Friday, March 23, 2007

Chris Harris interview

Book-end to my Edward Mandla interview, here's the one with his Greens equivalent, Chris Harris (also available online here).

And now dear reader, I'm off to the Land of the Long White Sheep for two weeks of making sexually-suggestive jokes about said sheep - which I'm certain the locals will find hilariously unexpected and frightfully witty, and only reinforce their positive image of Australians.

Might try and blog from there but no guarantees. Toodles.


“Sexuality should not be a determinant of human rights.”

This Saturday’s State election is conjuring up many strong emotions in voters: anger, depression, disappointment and fear for the future, to name a few. Enthusiasm, hope and anticipation of better things to come are much further down most voters’ emotional checklists.

After 12 years of incompetence, corruption and strangling bureaucratic red tape that defines the Carr/Iemma Labor governments, voters know there’s likely to be four, perhaps eight more years of the same. They’re furious with the current lot, but have even less confidence in the alternative, personified in the ‘Frank Spencer’ of State politics, Peter Debnam.

Now would seem the perfect time for a legitimate third party to flourish and consolidate protest votes of both frustrated Labor and Coalition voters. The Greens have emerged as the closest we have in NSW to a third force that can wield any significant influence. And yet even with such an unprecedented national and global focus on environmental concerns, such as the drought and climate change – causes that define the Greens as a political party – opinion polls suggest the party is still only accounting for around 7% of the vote.

Chris Harris, the Greens candidate for Sydney, appears unconcerned about his party’s apparent inability to capitalise on its traditional strengths with the electorate: “Living sustainably, consuming less, living more modestly, recycling, saving – it’s not a sexy message we’re pushing. But we think it’s important and increasingly, history is proving us correct.” He believes that, because we haven’t yet reached an “ecological crisis point”, voters still are not as concerned by climate change as much as would suit the Green agenda.

Harris has been charged with the momentous task of ousting popular long-term independent member for Sydney – and Lord Mayor - Clover Moore. Like Moore, he also serves on Sydney Council (as Deputy Lord Mayor), but sees no hypocrisy in criticising Moore for attempting to hold both jobs simultaneously, even though he appears to be doing the same: “I’m only a part-time councillor, paid $25k a year” – which he does on top of running his own printing business. But even with such a full schedule of his own, he firmly believes Moore has taken on too much, and her constituents are wanting for the sort of representation in State politics she provided prior to becoming Lord Mayor: “I think Clover’s been a very, very good local member, but the huge workload, particularly the ceremonial duties – it’s illogical. Not to mention the conflicts of interest in the dual role.”

Harris also believes he will be a stronger voice for the GLBTI community. Unlike Labor and Liberal, where expressions like “GLBTI” and “same-sex” are nowhere to be found on their 2007 policy websites, it is difficult to fault the Greens’ extremely comprehensive policy on all things GLBTI.

But is there any point in compiling such a policy for an area that, sadly, is only likely to appeal to a small amount of voters in a handful of concentrated seats? Why push so hard for same-sex marriage, for example, when the majority of voters both within and beyond the GLBTI community appear so ambivalent to the concept? Harris identifies two older gay male friends, one who “looks terrible in white” and one who’s “a bloody aethiest. But even if they want to reject marriage, as many straight people do, we still support their right to be married. A human right denied to one group of people because of their sexuality is unacceptable. Sexuality should not be a determinant of human rights.”

The Greens’ main focuses for the GLBTI community are reforming adoption and anti-discrimination laws further. Harris is quick to highlight Lee Rhiannon’s current bill that would end exemptions for schools from anti-homosexual discrimination provisions, even going so far as to accuse Moore of taking credit for Rhiannon’s bill.

