Did a fellow indy kill Wilkie’s reforms? Why was Andrew Wilkie so confident he could get his pokie reforms through Parliament, only to back away this week without the necessary numbers? One anonymous source reckons it’s because one of the key independents changed their mind. “And did so,” they say, “without giving a single reason why.” According to them:

“Whatever the backbenchers may have thought about the reforms, I can assure you that Gillard was in support of them and was planning to pass legislation through next month, keeping her promise to Wilkie. This is why Wilkie is reluctant to criticise the government for a ‘broken promise’, why he rushed off to WA to try and get Tony Crook on board the reforms (to replace the independent who has gone MIA), and why Gillard is keeping mum about the whole debacle. In fact, it seems that Gillard is happy to weather a few more accusations of being a promise breaker just so this independent doesn’t feel trapped in a corner and refuses even to contemplate reverting to his original position. Or reaching a compromise of some form.”

So which one was it?

Bligh goes for hearts (and lungs) pre-poll. Rumour has it, according to one Queensland political spy, Anna Bligh’s dying government will soon announce a new Heart and Lung Institute at the Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside. Timed, coincidentally of course, ahead of the impending election. But as our mole reports:

“The self titled ‘centre of excellence’ has long been telling everyone what a globally important institute they are and will no doubt be delighted. The only problem is that that this sort of institution (one that removes high-level cardiothoracic facilities from other tertiary services) has long since been seen as an anachronism and in most parts of the world have been wound up and relocated on grounds of efficiency and safety. Anyway, it will leave plenty of time to polish the ivory tower while the patients in Brisbane’s tertiary hospitals, or in the nearby growth areas of the Gold and Sunshine coasts, sit and wonder when on earth they will be provided with proper facilities for heart and lung disease.”

Why are we paying more for e-books? We’ve been urged to look more closely at Australian e-book prices by one reader. Consider this: “Just before Christmas, four publishers — Hachette, Penguin, MacMillan and HarperCollins — increased their prices for Kindle books to Australia by two to three times. Many books that are now over $20 to Australians are still at prices like $7.99 to US users or even only $9.99 to New Zealanders.”

Have you noticed the price inflation, Kindle and e-book lovers? Let us know and we’ll ask some questions …

ABC offers soundtrack to news. We weren’t listening, but we’re reliably informed a national (for summer) program broadcast on ABC Local Radio stations played Elton John’s Teacher I Need You — right after a bulletin on 774 Melbourne reporting a sensitive criminal case in which a teacher admitted having an affair with a student. We’re sure it was just a coincidence …

Have a swim with ‘frightful’ sharks. The Sydney Morning Herald doesn’t really make a compelling case to enter its sponsored Cole Classic ocean swim …

Peter Fray

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