Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Media Vultures Circle

There's nothing quite as nasty as a hack reporter attempting to squirm away from the sort of merciless questioning with which they regularly barrage their subjects.

It was inevitable that the media would come up for scrutiny after John Brogden's suicide attempt, given reports that it occurred after he was contacted by the Daily Telegraph to comment on a story they planned to run airing rumours of further indiscretions on his part. (While I regard the Telegraph, with few exceptions, as just upstairs from toilet paper, the Sydney Morning Herald should not be excused for their obtrusive, unnecessary, blurry photo of Brogden on a hospital stretcher).

The important thing to remember about this article is that the allegations in it were only that - allegations. Unsubstantiated, spoken by people who were not willing to go on the record. It has now come to light that Bob Carr biographer and The Australian staffer Andrew West has resigned over the claims of Telegraph editor David Penberthy that he was jealous at having been scooped on the Brogden story by the Telegraph. West rang ABC's PM tonight (apparently while the show was ongoing - it's recorded live) and furiously denied Penberthy's allegations, saying his protest was against being asked to publish scurrilous claims about someone's sex life, and that he refused to publish the story on Brogden.

Penberthy's a loathesome figure at the best of times, but his attempts to slither out of any part in Brogden's malaise - nope, didn't even kick him when he was already down - was a marvel to behold. The transcript should be up on the PM website soon (there was also a relevant story on The World Today.

Darkness Falls

Never has a blogger wished to be closer to her computer more than me, as I was rushing, bleary eyed, to Triple-M by-election duties at about 7:30 this morning when I heard a piece of conversation leap from the morning tumult like a fish leaping from the sea and landing back again with a splash. "O'Farrell's quit the run for the Liberal leadership."

I'd had a long day yesterday and an early morning today - I hadn't had a chance to read the paper, let alone log on to the net. Thus, O'Farrell's sudden decision had not yet attained its tragic context.

I feel very sorry for John Brogden. Many wouldn't, and sadly, many are on his own side of politics. Some see suicide as a sort of emotional Darwinism. These are the sort of morons who spout such epithets as `if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen' and, to quote our beloved Stan Zemanek, `there's no such thing as stress'. Sorry Stan, there is.

The list of politicians who have attempted suicide is well known, so I won't recount it here. The list of those who have succeeded is not inconsiderable. No matter the circumstances - no matter which side of politics - all deserve our compassion. What happened last night in his office - regardless of how seriously he was taking his attempt - is a tragedy, and should all give us pause to put things in perspective. This is, of course, not to justify Brogden's reprehensible comments towards Helena Carr, nor to justify his silly behaviour. But just to remember - and to empathise - with someone who has faced loneliness, sadness and darkness, just like every other human being on earth. Silly behaviour is one thing. A human life is another.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Andrew Bolt: A Terrorist in Your Backyard

Attorney General and all round nice guy Philip Ruddock is pushing for stronger anti-terrorism laws which could make it a crime to write newspaper articles that glorify or incite acts of violence and hatred.

Go for your life Phil!

`Insight' Returning Tonight

The excellent SBS live audience discussion series Insight returns to our screens tonight and promises to be a cracker, providing an alternative to the PM's anodyne Muslim Summit. Well worth watching if you've never seen it before. It's on tonight at 7:30pm, or set your video for 1pm on Friday if you miss it.

Brogden: The Morning After

There's a poor former NSW Opposition Leader waking up somewhere in the vicinity of Pittwater today, a little fuzzy in the head, a little worse for wear, wondering - how did it happen? ... oh, GOD ... what are they saying about me ... ... GEEZ ...

(and according to the Sydney Morning Herald's Spike, it's not even the first time ...)
Broggers reckons he downed six beers over a few hours at the now infamous knees-up, and this was enough to put him in a trusting mood. He should have known much better, because J-Bro has form when it comes to getting on the turps and making an idiot of himself in front of reporters.

In 2002 Spike reported on his drunken antics at the Liberals' Christmas Party, where a sozzled Broggers challenged a roomful of hacks to a drinking contest. After taking on, then losing to, the National Party MP George Souris, Broggers sculled cocktail after cocktail in a macho attempt to prove his worth. No one was impressed, and the then Opposition leader tried to shrug it off as innocent hi-jinks next day.

Matt Price has a priceless assessment in The Oz:

During his over-long, faintly excruciating resignation press conference, John Brogden reflected on his indiscretions and blurted: "If anything, I suffer from being a warm and friendly person."

Actually, Brogden suffered from being a prize knucklehead.

With a beginning like that, you know you want to read on ...

I should not leave Grahame Morris' comments on the issue to 2UE's Steve Price yesterday afternoon unmentioned. Morris - still determinedly describing himself as a `former' advisor to the Howard Government - told Pricey that Brogden was the victim of a hideous campaign of `journalistic and political hypocrisy', that Alex Hawke was merely `a bit player', and that Brogden should have just hung on til Christmas until the whole thing blew over. After all, Alexander Downer managed to stick around after making that hilarious `Things That Batter' crack, didn't he?

Yes, Grahame. Racism and sexism - they're just `jokes that backfired'. So, hopefully, are you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Commentary on J-Bro's Departure ...

Naturally, the blogosphere has gone into overdrive ... wsacaucus is already off and speculating on who will replace Broggers (a tip, gentle readers, the former Fatty O'Barrell hasn't been pounding the treadmill for all these months for nothing ...)

Speculation has also been mounting as to exactly why this has all happened now, and not exactly one month ago, when the infamous boozy incident actually occurred. It was around this time that Carl Scully was rapidly losing the support of the Terrigals (which all us left Bloggers would be discussing at greater length had not the J-Bro resignation not sprung up).

Here's one important clue. Brogden went so far as to criticise the President of the NSW Young Liberals, one Alex Hawke, for ensuring the rumours of his indiscretions were heard as far and wide as possible. The charming Mr Hawke is profiled in the Monthly article so horrifying and magnificent that I'll just have to link it again.

Now, let's be pragmatic here. I've got no doubt that John Brogden has made comments and carried out actions as dopey and indiscreet as the one in question on numerous occasions. I'm sure every pollie does. Which ones do and don't get into the public domain is a combination of dumb luck, fate, and occasionally, personal vendetta. Cheryl Kernot and Gareth Evans know this all too well. So, perhaps too, does John Brogden.

John Brogden Resigns

After a few sound problems, another `fulsome' apology, and a sideswipe at the government for `too many by-elections', John Brogden has resigned as leader of the NSW Liberal Party, while remaining on as the Member for Pittwater.

