Which former Defence Minister was texting some chick in China the whole time he was in Afghanistan? The air force pilot had to force him to turn the phone off in-flight… the pilot had to confront the minister and confiscate the phone.

Silvio Berlusconi has blocked the publication of potentially embarrassing photographs said to include images of young bikini-clad and topless girls at his villa in Sardinia. Well, I have the photos.

Here is a couple:

Here’s a question Crikey might like to ask the PM: apparently some verrrry nice wine was purchased during the Howard presidency (oops!). Unfortunately for Johnny, he’s not there now to drink it. Rudd’s not a big drinker and doesn’t have that many guests to get through what’s apparently a well-stocked cellar.

This stuff is coming into its drinking window now — especially the Australian whites. How about the PM puts it up for auction, thereby raising some cash to start paying off the surplus? Just a thought!

A close associate at the ABS says that we should expect a whopper of a surprise on the employment front for May; this time the data will surprise on the downside. The last survey had over 250 standard deviation errors due to the ABS slashing the sample size to cuts costs. While this is well known, the problem has now been rectified so Swan and Rudd can now take credit for a survey that will finally show that Australia is having the recession it was supposed to have.

If you look at the timelines of yesterday’s announcements, the Federal Minister for Health announced that Victoria was moving to a new phase long before anyone in Victoria did — if Victoria was caught on the hop it was due to a breakdown in Federal/State communications.

Oh no! Somebody should tell Kevin Rudd and his speechwriters that the Labor Party was not formed in Queensland, as he said to the ACTU Congress this week, but in NSW. Shouldn’t he know this? The party was formed in 1891 and first sat as a party in the NSW Parliament that year — where it was most successful. Yes, his speeches aren’t that good most of the time, but he should know better than this.

Here’s a heads up. Nick Cave’s new book is due out August 3 and the cover is:

Remembering that the book is general fiction and will have to sit side by side with other general fiction releases. And that it will be put in windows of bookshops and on new release tables in bookshops all over the country. The UK cover, by the way, is different (a man in a bunny suit).

Yes, Bunny Munro sits in a hotel and m-sturbates fantasising about v-ginas and yes, some famous photographer has taken the photo and yes, on an art gallery wall it would probably look great but on a general release book of fiction? Obviously Text are using the image to be controversial and, to put it simply, because they can although Text would probably have sold their 10,000 copies regardless of what was on the cover.

Something to think about on this Friday afternoon.

The golden pair of Brisbane’s legal establishment, Justice Berna Collier of the Federal Court and husband Allen, a lawyer, has suffered another setback in the long-running litigation over a controversial development next door to their mansion on Hamilton Hill, the city’s dress circle.

The Planning and Environment Court has made a costs order against them, finding that one of the grounds of an earlier appeal was “frivolous and vexatious”.

This isn’t a good look for a Federal Court judge and Brisbane’s legal eagles are chortling all the way to the Brisbane Club to celebrate. The Colliers’ legal stoush began a few years ago when they opposed a neighbour’s redevelopment on the grounds that it invaded the privacy of their pile and its swimming pool. Would you want someone peering over the fence while you were cavorting around the pool? was their legal argument in a nutshell.

In relation to costs, the custom and practice in Queensland’s Planning and Environment Court is that each party shares them. However, there is a little used exception to the rule if one party can establish that the other side has run a “frivolous or vexatious” appeal which simply causes the costs to mount.

In this case, Judge Michael E. Rackemann has delivered a blow to the Colliers: “I am satisfied that this part of the proceedings (their heritage values argument) was frivolous and vexatious and warrants the exercise of discretion in favor of an adverse costs order.”

Rackemann has asked for arguments from the parties to decide on the costs to be awarded.

Given that the case has cruised in an out of the court for years, the amount will be substantial. The Colliers, both graduates from the Clayton Utz school of fees, will be bracing themselves for a bill running into tens of thousands of dollars.

According to the majority of Aborigines (90%) and Aboriginal organisations in Alice Springs who support Minister Macklin in her battle with Tangentyere over town camp leases and the mismanagement of town camps, the Council in the last financial year received funding of over $25 Million to manage 200 homes.

That’s $125,000 per house (to manage not build); or $21,000 per person (population 1200 persons); or over 10 years, a million dollars per house to manage! And they still live in poverty! Enough is enough — act now Minister.

At least 20 Prime TV Canberra production staff (over half of the production team) were informed yesterday afternoon that they are being made redundant. Prime will cease production of commercials and will only retain the staff necessary to continue making Prime’s own promotional material. This comes only a month or so after staff were asked to take up an offer to work a four-day week. I’m sure the staff who did take up that offer and were retrenched this afternoon will feel it was worth it.

Just how much does the ANZ Bank value their staff? Thousands lose their jobs in Australia and their jobs sent offshore yet no expense spared on light switches for the new Docklands site.

Our accounts lady spent more than an hour waiting on hold to speak to a real person last week at the ATO, only to be given some dubious info which required her to phone back and spend another 40 mins on hold. I was discussing this with a friend who told me of a way to jump the Tax phone queue: for Personal dial 132861 then 0, Business dial 132866 then 0.

My friend told me he found the info at www.ihateholding.com which is website dedicated to getting you through automated systems fast.

Meanwhile on eBAY: You can buy your own piece of Australia. On Tuesday nights you get a free pot of beer: