Margaret goes to Macca
WELL-known crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen is understood to be in talks to represent jailed Labor minister Ian Macdonald in what is set to become one of Sydney’s explosive court cases next year. Cunnee Cunneen, who leaves the Offi Office of Director of Pu Public Prosecutions t this year, did not reply to an email from The Sauce, but is understood to have been a approached by the Macdonald Ma camp. Should Shoul she go ahead, Cunneen would effectively be pitted against her old workplace, while also challenging the findings of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which led to the coal licence conspiracy charges Macdonald and fellow jailed Labor minister Eddie Obeid will face in the May trial.
There is no love lost between Cunneen and ICAC after she successfully took the watchdog to the High Court. Cunneen accused ICAC of exceeding its authority by launching an investigation into her actions after a car crash involving the girlfriend of one of her sons. The court found Cunneen’s actions did not amount to corrupt conduct and ordered ICAC to pay costs.
Both Macdonald and Obeid as well as Eddie’s son Moses have entered not-guilty pleas of conspiring over a grant of a coal exploration licence at Mount Penny in the Bylong Valley. The Sauce hears the former ministers and Moses will not be the only parties in the trial, with dozens of witnesses to be called, including several senior Liberal figures.
NATIONALS KNEES- UP
NATIONAL Party members appear to have put their differences aside for one week, because, well, it’s Christmas. After a year of leadership tensions triggered by Barnaby Joyce’s extra-curricular activities, Nationals whip Damian “Drummy” Drum (below) decided to take matters into his own hands.
At the closed-door Christmas party in Canberra on Tuesday night, the AFL coach-turned-MP dished out gongs to colleagues to lighten the mood. Former leader Joyce was given the Steven Smith award because, like the Aussie cricketer, he once was a leader but has now been banished.
Outspoken Queensland Senator Barry O’Sullivan, who has been strangely absent from party room meetings since losing his Senate preselection, was given the Google Maps award. Colleagues hope the illustrious gong will encourage him to look up directions to the party room in the new year.
Not done with his football antics, Drummy decided to rev up the Coalition troops following a joint party meeting last week. He asked his colleagues to stand and chant “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic”.
A former coach of Drum’s had once demanded his players do the same and he believed it lifted their spirits. The Sauce understands a few Coalition MPs jumped to their feet and broke into a jig. Others weren’t so convinced.
STADIUM WAR KIT
JUST when most pollies are counting down the days to a summer break before the start of the March state election campaign, Labor is ramping up its stadium war with the Berejiklian government.
Party candidates and MPs were last week sent a stadium strategy action pack to be used to turn up the heat on the government over its “$2.2 billion splurge”.
The kit — obtained by The Sauce — includes “pledge cards” for voters to sign their support for the Labor policy, with an oversized one set aside to be used in media photo opps with national MPs. The kit also includes a series of graphics to be posted to social media, and links to Labor’s reedited video of the Liberal Party’s “Let’s Get This Done” ad released last week.
Candidates and MPs are also urged to stage a debate on stadiums by sending out a media release challenging “the premier, deputy premier or local Coalition candidate” to take part. So much for a pre-election vacay.
SOME VINTAGE PRIZES
LONG before disgraced Labor leader Luke Foley was to fall on his sword over allegations he inappropriately touched an ABC journalist, the outgoing Auburn MP fortuitously autographed four bottles of NSW parliamentary wine as part of the party’s annual Christmas raffle.
Given the bottles are now set to become collectables — along with former premier Barry O’Farrell’s $3000 Grange — the party will be hoping the raffle is a sellout. For those who miss out, there is always the “Bill for PM” poster, an “It’s Time” poster signed by Gough Whitlam and, wait for it, a Sunbeam Cordless Kettle. With tickets costing a fiver, better be quick.
AFTER weeks of rumours that Malcolm Turnbull was engaged in active sabotage of the Morrison government, it was Berejiklian government minister Matt Kean who was to confirm as much after details of a terse Sunday night phone call between himself and “The Miserable Ghost” became public on Monday. The Australian revealed how Turnbull had called the moderate powerbroker and Liberal State Executive member to urge him to reject the plan to save backbencher Craig Kelly to force the Morrison government to an early election.
Had the executive not intervened, Kelly would have faced almost certain defeat should hould he have been forced to go to a preselection against favourite Kent Johns. According to details of the conversation relayed to The Sauce, Kean copped a spray from Malcolm, who accused the moderates of being “weak”. eak”
“The moderates will roll over like they always do,” Turnbull (pictured right) allegedly said, to which Kean replied: “Don’t lecture me about the moderates being weak and rolling over when you allowed Peter Dutton and the right wing to run your government.”
The Sauce understands Turnbull, who clearly misjudged Kean’s loyalty to the party, called the Fair Trading Minister “multiple times” after the phone conversation was made public.
THAT’S A BIG SCO- NO
COALITION staff have been advised to bury the PM’s name in press releases after it failed to rate. In recent weeks, official pressers from ministers have used the phrase “The Liberal-National Government” not the “Morrison Government” when flogging policies. The shift has raised the eyebrows of former Turnbull staffers who have told The Sauce they always name-checked the former PM because focus group reportedly responded well to Brand Turnb Turnbull. Almost a year after Ba Barnaby Joyce and the N Nationals were accused of damaging the government, it seems the Liberals are reliant on them for help.
SOMEONE, S ANYONE? AN
AFTER NSW Nationals Orange candidate Yvette Quinn stood down following requests from a prominent MP’s wife and a fellow female MP, it seems officials are struggling to find a replacement. In a letter sent to party members on Friday, officials confirmed nominations remained open while noting former nominees had been ruled ineligible. “Please encourage any interested members you know to put their hat in the ring,” it said.
Cootamundra Shooters candidate Matt Stadtmiller with a gre greyhound yhound pupuppyppppy wathatthatwaswa put up for raffle.