The Australian - - INQUIRER - strewth@theaus­ JAMES JEFFREY

Think­ing cap

Veter­ans’ Af­fairs Min­is­ter Dar­ren Ch­ester showed his prac­ti­cal frame of mind at the Women United by De­fence din­ner in Can­berra when he asked singer Lee Ker­naghan if he could bor­row his Akubra. The pur­pose? To start a tra­di­tion: pick­ing prime min­is­ters by draw­ing names out of a hat. Clearly recog­nis­ing this made more sense than any lead­er­ship process seen in re­cent years, the 500 guests at the Realm ho­tel cheered their en­dorse­ment. As an­other gov­ern­ment per­son has since noted to Strewth: “We could go al­pha­bet­i­cal but there’s a high chance the first ben­e­fi­ciary would make a cap­tain’s call and change the rules.”

Who’s there

Noted hip-hop pro­moter Scott Mor­ri­son was on Syd­ney ra­dio sta­tion WSFM the other day when Amanda Keller tried a gag. Keller: “Can you par­take in a joke with me that I heard dur­ing the week that made me laugh?” Mor­ri­son: “Yeah.” Keller: “Knock knock.” Mor­ri­son: “Who’s there?” Keller: “Peter.” Mor­ri­son: “Peter who?” Keller: “Scott Mor­ri­son.” Alas, the of­fi­cial tran­script does not record his re­sponse.

Be­hind the mad­ness

Ad­dress­ing the Women in Me­dia con­fer­ence on the Gold Coast on Fri­day, Vir­ginia Tri­oli re­vealed the not-so-funny side of what had been one of our favourite mo­ments of live TV — that time in 2009 she was sprung sug­gest­ing, in the tra­di­tional dig­i­tal way, that Barn­aby Joyce was cuckoo. Af­ter a long, ar­du­ous time on the IVF roller­coaster, things fi­nally were look­ing up. Tri­oli walked into the TV stu­dio that morn­ing “tech­ni­cally preg­nant” and, un­der­stand­ably, “high as a kite”. In this heady at­mos­phere, the in­ci­dent hap­pened. Tri­oli noted the in­ten­sity of so­cial me­dia abuse that fol­lowed, and amid it all the sad end to the ten­ta­tive preg­nancy. But as Tri­oli made clear, un­like all the peo­ple who tapped into the un­par­al­leled power of get­ting of­fended on some­one else’s be­half, Joyce was gra­cious and even made jokes. Be­hold the pu­rity of the Strewth item from then: “Joyce was still laugh­ing about it hours later when Strewth caught up with him, ad­mit­ting there was a pos­si­bil­ity Tri­oli was ‘frus­trated with my ap­proach’. But then, un­afraid to face the harsher pos­si­bil­i­ties, Joyce delved deeper: ‘Maybe I am crazy. Maybe this isn’t par­lia­ment but an asy­lum. And if I’m not Barn­aby, who am I? And then, who is Barn­aby? If I am crazy, it would ex­plain a lot about this place.’” Those were the days.

Saved by the bell

Among the ser­vices pro­vided by Pyne & Mar­les, the Sky News show star­ring Christo­pher Pyne and Richard Mar­les, is its reg­u­lar re­minders that Sky News dur­ing day­light hours has its ex­otic side, too. Ex­hibit A … Mar­les: “In­come tax will be less un­der us!” Pyne: “That’s rub­bish. We are help­ing wages by re­duc­ing in­come tax. You want to in­crease in­come tax again be­cause you think peo­ple with $100,000 are rich.” Mar­les: “That’s just not true.” Pyne: “It is true.” Mar­les: “If you are un­der 100, the in­come tax story un­der La­bor is go­ing to be much bet­ter than un­der the Lib­eral Party, and that’s where the mean av­er­age wages ac­tu­ally ex­ist …” Pyne: “We’ve run out of time.” Mar­les: “We’ve run out of time, Christo­pher …” Pyne: “Ex­actly. Thank God, be­cause peo­ple don’t want to hear that rub­bish any more.”

The nays had it

You can more or less get away with flog­ging a dead horse, but not so much if you ditch one — as Shari-Lea Hitch­cock has been re­minded. The horse trainer, so­cialite and for­mer source of af­fec­tion in Richard Pratt’s life has been pinged $750 for dis­pos­ing of a de­ceased equine with­out writ­ten ap­proval from Rac­ing NSW and an of­fi­cial death cer­tifi­cate. She didn’t en­ter into the spirit of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ei­ther, as her sub­se­quent be­hav­iour to­wards of­fi­cials over the phone scored her a three­month sus­pen­sion.

Cross­ing swords

As dotty as Aus­tralian pol­i­tics can be, this nugget from our old muck­ers at The Moscow Times is a re­minder we’ve got a way to go: “A Rus­sian law­maker has submitted a draft bill cod­i­fy­ing du­els a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s for­mer body­guard chal­lenged op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny to re­vive the prac­tice. Vik­tor Zolo­tov, who heads Rus­sia’s Na­tional Guard, promised to pound Navalny ‘into a juicy steak’ on Tues­day as pun­ish­ment for his video in­ves­ti­ga­tions into gov­ern­ment cor­rup­tion.” Ap­par­ently pis­tols, swords and epees are ac­cept­able, but only among state of­fi­cials of equal se­nior­ity.

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