Brogden Press Conference at 11:30

John Brogden - yes, it's well and truly time to bring out the big guns - embattled NSW Liberal leader John Brogden will be holding a press conference at 11:30am to Discuss His Future. Channel 9 will be carrying it live - I imagine most radio stations will be too. Stay tuned ...

Bob Carr Demands Brogden's Resignation

As I type, Bob Carr has, on Mike Carlton's show, demanded John Brogden's `evacuation' from the leadership of the Liberal Party in NSW by the end of the day, describing Brogden as a `featherweight mediocrity' and his comments as a `shockingly immature display' and insult not only to his wife but all migrants. Carr sounds furious, and rightly so. He claims this is the first racist comment his wife has been subjected to since arriving in Australia from Malaysia in 1965. Carr sounds a tad more generous to the Liberal party room than he did in leadership, but given that they're more than likely to deliver the death blow to his rival of the past few years today it's hardly surprising ...

The effect of blogging on political debate

This interesting article in The Age will no doubt be of interest to fellow bloggers of the leftish persuasion. Christopher Sheil suggests that online opinion makers provide a valuable balance to the likes of the government subsidised Devines, Akermans and Albrechtsens. I heartily agree.

John Brogden: Booze, Broads and Bad Jokes

Well, it's happened, and the Liberal Right didn't even have to put him in the thumbscrews.

Rumours have been rife that NSW Opposition Leader John Brogden's leadership has been on shaky ground for weeks - ever since former NSW Premier Bob Carr's departure did not yield the bump for the Opposition all expected given the many issues they have to run on. Talkback callers have been scathing, uniformly describing Brogden as `negative', `a policy-free zone', and `a whinger'. And, as was so splendidly detailed in The Monthly Magazine recently (and reproduced in The Labor Herald, the factional winds of change are blowing in the State Liberal parties, and warriors of the Left (yes, I have trouble describing him as a warrior of anything) are getting sandblasted by a generation of far-Righters so hair-raising they making Ronnie Reagan look like Mahatma Gandhi.

But all this aside, Broggers has managed to put the nail in his political coffin himself. Quite amazing.

At a function for the NSW Hotels Association, Brogden (who should have been whinging about the Poker Machine tax and no doubt was), was heard to describe Bob Carr's Malaysian-born wife Helena as `a mail order bride', and further, was seen to `pinch a female journalist on the bottom' and speak to another inappropriately.

Of course, the furore over such an incident exposes a deep streak of hypocrisy on Australia's part. This country thrives on racism, yet likes nothing more than condemning anyone responsible for some. But the fact remains. Has Brogden gone mad? Is this his death roll? His hari-kiri? His kamikaze mission? Was he drunk and under pressure, or just drunk and very bloody dumb?

In any case ... I think we are about to see the last of Mr Brogden. He's already offered to resign. Is the NSW Liberal Right going to clamour to stop him. Absolutely not. Goodbye John Brogden ... it's been entertaining.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Sorry, No Meet The Press Live Blog today ...

... even though I had hoped to do a big `YAAAAY!' when I noticed that not only was Lindsay Tanner the special guest but Malcolm Farr was on the panel ... unfortunately we were beset by technical difficulties. Amongst interesting things Tanner brought up was pushing Nick Minchin for reforms to the Charter of Budget Honesty to stop things like the blowout in the Medicare Safety net slipping through the budgetary safety net.

Meanwhile on Insiders I notice that both Virginia Trioli and David Marr are on the couch. Does it now take two lefties to balance the almighty right wing heft of Piers Akerman? (Hey, I didn't say no!)

I must admit I have a soft spot for Malcolm Fraser, the star of today's extended Talking Pitchers. Yes, even though he toppled Gough. Perhaps it's because he's the first politician - the first currently serving Prime Minister, in fact - that I saw in the flesh. Or maybe it's just because he gives the current Liberal Govt the shits in such a major way ...

Not to turn this into an Insiders live blog, but it will be interesting to see where the issue of the two Sun-Herald journalists who look like facing jail for publishing leaks of unfavourable elements of former Veterans Affairs Disaster Danna Vale's policy (not hard - it was all unfavourable). Were it not such a serious issue, I would be the first to call it Dannagate. However, as David Marr points out, the government would never pursue leakers with as much zeal if they were leaking favourable elements of a policy, as is built into the Howard Govt process via such lackeys as Mr Akerman himself. More info at The Media Arts & Entertainment Alliance ... I reckon this story's got a way to go.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Grahame Morris: On To Bigger and Badder Things

The weekly column of Howard Government spin doctor Grahame Morris ended on a conclusive note this week, if that's not a tautology. Morris, (once pinged by Media Watch - actually, repeatedly pinged - for claiming to be far enough apart from the government to comment impassively on it for Sally Loane's Spin Doctors segment, but not sufficiently far away from it to actually stop giving it advice or, for example, to stop referring to people like Ross Cameron and Larry Anthony as `soldiers'.), farewelled readers, reporting "I have some new work commitments that will absorb my column-writing time for a while." (I must rely on Mike Seccombe here - as I haven't bought any fish and chips this week I haven't read The Australian).

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that the Howard Government has enlisted its most formidable spin doctor for the upcoming industrial relations reforms onslaught. The architect of the interest rates scare and `Who Do You Trust', expect Morris to unleash the full complement. Can a policy which, as Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane admitted to Alan Jones earlier this week, is intended to reduce Australian wages by 30% (to bring them in line with New Zealand's) spinnable?

Heck, in a country that's voted for the same weedy little twit four times in a row, anything seems to be. It's going to be an alarming ride.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Steve Price's Sense of Perspective

Steve Price, about ten to 6pm, today:
Price crosses 2UE reporter Andrew Laird, who is live at a protest against `the Tampa standoff' [his words, not mine]. He is incredulous that`people are still worried about that'.
Laird says there are about 100-150 people at the protest. They plan to carry a giant cut out of the Tampa from Town Hall to Customs House. He explains that it is 4 years since the Tampa incident, and `apparently' 438 people were onboard at the time [well, not the whole time ... a lot of them ended up in the sea. And stayed there until they were dead. Quite a few were children. Quite a few were members of the same family. Remember Steve? It was only four years ago ...]. 32 of the people are still in detention in Nauru [32 eh? Then I guess the ones that didn't end up the sea became terrorists or - no - were they let out after being found to be innocent old refugees? Perish the thought!] and the protesters want to see them released. Price asks him to keep in touch about whether any of the `dopes' cause any trouble.

