John Howard has re-emerged like Lazarus with a quadruple bypass (well, we know he’s an expert in all things ticker-related) to add his voice to the No camp. His rather pointed criticisms of Malcolm Turnbull’s government and call for it to swiftly reveal how it will protect freedom of speech and religious freedoms in the event of a Yes vote are, naturally, a welcome development for the PM who doesn’t have enough trouble of this variety already. Here you can get a taste of how thrilled he is to have the Man of Steel back in circulation. Turnbull: “I’m sure John can make an enormous contribution. He didn’t make a submission to the Senate committee but with his experience and expertise I look forward to him doing that … We’re old and good friends … John’s wisdom is always welcome, particularly on our side of politics.” Uh-huh.
Canavan keeps it reel
As survey envelopes land in letterboxes across the land (or not — there are reports of Australia Post’s accuracy rate), the Yes and No campaigns are both pushing the line that this is the “one chance” Australians will get to have a say on the issue. Under pink and blue lights at the No campaign launch on Saturday, Matt Canavan went a little bit Hollywood. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is our only hope,” he declared, sadly not clad in Princess Leia robes. “This is our Obi-Wan Kenobi ... If you vote Yes, it’s a bit like Forrest Gump: it’s a box of chocolates. You have got no idea, no idea, no idea what you might get. I don’t like the nut ones, you might get a nut.” Well, nuts to that.
Bishop’s call waiting
There’s less than a week until the New Zealand election and it’s on a knife-edge. And while Barnaby Joyce hit the “dump” button on his Kiwi citizenship faster than you can say Jack Robinson, it seems there’s still unfinished business between Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and Julie Bishop. Ardern yesterday hit Australian airwaves to woo the sizeable contingent of Kiwi voters on this side of the ditch. She revealed she hasn’t spoken to Bishop following our Foreign Minister’s comment that it would be “very difficult” to build trust with NZ Labour, despite offering to have a chat. “To be fair to Ms Bishop, I’m not entirely clear she has my phone number,” Ardern chuckled. “If I’m in the role of prime minister — which of course I hope to be — I’m sure we’ll have a phone call. At that point we’ll have a chance to clear the air.”
Snelling out for family
Less than two weeks after the last patient moved from the old Royal Adelaide Hospital into a longdelayed new building, the man who oversaw the excruciatingly painful delivery has stunned observers by quitting politics. South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling, flanked by his wife and six kids, yesterday announced he was leaving after 20 years for truly personal reasons. “It has been observed that while those of us in politics are volunteers, our families are conscripts, and this couldn’t be truer than for my family,” he said. “It is time for them to have a taste of life with a husband and father who is not a public figure.” We give them grief — and quite often they deserve it — but our politicians and their families do make large sacrifices for the job.
Clive now and zen
So young, so full of promise. Clive Palmer tweeted this rather mistyeyed 2001 photo of himself yesterday, captioned “In the final analysis in life, materialism isn’t all that’s important.” Which is pretty funny for a bloke who’s currently fighting a liquidator’s bid to freeze $200 million of assets, including four golf courses, so creditors might one day get some of the $300m they’re owed from Queensland Nickel’s collapse. If Palmer doesn’t care for material possessions, it could explain why he transferred a $1.75m Gold Coast home to a business associate for no profit just two days before he was to give evidence to the Federal Court about his assets. Very Zen.
Harbouring a grudge
We know Daniel Andrews has spent over $280,000 promoting his Facebook page over the past two years, and this weekend it paid off with clicks and shares. With more than a grain of truth, Andrews (or his social media lackeys) posted: “Sydney has a distinct regional dialect, with many unique phrases such as: ‘It’s 7pm — probably getting a bit late for that drink.’ ‘5000 attending the game. Must be some sort of record.’ ‘$900 a week, one bedroom, no windows — where do I sign?’”
Clive Palmer in 2001