I have it on good authority that Don Watson will certainly not be returning to political life to write speeches for Kevin Rudd. Nevertheless, the search for new speechwriters to upgrade the PM’s rhetoric is on in earnest. This includes the PM’s office and department. I’m told that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are bolstering their communications unit with several new writers to amplify the Prime Ministerial voice. This is where Watson may have fitted in.

Glenn Milne’s latest in The Australian titled “Kevin’s here to help blow the dough” states “An estimated 100 additional centres … at $2.5 million each equals $2.5billion. Correct me if I’m wrong but my calculations come to $250 million. Based on this strange mathematical wizardry he then derides Rudd’s childcare plan.

From an attendee of the 2020 talk fest in Canberra this weekend: “Julia Gillard as co chair was totally focussed on Education, even though our Agenda was Productivity. Enormous number of left academics in our Agenda. The final report from our Agenda was not our final report … there is a greater power than us that wanted to see what they wanted to see. I also think if I got 100 of my friends together we could have come up with better!”

Talkback Classroom, an initiative formerly of the National Museum and the Parliament Education Office may be moving camps. The “Classroom” was an opportunity for high school students to come head to head with Government decision makers and then broadcast on ABC Radio National. It led to some great grabs, like uncovering that the PM’s Youth Roundtable budget had more money allocated to advertisements than it did fulfilling promises. That Peter Garrett had shares on the register in a company that invested in coal-fired power stations — and embarrassed Julie Bishop and led her to say that the school children weren’t intelligent enough to come up with their own questions, and that they must have been planted by the unions. Rumour has it that the National Museum of Australia was unhappy with the way the program challenged the Government — especially because members of the NMA Board are former Liberal staffers or members. I have it on good authority from friends at the Press Club, that they might take up an offer to host talkback into the future.

I wrote last week about 60 Minutes’ blatant cross promotion – non stories about Channel Nine shows. First it was Sam Newman, then Lisa McCune, then David Attenborough and last night it was Gordon Ramsay! I wonder who it will be next week? I am going to get a tipping comp happening at work.

Moonee Valley City Council (a Labor council) is using WorkChoices legislation quite ruthlessly to get rid of staff while stripping normal conditions. This follows the redrawing of its south east boundary which saw “cash cow” Kensington and North Melbourne go to the City of Melbourne, leaving a budget shortfall of several million dollars.

Della Bosca has changed his haircut and appears to be losing weight. Join the dots.

Things are getting tougher for foreigners in China. In addition to the stuff about tightening visa applications I got this today:

Due to the recent political tensions and as Olympic games draw near, Chinese authorities have strengthened the controls of foreigners. This concerns all foreigners requiring a working and/or residence permit, including Hong Kong citizen posted in China or family members of expatriates.

The security reinforcement is visible at all levels: visa policy: visas are delivered on case-by-case basis (even leisure visa) and multi-entry business visas (F visa) issued in HKG have now a maximum stay of 30 days and maximum 2 entries residence permits for partners (not married) are not granted in BJS anymore (even if they concluded a PACS or have children) foreigners are more and more controlled at home (recent example of AF foreigner controlled at 7am): the police checks the working/residence documents, as well as the apartment to make sure that there is no ‘hidden’ office foreign visitors must be declared at the local police station within 24 hours upon arrival.

Foreigners with a residence permit in China must declare their return at the local police station every time they leave the country (even to HKG) – within 24 hours.

cf. mail sent last week. Foreigners do not enjoy any “special” treatment anymore when the police controls bars or discos (especially regarding drug consumption or prostitution). Not complying with the regulations can bring you into serious troubles (from a fine up to deportation, banning order or even prison sentence).

 You can not count on permissiveness or leniency anymore, but rather the contrary. Considering the current context, it is of the utmost importance that our daily behaviour strictly abides by the Chinese rules and custom.

I would be highly appreciated if you could pass this message on to the any other expats in your team.

What happened to some of Australia’s top 10 MySpace cyber celebrities? The company recently told (Media Release, April 6) that a Perth student was top of the list with 212,727 friends. (After excluding DJs Hamish and Andy and fictional Summer Heights characters.) “Hanny” was clearly delighted and boasted her success on her own site myspace.com/hanny. But others were obviously not so impressed to be on the top 10 list as they’ve now disappeared. Where is No 2 “sophie-rox-ur-sox” with 203,768 friends, No 3 “bit3-m3-whor3” with 135,551, No 5 “miss-tease” with 101,055 friends and No 7 “luna-tix-88” with 47,186 friends? With names like that though, no wonder they have attracted so many friends.