Its cup runneth over! No less than a quarter of the available funds – $45 million – went into just that one electorate. That included $15.5 million to AKD Softwoods in Tumut; $13.1 million to Visy Pulp and Paper, owned by big-time Liberal Party donor Anthony Pratt; $12.5 million to Tumut Airport; $6.5 million for the Hyne Mill in Tumbarumba; $3.5 million to the Apple Thief, “to develop a new cider manufacturing and distribution centre and tourism experience in Snowy Valleys Shire”; $2.3 million to Seven Springs Orchard, Batlow and so on.
Who thinks this is OK? Who thinks this is acceptable, and not pork-barrelling on an outrageous scale? This is not to say that those in the Wagga Wagga region don’t deserve funding. But for them to receive a quarter of available funds, and for the likes of the Blue Mountains and other Labor-held seats to get diddly-squat? Beyond everything else it is just insane politics. Come the next election, one of the key things the Premier is going to have to counter is the perceptions of previous pork-barreling for which all the documentation has disappeared. But now they follow it up with this outrage. Insane, did I mention? And I reckon ICAC-able.
Kelly gets the Abbott treatment
In federal politics meantime, that parliament hallway encounter this week between Tanya Plibersek and Craig Kelly – whereby the former ALP deputy leader called to account the member for Hughes and Scott Morrison favourite for putting Pete Evans to shame on crazy COVID-19 treatments and anti-vaccinations rhetoric – had a fascinating effect in his own electorate. This column has previously broken the story about how the local group We Are Hughes is trying to get rid of Kelly in the same manner Voices of Warringah got behind gun independent candidate Zali Steggall to oust Tony Abbott at the last federal election. I am told by Linda Seymour, one of the founders of We Are Hughes, that since the cameras captured Kelly selling crazy they have been overwhelmed by a surge in local support.
“The phone has not stopped ringing, and the emails just keep coming,” she says. “People say, ‘What can I do? I voted Liberal, but I am just so embarrassed, I had no idea’ and so on.”
So who will they put up against Kelly? “We are working through a list of candidates now, and will come up with a very good one.”
What if Kelly missed preselection and the PM didn’t move to save him like last time, and there was a Lib candidate at the next election who wasn’t a card-carrying nutter? “It’s too late. It won’t change our plans. Enough is enough. And we now have our own momentum.” Watch this space.
Path to riches
Oh, you beautiful people. You know who you are. I refer to you Avalonians, and those in surrounding areas, who took one for the team just before Christmas to save Sydney and NSW from the plague. A lesser people would have bucked at the rules, escaped and spread the virus with abandon, but you lot? Not a bit of it. You cancelled Christmas, stayed homed, buckled up and knuckled down with nary a whimper of serious complaint, and saved the lot of us. Seriously, thank you. As a small reward, I can advise that I reckon one of you is sitting on a tiny gold mine. See, over the summer I have been up to my eyeballs doing a book on the Sydney Opera House and one of my researchers came across a fascinating titbit.
Back in the mid-1960s when they were putting the tiles on the shells – cue the architect Louis I Kahn, “The sun did not know how beautiful its light was until it was reflected off this building” – the bloke in charge of Hornibrooks Construction, Corbett Gore, was so taken with the look of those tiles, that he had an idea. Why not use some of the ones left over for the garden path of his home in Avalon? And so he did. If you’re living in Avalon, have a look. When you head out to the Hills Hoist, does it look like your feet are walking on the Opera House?
Bingo. Winner, winner, chicken dinner, for the Opera House lottery! (Not that those tiles, and the whole look of the Opera House, pleased everyone at the time. One Daily Mirror columnist notes of the final vision: “I think it looks like … a bunch of toenails clipped from some large albino dog.“)
Joke of the week
From up Woop Woop way, comes Jacko and his Missus, come to the Big Smoke so they can make a quid out of his strange talent. See, while Sixth Class had been the toughest four years of his life, he had blitzed the lot of them in art class and turned into this amazingly gifted portrait artist.
His fame grows and soon people from all over the Big Smoke are turning up, and paying ever big bucks, to get him to paint their likenesses.
One day, a beautiful young woman from Vaucluse arrives in a stretch limo and asks if he would paint her in the nude. This being the first time anyone has made such a request, he is a bit perturbed, particularly when the woman tells him that money is no object and she is willing to pay up to $10,000. Not wanting to get into any marital strife, he asks her to wait while he goes into the house to confer with the Missus. Finally his wife agrees, on one condition, and he comes back to tell their visitor.
“It would be me pleasure to paint yer portrait, Lady,” he says, “My Missus says it’s OK. I’ll paint you in the nude all right; but I have to at least leave me socks on, so I have a place to wipe me brushes.”
What they said
“It was something in the garden to keep him walking to help his recovery from his hip operation. We said we’d give a pound a lap – thank goodness I didn’t say I’d match any money he raised.” – Colin Ingram, son-in-law of Captain Sir Tom Moore, explains how the captain started his plan to walk 100 25-metre laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, to raise £1000 ($1800) for the NHS. Sir Tom ended up raising £38 million.
“Our goal is to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050.” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison about climate change. By coincidence, that is the same year I want to be a cordon bleu chef.
“This is an historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club.” – Eddie McGuire pulls the wrong rein after a report found the club was guilty of “distinct and egregious” systemic racism and called for sweeping structural change. He pulled back the next day, saying proud was not the right word.
“Without the water, we got no name, we got nothing.” – Barkandji elder Uncle Badger Bates about how government mismanagement is killing the Menindee Lakes, 1000 kilometres west of Sydney and not far from the border with South Australia. The Barkandji people, whose name is literally “people of the river”, have been forced to postpone or abandon cultural practices that have been handed down through thousands of generations over possibly 65,000 years.
“I’m not overly political. I’m overly her husband.” – Doug Emhoff, now known as the Second Gentleman.
“I truly want us to live in a world 50 or 100 years from now where people are jumping in their rockets like the Jetsons and there are families bouncing around on the moon with their kid in a spacesuit. I also think if we are going to live in that world, we better conquer childhood cancer along the way.” – Jared Isaacman, a US billionaire who plans to take three “everyday” people with him to circle the globe this year.
“The weight of evidence steadily coming out of the Xinjiang region leaves no room for doubt as to the oppression Uighurs and other ethnic minorities are living under. Despite the CCP’s constant denials, the international community can no longer be idle in the face of this brutal repression.” – Victorian Labor senator Kimberley Kitching about the the BBC’s report that showsfirst-hand accounts of systematic rape, sexual abuse and torture in Uighur detention camps in China.
“There’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it.” – Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican Congresswoman from Georgia, back in 2017. This week she said she didn’t mean it.
“Having worked in cable news for more than a decade after a wonderfully misspent youth in newspapers, I can tell you the result: a nation of news consumers both overfed and malnourished. Americans gorge themselves daily on empty informational calories, indulging their sugar fixes of self-affirming half-truths and even outright lies.” – Chris Stirewalt, the former Fox politics editor, sacked because he was the first to call Arkansas for Joe Biden.
“He’s not my doctor and he’s not yours. But he does a great job in Hughes.” – Scott Morrison, to the National Press Club on Monday, explaining why he wasn’t worried about the Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, putting out shocking disinformation on COVID-19 therapies and vaccines. By the end of the week, he was obliged – or at least he told us he did – to carpet Kelly.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.