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City Desk
29 November, 2007  
Appointments

“Balmain” Bob Debus to be the new Home Affairs minister while Robert McClelland is appointed Attorney General … Plus, it’s been a busy time for Victorian silk worms as 13 new gowns are spun


imageLast night J.J. Spigelman tipped it during his drinks party for the media held at the delightful Chief Justice’s St James Road garden.

He thought 07 would be unlikely to appoint Robert McClelland as foreign minister and instead make him the new Comwelf Attorney General.

This is exactly what has happened. How does Spiggsy get the good oil on these things?

McClelland had been shadow Attorney General in Beazley’s time and is seen to be a relatively solid if low-keyed performer.

Former ABC journalist Uncle Bob Debus has been given a new ministry called Home Affairs. The appointment may partly explain Kerry O’Brien’s Freudian slip during the telecast on Saturday night – “There’s been a swing to the ABC”.

Debus was NSW Attorney General under Bob Carr, and his successor as Premier Maurizio Giancana. He was also Minister for the Arts and the Environment.

He is an utterly decent fellow who had the uncomfortable job of peddling the state government’s tough on sentencing policy and managing Maurizio’s idea that lay people should be included in determining complaints against judges.

His Home Affairs portfolio will take in ASIO and the Australian Federal Police and there are expectations that he’ll be a moderating force in the face of excesses like the Haneef bungle or the recent ul-Haque case, which was brought undone by the bone-headed conduct of the security wallahs.

Uncle Bob Debus ran into a bit of strife during the election campaign after The Daily Rupert revealed he actually spent more time living in Balmain rather than his electoral base in the Blue Mountains.

Consequently, he has been transformed from Uncle Bob to Balmain Bob.

imageHe took the seat of Macquarie (which incorporates all the area of the Blue Mountains council and the big towns of Lithgow and Bathurst) from the Liberals’ Kerry Bartlett with a seven percent swing.

McClelland is a 27th generation Labor pollie, the son of Senator Rubber-Duggie McClelland, upon whom Barry Humphries allegedly modelled his character Sir Les Patterson.

Rubber-Duggie was Minister for the Media in the Whitlam days and was appointed High Commissioner to the UK.

Son Robert ran into his own strife during the campaign when 07 had to bring back “on-message” after he said Labor would oppose the death penalty for the Bali bombers.

That is likely to be one of the reasons he’s now Attorney General and not Foreign Minister.

Like Balmain Bob, McClelland supports a legislative Charter of Rights for Australia, something that will send the neo-cons into further paroxysms of fury.

Meantime, former barrister and solicitor Malcolm Turnbull has lost the Liberal leadership contest to Blowdried Brendan Nelson – 45 to 42 – with Julie Bronwyn-Bishop coming in as deputy.

Don’t those Liberals know a brilliant, self-serving, ruthless opportunist when they are offered one?

* * *

Of course, these national appointments pale into insignificance compared to the importance of the collection of Victorian mulberry leaves that have been munched into fresh silk.

The Chief Justice Earl Warren released a tight little announcement yesterday (Wednesday, Nov. 28) declaring the following 14 as winners:

Ian Frank Mawson

John Denis Philbrick

David George Brookes

Nicholas Thomas Robinson

John Russell Dixon

Gavin Joseph Cohen Silbert

Peter Gregory Cawthorn

Ian Richard Lloyd Freckleton

Stephen Geoffrey Edwin McLeish

Ian Graham Waller

Kerri Elizabeth Judd

Jeffrey John Gleeson

Karin Leigh Emerton

Mark Kranz Moshinsky

A total of 97 originally applied – 88 with testicles and nine without. Two withdrew leaving 95 contenders – 87 (M) and eight (F). Only 14.7 percent of those who applied were appointed, compared with NSW’s 19.3 percent last month.

A fortnight ago in Queensland Chief Justice Daphnis de Jersey pulled three names out of the hat and in a radical departure from precedent announced them in alphabetical order:

Bradley Wayne Farr

Declan Anthony Kelly

Michael Patrick Kent

As Daphnis said in his announcement they are “Senior Counsel in and for the State of Queensland”.

Thank God that’s been made clear.