Earlier in the show, Price heaped shit on the RTA for not letting veterans have their Victory in the Pacific Day march on the actual day. All very well, but a) Didn't they go over there and `fight the Japs' (again, his cringeworthy words) so we could have the right to democratically express our opposition to whatever we want, and b) funny how it's OK to remember a happy thing that happened 60 years ago but not call attention to a scandalous thing that happened under the watch of the government that's still in power.

Just imagine if Pricey had been around after World War II. `I've got Paul Latta in the Traffic Chopper on the line, seems there's a bunch of do-gooders and bleeding hearts causing a hell of a lot of trouble up George St, whinging about some bloody kikes getting herded into gas chambers or something. Who gives a bugger if you're stuck in rush hour traffic? Who gives a bugger anyway? Didn't happen in Australia!' etc etc etc ...


Alan Jones: Minister for Logic

Good old Alan Jones. Always a good solution to every problem.
Alan Jones, today, the early hours of the morning:
Jones discusses today's news story about Sylvania Heights Public School, which has sold advertising space to McDonald's and Wendy's inside school grounds for to raise funds.

Jones says 'this is how far we have sunk' [I'm with you here Alan]. Jones says so much money is wasted on 'bureaucrats'. He suggests that if Kerry Packer was 'Minister for Everything' then NSW would be in better shape.

Or indeed, if Alan Jones was ... but we all know how that little adventure ended up.

Kingston to Fairfax: Not Happy John

Margo Kingston's Webdiary, one of the best known and longest running Aussie blogs on the net, has cut the apron strings and is finally free of the Sydney Morning Herald. Kingston, also famous for the big blue tome Not Happy John (as well as the promotional bumper sticker that can be seen on nearly every car, house and street sign in my suburb - I knew the conversion of my formerly Liberal voting grandmother was finally complete when she bought a copy :D ), is now publishing at Long may her flag fly!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

NSW Liberals Never Cease To Amaze

As the so-called `Triple M by-elections' (Maroubra, Macquarie Fields and Marrickville) approach, former Health Minister Craig Knowles' arch nemesis Nola Fraser, a self-proclaimed former Labor voter (who reportedly only joined the Liberal party `a few days ago'), has been pre-selected as the party's candidate to run in Macquarie Fields against former Gough Whitlam staffer Steve Chaytor.

Fraser, one of the whistleblower nurses who accused Knowles of intimidation, started on an uneasy note by repeating John Brogden's startling allegations that the ICAC is in the back pocket of the government (last week, Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans was crucified for far less) - not surprising given that the corruption watchdog found no substance to her claims against Knowles. Further, this item, broadcast some time ago on Channel 9's `Sunday', throws serious doubt on Fraser's credibility (I'm surprised the show did not provoke more controversy when it was initially shown).

Having re-read the transcript, it's a rather troubling, enlightening, and I hope not a prophetic read for other reasons ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Little On Woodrow Wilson ...

Anyone who tuned in to Mike Carlton this morning would have been treated to excerpts of the ceremony held to award John Howard the red-white-and-blue, apple-pie, whoo-Momma, hand-over-yer-heart Woodrow Wilson award.
A compassionate and strong believer in family unity, John Howard has brought to Australia a dedication to traditional values and a strong commitment to national security. John Howard. An ordinary man, who was called onstage at extraordinary times.

O, for a muse of fire, my friends and droogs, or at least an MP3!

But who was Woodrow Wilson? As a friend and colleague points out, he was the father of modern diplomacy, arguing passionately for America's inclusion in the League of Nations. But Wikipedia also has this to say of Wilson:
"Wilson's attitude on racial issues is generally regarded as a stain on his reputation; many argue that he was instrumental in shaping the worst period of racism in American history. His administration instituted segregation in federal government for the first time since Abraham Lincoln began desegregation in 1863, and required photographs from job applicants to determine their race. Wilson also regarded those whom he termed "hyphenated Americans" (German-Americans, Irish-Americans, etc.) with suspicion: "Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready."

Or, as Wilson put it himself in his "History of the American People":
`The white men were roused by an instinct of mere self preservation [after the Civil War] ... until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country'

The Woodrow Wilson Award. It couldn't have gone to a nicer bloke.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Abbott vs Gillard: IT'S ON!

In half an hour's time, people - 2UE's Steve Price will be broadcasting live, Gillard vs Abbott, head to head, chin to chin, gates open at 5 and BEEE THEYAH!!!!

(That's AM 954 if you're in Sydney)

Tony Abbott Wusses Out

ABC 702 is reporting that Federal Terrier Tony Abbott has withdrawn from his hotly anticipated debate on the topic of voluntary student unionism with Shadow Health Minister Julia Gillard at the University of Sydney this afternoon, saying he was `not confident that police could protect his personal safety'.

Was this against attacks from students, or against Julia Gillard, who was so clearly going to wipe the floor with him?

In the interests of fair and balanced journalism, I will admit that Abbott jumped on the advice of NSW Police, who advised him that he'd be torn limb from limb if he turned up, but I will make two observations:

1) Abbott, who claims he was `devastated' about the recommendation, is getting very good at a style of politics perfected by his mentor, one J. W. Howard, which I call `The Art of Permission'; viz - carefully let a big fat controversial debate break loose around you, watch as everyone else's hands get dirty, watch as the people on your side blacken the names of your enemies by implication, then come in at the end and say `It's only right and good that we have this debate.'

2) It's interesting to note that Julia Gillard was not similarly informed that gangs of pro-VSU protesters were similarly poised to toss her off the balcony at Manning Bar ...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pollies at the Foota

Is today's Dragons vs Eels NRL match a footy game or a chance to go on the hustings? The camera lingered on both John Howard and Morris Iemma before the match got underway (unlike his predecessor, I doubt Iemma will walk out at half time assuming the game is over, as Carr is rumoured to have done).

It's quite interesting to examine the massive influence of the St George-Illawarra Dragons on Australian politics. It's well known that John Howard has been a fan since boyhood - ironically, they were also Mark Latham's team of choice. According to Bernard Lagan's recent book, Latham mentioned the team's ousting from finals contention to Howard shortly before the lights came up on the televised Leaders Debate during the Federal Election - adding `But don't let that worry you, mate'. Judging from his shambolic performance in the debate, he must have been shattered ...

But so too did the Dragons play a part in Latham's elevation, as it was a mutual friend of Robert McClelland and himself, a former chairman of St George Leagues Club, who finally convinced McClelland to make the fateful vote - for the maverick Latham and against Beazley - in the 2003 leadership challenge.