Harris is clearly hunting a large chunk of the “solidly-Clover gay and lesbian vote”, hoping especially that older Moore loyalists who remember her “glory days” might swing to the Greens this election in frustration. “I’d like to get 25-30% of the primary vote, 10% of which would be swinging Clover voters.” It’s a bold prediction, but inner Sydney remains the Greens’ stronghold. When questioned whether he considers a parliamentary system genuinely democratic in which a party scoring less than 10% of the vote across the State could conceivably hold the balance of power in the upper house, Harris points out the Greens’ advocacy for proportional representation – that is, the four members that the party is hoping to get elected into parliament would roughly to 8% of the overall vote. He argues that the Greens are therefore different to Steve “1.9%” Fielding, the Family First senator who cruised into federal parliament largely due to Labor preferences.

The Greens’ motto for this election is “Vote for tomorrow, today”. When I ask Harris for his personal vision for the future, he request one of his party’s pamphlets that he’s handed me. Truly, this is a candidate staying ruthlessly on message! Although his own perspective on Australia’s “money politics” is tinged with cynicism, he is also keen to point out that the Greens believe in positive solutions, not just whinging about the status quo.

And the key, unedited message Chris Harris wants to get across to SX readers? Again, Harris is so specific he sounds almost like he’s reading from a cue card: “Three things – firstly, I want to be a hard-working and accessible member; secondly, I will base all my work in and around the community, and finally, I’ll be looking for positive solutions.”

This election will be a watershed for minority political forces. The overriding criticism against Clove Moore is that since taking on Lord Mayor, her work as member for Sydney has been compromised and her constituents have suffered in the process. If Moore is returned comfortably on Saturday, however, it’s hard to argue this as anything other than a vindication of independent politicians and testament to her enduring popularity. If, instead, the Greens perform the minor miracle of knocking Moore out of Sydney, it will be fair to conclude the Greens is the party, in Sydney at least, to whom frustrated Labor, Liberal and Moore voters are turning.

Either way, it makes for a fight worth watching.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It'd almost be tragic if it weren't so funny...

Well, if this isn't the comment to make you splatter your half-eaten Corn Flakes across the breakfast table.

Lackey Downer on Santoro:

Think about him as a human being.




(This is me still pissing myself.)

Not sure which of youse had the displeasure of catching the Mad Monk's odious rant against Krudd in last week's Smuh. I won't dignify it with a link but here's one lowlight from his piece doubting Krudd's account of his own father's death:
The problem with his story is that it now sounds too self-serving to be true...

It was a quip - indeed, an entire article - even Lib colleagues acknowledged as nauseatingly offensive, indicative of a desperate government with absolutely no new ideas left and nothing else to do than attempt to offload the coat of shit that has steadily encased it over the years.

The day this government thinks in terms of humanity will be the day...well, the day will never come, so it's not an issue. Imploring Labor to think of its own as human beings is just ... hey, you saw the ellipses. I'm speechless.

In other news: Not a bad piece by Tanya Plibersek about the Libs' track record on same-sex couples.

Like her I question Malcolm Turnbull's alleged queer-friendliness, and she's right about his redistributed seat now taking in the queer ghetto suburbs on the harbour side of William/New South Head roads. He'll really have to show some form on law reform soon or he'll be stranded when confronted by angry fag Wentworth voters - who may just happen to look a bit like me - waving their brollies in his face demanding why we still have next to fuck-all to show for nearly 12 years of his government. The whole "he's working behind the scenes, we have to do this softly-softly" defence stopped washing after Warren Entsch's failure last year.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

And Another...And Another...

Oh, it just gets sweeter and sweeter...

And it couldn't happen to a nicer homophobe.

It's hard not to think of this as some kind of karma. Howard dusts off the ministerial code of conduct only in a desperate attempt to smear Rudd's name, and look how it turns to bite him on the arse, repeatedly.

Sit back and watch them drop like cockroaches off a freshly-Morteined ceiling. It's kinda fun.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interview with Edward Mandla

(QP Note: This interview was published in this week's SX - and is available online here - but to my disappointment was significantly edited. So here is the piece I originally submitted.)

There’s little doubt the NSW Liberal HQ has done its homework selecting Edward Mandla as the party’s candidate for the State seat of Sydney: powerfully built, exfoliated and moisturised skin, distinguished grey hairs and a handsome smile, he may well be an ideal Daddy fantasy for many of the otherwise politically-ambivalent twinks residing in and around Stonewall.

