Hume. From an inside source. The notion of requesting early Liberal Party nominations for Hume and Macarthur was not only to flush out Farmer and Schultz but to dissuade the Nationals from entering the contest under their Nationals for Regional Australia banner and their newly formed Wollondilly branch.

It is understood that the Libs are planning a war of attrition as under the coalition federal agreement each party cannot challenge a coalition incumbent. The hope being that by delaying the actual preselection the Nationals will be unable to catch up financially; allowing Alby to bow out graciously but leaving only a viable Lib as the candidate.

It is our understanding that the Nats have cottoned on to this ruse and under their new chairman, Alan Hay, are secretly co-ordinating the party faithful and finances for a challenge in Hume. It should be noted that the coalition discussions, although previously scheduled, have yet to be undertaken and that  Hay has been seen with Senator Fiona Nash and Katrina Hodgkinson all over Hume.

Is this a hint at the Nationals candidate? And is Alby going to retire at the last minute or be ousted at the Lib preselection? Oh it’s all so exciting. Yawn!

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After weeks of screaming that the Blue Mountains Macquarie pre-selection should be rank-and-file, so called “left” candidate Adam Searle has got his right wing mates to call on the National Executive to N40 him into the seat. So much for Searle running up and down the Mountains telling local branch members that Sue Templeman was ignoring the wishes of the rank-and-file.

We have heard that the National Archive facilities in Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin, etc, are to be closed. They contain records about the NT going back to 1911, including war time, Stolen Generations, Aboriginal health and Cyclone Tracy. It is not appropriate in a democracy, and certainly not a move we would expect of an ALP government.

What is happening at RMIT University in Melbourne!? Rumour has it that retrenchments are currently under way in a particular area of the university but with a short-cutting of the established provisions of the existing enterprise agreement. And this occurring just as negotiations have entered a delicate phase for a new EBA with the unions. The irony of this will be fully realised when it becomes known which area is proceeding down this path.

Is there any truth to Alan Jones interview with this guy? Hope you guys might shed some light on this.

Richard Leupen at United Group just can’t seem to get anything right lately: First, he faces a near revolt at the AGM when it’s announced that he will get his multimillion dollar bonus for putting together a succession plan (something most CEOs do as a matter of course).

Next, after deciding to pursue one of his largest clients (Rail Corp) on the advice of his lawyers, he is spectacularly unsuccessful in trying to be paid approximately $50 million for “out of contract” work that had already been built into the 2009/2010 budget as income. Then he chose not to make a profit downgrade statement, instead deciding that his businesses would have to find the savings through internal efficiencies. The major component of these savings was to be found through a large number of redundancies in the rail business and an amalgamation of the back-office functions of the rail and infrastructure businesses.

Now that chief executives in the affected business have completed the horse trading and gone through the process of making a lot of experienced and valuable middle management and senior professionals redundant, comes the news that most of their major competitors are going on poaching raids on the best-performing staff that they have left in a climate of fear and uncertainty. On top of that, the organisation’s order book for 2010/2011 is a lot slimmer than it has been for years, with nothing new in infrastructure, losing contracts in services, a pissed-off client in rail and a very slow climate in resources.

And to cap it all off, the “no poach” condition imposed on one of his former chief executives is due to expire in less than three weeks and one of his major corporate partners is looking lustfully at an entire division of his transport business.

We won’t even mention the cost of changing the company’s name from “United Group Ltd” to “UGL Limited” (yes that would seem to be United Group Ltd Limited).

Re. Crikey‘s story on the bushfire Code Red register. I know Panton Hill Primary School is not on the register. Madness, given it’s definitely further out into the sticks than Hurstbridge etc.

Re. Yesterday’s tip regarding the Myer friends and family sale. I thought the same thing last night when I opened my free $10 voucher for Northland shopping centre, and another $10 voucher for a friend. But why boost the sales of a company that’s already floated? TPG has made its money and run.

When I flew in from LA to Brisbane last week, I duly declared on the quarantine/customs incoming passenger card that I was bearing “food”. I explained to the customs officer that it was packaged chocolate and she said that was fine. Then she asked if I happened to still have the snack bag that Qantas hands out to its passengers. I’d forgotten about the bag, which includes a tiny toothpaste and brush, a bottle of water, peppermints, a small packet of M&Ms and a bag of trail mix.

“Do you still have the bag of crap?” the customs officer asked.

Turned out she was referring to the trail mix, and that quarantine authorities are concerned about the foreign dried banana not being dried out enough and possibly posing a threat to Queensland’s banana industry.

I handed it over, wondering how many other “bags of crap” passed through Brisbane airport unconfiscated and whether it might be easier if someone from Quarantine has a word in the ear of someone from Qantas and the trail mix gets replaced with some non-threatening dried fruit ..?

This is a US ad for very cheap Qantas fares. I particularly like Adelaide being described as the “gateway to Kangaroo Island”:

Featured Pick: Fly to Australia from $399 Full Deal Review

Qantas Vacations just reduced ticket prices to Australia to as low as $399 one-way for flights May 1 through June 8. Plus, for only $100 more, travellers can add flights to three additional cities in Australia.

With this Qantas “Aussie AirPass” offer you’ll get flights to four cities, including Adelaide (the gateway to Kangaroo Island), from $898 round-trip.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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