But we're losing sight of the really important thing here, which is this: the Sharks are about to slaughter Manly over at Shark Park. HA HA HA. :D

Meet The Press Live Blog

Host: Greg Turnbull (bahh ... where's Buongiorno? He's much cooler, and his name's rhyming slang for porno ...)

Panel: Elizabeth Knight - Sydney Morning Herald, Tony Boyd - Australian Financial Review.

Guest: Finance Minister Nick Minchin

Yeah, they're `stunning' by-election victories in Queensland, Mincho ... but seven seats versus 61 and you've got a loooong way to go, buddy. Trying to thank the Qld Nats for this win, given that it's one of the few states where the two parties are not in Coalition, is either foolhardy or just plain idiotic. However, it's plainly clear that the spin doctors have told the Libs that unity is the song to be singing at the moment, not intra-Coalition biffo.

Speaking of Steve Fielding ... did you know he's one of sixteen sibling? Holy shit. Family First indeed! It's too bad Fielding has not demanded that his Family Impact Statements be publically released - as Turnbull implies, the IR one would be a humdinger.

HAHAHAA - now that's a good one, the government owning a public utility is a `conflict of interest'!

Part Two
This is beside the point but boy, is Nick Minchin a smug bastard or what. And to dismiss allegations that the Telstra sale will be used for a slush fund by saying Labor plans to use the money for `pet Labor' projects.

Holy shit ... so this is Minchin's solution to Telstra's shitty share price. They're not actually going to sell the shares - instead of selling the shares and putting the money in the Future Fund, it looks like they're actually going to park the shares themselves in a portfolio and call that the Future Fund. Whoa! That's quite something. You heard it here (almost) first. I'm gobsmacked. No big fat T3???

HAAHAAA - the ACCC is `too interventionist'! I wonder how long Sol Trujillo will actually stick around? After all, moving from the US to Australia would almost be like News Ltd moving from Delaware back to Australia as far as regulation goes. Will he bother sticking it out or just go home?

Oh, here we go, another slang of Harry Evans. `He should stick to his job of administering the Senate' - isn't this exactly what he was doing? I'm getting well pissed off by Turnbull's habit of giving a little supportive comment to the Lib guests at the end of each interview.

I'm not going to blog the telecommunications expert, but I will start putting a link to Meet The Press at the end of my blog so you can check the transcript. So here it is.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Indulge Me My Conspiracy Theory

There was an interesting little blip on the news radar yesterday which appeared and disappeared in an eye blink. put up this item up shortly before 3pm yesterday afternoon, putting talkback hosts into a frenzy. All the relevant authorities were alerted and questioned. Was Schapelle Corby's jail term really going to be cut in half?

Here's where the story gets odd. Soon afterwards, 2UE's Steve Price took a series of interviews on the topic.

At 3:20 he interviewed Corby's lawyer, Erwin Siregar, who demolished the rumour and said he had no idea of its origins.

At 4:11 he talked to Alexander Downer, who confirmed that Corby's legal team `was the source' for the reports and suggested that anything was possible, and Corby could `even be acquitted'. Phfwah?

At 5:37 Price crossed to 2UE's Indonesian correspondent, Justin Hale. Hale confirmed Erwin Siregar's earlier report, saying that the Bali High Court had told him the rumour was false and any decision on Corby's appeal was some time away.

But here's the strange part. Hale then said his sources in Indonesia confirmed that Canberra had been the original source of the rumours. Hale has lived, worked in and has reported from Bali since the Bali bombings, and is a credible source.

Even despite the strenuous denials, the Daily Telegraph put the dubious Schapelle story on their front page this Saturday.

Another Canberra beat up to keep the public distracted? Alan Ramsay's column today gives me leave to wonder.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Great Mate Debate

Is it just me, or could this story (could there be a more quintessential Friday morning not-news story?) be a convenient attempt to sway discussion away from the thornier issues of Telstra and industrial relations?

Maaate ....

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Devine weighs into Loane vs Trioli

Ah, Miranda Devine. Misinformed, shrilly ideological, and a complete twit. Everything she so frequently accuses the Left of. I've often wondered if she's a satirist, but sadly, a former SMH subbie tells me otherwise. Dang.

Today, she tackles the departure of Sally Loane from ABC 702, using the basic thesis that the `self loathing' ABC is a haven for shrill, ideological Leftist twits, of which Loane is clearly not one, and thus was not welcome (in fact, all those ABC goths apparently felt `a sort of high-school envy of a cheerleader persona a bit too happy with her perfect life.'. It's too priceless).

Devine's argument stubs its Jimmy Choos on one key point:

But then, the taxpayer-funded ABC doesn't have to be accountable to shareholders, advertisers or its audience.

Anyone who has worked at the ABC will tell you what a crock this is. The ABC is more ratings driven now than any time in its history - particularly radio, given that ratings are blowing smoke up the likes of Alan Jones. The simple, clear, easy-for-everyone-except-for-Miranda-Devine-to-understand reason that Loane was dumped is exactly that: her show doesn't rate. Not with Leichhardt, not with the North Shore. Typically, Devine has cherry picked from the latest AC Nielsen ratings, but when it comes down to it, she was trailing her major rivals - which, in today's ABC, means major commercial networks with much larger budgets - and was therefore the weakest link.

Meanwhile, Ms Trioli, watch for thumbtacks under your car tyres, Miranda's after ya ... and all other `cocky newcomers' (especially if they are `childless' and `avowedly left wing'.) Face up Miranda - the only contempt you're worried about in the ABC is that they chose Janet Albrechtsen instead of you as their token right wing fascist.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ross Gittins: Legend

Bravo to Ross Gittins, as usual saying the truth, and as usual, a lone voice in one massive echo chamber of yes men. It's grim times when picking holes in someone's policy is redefined as `outspoken-ness' rather than `journalism'; even more so when said `outspoken-ness' sees you bullied into submission by the government you are attempting to criticise (as was detailed fairly extensively in Gittins' own columns, and in Crikey.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald, Gittins comprehensively demolishes (if you will excuse the pun) the glittering myth that props up Australian prosperity: property. A friend recently commented that in no other country do you wander in and comment about someone's fantastic floor space, frontage, water views or potential capital growth. It shits me to the back teeth. As does, as Gittins notes, the fact that property booms are inherently biased against the poor and the young. While he suggests that this means Baby Boomer parents end up paying for house deposits, in practice, it means an entire generation renting its housing from another.

