That Troy Buswell is an awful snedger. I can thank the Irish for help in finding a word to describe the eccentric sniffing habits of Western Australian Liberal Party Leader Troy Buswell. Apparently in County Cork the practice of sniffing bicycle seats after women riders alighted was prevalent enough for the word snedger to be coined, and included in the urban dictionary of slang.

An office chair is not an exact fit for a bicycle seat but surely the two forms of seat sniffing are close enough for “snedger” to become Buswell’s nick name.

Snedger’s hard task. That the influence of a newspaper on voting behaviour is not a simple one is well illustrated in Western Australia where The West Australian has been running a vicious campaign against the Labor administration for years now, yet the opinion polls show the party still well ahead of its Coalition opponents. The Australian’s Newspoll produces figures on WA state politics each quarter by combining the small samples it gathers in the state each fortnight for its national survey and the latest figures for the period January to March have Labor on 42% (compared with 41.9% at the election of February 2005) to 38% for the Liberal-National Coalition (39.3%), 12% for the Greens (7.6%) with others on 8% (11.2%). On a two party preferred basis Labor is calculated to lead by six percentage points – 53 to 47. That is an almost 1% bigger lead than it achieved in 2005. Nothing Snedger has done since March suggests that the standing of his Liberal Party will have improved. The challenge to his leadership to take place on Tuesday will not help either. No amount of ranting and raving from The West Australian will change the truism that divided parties cannot win elections.

Minister for odds and sods. Special Minister of State Senator John Faulkner is fast becoming the Minister for Odds and Sods in the Rudd Government. His latest responsibility is to take over ministerial control of the Old Parliament House which used to run from within the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Those people interested in the preservation of the nation’s history should be delighted at the change because there is no more powerful person in the Labor Cabinet than Senator Faulkner who should be able to ensure that the dreaded Cabinet razor gang does not cut the funds necessary to continue the transformation of Old Parliament House into an even better museum of social and political history.

The man can write. Whatever else you might say about Mark Latham, the man can write. Quite a wonderfully acid piece in this morning’s Australian Financial Review. He puts into context the recent 2020 summit and its 120 ideas, all but one of which would have been familiar to the Rudd government. “An Australian republic, lifelong learning accounts, population policies, increased arts funding, preventative health strategies, micro-credit schemes, mentoring programs, freedom of information reform, overhauling the federation, reviewing the tax system: these are the tired old chestnuts of never-ending discussion within the Labor caucus.” As to the single exception, the former Labor leader was referring to financing the bionic eye project embraced by the PM as the logical next step following the development of the bionic ear. Only trouble was, as journalist Latham pointed out, at the Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, two men who had been completely blind were recently fitted with bionic eyes.

The Daily Reality Check

A fair dinkum proper news story did not take long to get to the top of the most read lists. The boating accident on Sydney Harbour featured prominently on all of the 10 sites in the Crikey survey. Another politics free day for readers of news on the internet. Only on The Australian was there what I would call a serious story with a report on the attempts to improve literacy among Aborigines in the Northern Territory. Not that Australians are really that different from people in other parts of the world when it comes to what interests them. Have a look at these stories which topped the most read lists on international websites:

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Quote of the Day:

“The bra thing was a bit of a silly boy’s prank, but this is the yuk factor. Whether it happened two years ago or not, it’s the yuk factor that’s coming through. I haven’t heard anybody say it’s fine, it’s just a party prank.” — WA Liberal leadership challenger Dr Graham Jacobs commenting on Troy Buswell, the man he is challenging.

Peter Fray

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