News sense returning to normal? Perhaps we can declare that ute gate has done its dash and that news sense is returning to normal. Two of the big three tabloids down the eastern sea board this morning featured previews of tonight’s State or Origin rugby league game with the Melbourne Herald Sun going for a woman claiming to have been raped by a Carlton AFL footballer.

Readers of media web sites certainly have moved on. Canberra’s drama was not on top of any of the major most read lists at midday.

A grand Treasury tradition. Over in the Treasury building they fancy themselves as the upholders of the tradition of the fearlessly independent public service but Godwin Grech shows that within the department there has been often a unique definition of impartiality. The spirit that governments acting improperly should be exposed came in to view most famously during the last months of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1975 when the shadow Treasurer Phillip Lynch was briefed regularly by a senior insider on the dubious fund raising activities of Minister Rex Connor. The big difference between then and now is that the identity of Godwin Grech has become public. Unlike Malcolm Turnbull, Phillip Lynch and Malcolm Fraser knew how to keep secret the name of the giver of secrets.

Political revenge Third parties that hold the balance of power in upper houses normally at least pretend not to be in the blackmailing business by saying that they do not engage in trading votes on an issue important to a government for government support on a separate issue of concern to them. Thus the naked power of the blackmailer generally is hidden from public view. Up in the New South Wales Legislative Council at the moment the polite fiction is being discarded with the NSW Government’s $500 million plan to privatise lotteries facing defeat after the Government rejected Shooters Party legislation for hunting in national parks. The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning that the Shooters have sided with the Greens on several issues over the past week, sending a clear message to the Government that their votes cannot be taken for granted. The Shooters Party MP Roy Smith, asked which way the party would vote on the lotteries bill, said: “We have yet to make up our minds.” His indecision follows the deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt confirming that Labor will not be supporting a Shooters Party bill allowing hunting in national parks.

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Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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