I've heard a lot of Baby Boomers on talkback radio complaining about the NSW property taxes eating away at their `retirement investment'. To which I say - go buy shares, mate. Because I can't live in shares, but you can retire on them. The recent decision by the new NSW government to abolish the unpopular vendor's tax is - a cave in of the worst kind, to the worst sort of vocal, pushy, powerful lobby group. The `Australian Dream' of a modest house has long been a realistic aspiration of ordinary Australians. The distortion of this dream into just another way of making dosh shows something is deeply out of joint.

Barnaby vs Katter Smackdown

I honestly thought Bob Katter was going to crawl through the TV screen during tonight's Lateline debate with Man of the Moment Barnaby Joyce, giving him a right royal dressing down and making him look like an outspoken kid being sent to the principal's office during the first week of school (which, let's not forget, he is).

Joyce is undoubtedly giving out some mixed signals, at one moment favourably comparing his ability to jimmy money out of the government to Brian Harradine's, but then dismissing the idea of being an independent on the basis of its fundamental lack of power; ruing the privatisation of Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank but then implying that he's willing to take the $3bn for Telstra and run if the Qld Nats give it the thumbs up, regardless of the fact that 70% of Queenslanders still oppose the idea.

Katter is absolutely right when he says that what Joyce must realise and use is that he is untouchable, and has a real chance to make himself a hero to his constituents - and just as much of a chance to blow his chance with them by falling at the first hurdle. Why is he throwing away this golden opportunity to have the Howard Government over a barrel? Perhaps Bill Heffernan threatened to do more than just bad mouth him.

Poor old Barnaby looked like he'd rather be anywhere else tonight, and who can blame him. And hey, Barnaby - if you're responsible for selling Telstra, after I stuck my neck out and put in a good word for an actual cork-on-the-hats, Joh-worshipping Nat, I'll come up to Bananaland and I'll .... phhshhhppph hppphssshpppphsssshhhhhh h.....psphsspppph ....... (BROADBAND ACCESS LOST)

Big Brother on Big Brother

As Barrie Cassidy said on ABC 702 this morning, why would the government even bother with this?

Controversy over Channel Ten's reality program Big Brother Uncut galvanises Coalition MPs into action

Television programs considered offensive could be ordered off the air by the federal Communications Minister under a radical plan to be considered by the Howard Government.

Up to 20 Coalition MPs are backing a push for amendments to the Broadcasting Act that would give the Government power to ban programs that repeatedly breach their classification guidelines.

South Australian Liberal MP Trish Draper, who is spearheading the push, will meet Communications Minister Helen Coonan tomorrow to discuss the issue.

(From The Age)

Conspiracy theory alert: is it to get rid of the nudity or to ensure the kiddies aren't exposed to evildoers such as Lefty Tim and his incendiary anti-Howard Government, pro-Union rhetoric ???

The answer to that is: well, maybe, maybe not. But the important thing here is that as soon as your country starts censoring what you get to watch - and putting this right in the hands of a single minister - get very, very, very concerned.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Once Upon A Time In Sussex St ...

Joe Tripodi and Eric Roozendaal recline in a secret enclave, snorting cocaine off a supermodel's thigh.

JOE: Yuh can't pronounce his farken name.

ERIC: (pause) Faaark.


JOE: Get Singo on the phone.


Curtain down.


DAVO - Sharon, what's the name of that new Premier - Morris Eye-eeemagh?

SHAZZA - No David, it's Morris Iemma! (thinks: you dumb fuck, they've only mentioned his name about a million times)

DAVO - Ohhhhuughhh! What sort of name is Iemma? (thinks: talking about politics will make her think I'm smart)

SHAZZA - Well, apparently his parents came here from Italy in the 1960s. (thinks: yes, not an answer to your question but it may stop you looking at my tits)

DAVO - So what's he going to do for NSW? (thinks: has she noticed I'm staring at her tits?)

SHAZZA - Well, he's already abolished that vendor tax to help get investment moving.

DAVO - Ugghhhhmm! (thinks: Ugghhhhmm???)

SHAZZA - And he's keeping the stamp duty exemptions that's helping first homebuyers! (thinks: whole fat lot of good it'll do me now that all the Baby Boomers are able to snap up all the cheap properties again)

DAVO - Hmmm! Well, that's not a bad start! (thinks: Christ, for a hot chick she talks too much)

SHAZZA - Yeah! Someone with fresh ideas and a fresh approach! (thinks: for a dumb bloke he's really trying hard to pull a root, God love his little cotton socks. But I swore a long time ago: No more pity roots.)

Voice of God - Spoken by mumble mumble mumble Ursula Stephens.

Cuts to Nature Bee advertisement or somesuch. Curtain down.

One of these scenes is creative interpretation. The other is a real, honest to God radio ad that appeared on air this morning and has already provoked the ire of one Sir Golden Tonsils Laws.

For the sake of my own sanity, I'm pretending I don't know which is which.

Event - `Do Not Disturb: Is The Media Failing Australia'

I've had a flick through this book and it looks particularly interesting. Come along.

editor of
DO NOT DISTURB: Is the Media Failing Australia?

with some of the contributors to the book

moderated by CATHERINE LUMBY

WHEN: Thursday 18th August, 6.30 for 7pm
WHERE: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
COST: $9/$6 conc, gleeclub welcome
TO BOOK: please phone gleebooks 9660 2333

At a time when the Howard government has radically narrowed the national vision, the mainstream media has failed to notice or to hold it to account. Do Not Disturb offers diverse and enlightening explanations for this failure.

Eric Beecher gives reasons for the decline of quality journalism, and Guy Rundle charts the rise of the attack-dog commentators. Margaret Simons goes inside the ABC, while Jon Faine lifts the lid on the unruly democracy of talkback radio. Robert Manne explores the unnerving conformity of the Murdoch press on Iraq, and David Marr points to the passivity of the media during the anti-refugee crackdown.
The contributors to Do Not Disturb are all independent insiders. At a time when the media rules are about to change, allowing even greater concentration of power, this book initiates a necessary debate for our democracy.

Robert Manne is Professor of Politics at La Trobe University and a regular commentator for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. In 2005 in a Sydney Morning Herald survey he was voted Australia's leading public intellectual.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Meet The Press Live Blog

Today's Special Guest - Nationals Leader Mark Vaile
The Panel - Brian Toohey, Canberra Times; Michelle Grattan, The Age

Dang ... for a minute there I thought they were chatting to Barnie Joyce ... how odd it is to see the Nationals looking new school (hey, if you can rule something in, I can invert `old school'). Nevertheless, for a vigorous young leader, Mark Vaile is sounding remarkably old school.

