The sleaze of politics. A big weekend for sleaze. Over in Perth a newspaper accused Energy Minister Fran Logan of impropriety after remarks he made to a female staff member. I’m not of a mind to go into the details but I guess people will look it up for themselves. Suffice it to say that the rules have changed since my days reporting in Parliament Houses. Behaviour once considered not news because it was not relevant to the performance of official duties is now news. Bra snapping, chair sniffing, shirt lifting, crotch grabbing and sexual innuendos are all fair game for journalists. Politicians everywhere are beginning to react by pretending to be whiter than white. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could not wait to take the opportunity of redeeming himself for frequenting a place of topless dancing by denouncing some photos of a young woman as if they portrayed some obscene act. Premier Morris Iemma and his crew, embarrassed by having included a fair dinkum p-dophile in their ministerial ranks for so long, was content that police went barging in to an art gallery to confiscate the offending images. And to give it all another federal twist, this morning’s effort by Glenn Milne turned attention to the Labor candidate for the Gippsland by-election for allowing, heaven forbid, comics using bad election to appear at a cultural festival.

Lobbyist Con. Concetto Antonio “Call me Con” Sciacca, a former Minister in the Keating Labor Government who lost a House of Representatives seat at the 2004 election, has joined the merry band of retired politicians in the lobbying business and has some prominent based companies as clients. The gradually expanding Federal Register of Lobbyists shows Sciaccas Lawyers and Consultants represents, among others, the Manildra Group, who have been major donors to the NSW Branch of the Labor Party and who have benefited by NSW Government decisions promoting the use of ethanol, and ABC Learning Centres Pty Ltd. There are now 18 firms on the register of third party lobbyists which is due to become fully operational from 1 July. While the register gives details of each lobbying firm’s clients, there is no disclosure of how much they are paid. The Melbourne Herald Sun reported this morning that another retired Labor MP, former Victorian Treasurer Tony Sheehan, landed a $1 million deal for helping win a lucrative Victorian gambling licence.

A senior qualification. Labor’s Wayne Swan has added “seniors” to the list of qualifications that now accompany “working families.” Facing the television cameras in Brisbane on Friday, the Treasurer spoke of a policy “to assist working families and to assist seniors …” This follows his great leader, as we reported in Crikey on Friday, now talking of “working families, working Australians”. Becoming quite a mouthful really – working families, working Australians and seniors.

A two leader strategy. The Western Australian Liberal Party has come up with a novel approach to settling the leadership dispute between incumbent Troy Buswell and potential challenger Rob Johnson. On the official Party website both men are now designated as Leader of the Opposition.

I am grateful to my astute reader Mr Struggle Street for drawing this matter to my attention or the astuteness of the WA Party Branch might have escaped the wider attention it deserves.

The Daily Reality Check

His punches ruptured her liver, pancreas and small bowel, caused internal bleeding, and bruising to her chest, arms, neck, face, head and right hip. Then he smashed her over the head with the glass door from a video cabinet. She died. He woke up the next morning and, as he told police in a phone call, remembered “I went too far last night.” It was not the first time Warren Camfoo, 44 of Katherine had assaulted his wife. Twice before he was convicted and he was under a restraining order. But to Justice Dean Mildren in the Northern Territory Supreme Court Camfoo did not have an extensive history of violence and had generally been a law-abiding citizen. He had pleaded guilty to manslaughter and took responsibility for his actions. His Honour, reported the Northern Territory News, noted Camfoo had been held in high regard by both indigenous and non-indigenous community members, had very strong family support, and had prospects for rehabilitation. And then there were the mitigating circumstances. The killer had been held in high regard by both indigenous and non-indigenous community members, had very strong family support, and had prospects for rehabilitation. Camfoo appeared to have been addicted to booze and cannabis for a number of years. Camfoo himself had been the victim of two sexual assaults in his youth. The sentence? Nine years with at least four years and six months in jail. Now Justice Mildren presumably was simply following the guidelines of the law he administers and if that is so perhaps it is time for the politicians to seriously consider whether the law needs changing. It seems to me this case neatly summarises the difficulties society gets in to when it starts looking for reasons not to believe that people have free will. No one is found to be responsible for anything.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

I would like to put a story from the Launceston Examiner at the top of the list but the newspaper where I did my cadetship so many years ago is one of the few in Australia that persists with limiting access to its major stories to subscribers to its internet service. The paper’s exclusive report on the impending resignation of Premier Paul Lennon will thus be read by most people in a rewritten fashion on other websites. It makes the attempt at revenue raising by The Examiner quite self defeating really.

The Pick the Weekend’s Political Coverage

What the world is reading on the net

Quotes of the Day:

If I believe that the interests of Tasmania and the interests of Labor are best served by somebody else leading the Labor Party then I’ll leave. I’m not driven by popularity and polling, I’m not driven by a desire to be loved by people. What drives me in public life is a determination to make those sometimes tough and unpopular decisions that are necessary to provide a better future for Tasmania. I haven’t reached that point yet where I believe it’s necessary for me to stand aside.

— Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon on Saturday after returning from a trip to New Zealand to headlines predicting a challenge to his leadership.

It’s time for a new era, time for a new generation.

— Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon on Sunday telling a Labor colleague he was stepping down as Premier.

Peter Fray

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