Johannes Leak and Kamala Harris (Images: AAP/Joel Carrett and Gage Skidmore/WikiCommons)

Government pay Leak Why on earth is the government giving Australian editorial cartoonist Johannes Leak $40,000? Twitterer Jommy Tee picked up that the Department of Parliamentary Services has awarded “Johannes Leak Illustration Pty Ltd” a 40 grand contract for “art services”.

We asked the department what precisely this involved, but it didn’t get back to us by deadline. Nevertheless, we wonder what it was in Leak’s sprawling portfolio that got him over the line? Perhaps this depiction of “hypochondriac” refugees being ushered into Australia by leftie do-gooders? Or was it the famed depiction of new US Vice-President Kamala Harris?

A nice Porter Attorney-General Christian Porter was among the Western Australian MPs told to isolate from the rest of the parliament after the state’s snap lockdown. Within hours he had been granted an exemption. For what? Only to spout some profoundly nonsensical guff about new High Court judge Justice Peter Steward:

Not only is your honour known as a formidable practitioner with a natural flair for advocacy, but this flair, I am reliably informed, extends to the sartorial which, when given free rein, has seen your honour sail in tweed suits and partake in fly fishing dressed in head-to-toe linen. If I may say so, your honour, it is not fly fishing if there is no linen.

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Steward — while no doubt a fine legal mind — was seen as the candidate of choice by right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs when he was appointed last year, and is expected to act as a curb on the court’s “judicial activism” (see Senator James Paterson).

Incidentally, The Daily Telegraph columnist and Tony Abbott campaigner Piers Akerman had opined that Steward was the perfect candidate way back in May 2020.

Highway to poll Continuing the signs of an early election, we’re now on the phase of humanising musical cues. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister and incredible disappearing woman Melissa Price showed up at the RAAF base Williamtown yesterday scored by Kenny Loggins’ Top Gun-adjacent “Highway to the Danger Zone”.

As proof of what a funny, off-the-cuff goof it was, it was played a second time after the PM and crew got there late.

Flying heap of crap watch returns! Morrison was at the base to announce, of all things, the next steps in the F-35 program. “This is what sovereignty looks like,” he said, before jumping into one of the planes and giving a thumbs up, presumably because all bits didn’t fly off like a clown car. Incidentally, we applaud Morrison’s bravery on another front — optics of the warning that he was sat in the “ejection seat” be damned.

Putting aside the slightly jarring use of the word “sovereignty” in a military context, the reference is… not the best reflection on Australia’s sovereignty. We’ve been pointing out what a monumentally flawed purchase the F-35 is for years and years(and years). Still, maybe our concerns are misplaced. Bloomberg reported in January that the number of flaws the F-35 had to fly with was trending down. From 873 to 871. By the mid-25th century we reckon the whole thing will be just about sorted.

US medical jobs The latest US jobs report for January tells a sobering story about just how committed US governments, companies and others in power are to using all resources to fight COVID.

Buried in Friday’s report for January was the most stunning of statistics given the state of the pandemic in the US: the number of people employed on the frontline of the COVID battle in America, the healthcare sector, actually fell by 30,000 in January, and is 510,000 lower than February last year.