`In our intentions towards industrial relations we have been very very clear'. Coulda fooled me, Vailey! It's almost as if you've got a different party in every state. Joel Fitzgibbon's statement is very bloody pertinent ... oh, and here we go, the classic deflection tactic - `Labor are crying foul because they're aching themselves'. Whatever, girlfriend!

Waiting for the phrase `we're a wide church ...' Waiting ... waiting ...

Bongiorno makes another bloody good point - how can the Nationals actually succeed in their own terms? Whenever they score a point, Ratty waddles up and gets all the kudos, whereas, as Bongiorno points out, a Barnaby Joyce, who actually has people talking about the Nats in a non-condescending way, is the best sort of person the Nats could hope for.

All in all - who'd want to be Mark Vaile right now?

Part Two

Now here's a quote that will come up many times in today's pollie shows - John Howard's atrocious comment that Barnaby Joyce's first loyalty should be to the party room, not the hapless people of Queensland.

WHOOA! According to Vaile, the Australian constitution and John Howard's comments are `not mutually exclusive concepts' !!! So one can potentially override the other !?!? HAHAHAHAA `never any evidence or circumstance' that an MP was pressured to vote along party lines? Pull the other one!

Ah, Telstra ... does anyone remember that Fast Forward sketch with Magda Szubanski dancing around singing `How Do You Solve A Problem Like Victoria?'. ...Replace `Victoria' with `Telstra' and there you have it. Astounding to think that we may still (optimistic little me) see Telstra stay in public hands in the current term of government, even with the Senate in Johnny's back pocket ... gives you a bit of hope for democracy. Then again (pessimistic little me), we're only a week in.

HAHAHAAA - bloody oath, I LEERVE that picture of Bill Heffalump and Barnaby Joyce .... wonder if I can find a link.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Workers Radio

Had a listen to the new Workers Radio show that was launched on the weekend by 88.9FM in order to bring examples of the problems caused by the industrial relations reforms to the public eye as they occur.

What a fascinating concept. The ABC's Jon Faine is one of the few mainstream broadcasters who can see a positive side to the power of talkback radio (see here for example, not only for Faine's view but a number of interesting articles on the impact and history of talkback) and to my mind, this is a far more useful deployment of resources than the higher profile

The show's on every weekday from 5:30am to 9:00pm, at 88.9FM.

Naughty, naughty

Caller to Steve Price's show, 2UE, about 4:28

Damian says he is amazed that Price stumped NSW Roads Minister Joe Tripodi when he asked him to explain the route around the Cross City Tunnel, given that Tripodi specialises in `rooting around'.


McCrossin for 702 Brekkkie

The mystery is finally over - according to the Sydney Morning Herald's Sue Javes, Radio National's Julie McCrossin is the one across the winner's post.

One wonders if this was a decision made on the basis of testing or audience research, because McCrossin was just about the only ABC personality not given a dry run on the morning shift since Angela Catterns' departure for vaguer pastures. Simon Marnie, James Valentine and Debbie Spillane have all had their morning glory over the past few weeks, and former Triple J personality Adam Spencer has also been given the training wheels treatment on a number of different shifts.

How will 702 suit McCrossin? I always found her a little too soft centred, but then, I felt the same way about Catterns.

Meanwhile, following Sally Loane's departure from the 702 morning shift today, management are reportedly having trouble convincing her mooted replacement, Melbourne 774's Virginia Trioli of the wisdom of starting her shift at 9am rather than straight after A.M. at 8:30am as she does in Melbourne.

Digging her heels in over this would demonstrate a flawed understanding of the Sydney radio market on Trioli's part. 2GB have already extended Alan Jones' show to 10am to prevent any further leakage of listeners from Ray Hadley to John Laws on 2UE at 9am, and she would also face a fairly significant demographic overlap from the last half hour of Mike Carlton. Welcome to the Emerald City, Virginia!

All of this being said, there's now a gap opening up at Radio National. Was David Marr's comment on this week's Insiders that Bob Carr is a shoo-in for a job at 702's big brother (or big Aunty?) not such a throwaway remark after all?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Three Cheers for Barnie Joyce

Despite the rather pathetic attempts to paint Nats senator Barnaby Joyce as some sort of neo-Bjelke-Petersen, it's nice to see that many have reacted to the Prime Minister's outrageous comment that Joyce's first obligation is to his party room, not his constituents, with the appalled astonishment that such a comment deserves. Many mates of mine were shocked that Howard actually let this comment slip in the media.

The story of Barnaby Joyce could prove to be a fascinating one. Apart from anything - what a fine line the government must walk! Push him too far, and he has the option of going independent, depriving the government of their Senate majority. The most important thing of all is that, despite what the Heffernans and Tuckeys would like to think, Joyce is no maverick in the sense of pushing a view that only he holds, either in parliament or, most importantly, in the public. Hands up anyone in the bush - or anyone in Australia - who really thinks selling Telstra is a good idea? Or considered their vote for the Howard Government a `mandate' for the sale?

Bring it on kids - Australian democracy can only benefit in the long term, but unfortunately, it's going to go through the floor in the short term. Yes, it's got even further to go.

Orange Grove: The Juice is Loose!

ICAC has cleared the NSW Government of any corruption in its conduct regarding the closure of the Orange Grove shopping precinct. Instead, Westfield executive Mark Ryan has been fingered.

I wonder if Bob Carr secretly wishes he was still in power so he could breathe a big fat sigh of relief.

Interestingly, earlier leaked reports that the ICAC would declare now-Housing Minister Joe `Captain Krispy Kreme' Tripodi `not reliable' are reportedly not to be found in the final report. Well, that's one way of interpreting him ...

Monday, August 08, 2005

Peter Jennings Dead at 67

US ABC news anchor and `World News Tonight' host Peter Jennings has died of lung cancer after leaving the show, which he had hosted since 1983, in April. He has long been regarded one of the `big 3' US news anchors, along with Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw, both of whom retired earlier this year.

Loane to Go

Today's Sydney Morning Herald confirms that Sally Loane has been thrown off the Good Ship Aunty. How's this for a parting shot?

`On her former colleague Angela Catterns, who left the 702 breakfast slot for Vega, she said: "We respect each other as colleagues."

Phwoarcrikey! She may as week have just said `If I saw the bitch in a dark corridor I'd tackle her down and strangle her with her own beloved vocal chords, BWAHAAAAA!!!'