Stonewall, in fact, is the place where Mandla recently gained some notoriety, launching a fundraiser in one of Sydney’s most famous gay bars without actually addressing any gay and lesbian issues in his speech! He points out that he was there as part of Shadow Mental Health Minister Judy Hopwood’s launch of the Opposition’s $396 million, 4-year mental health policy, and also to address the issue of ice usage around Oxford Street, which is of concern to the gay and lesbian business owners in the area.

Mandla cites Labor’s failures in mental health as one of several reasons for him to have decided to throw his hat into the political arena, and becoming Member for Sydney would be a commendable addition to his already impressive resume. As Immediate Past President of the Australian Computer Society (ASC) and current director of Smartforce Solutions, Mandla’s IT career spans over two decades and includes regular lobbying for the IT industry. His vision – and he proudly considers himself a ‘big picture’ man who operates on envisioning how the world may look in five years’ time – is for IT to advance to a point where people can spend less time at work and more time with their family.

The father-of-three identifies as a strong family man, but his concept of family is vastly different from the usual Liberal Party ‘family values’ proponents. Unlike former Prime Minister Paul Keating, Mandla believes ‘a man and his dog’ does constitute a family, and that the current definition pushed by his potentially federal counterparts, of the ‘traditional’ – and very heterosexual – family, is in need of a shake-up. Which is important, since adoption and family law remain key areas in New South Wales where queer people have not made the same gains as elsewhere.

But Mandla is adamant: ‘total equality’. And he is the ‘crusader’, the ‘champion’ to shake up homophobic attitudes in a party not renowned for ending discrimination against queer people and same-sex couples. He’s not prepared to concede that the NSW Liberal Party is under siege from a rise of what former Liberal MLC Patricia Forsythe publicly identified as ‘extremists and zealots’, an ultra-conservative ‘Christian’ faction led by bitterly homophobic former Opus Dei member David Clarke. Mandla counts himself as one of a dozen new candidates willing to bring progressive ideas and attitudes, and has confidence in his ability to ‘unite’ people with disparate views. The Liberal Party is not so much the ‘broad church’ John Howard likes to market it as, but ‘a high-rise building in the CBD in which every part of society resides’ – including, apparently, gay-friendly IT gurus.

But doesn’t this stand in contrast to Young Liberal federal President Alex Hawke’s assertion that only those with conservative values should be part of a conservative party? ‘Alex Hawke should get a life’ is Mandla’s quick response, in one of his more abrupt, unqualified statements.

So just how gay-friendly is Edward Mandla? His ‘entire campaign team is gay’, including his campaign director, of whom he sounds particularly proud. He identifies ‘hundreds’ of gay and lesbian friends, including ‘lonely older gay men’ whom he speculates might not be so lonely now had they had the opportunity to commit to one another via civil unions years ago. Consequently, he’s strongly in favour of such unions for same-sex couples and guarantees to be vocal in his support should he pull off the minor miracle of knocking Clover Moore out of the seat she has held for nearly 20 years. He informs me, however, that his many gay and lesbian friends in the community aren’t talking to him about ‘gay and lesbian issues’, such as discriminatory laws – ‘they’re talking to me about land tax!’

This may explain why the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ don’t in fact appear anywhere in the Liberals’ 2007 State election policy platform. It seems as though the gays and lesbians Mandla is primarily listening to are the Fruits in Suits, rather than the lobbyists or activists in cargos, or indeed the everyday queer couples concerned by Howard’s inaction or Clarke’s rising star.

It’s not a lack of understanding of, or sympathy for non-land tax-related issues faced by queer voters every day that informs Mandla’s position, however, so much as a resolute conviction that equality will be achieved for gays and lesbians – it’s a done deal, primed to be signed off. He offers an optimistic time-frame of ‘five to ten years’, even under Howard and/or Debnam governments, by which time equality will be achieved. There’s even a bold assertion that civil unions will happen under a Liberal government sooner than a Labor government, due to resistance in the latter from old-school Catholic unionists.

