Weatherman looks to Canberra seat. Don’t be surprised to see former TV weatherman and environmental campaigner Rob Gell seeking a seat in parliament at the next federal election. We caught up with Gell after he ended his term as national president of Greening Australia recently and he admitted politics is definitely on the radar. The former local government councillor has been sounded out by everyone from Labor to the Liberals and the Democrats in the past to head to Canberra, but Gell says it’s more likely he’d run as an independent.

“Most of them look at me and say you could never be a member of a party, could you,” he told us last week. And he’d relish the chance to sit in the current parliament: “I MCed an event with Rob Oakeshott recently and I said this might be the worst parliament, but I think it’s also the most exciting.”

No LNP offer for union head. Last week we speculated on the senior unionist apparently cosying up to the Liberal-National Party ahead of the Queensland state election with an offer they’d be made the head of the Public Service Commission. Well, for the record, it wasn’t Alex Scott, general secretary of the Queensland Public Service Union. He assures us: “If the ‘senior unionist’ referred to is meant to be me, I am happy to confirm that over the meetings I have had with representatives of the ALP, Katter’s Australian Party, LNP and the Greens, I have never been offered any position in the public service by any political party, nor would I take any position that was offered.” All right then.

Running the sums on the Qantas fleet. Our aviation guru Ben Sandilands has often commented on the lack of 777 aircraft in the Qantas fleet. An anonymous Qantas 747 captain has lobbed in with some stats that reveal the answer:

“Last week I flew to LAX [Los Angeles] on a 747 and spoke to the Delta 777 behind me. For the same sector Sydney/LAX these are the comparable fuel figures: 747s burn off 136,400kg; 777s burn 95,500kg. Fuel flow in cruise: 747s do 11,800kg per hour; 777s do 7700kg per hour. Pax [passenger numbers] on board: 747s have 260; 777s have 232. I didnt get the actual payload carried by the 777 but on pax numbers they carried roughly 10% less paxs for 30% less fuel used. We are provided with a cost figure by Qantas for additional uplift of every 1000kgs in dollar terms. On that figure the extra 28 paxs cost $27,000. You don’t need to be Einstein to know why we are in such trouble.”

Harris’ Tele job safe, says ed. Don’t believe the rumours — and we hear them often — that former Kevin Rudd staffer Lachlan Harris is out of favour at The Sunday Telegraph, where he writes a weekly column. “There is absolutely no truth in it,” the paper’s editor Neil Breen assures us. “In fact, Lachlan was at The Sunday Telegraph‘s Christmas party last Wednesday along with many of our other columnists. Lachlan will be a columnist for us as long as he wishes to be.”

And there’s another reason Harris will continue to pen columns in the New Year, Breen tells us: “I also like having him around because I flogged him in the Bondi-Bronte ocean swim this year again.” Fair enough, too. We’re just glad Harris can make fun of his old Labor colleagues. From his Twitter today: “BREAKING: Unconfirmed reports Senator John Faulkner and the late Kim Jong Il shared the same optometrist.”

News Ltd seeks climate control. News Limited is looking for a new “environment and climate change officer”. The unpublished ad says the person will be “responsible for developing, implementing and continuously improving strategies to address environmental risk for the News Limited business nationwide”, with “interaction and communication with our global offices”. Presumably that includes the company’s various sceptics such as Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt?

No comment from Fairfax websites. As many of you pointed out, comments left on Fairfax news websites — particularly its blogs — seemed to disappear yesterday. Journos from the company said on Twitter a website upgrade was responsible. Things seem to be back to normal now …?

Xmas party watch: designated booze controller. Melbourne Magistrates’ Court staff held their Christmas shindig a couple of Fridays back. Which was fun for all but one, according to a legal insider: “One person was designated log-keeper for the night. Not allowed to drink, but wandering around with a clipboard, noting excessive alcohol consumption and, one presumes, if there was any argy-bargy or dry-rooting going on. Of course, this meant that most of the young ‘uns buggered off early and met up elsewhere so they could pash indiscriminately and fall asleep in toilet cubicles as is tradition at this time of year.”

Tradition, indeed. What are your drunken office traditions? Drop us a line or tips us anonymously.

Peter Fray

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