Fun and games in Brisbane’s City Hall as the ramifications of the new Liberal National (or is that the National Liberal) Party are fully comprehended. Despite his pedigree (or perhaps because of the stink that is Liberal at the Federal level) Lord Mayor “Can Do” Campbell Newman, the Last Standing Liberal of Any Consequence, has always played down the Liberal tag, preferring to run on his own self-styled pragmatic laissez-faire interventionist melange of ideology.

The Liberal logo has always been a mere pixel on his beaming billboards. However confusion reigned this week as Council sat for the first time, and conservative Councillors were made to publicly declare their membership of the new merged entity, much to the delight of the Labor Party, which has had little to laugh about in Brisbane in recent years. Given the less-than-ecstatic reception the Nationals get anywhere within 100 kilometres of Brisbane, Can Do found it hard to even utter the word “National”. In one courageous media conference he said he was “….clear what the name is. Everyone is clear what the name is. We all know the party we belong to.” He … just… couldn’t… say…. the …. word…

Kimberley Kitching is clearly running for this year’s Melbourne City Council elections. Last night, a meeting was held at ALP head office following a request from the North Melbourne and East Melbourne ALP branches for a municipal forum so that candidates could be endorsed. With Kimberley Kitching arrogantly spearheading the opposition to pre-selection, Labor Unity made it very clear last night that they opposed any change to the current “free for all” system.

One of the many points she made was that the Greens were no threat to Labor in inner Melbourne. Most people there were clearly shocked with this naïve remark. She even thought that it would hurt the Labor brand. There were mutterings after the meeting that the only thing that would hurt the Labor brand would be if the right-wing Kitching managed to get herself back on Council and continue her love affair with the rich and famous!

She also tried to play some factional politics by suggesting that under the current system Labor Unity could run a ticket just as the Left could. Many expressed unease with her foray into factional politics.

It wasn’t long before people began to realise her true agenda. Kimberley knows she is on the nose with the inner suburban ranks. If Labor were to endorse candidates, it would be most unlikely that she would gain a high ranking place on the ticket. After all, only this year she couldn’t garner anywhere near enough support to be elected as a Melbourne Federal Electorate delegate to State Conference — in spite of the fact that she was backed by the Right and is even more well known than others who did win such a coveted position!

Interesting to read about the new Channel Nine boss in Adelaide, Graeme Gilbertson. One thing that was not mentioned is that he is and has been a member of the Liberal Party since 1990. He is currently a member of the Mount Gambier branch and played a major role in the preselection of Liberal candidate Steve Perryman.

The NT CLP can’t be bothered putting a candidate up against the reigning incumbent Labor party candidate in MacDonnell electorate, Alison Anderson. That means that there won’t even be a pretence of a democratic election in MacDonnell. Ms Anderson’s pro-Intervention politics are closer to CLP than to Labor anyway, and the CLP are rumoured to have commented that it’s like having a sitting member in parliament anyway. Ms Anderson got 80% of the vote last time around — but the lack of choice of local member, and the lack of voice, particularly from remote communities, is appalling. I’m thinking of moving to New Zealand.

Can we trust the ABS’s job numbers any longer? Perhaps in this wonderful age of technology all the Federal Government needs to do is go off to Centrelink and ask for the data about people collecting benefits. Oh golly gosh! But that may indicate the truth and gee, we can’t have that. As people only working one hour a week are considered employed.

With all this Westpac and St George merger biz, an insider says she’s certain that Westpac are cutting staff left, right and centre. Assistant staff are being cut by a third. The cuts are also going to hit the executive level. There’s been no word in the press yet.

See today’s Age and SMH reporting online of the jobs figures… Apparently NSW and Vic both have the worst figures!

And finally: The Australian team and the Oz media commentators attending tonight’s opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics would be expressing less shock-horror about pollution if they’d bothered to read a report on the Chinese capital written by Father Francisco Pimental in 1670. The Jesuit diplomat from Portugal, generally regarded as the father of Western sinology, reported to his Lisbon masters: “The heat is excessive and a greater torment is the dust of which there is so much and fine that, when we went out on the street, our hair and beards looked like those of millers covered with flour.” Seems like the Beijing smog’s been known about for some time, like 338 years.

Peter Fray

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