When it comes down to it, radio (even 702 - and increasingly, especially 702) is about ratings. Loane may be feeling pretty bruised right now but she'll be far, far better off in an off-air role, and the 702 schedule could potentially be massively strengthened (as long as they keep the Barrie Cassidy segment it's all good ...)

Now it will be interesting to see what other Sydney radio stations start looking around to address the weak patches in their schedule. 2GB's Philip Clark - start quivering ...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

More movement at 702?

MEET THE WOMAN TO GO UP AGAINST HADLEY AND LAWS! The headlines screamed in today's Sun-Herald. I was rushing past at the time and for one, dreadful moment thought it was Miranda Devine. Well, I thought. All that hoping and begging for 2UE to dump Prue Macsween and it really happened, what goes around comes around ...

Fortunately, what they were talking about was plans, `in the offing' as they say, to oust Sally Loane from her Sydneywide morning shift in favour of Melbourne ABC 774 Drivetime host and occasional Insiders chair warmer Virginia Trioli!

This would be a very smart move on ABC 702's part. Frankly, Loane's show rates badly because it's a paceless snooze. The word is that she will be retained in some capacity, suggesting someone else will be moved along - although, there are also rumours that the ABC 702 schedule may be radically overhauled, with the breakfast show ending before the Chunk-O-News that currently makes a rather large interruption between 7:45 and 8:30 (for the 7:45-8:00 extended news bulletin and current affairs show A.M.), and the Morning show starting at 8:30, half an hour before Laws and an hour and a half before Ray Hadley - a potentially risky strategy.

Meanwhile, Simon Marnie is returning to the weekend chair this weekend after several weeks doing weekday mornings. It sounds like he has lengthened in betting. I'm still tipping Sarah McDonald to take the shift.

The Last Weekend

Greg Turnbull's snide remark on Meet The Press this morning notwithstanding (sorry, no live blog today - I'm on a breather from all things media for most of this week - Shadow Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Unions NSW's John Robertson were the guests; the transcripts are here), today's The Last Weekend event was a whole lot of fun, with Morris Iemma putting in a strong appearance.

The abject lack of references to the event in today's print media makes one mutter darkly about conspiracy theories, but as John Howard has been telling us all week (having shoved that Andrews chappie in a dark corner somewhere - perhaps they should start a reality show called Andrew Robb Makeover), the government will make it allll right. He's getting better at selling the message. No, no, none of this will be taken away. It'll be in YOUR hands. That's flexibility, see?

To the bloke who wore the business suit to today's event with LIBS - Liars In Business Suits written on the back? Loved it. ;)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Wash up ...

Make your way to the bookie, people - here's the damage ...

In The Winner's Circle ...
  • Frank Sartor - Retains Redfern/Waterloo and Cancer, Science and Medical Research but drops Utilities and picks up Planning (now separate from Infrastructure)

  • Michael Costa - Drops Roads to the trusty Joe Tripodi (like he gives a shit, what did he ever care about what happened to a road in NSW?) and picks up the newly created Finance and the newly separated-into-a-different portfolio Infrastructure.

  • John Hatzistergos - Drops Justice and picks up Morris Iemma's former portfolio of Health, and the newly created portfolio of Drugs and Alcohol (Minister for Drugs and Alcohol - that'll look good on the letterhead!)

  • Carl Scully - Retains Police and takes on Utilities (crikey - so much for the `no hard feelings ... here's a prestigious but bloody simple portfolio')

  • Tony Kelly - Takes on Justice and Juvenile Justice (woohoo! Spot on! :D) in addition to his current Emergency Services portfolio (haven't heard whether he retains Local Government).

In The Centre Of The Field
John Watkins, Carmel Tebbutt, Reba Meagher and John Della Bosca all remain unchanged.

Way Back ...
  • Diane Beamer - Miraculously remains in the cabinet but takes on the portfolio of Whingers and Broken Stuff (i.e. Fair Trading).

Three portfolios remain to be filled, meaning three starry-eyed little ministers will be elevated in the near future. I'm tipping Kristina Keneally for Aboriginal Affairs, Eric Roozendaal for Ports and Waterways, and hmmm ... the third one's a kicker ... let's just see, shall we?

And they're off!

The gee-gees are rushing past the post over at Government House, and here they are so far ...

  • Frank Sartor is handing over Utilities to Carl Scully, who will also retain the Police portfolio, so he can concentrate on Planning (which has been separated out into its own portfolio from infrastructure, smart move). Holy shit. This is bleak indeed. Say good bye to every corner in Sydney you hold dear - it'll be gone by this time next year. To Sartor, heritage is a dirty word, and `old' is a building 100 years or older. Plus, this will give Spanky Franky an even greater mandate to make over Redfern in his own image. Oy, vey ...

  • John Watkins is tipped to take over as Deputy Premier, despite a concerted push on Carmel Tebbutt's part, Iemma having decided to leave it up to the Left rather than the entire caucus. The decision will be made tomorrow.

  • deep shudder Michael Costa takes the newly created Finance portfolio after Iemma himself took on Treasury. I swear this is just because nobody could bear to say `Yes, Michael Costa - it's all yours to play with like a big game of Monopoly - every cent earned in NSW ever'. Iemma's comments on the ABC today indicate that he intends on a relatively temporary `treasury sharing' arrangement similar to that worked out between Steve Bracks and John Brumby in Victoria (in which Bracks held treasury for 5 months before handing on to his `apprentice', Brumby). Worst case scenario: Iemma gets sick of it all and just hands it over. Best case scenario: Iemma gets sick of it all and strangles Costa.

And, if you happen to be living under a rock, Craig Knowles was scratched before the race. Pollie watchers are hotly anticipating the cool change predicted for the rest of the week, if only to stem the flow from the NSW government of all these sun-loving ministers ...

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thus begins the reign of Commodus?

Some wag asked the new NSW Premier Morris Iemma (yes, we can say it that way now) at the end of his press conference if he knew what had happened to Marcus Aurelius' successor.

Erm, about that ... Wikipedia has more to say, and I'll just leave it at that and advise Morris very strongly to stay away from the `harem of 300 women and young boys ...'

Andrew Refshauge: Casualty

Andrew Refshauge is, as I write, resigning not only as Deputy Premier but as Member for Marrickville. For the first time, I'm starting to wonder if we're staring down the barrel of a John Brogden-led NSW.

