Sophie Panopoulos-Mirabella may not be doing a rosemary’s baby, but Nealgate is not her first run-in with the Labor Right. Cue 1991 and Melbourne University Student Union, where incumbent President Andrew Landeryou — I wonder what happened to him — refused to leave his office after being sacked by a 90% vote in a referendum. Trying to carrying on as normal, as protestors occupied his office, he reached for the phone, but was prevented from using it by a young Sophie P sat on it. We never did find that phone.

You may like to ask the Rudd government why they have not gone to tender, as is prescribed under the Department of Finance’s Financial Management Accountability Act , for the proposed Income Management Card program for the Indigenous people of NT and WA. According to Minister Ludwig, this will be issued to 20,000 people. A quick conservative sum puts the welfare funds involved at $20 million per month. Which unnamed contractor will be the beneficiary of these funds on the overnight money market? Just how many doctors are members of the AMA? Has anyone checked? If you look at the figures you will see the AMA maybe a lobby group but it certainly does not represent the majority of doctors or their views.

Two bizarre events in NSW Upper House in the last 48 hours:

  1. The NSW Parliament on Wednesday night passed the National Gas (NSW) Bill 2008, which adopts the SA legislation under a “lead legislator” model. The only thing is, SA hasn’t passed their bill yet — and the SA Greens and Libs are talking over amendments. So NSW just passed a law without knowing what it is. The Parliamentary Secretary (Henry Tsang) assured the Upper House, in answer to a question from John Kaye, that SA had in fact passed their bill, only to later come back and say “oops, it’s still before their legislative council”. See here and here.
  2. The Shooters moved a private members bill by “urgency” on Thursday — without even bothering to say a single sentence about why it’s urgent. The government supported them, also without speaking. So the only members to speak to urgency ere the Greens, who obviously opposed it. Is this a new low — not even going through the pretence of having an argument, because yo know you have the numbers? Also, isn’t it strange that the “moral guardians of our society” (aka Christian Dems) are supporting easier access to guns in schools?

Prickles in the Clover patch . In this local government election year, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore is facing trouble with one of the constituencies that has been a major factor in her political success. Over the next few weeks, Sydney City Council will be considering renovation plans for the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville — home of Priscilla, and prominent in the opening scenes of the film. It’s an icon for Sydney’s queer community — which is smarting from the loss of a number of other iconic venues in recent years. A Facebook group — “Save the Imperial” — already has over 600 members. But a small rump of anti-development locals are shaping up as a thorn in Clover’s side. Bullish from their recent victory against a proposed Woolworths supermarket, they now have the Imperial in their sights. Clover has always been happy to champion local objections, regardless of whether they have any merit. But will she be prepared to do this if it means the loss of her cherished g-y constituency?

The gas explosion is WA has us wondering how much of our essential infrastructure is vulnerable to failure, or, dare I say it loudly, to attack? A few years in dealing with IT services to Federal Government in Canberra, I became aware of department concerns over fibre cables latency, or back-up provisions for when a digger finds an optic fibre in the ground. The reality was, some links between departments and their external service provider did not have a back-up or alternative link. I feel sure this is no longer the case. But of greater concern was the situation with telephone and data exchanges: at the time there was one well known major exchange that had absolutely no back-up available, in the event it was taken out. Now, knowing something of our major telco, and it’s current attitude to let’s call it “civic responsibility”, one can only wonder if anything has changed. How easy it would have been to take out almost the whole of government’s data feed, in one single blow. Again, I feel sure someone has looked at the issue since 9/11, but just thought I’d say…

Go to www.loop.wa.gov.au (the leader of the opposition’s in WA) — it has a blank page now but for the last few days when you tried up open up the LOOP page it sent you directly to the WA Liberal Party’s page www.wa.liberal.org.au. This is a state where MPs can’t even put a political sticker on their government provided car yet they were using a government website to raise funds for the Liberal party.

Crikey noted on Wednesday that the content of The Age list of top 10 online stories differs from the print edition. However, I notice that it has changed little over the week. Today’s list barely differs from Wednesday’s. Does society’s collective desire for stories about nudity, s-x, sport, celebrity (or better still, a combination of two or three) eventually produce what becomes a slowly changing and self perpetuating list? If I was just a little more cynical, I might become convinced that it’s not a computer generated list of most read pieces, but just an attempt by Fairfax to generate traffic using the list as a set of salacious online headlines.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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