens has very little support in Liberal ranks for his mid-campaign rate rise, but Wayne Swan’s decision to launch such an attack through Milne is incredibly unsubtle and highlights his long career as a Machiavellian factional player in Labor’s all powerful AWU faction in Queensland.

Crikey published the following from a Queensland ALP insider on July 14, 2002, and it never was denied by any of the parties:

Finally, I have heard that quite a few of Cheryl’s former staffers are very keen for their names to be cleared of the accusation that one of them may have accessed her emails illegally, given that this matter has been referred to the police. To this end, former staffer Dean “Doggo” Goding has apparently admitted to other staffers that he knew it was Rosemary Hume who accessed Kernot’s emails and passed them onto Wayne Swan.

That was six years ago. Laurie Oakes and Wayne Swan have obviously never confirmed it, but if Swan is prepared to deploy Peter Costello’s head-kicker one day after The Daily Telegraph’s outrageous attack on our independent central bank chief, it suggests he plays politics very hard. I reckon the game here is jaw-boning Stevens into a post-budget rate cut that rewards fiscal responsibility.

Finally, Peter Costello must be amused that his chief media backer has been able to ingratiate himself with Swan so quickly. Milne’s treachery even extends to this knee-capping of his brother Tim Costello in The Sunday Telegraph 10 days ago in what was a shameless plug for the gaming industry.

“Attempts to reach Rev Tim Costello were unsuccessful,” Milne wrote, something Costello disputed in this letter published by the paper on Sunday. Costello advises Crikey that Milne has refused to return his calls for the past week.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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