Martin v Gillard. Ms Tips tuned in with excitement to watch Ray Martin’s interview with Julia Gillard last night, but was left hoping that the book would be more insightful than the 45-minute interview (including ads). Apart from moments where she said that Kevin Rudd knew better than to lose his temper with her and labelled ex-boyfriend Bruce Wilson a “life error”, it was no Frost v Nixon. Martin was roundly criticised on Twitter for sticking to topics such as fashion and why Gillard isn’t married and almost fully avoiding policy, but he later tweeted that plenty more was filmed and suggested Channel Nine should put it all online.

While it seemed that most of the Twitterverse was watching the interview, the Canberra press gallery (along with all of the ACT) had to wait for a delayed broadcast of the interview on GEM, due to local news broadcasts and immovable replays of Friends. Competition for the interview was fierce, which is why it beggars belief that in Canberra of all places, it was shunted. One person who had notably made other plans was current Labor Leader Bill Shorten, who chose to hold a Google hangout with Senator Kate Lundy at the same time as the broadcast. Engaging with voters online is a great idea, but if the ALP isn’t smart enough to schedule such events at a time when attention is almost certainly drawn elsewhere, how do they expect to win an election?

What the Gillard interview should achieve, if not insight, is to move books off shelves. The hardback has a hefty recommended retail price of $49.99, although many retailers are dropping prices to try and gain an edge over competitors. News Corp columnist Miranda Devine seems delighted that Gillard’s tome is less than half price at Big W, and we can’t help but wonder if anyone is going to make any money on it at all.

Democrats go Progressive? Just when we thought we had reached minor party saturation point, another group is trying to find a spot in the crowded political spectrum. The “Australian Progressive Party” plans to launch next month out of the ashes of the Australian Democrats, and in an email trying to find supporters, executive director Kathryn Crosby says the group is all about making life better:

“The party we are building will be similar to the Democrats in many respects although a broader church and possibly more centrist, and more clearly built on a progressive ideology of furthering change, particularly change that is powered by improvements in science and technology, in order to improve the human condition.”

While we think it would be hard to find any room between the Labor and Liberal parties at the moment, we admire anyone willing to give it a go. If you’re thinking that you’ve heard the name Kathryn Crosby before, that’s because she was a consultant for the Democrats from 2009 to 2010. It was reported in Crikey in 2009 that Crosby was part of Meg Lees’ faction in those days, sympathetic with the Christian centrist faction and that she had argued against the party advertising itself as “progressive”. Speaking to Crikey this morning, Crosby disputed that, saying she had never even met Meg Lees and was not Christian.

 Crosby told Crikey this morning that the decision to leave had a lot to do with the campaign management of the party, which would often dismiss her work, ignore the member-produced policy and put forward their own “hateful and completely irrelevant agendas”. More than half of the people involved in the process for the Progressive Party are former Democrats, including four from the main committee. The group pledges on its website to not be “just another micro-party” and spent six months building the organisation. Crosby tells us the first six months after their October launch will have no politicians and will focus on recruitment, fundraising, marketing and getting the organisation up and running with a presence in all states. The party plans to hold elections for the first national executive in April of next year. Now we’ve just got to wait and see if this is a case of history repeating.

King gets a new gig. Former Leighton Holdings boss Wal King might be ruing the day he agreed to become non-executive chairman of junior Guildford Coal, which has just shipped first coal from its BNU mine in South Gobi, Mongolia, but is caught in the price slump enveloping the industry. Barely a month after announcing King’s appointment, Guildford announced yesterday it would write down the book value of its Australian assets, including the controversial Springsure project in Queensland, by $40 million to $45 million, ahead of their non-binding, conditional sale to Singapore-listed Sino Construction for some US$25 million plus ongoing royalties.  Guildford, whose boss is former Nathan Tinkler executive Peter Kane, said an audit would be finished this week. The shares have actually fallen since the Sino offer was announced, and they are now trading at a little over 5c. King — who is very protective of his reputation — starts on Monday. Better roll up his sleeves.

Palmer and another unlikely alliance. While most people spent yesterday calling out Clive Palmer for being rude to Guardian journalist Bridie Jabour at a press conference, the man standing next to him — GetUp’s Sam Mclean — didn’t have a problem with it:

Another tipster thought that Palmer and GetUp made quite the odd couple — is this also the work of Ben Oquist, who managed to make Palmer and Al Gore besties?

Limbaugh’s riches go to abortion. It seems that Ms Tips has found someone else making the world a better place through tips in Dallas, Texas, of all places. Author Merritt Tierce used her tips from her waitress days for good, when after serving right-wing shock jock Rush Limbaugh and receiving $2000 on top of the bill, she donated the money to a fund dedicated to paying for abortions for those who can’t afford them. Tip of our top hat, Merritt.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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