Crikey’s insights into the Rudd Government’s penchant for symbolism, subterfuge and spin over substance has now been taken up by The Australian and The AFR in recent days. While it is true that many of the Rudd Government’s new staffers hail from the now decayed and decrepit NSW Government, their experience using the levers of power should not be discounted. I’m told that the dump rate for Labor’s advisers making the transition from Opposition to Government was high. Many simply didn’t make the cut. Look no further than Peter Garrett’s office for evidence of that. The other thing is that many Rudd’s personal staffers who were with him in Opposition and the early days of government are now in Ministerial offices, acting as the PM’s eyes and ears deep into the government. Around half of Rudd’s own personal staff are now spread around the government: spinmeister Walt Seccord is now with Justine Elliot, senior adviser David Williams is with Peter Garrett, James Pawluk is now with Joe Ludwig, adviser Kate Callaghan is in Stephen Smith’s office, speechwriter Troy Bramston is with Tony Burke, media adviser Rod Hilton is with Greg Combet, PA Mary Mawhinney is with Simon Crean, Clare Enyi and foreign policy adviser Peter Khalil are with Joel Fitzgibbon, media adviser Lou Cullen is with Wayne Swan, Sam Miles is with Craig Emerson, Alex Cramb is with Bob Debus.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, a veteran Independent, has been given the green light by the NSW Labor Party to stay in charge of the city for another term. That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the decision of the party’s ruling right-wing machine to support long-serving ALP councillor Tony Pooley and block the candidacy of Meredith Burgmann, the popular left-winger and former president of the NSW Legislative Council. Dr Burgmann had a serious chance of overthrowing Moore at the local government elections in September, Pooley has no chance whatsoever. Why would the ALP want to give a free ride to Moore? Because she has established a modus vivendi with the Iemma Government which has come to the conclusion that guerrilla warfare against the lord mayor – the tactic pursued by her town hall predecessor and now Planning Minister Frank Sartor – was shortsighted and counter-productive. Hence this week’s joint announcement by Moore and Iemma to build affordable housing in the inner-city for essential workers such as nurses, teachers, police and office staff.

One hotly-tipped candidate who won’t be the next state director of the NSW Liberal Party is Paul Ritchie. He was on the short list to succeed Graham Jaeschke who fell on his sword after John Howard’s ignominious defeat at last November’s election. Ritchie, public affairs manager of ABL State Chamber, a business lobbying organisation, is heading to Harvard University on a one-year scholarship in business studies. He will return to Sydney in time to seek pre-selection for the 2011 state election and become a minister in Premier Barry O’Farrell’s Coalition Government. Or so he hopes.

NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor has appointed a temporary three-member panel to advise him on controversial development projects financed by the private sector. Members of the External Advisory Panel are town planner Janet Thompson, planning law expert Adrian Galasso SC and former National Party minister Garry West. Sartor suddenly unveiled the panel – which will disappear in a few months when new planning laws pass parliament – to create a Chinese wall between himself and the multi-million-dollar plans of developers that are awaiting approval. Sartor will not disclose which developments will be referred to his handpicked panel but said there were between 50 and 100 controversial projects currently on foot within the Planning Department. Let’s hope that if any of the panel members have previous involvement in projects that are sent to them for consideration, they will reveal the conflict of interest and stand aside.

The Sheik of it! Age journalists were shocked recently while attending a training session given by UK journalists from two of that fair isle’s finest publications – The Sun and The News of the World. A source close to The Age has sensationally revealed that reporters were aghast at tips dished out on how to stoop to snoop to get scoops on public figures’ private lives by disguising themselves and approaching targets under false pretences. A tactic that has worked a treat for The News Of The World whose legendary fake Sheik has ensnared many an unwary victim. A friend of a friend of a friend of an Age insider blasted, “The day Age journalists feel they need to covertly record conversations by unwitting schmucks would be a sad day indeed for Victoria’s premier broadsheet”.

As a South Australian political junkie I’m one of probably very few readers of the state parliamentary Hansard, but there is an arguement that the availability of public access to this document is important to our democracy. Bad planning or technical glitches mean that you can’t access the Hansard if your computer is running the latest MS Internet Explorer as your web-browser. Maybe I should have gotten a better known brand of internet browser, I mean, who’s ever heard of this Microsoft mob?

Great effort by Foxtel last night. They did a system update for 10 minutes during prime time. Everything being recorded was lost and you couldn’t watch anything. Did this happen right across Australia? Right in the middle of top rating Gordon Ramsay

Get the record straight. Few seem to have noticed Australia already has TWO bionic eye projects. One was spotted by The Oz. It’s a tiny bunch of larrikins with an idea that probably won’t work. But good on them for having a go. The next day The Age wrote up the other, much bigger and better resourced project (which The Oz IT section has written on previously).

What happened to Greg McLeay, the guy who was arrested at APEC? The Chaser case has been sorted out, but I’ve heard nothing of this bloke.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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