Which brings us to the Iemma government. After 12 years of an administration that, even by its own admission, ‘has more work to do’ – a euphemism, perhaps, for wasted opportunities, economic mismanagement and prolonged incompetence – why are the Liberals not streaks ahead in opinion polls? Mandla is actually encouraged by the Liberals’ current underdog position. ‘I just love those polls – we’re exactly where I want us to be. People are becoming more and more angry that the government could be returned, and increasingly I see people who have never voted Liberal, who may secretly do that for the first time. I love it.’

Mandla reserves his strongest political criticisms, however, for Clover Moore. Though he admits he once held this ‘folk hero’ in high esteem as a social champion during the formative years of her political career, he argues that, as both the Member for Sydney (formerly Bligh) and the city’s Lord Mayor, she simply doesn’t have time to ‘chain herself to trees in Rushcutters Bay’ – or represent her constituents – as she used to. He believes that, despite Moore’s obvious and sustained popularity, she has lost hitherto held respect since taking on two jobs, and he claims through his door-knocking to be tapping into a well of disgruntled voters who supported Moore at the last election but now seek instead a ‘full-time’ member –conveniently, Mandla’s slogan for this campaign.

Does he believe he can beat Clover Moore? ‘I think I’m narrowing the gap. But I have a $50,000 budget – money I raised personally – and I’m up against her 90k-a-month public relations budget. You saw what happened in Mardi Gras, that’s what I’m up against. It’s hard.’

Still, Mandla exudes all the confidence one would expect from a highly successful, self-made businessman, and it’s difficult to doubt his conviction that the only way the Liberal Party will improve for the better over its otherwise appalling history on GLBTI rights, is for ‘new blood’ to join up and, over time, chip away at entrenched homophobic belief and policy. ‘These things don’t happen overnight’, which is certainly true, but they also shouldn’t take 11 years, which is how long queers have had to wait and are still waiting for their government to address discriminatory Commonwealth legislation. Perhaps if Mandla isn’t successful at the State election, we might see him later in the year going up against Tanya Plibersek for the federal seat of Sydney? ‘I see politics as a long-time spectrum, and I’m in the very, very early stages’. When pushed for a yes or no answer, he assures me that ‘he won’t go away’. Who knows? Maybe if he’s successful then, he might be the one person able to succeed where Warren Entsch, Malcolm Turnbull and others appear to have sadly failed in their attempts to bend the Prime Minister’s ear on formally recognising same-sex unions.

For now, however, the focus is firmly on New South Wales, and the many and varied people – including queers – living in one of the most diverse electorates in the state. And with accusation from his staff that the queer media give the Liberal Party a ‘rough time’, what is the one key, unedited message Edward Mandla wants to get across to SX readers?

‘Call me!’ It’s an open invitation as the man is keen to consult with his prospective electorate – so go nuts, everyone.

And as a final suggestion: ‘Don’t be afraid to put a 1 in the Liberal box, even if you’ve never done so before. You don’t even have to tell anyone – just make sure you do it.’ It’s an approach that’s eerily similar to the Liberal position on gays and lesbians generally – it’s ok, just do it in secret and don’t frighten the horses – but it’s the never-voted-Liberal-before people frustrated either by Clover Moore, the ALP or both, on whom Mandla is banking to get him over the line. And with him in the party as new blood to inject fresh ideas, the Liberals can only improve.

I’m not sure he’s convinced me to put a 1 in that particular box – even covertly – but I must admit, I’d be keen to see him in the bear pit of state politics, just to see if he could stay true to his admirable convictions. He’s offered a lot of guarantees about what he could achieve in the Liberal Party – and indeed, in government – and though I might not share his faith, this is one time where I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

Monday, March 12, 2007

To Out or Not To Out?

Seems like the next logical post...

Firstly: Yes, I do believe everybody has an expectation of and right to privacy.

But can we keep Anthony Callea in perspective here, please?