God, he just sounds so sad. Just imagine if they had've put him in charge of the Redfern-Waterloo Authority. Then it could have actually helped the Aboriginal community rather than just softened the place up to be turned into a new CBD for rich assholes.

So very, very sad ...

Oh Christ - Refshauge, don't thank anyone for giving you a fair go. Because nobody has.

CRIIKEY ... I just heard the word `COSTA' ... and now, I'm not sure I can bear to listen anymore ...

Refshauge TO GO ????

Friends, it's a little more serious than I thought. Alan Jones is now reporting that Andrew Refshauge's press conference will be to announce his resignation from parliament. Fuck me, this would be a great bloody tragedy and I'm gutted just thinking about it.
More to come ...

Refshauge to Go?

Andrew Refshauge is set to hold a press conference at 9:45am this morning, just before the vote for Morris Iemma.

So that's it: he's going to step down.

Dear God, I bloody hope he doesn't lose Treasury too.

Fuck, it's depressing .... :(

Monday, August 01, 2005

Vega FM So Far

In all the kerfuffle, I haven't yet had a chance to preview Vega FM, the new DMG FM station which debuted today (like Vegas but with less ass?). A colleague who heard Angela Catterns on her new shift reliably informed me she sounded `a little overwhelmed by the FM-ness of it all' ...

NSW Cabinet Positions: Start Your Engines

Though today's press is playing down the prospect of a cabinet reshuffle following the elevation of Morris Iemma to NSW Premier, there's still enough information to put out a preliminary ... cue William Tell Overture ... Cabinet Reshuffle Form Guide!

In the Right Corner ...

  • Frank Sartor - Ah, Frankie. He does it hiiiiis wayyyy ... his habit of enthusiastically scooping up whatever portfolio is lying around has led to suggestions he was being Groomed as Successor by Carr. However, his unconsultative style has left some unhappy - particularly those with whom he has come into contact in his capacity as Minister for Redfern Waterloo. Has he bitten off more than he can chew? Methinks he would secretly love to dump this troublesome portfolio and, as has been rumoured, take on Iemma's former portfolio of Health, having performed well as Minister for Science (Cancer).

    However, who'd want to take on the guardia-tainted chalice of Minister for Utilities?

  • Michael Costa - Personally, if I was Premier, I'd give it to Michael Costa. Wouldn't you love to see him muscle up against oldies for watering their petunias at 9:07am on a Tuesday when they should have been all done by 9:05am on a Monday? Choke down a glass of water that was poo ten hours earlier? Sadly, this isn't my world to control, and the rumour is that if the Right are going to muscle anyone into treasury, it will be the man once described as a cross between Austin Powers and Dr Evil.

    If Michael Costa is the next Premier of NSW - mate, I'll be on the next train to Melbourne. Twenty minutes late.

  • John Hatzistergos - The man with the hard-to-spell name has also been named as a contendah for Health Minister, but I'm tipping he'll stay in his current position as Ministers for Fair Trading and Justice (and who knows - maybe they'll flick Juvenile Justice over to him and lock Diane Beamer in Kariong ...)

  • Carl Scully - As has already been reported today, Scully will retain the Police portfolio, in which he has been doing pretty well. Don't be surprised if he's given some other fairly prestigious position to show there's No Hard Feelings, Is There?

  • John Della Bosca - Again, being named as a possible Health Minister, but he's more likely to gun for Treasurer. And who'd dip out as Minister for Industrial Relations at such a bloody interesting time for a portfolio like that??? Un-likely.

    And, In The Left Corner ...
  • Andrew Refshauge - It's difficult to see why a bloke who has consistently been earmarked by the public as their pick of the bunch for successor to Carr could be seen as past his used by date by his faction. Sure, recognition plays a large part in such public surveys, but Refshauge's a solid performer and has handled the Treasury portfolio sensibly and moderately. The trouble is, this isn't actually what people want. People would much prefer to add to their portfolios of off-the-plan apartments and to further expand their ever-growing luxury clubs with the fat of pokie punters, without paying a cracker to the government. Hence, sensible operators such as Refshauge, who begin to find new sources of revenue so the infrastructure everyone is clamouring for can be funded, is accused, by the good morons of Crikey, of being a `big spending Leftie'. As David Marr correctly identified in his Overland lecture of last year, this is why the Right is so afraid of the Left - keeping people happy, healthy and not killing each other is all so bloody expensive.

    OK, rant over. The word is that the Left will courteously allow Refshauge to hold onto his position as Deputy Premier he promises to hand over to Carmel Tebbutt afterwards. I have no reason to doubt this, especially given that Tebbutt would be a shoo-in to replace him in the seat of Marrickville. But it would be NSW's loss if this retirement came sooner rather than later. Traditionally, Deputy is held by the Left, but it remains to be seen whether the boat will be rocked by wresting Treasury away from Refshauge by the Right - but if it is, it will be a major blow for the Left. I'm divided on this one, but I think he might cling onto it.

  • John Watkins - Has also ruled out challenging Refshauge, after a brief flirtation with a run for the leadership (yeesh ... if the party machine ate Carl Scully alive, just imagine how they would have dealth with him ...). Is currently doing OK in Scully's old Transport Portfolio and is likely to stay put.

    Out Injured?
  • Craig Knowles - Once the heir apparent, now just `where?'. Knowles managed to make his way out of the `whistleblower nurses' controversy with only a few needlestick injuries, but it was the dodgy tipple that did him in. It's scary think that blowing 0.6 rather than 0.5 can ruin an entire career, but there you go. I'm tipping he'll stay put for the moment, but he of all people would know things could have been very, very different.

  • Diane Beamer - Nobody's beamed since poor Di took on Juvenile Justice. She'll either be moved to a less potentially embarrassing portfolio or given the flick.

And Jostling At The Gate ...
  • Eric Roozendaal - Ech, don't even get me started. The architect of such priceless ideas as Let's Win Town Hall, Roozendaal is the definition of powerbroker. Arch nemesis of the Left, he held Mark Arbib's position of State Secretary of the ALP before joining the Legislative Council after the departure of Tony Burke to bigger and more Federal things. If they have to create a position called Minister for Doing Stuff, they'll do so just to squeeze this creature into cabinet somewhere.

  • Kristina Keneally - The Member for Heffron (who famously ousted Laurie Brereton's sister Deidre Grusovin from the seat), who, given that her electorate covers the Redfern-Waterloo area, has been particularly attentive to Frank Sartor and his plans for the area. And if Frank left for `healthier' climes, they'd be looking for someone to take over that portfolio, wouldn't they? Hmmmmm ....