Anna Bligh has given Neil Roberts the police portfolio after disposing of the troubled Judy Spence. There are stories from within the Queensland Police service that Bligh was considering handing the portfolio to Karen Struthers – the subject of assault claims from a confrontation at a polling booth on Saturday – but senior police made known their vehement objections. Struthers ended up Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women.

Peculiar goings-on in the office of Steve Fielding. Adviser George Smith is rumoured to have “had to resign”. When contacted, Smith himself refuses to comment. Fielding’s office (or, as callers are told, “the Office of the Leader of Family First”) also refuses to comment, but insists that Smith is “not in the office at the moment” without confirming he is still working with Fielding. Fielding’s media adviser has declined to return Crikey’s calls. Fielding’s recent performance has been that of a man struggling to cope with the surge of critical legislation on which he has had to cast a deciding vote, and both he and fellow independent Nick Xenophon sought additional resources last year to enable them to handle their workload.

Bill Shorten’s April Fool’s Joke on Disabled Voters! Bill Shorten — the Parliamentary Secretary for Disability Services will be speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra on 1 April. Yet the National Press Club offers no disabled access to the upstairs restaurant and bar! The downstairs area (which is only open when a keynote lunch is on) has no disabled access to the podium, and no disabled toilet access. The ABC’s mobile audio-visual van parks over the disabled parking bays alongside the Press Club during televised luncheons. (No disabled parking!) Why on earth would Bill Shorten choose a revenue that to date has appalling disabled access? Possibly he’s all form and no substance? Is there any chance that Ken Randall, Tony Melville, Laurie Wilson, Michael Brissenden, Misha Schubert and David Speers will ask Mr Shorten to explain himself? Not likely, they’re on the Board of the Press Club.

Chief of Army isn’t practicing “learn to be a leader in any situation”: nor the more common “challenge yourself”, the latest Army recruiting slogans. Recently, General Ken Gillespie has issued a directive that all personnel below the rank of Brigadier must now fly economy class on international flights. A case of what’s good for the goose is not so good for the gander and reminicient of the WWI trench warfare leadership style. Is this about saving money (how many international business class flights do Brigadiers and above take?) or sucking up to government and getting a couple more years as Chief of Army?

I was at Sydney Airport, the day before the bikie incident: I ran into acquaintance, who is a AFP officer working in the domestic terminals. After tens mins or so chatting, I asked, “Where is your offsider?” The reply: “I don’t have one, I’m working this shift by myself for today and tomorrow” (Sunday). They had given him a push bike to aid his mobility between T2 & T3! Massive budget cuts (50% for the Counter Terrorism Response teams) in the aviaton portfolio, along with reduncies have led to little or no security at airports. Check it out, asked the protective services at the airport, all true!

Local community based not-for-profit organisations have lost all employment services contracts with DEEWR, replaced by the UK based private sector players.

Several hundred protesters had a peaceful demonstration in the upper Florentine in Tasmania several weeks ago. 11 of the 400 or so protestors have been charged with trespass. The question is why those people?

The cry went up: “Harto’s signed off on it and Breeny says we’re all in.” Our editor, until that point, had been wavering: “Something’s not right here,” she said. “I’m not convinced.” And nor should she have been! All around her, the signs were that the Hanson pix were dodgy at best, fraudulent at worst. “What about the different nose shapes?” one backbencher queried. “On the nude ones, there are distinctive freckles on the collarbones,” said another. Yet another claimed to have seen similar photos a decade earlier on an email attachment that purported to be from Russia. But, no, Harto says it’s okay to run — so one in all in.

Stilgherrian writes: Victoria’s data: safe or not? While Crikey hasn’t received CenITex’s official response to last week’s questions about the integrity of Victorian government data backups, they told ZDNet that “CenITex runs a regular backup regime for all customers which generally consists of differential backups run on a daily basis and full backups run on a weekly basis”.

That word “generally” leaves some wiggle room, though, and it doesn’t gel with what’s Crikey‘s hearing from various tipsters. We’re investigating. Got more info? Send us an anonymous tip.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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