This is what the guy said in 2004 - verbatim - when asked directly whether or not he was gay:
I’m not gay. I don’t know why people say I am. A lot of people just make up rubbish.

You can understand why some of us grumpy old poofs might not care for one's homosexuality being dismissed as 'rubbish' - especially when, in Callea's case, he was most likely lying (according to the growing evidence - and I'm not just talking about Popbitch's Gaydar link).

Even Darren Hayes and Toby Allen have had the decency over the years to be coy, or offer the 'it's no-one's business' defence. That's fair enough. Again, I don't think it does queers any favours but if it's something you don't want to talk about, you shouldn't have to.

Bald-faced lying is something quite different all together.

Maybe he was younger and stupider then, and went along with whatever the Oz Idol producers told him what and what not to say. But he has no excuse now.

Secondly: I'd understand the need to stay in the closet when the industry is, for example, professional football. Your physical health might literally be at stake. But we're talking about the music industry here. I don't see Elton John, Rufus Wainwright or Jake Shears struggling to make a living as musicians since telling the world of their love for cock. And as all the little tykes in the pro-Callea army are squeaking, 'we love Anthony because he's, like, such a good singer and, like, songwriter, and like, we don't care about, like, his personal life, like (like)'. So if they allegedly don't care about it, why should he?

If his primary market is 13yo girls, and the Callea album-producing Powers That Be fear his coming out will jeopardise his appeal with said girls, maybe it should be pointed that most girls that age are fantasising about preppy little crooners, not actually having sex with them?

As for the rest of the potential fan base who are actually adults, they should have the capacity to distinguish whether or not they like a singer or band based on the music, not whether or not they have a fighting chance of getting down the artist's pants. This is why we listen to CDs/MP3s and watch DVD/film clips. The guy has enough vocal talent that his appeal should be broader than how he looks in film clips and the disappointment thousands of high school girls might feel because he's "inaccessible" (by the way, no more or less inaccessible than any straight equivalent who has a partner).

Finally, I say again I'm not actually outing him here - that was done by Vic Larusso and Popbitch. I'm relaying. There is a big difference.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Game time

Choccie frog for the first person who can tell me whose Gaydar profile, according to Popbitch, this is:

(Hint: It's allegedly Anthony Callea's.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why Conservatives Shit Me (Well, One Reason)

Article worth reading in the Oz today about the conservative argument for same-sex couple law reform.

It's by Tim Wilson, whom some of you may remember me detailing back in January last year as a suitable object of lustful affection for all you Rockport boat shoe-wearing, hyphenated surnamed, trust-funded, Green Left exterminating, Demons fan fags in the audience. Unbeknownst to me until now, he's also apparently a research fellow at the rather scary "Institute of Public Affairs".

His argument is spot-on for about the first two-thirds:

Government institutions are perpetuating discrimination against same-sex couples in superannuation law, Medicare payments, migration law and taxation.

Liberal values and a belief in small government should promote downscaling these benefits, but if they are to be available, they should be provided without discrimination...

Same-sex couples have paid their taxes, taken responsibility for their lives and are active contributors to society. Unlike other debates in society, the lapse in mutual obligation in this debate is not on the individuals. The Government cannot say the same for itself.

All has a nice ring. Then he gets into blaming the Stanhope government for the Howard government overturning the ACT's Civil Unions Bill, and the Liberal luvvie in him comes out.

But it's this line that gets up my goat most:

Howard faces the challenge that many gay Australians vote Liberal because of their support for small government and fiscal conservatism. But their patience has been wearing thin.

Not because it's not true - it is (well, gay men vote for Howard. Still haven't yet met a lesbian who does), but more like he's implying that because it's finally the Liberal-voting fags whose patience is wearing thin, Howard should be obliged to act now.

How about all we non-Howard voting fags whose patience was 'running thin' by about 1998? By 2007, we're practically hairless and skin-free, pulling out and scratching respectively in frustration by the ridiculous delay waiting for what, as Wilson identifies, should have been done by even a conservative government nearly 10 years ago.

