A Governor General controversy. The Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean is on the way to becoming as unpopular with Canadians as Sir John Kerr managed in Australia 33 years ago. The Haitian born former journalist has upset the Liberal and New Democratic Parties and members of the Bloc Quebecois by agreeing to prorogue Parliament at the request of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Just as Sir John did not concern himself in sacking the Whitlam Government with anything so mundane as who had a majority in the Parliament, Ms Jean acted without waiting for the no confidence vote due on Monday that the Conservatives seemed certain to lose.

What happens now in governing Canada is unclear and will perhaps depend on whether the coalition of the three opposition parties holds together over the Christmas and New Year break that the GG has allowed. Mr Harper will use the time to start a de facto election campaign based on his minority Conservative Party government being the only hope for sensible economic management in these troubled financial times.

Another excuse for a leadership challenge story. The revolt against a decision of the Coalition leadership by a group of Liberal and National Senators last night is just what’s needed to kick along the leadership speculation. We can now expect Malcolm Turnbull to have plenty of silly season reading suggesting that his position in charge of the Liberals is in jeopardy.

The silent backbencher Peter Costello will be elevated by journalists into the position of the number one challenger whether he wants to be there or not, seeing that Deputy Leader Julie Bishop’s reputation is being tarnished every time she opens her mouth to speak.

Opposition Leader Turnbull should be hoping that unemployment starts rising quickly to take some of the gloss off Kevin Rudd. A series of bad opinion polls for him might even see the speculation of journalists come true!

Preaching his wowser message. Every time I hear Tim Costello preaching his wowser message about the evils of gambling or the horrors of drinking, I keep thinking that Peter Costello has a lot to answer for. If the younger brother Peter had not entered Federal Parliament and been such a success as the nation’s Treasurer, I am sure the media would pay the Revd Tim the scant regard he deserves.

This morning’s preaching about the evils of Internet gambling is typical of the busy-body approach of telling people that he knows best what is good for them. Mr Costello — Tim, not Peter — opposes the recommendation contained in a report to the NSW Government that Internet and phone gambling on sports and current events should be allowed. He told ABC radio the recommendations will fuel problem gambling. “Gambling should be something that you are forced to jump a few hurdles to go and do,” he said. “Internet betting 24/7 in your own home is really quite devastating.”

I’m not sure which Internet world the reverend lives in, but mine has gambling sites aplenty offering odds on all manner of things and nothing any government in Australia can do will stop people using them. The only loser at the moment is the NSW Government which does not get a share of the revenue.

And yes, that’s right, this Richard Farmer is the very same one who has been an Internet bookmaker and a liquor seller.

Cheaper by the dozen no more. There’s been an incentive for years to buy more booze. Whether your alcohol of choice is wine, spirits or beer, your local store invariably gives a discount for buying in quantity. If a can of beer is two bucks fifty on its own, then you can get a case of 24 for $40 and save a third on every one. Your ordinary Woolies and Liquorland regularly give a 20% discount for buying wine by the dozen or even half of one. The real discounters like Dan Murphy and First Choice, where single bottle prices are already low, knock off 5% if you buy a case. It’s just the way things have been in the Australian liquor business since the abolition of resale price maintenance all the way back in 1975. But maybe the days of alcohol being cheaper by the dozen are coming to an end.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second gave her British subjects the bad news this week that things are about to change. In her speech opening a new session of Parliament in London, she foreshadowed that “a Bill will be brought forward to increase the effectiveness and public accountability of policing, to reduce crime and disorder and enhance airport security.” And snuck away in that planned legislation is a Labour Government plan to “prevent low level crime and disorder taking root in our communities by tightening controls around lap dancing clubs and the misuse of alcohol, including the sale of alcohol.”

It would have been undignified for Her Majesty to go into the grubby details of such matters — I mean, can you imagine her talking about poll dancing in the House of Lords? — but the London Daily Telegraph did:

Basically, it appears in Britain it will soon be illegal for retailers to have such offers as ‘buy one, get one free’ or offer a discount on the single bottle price for a multiple bottle purchase. My experience of matters like this is that governments tend to follow each other. Enjoy those discounts by the dozen while you can.

Another general story. My memory trip re Gorton and General Seato (Crikey yesterday) brought to my colleague Barry Everingham’s mind a similar beauty; this one concerning a one-time Indonesian ambassador. Barry writes: “My friend and neighbor in Red Hill was George Durr who was General Dynamics’ man looking after the sale of the F1-11 to Defence. He and I went to a reception at the Indonesian Embassy in honor of some Jakarta big wig and George was seriously introduced to the visitor as General Dynamic.”

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW