When the PM returned to work yesterday, he found a Prime Minister’s Office full of unhappy staffers. After the election, half of Rudd’s staff left for greener fields. A year later, the staff has halved again. He must have the highest turnover of staff of any pollie in the country. Talking to a few current staffers at a BBQ the other day, they described the workload and pressures as almost unbearable. Nobody has a life outside of work and Rudd never relents in his constant demands. Now his media spinner Tim Gleason has left. More are scheduled to depart. But there is a silver lining.

After David Epstein left, morale improved. Alister Jordan as chief staff member has embarked upon a series of changes to improve things. David Fredericks has improved internal management as Jordan’s deputy. There are now staff devoted to longer-term strategic thinking. Unhappy with speeches, journalist James Button has been brought into the department to improve Rudd’s rhetoric. The Newspoll today will be a worry, as is the steady churning of staff, but at least the staffers I spoke to have cause for hope.

Following the ungainly exit of one Victorian Labor star recruit, a single young Victorian Minister’s loose pillow talk could cause further ructions. Word is, despite his impeccable Labor pedigree, he is jaded with politics and preparing to leave for a lucrative career in the private sector. Are we seeing the first of many shifting chairs on the Victorian Titanic?

When Clive Palmer bought himself a new political party by bank-rolling the establishment of the LNP in Queensland, little did we know he was buying a plaything for his 18-year old son, Michael, who earlier this month became the LNP candidate for the safe Labor seat of Nudgee. Pity Michael doesn’t appear to have finished school — he sent this strangely-worded letter to the lucky voters of Nudgee recently. The Obama-esque flourish “together we can” near the end is laudable, as is his repeated insistence that he’s interested in “change”. But he might tell us who Anna Bleigh is, and whether the comma on his keyboard is broken.

Crikey/Media Monitors radio and TV rumour watch reports:

  • Caller claims packets of M&Ms will be sold in separate colours from now on. There will be one mixed colours packet circulating at any one time, worth $20,000 in a promotion. — 7.14am; 3AW (Melbourne)
  • Caller “Beach Closed” says everyone is up in arms about the possibility of Aldinga Beach being closed to cars. She claims a source in the SA Government has told her regardless of how many petitions are signed all beaches opened to cars — including Aldinga, Moana, Sellicks and Silversand will be closed. — 8.10am; Triple M (Adelaide)
  • 5AA presenter Leon Byner says there are rumours SA Labor Minister for Health John Hill may not contest the next election. Channel Seven political reporter Mike Smithson notes Hill has lost “a frightening amount of weight” and thinks he’s gone on the CSIRO diet. Nothing would surprise him. — 9.45am; 5AA (Melbourne)

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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