Which brings me to the subject of this post: Why conservatives shit me. This is yet another situation of a conservative arguing - as a novelty - a logical, humane and compassionate response to an emotive issue, but only because the said conservative has a vested interest in it. It's no coincidence that here, the IPA research fellow arguing in favour of same-sex couple law reform is himself a big 'mo - but why wasn't the IPA talking about this years ago? Since in many ways it's really just a front for the Liberal Party, why wasn't it bending Howard's ear about this when it had the chances(s)?

We shouldn't feel grateful that Howard is finally now making noises about deigning to actually rectify discriminatory Commonwealth legislation against same-sex couples - as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens it's our bloody right, not a privilege, as Howard and his mates often imply. Mutual obligation in a liberal society - one of Howard's strong personal ethics, Wilson argues.

Coincidentally, I was already thinking about conservative self-interest only last week, when Tell-Us-About-It Janet actually wrote a blog post in favour of euthanasia - or "mercy killing", as she described it in a surprisingly sensitive, personal piece. While I agreed with her sentiments - as did a lot of blog posters, who like me expressed their disbelief they were in agreement with her - it was the motivation behind Janet's uncharacteristic support for euthanasia that annoyed me.

Case in post:

Yet anyone who has watched someone they love die a painful death, has listened to them as they whispered their wish that their skerrick of life be extinguished, will understand the motives behind a mercy killing. I don't know how I would have responded if my father had asked me to help him die when he lay in excrutiating pain those last few interminable days. I do know that the last thing that would have mattered to me was the clumsy law.

So while not wanting to appear unsympathetic, it seems to me Janet only came to this position because of the great shock she obviously experienced watching her father's final, agonising moments. Would she otherwise subscribe to her usual Bible-bashing rhetoric on this and similar issues around life and death if she hadn't experienced this?

Would Nancy Reagan have pushed so strongly for stem cell research if she didn't know it could have led to a cure for Ronnie's Alzheimer's?

Would Dick Cheney be as much of a homophobe as he is a sexist, racist warmonger were his own daughter not such a big outspoken dyke?

The winner, though, has to be Laura Ingraham, another blonde US uber-right pundit in the Ann Coulter mould. Except when it comes to the gays:

According to liberal author David Brock (in his 2002 book Blinded by the Right), Ingraham, while writing for The Dartmouth Review in the mid-1980s, once attended meetings of a gay student organization for the purpose of publicly outing them in the newspaper. Ingraham secretly taped a meeting of the Gay Students Association, then published the transcript, identifying students by name and calling them "sodomites".

Jeffrey Hart, faculty advisor to the Dartmouth Review, later wrote in The Weekly Standard that Ingraham held "the most extreme anti-homosexual views imaginable" as an undergraduate, and that she avoided a local restaurant for fear that gay waiters might touch her silverware or spit on her food, exposing her to AIDS.

A decade later, on February 23, 1997, however, Ingraham wrote an essay in the Washington Post in which she announced significant changes in how she views gays and lesbians. This was motivated primarily by the experience of her own gay brother, Curtis, rumored to have been estranged from her for a time after the gay student group controversy, as he cared for his ailing partner:

"In the ten years since I learned my brother Curtis was gay, my views and rhetoric about homosexuals have been tempered... because I have seen him and his companion, Richard, lead their lives with dignity, fidelity and courage."

Funny how life experiences - in all their ugly, painful glory - can wake up shock-jocks and knee-jerkers to reality and tap into what scraps of humanity might be lying dormant somewhere. Does it always have to be this way, though? Will John Howard change his tune about the gays only when Tim or Richard come out?

I don't really want to have to wait that long.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Howard Minister in Sacking Shock: Assumed Immunity from Punishment for Misdeeds Like All Other Howard Ministers

Senator Ian Campbell has expressed bewilderment following his shock 'resignation'. After revelations of meetings with disgraced former WA Premier Brian Burke, Senator Campbell was instructed to resign as Human Services Minister - but was surprised by Prime Minister John Howard's insistence as everybody else.

