The Young Libs and Young Nats in Queensland merged on the weekend. In their usual form, the Nats decided they wanted to take over the Libs but in this instance, the Young Libs outnumbered the Nats two to one. Instead, the Nats decided to throw their support behind one of their kind — a religious right zealot. Simon Ingram was brand new to the Young Libs and managed to win a very tight vote. However, it seems he fooled the Young Nats. Simon Ingram is the former President of the Queensland Young Democrats and was a Democrat Candidate for the seat of Ryan against Michael Johnson. To put the icing on the cake, Ingram campaigned heavily against the creation of the LNP as an anti-mergerist! Good luck to ’em!

Senior Victorian Liberal strategists are disappointed at Jeff Kennett’s withdrawal from the race for Melbourne’s Lord Mayor for two reasons. Firstly they believed he would be able to capitalise on the growing disenchantment among many with John So’s leadership and at the same time strengthen the Liberals brand and assist Ted Bailleu march towards the 2010 election by reminding people of the days when they had a Premier that got things done. Secondly Jeff Kennett’s desire to run would have avoided a messy preselection among Liberal ranks that many fear is about to erupt. A number of Libs are interested — most with higher opinions of themselves than that held by others. Tim Wilson is seen as one of those. Despite living Melbourne and working for the IPA he is seen as a shameless self promoter with no local networks and untried as a candidate. “A windbag with no business connections” is how one at 104 Exhibition St referred to him.

Anyone else had to deal with a Minister in the NSW Government since Iemma was booted? There are next to no advisers and often no Chiefs of Staff. Sounds like that in many cases, it’s just a receptionist filling in a notebook with people the office has to call back.

A few weeks ago, Paul Keating’s former speechwriter, Don Watson had this to say about Kevin Rudd’s speeches to Christian Kerr: “There’s not a lot of eloquence in Australian politics nowadays.” He lamented the lack of “originality of thought” and the use of “dot points” as a substitute for good speeches and speechwriting. It wasn’t the first time Watson had been critical of Rudd’s speechmaking. Now the PM’s office has fired back. Rudd’s spokesman told Tony Jones in an article in The Australian at the weekend in response to the question are there any great speechwriters around, “there aren’t any”. Ouch!

Interesting to note one of the minor players in Turnbull’s new “A Team” front bench the new Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Public Security is none other than “multiple orgasm MP” Jason Wood. Jason who ran in the Victorian seat of Latrobe as almost a de-facto independent distanced himself from many core Liberal platforms (Nuclear Power and Kyoto)during the campaign which he went on to narrowly win. But his main claim to fame (prior to the multiple orgasm speech)was the fact he was an ex-policeman so no one better to comment on public security, or in Jason’s case private security.

The Knox News ran in interesting news item in December 2006 just as the Workchoices campaign got into swing. It appears that a group of Mums and kids picketed his Boronia office and he refused to meet with them citing “I don’t want to waste police resources protecting me” Then there was more news in local papers during the election proper when the media pointed out that the Jason Wood MP signs paced around the electorate contravened local planning and AEC rules. When his office was contacted for comment it was claimed “He was not aware of such laws” I wonder if the new Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Public Security now realises that ignorance of a law is no excuse.

On the eve of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on entertainment at Caulfield’s Spring racing carnival, blood has begun to spill in The Age marketing department in further slashing and burning by Age CEO Don Churchill. Our specialist education unit responsible for large circulation increases has just been gutted. John Kilner known by Victorian schools and journos as Australia’s authority on newspaper education in schools, sacked. Age journos now openly questioning why Churchill is allowed entertainment junkets and chauffeur driven cars while education and pages slashed.

While all the focus has been on Fairfax Newspapers recently someone should be having a close look at Queensland Newspapers. The Brisbane newspaper scene especially the Courier Mail is gradually being eroded away by the bean counters at News Ltd — a situation which is critical given Brisbane is a one paper town — at least Sydney has several competing major daily papers. So far there have been redundancies offered to select staff, cuts in shifts in a huge way. Many columnists have been cut.

One classic was the removal of the Courier Mail’s fishing column, something that had run for something like 20 years. The savings were probably about $200 a week for something that was well liked. One column however that has not been cut is the one written by the editor David Fagan’s wife Madonna King. King gets very well paid for the Saturday column which some believe is a conflict of interest given her role as Brisbane’s weekday ABC talkback show host. The cuts have all been hidden under the guise of a relaunch of the paper’s sections which are now all been put into something called ETC. Whereas in the past they were separately edited sections like fashion and TV now they have all been allocated their own page much to the fury of individual editors of the sections.

Sitting at dinner with a Virgin pilot on Saturday night. He was talking about how wonderful the new rostering system was. Minimal number of working days per month, but the days are very long. Fly to Perth and back on one shift — total time on shift is 14 hours. This is unusual because it is at odds with all the ATSB research recently into fatigue and “back of the clock” operations. In particular, ATSB noted the impact of fatigue in the “high load” descent period. Basically hour 14 of the 14 hour shift. You wouldn’t want to be travelling on a VB flight from Perth to the east coast knowing that your pilot needs some no-doze and is landing in peak hour at Australia’s busiest airport…

What a bunch of Keystone Cops they are the ASX. Yesterday, E*Trade Client Services were advising their confused online customers that E*Trade were only notified by the ASX at three minutes to 10am that there would be a delayed market open. And to compound matters, absolutely no mention on the ASX website yesterday about the delayed open and what was happening. I bet Eddy Groves was wishing they’d brought in their unprecedented decision to ban short selling a few weeks ago.

I found yesterday’s article by Glenn Dyer on “Who is Nancy-Bird?” particularly amusing. Nancy Bird-Walton lives at the same Sydney nursing home as my Grandma. She’s a delightful lady who is very popular with residents and guests. Nancy is always keen for a chat and I’ve no doubt she found the Qantas mistake amusing too.

Good old Nancy-Bird seems to be getting more attention than her more famous namesake:

Peter Fray

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