Letting their voice be heard … for Gillard. We reported on Friday that there wasn’t exactly a flood of calls to electorate offices following Kevin Rudd’s call for the people to let their voices be heard. But what if the office doesn’t like the answer? One caller writes:

“I phoned Mark Butler’s office this morning to register support for Julia Gillard and the staffer informed me I should be calling the electoral office. I again explained my reason for calling and my objection to Mr Rudd making this call and that I was definitely opposed to his bid to be the PM of Australia. The staffer, I think somewhat dismissively, said ‘thank you, I will let the minister know’. No asking for my name and I wonder if he acted in any way on my call?”

What about the folks in Liberal-held seats? The people of Ryan in Brisbane is, perhaps not surprisingly, backing Rudd. As an office spy reports:

“The president of Labor’s Federal Electoral Council for the division of Ryan has received a countless number of emails from members of the public in relation to the leadership ballot. One hundred per cent of those emails support Kevin Rudd over Julia Gillard. This is in a safe Liberal seat. The email address usually receives two or three emails per year. One wonders if any Gillard backers are not being entirely honest with Crikey. One also wonders just how many constituents are contacting members of parliament.”

O’Chee back on the LNP beat for Newman. Bill O’Chee — who had a rather colourful career in the Senate — is apparently out of self-imposed exile to help Campbell Newman defeat Anna Bligh in the Queensland election. According to our George Street spy:

“He’s now being spotted all over town, and is particularly busy getting Can Do Campbell Newman elected as premier. O’Chee was spied talking to Newman out front of Queensland’s Parliament House during parliamentary sittings a few weeks ago and is now a regular visitor to the Parliamentary Annexe. His role in the campaign seems to be on the media side of things, which is unusual considering his poisonous relationship with them.”

Government austerity: bitter coffee. From the 3AW Rumour File: “Caller ‘BYO’ says the federal government is trying to bring its budget into line by cutting tea, coffee and sugar to all departments; mainly the Human Services Department.” Perhaps they’re sweet enough …

Christmas Is wreck decorates the coast. The wreck of the MV Tycoon —  the phosphate carrier that ran aground on Christmas Island on January 9 — remains unsalvaged, as one Crikey reader snapped …

Not happy, NAB: biz loans up. “As a struggling business owner how is it that NAB has snuck through an 18 basis points increase in business loans under the guise of what it calls a ‘liquidity premium’?” asks one frustrated customer. “Liquidity premium must be the latest term for an out-of-cycle interest rate rise.” Has your business loan been hiked?

Qantas flight diverted to New Caledonia. Writes one frustrated passenger: “Just when you thought it was safe to get back on a Qantas flight … QF8 from Dallas flying direct to Brisbane was diverted to Noumea on Saturday morning.”

Peter Fray

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