'I honestly believed - and fair enough too, I reckon - that as a minister of the Howard government, I was perfectly entitled to act whichever way I liked, disregard that pissy "Ministerial Code of Conduct" thing as and when it suited me, without having to actually assume there would be negative consequences for me,' said the bemused former minister.

'Hell, I mean Bill Heffernan, Wilson Tuckey, Trish Draper, De-Anne Kelly, Jim Lloyd, Amanda Vanstone, Mark Vaile and Alexander Downer have all at one point our another wiped their arse with the Code and all John's done in the past is to put his nose to it and claim it smelled like lavender! They still have their jobs, so why don't I?'

But Senator Campbell claimed there were no hard feelings towards the Prime Minister.

'Look, I've heard those cynics in the Labor mob and other lesbians whinge about how I didn't really do anything wrong, that this is far more to do with making Kevin Rudd look bad, that Howard and Costello had made such arses of themselves attacking Rudd for meeting with Burke that as soon as it came to light I had as well, they had to sack me in a pathetically desperate attempt to cover up their own culpability to keep the spotlight on Rudd in their vain attempts to smear his character, but...Hmm. Actually, that sorta sounds quite plausible...'

Responses to Senator Campbell's resignation were mixed. One senior Labor opposition minister who did not wish to be named initially expressed fury that Howard now had the gall to sack even Labor parliamentarians, before it was pointed out that WA's Senator Ian Campbell had been sacked, not NSW Senator George Campbell. She was then heard to remark: 'Oh, is that somebody else? There are two of them, are there? Are they brothers? Oh. Let's fold scarves!'

Meanwhile, a Liberal Party press release thanked Senator Campbell for his hard work as Minister for Arts and Sports. A corrective press release was issued instead thanking Senator Campbell for his hard work as Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation. A third and final press release was issued saying the Liberal Party was not entirely sure if Senator Campbell actually had a portfolio, but if he did they wished to thank him for 'his hard work of those junior ministries...probably one of those pissy ones about like, endangered plants or some we usually give to a Nat. Hey - are you sure he wasn't really a Nat?'

The Prime Minister was adamant: 'This has nothing to do with getting rid of dead wood before the election or determining who I hire and fire based solely on how bad it will make Labor look rather than if they have actually done anything wrong. The Code of Conduct is absolute: It allows me the discretion not to sack ministers who are grossly corrupt, incompetent or both, provided they're mates of mine, as well as to sack ministers when it gets me one-up on that swot-faced little choir boy I'm currently in the process of smearing because I can't fault the fucker on policy.'

When it was pointed out to Mr Howard that the Code of Conduct - recently uncovered in many bits at the bottom of Jeanette Howard's Insinkerator - does not say anything of the sort, Mr Howard replied, 'Uh, yeah, it does, like, in the fine print...that's in my mind. Just coz you're too dumb to see it doesn't mean it's not there. Duh!'

UPDATE: Even the Government Gazette isn't having a bar of this BS. Select highlights:

THERE appears to be only one standard of ministerial accountability in the Howard Government: you may remain as a minister until the political advantage of your departure exceeds that of your retaining the job...

A criminal conviction punishable by imprisonment is a bar to parliamentary election. But politicians are not prevented from meeting people who have been imprisoned. It is a healthy element of Australia's culture that someone who has completed a prison term has expunged their debt to society and is entitled at least to a hearing...

Mr Howard's burst of rectitude over Senator Campbell is all the more extraordinary for the slack approach he has shown to ministerial accountability over the past nine years...

Mr Howard came to office promising a much higher standard than that of his predecessors and introduced an extensive guide on ministerial responsibility...Within the first two years, it cost seven ministers and parliamentary secretaries their jobs...

The sacrifice of Senator Campbell has nothing to do with the code. The only reason for his departure is to further the attack on Mr Rudd...

...The opportunism displayed in the dismissal of Senator Campbell reflects poorly on the judgment of the Prime Minister.

Hell, yeah.