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Polly Peck
19 August, 2005  
Capital Offences

Fabulous Phil’s cronies to decide the location of the new family relationship centres … Big Kev Andrews and his missus have a night out at Canberra’s St Thomas More forum … Liberal mates soak up big bikkies on government IR propaganda … Bomber wants Little Johnnie to ring Bambang about Abu Bakar Bashir

imageFabulous Phil Ruddock this week delightfully informed all MPs that after careful consideration he’s chosen eight coalition backbenchers to oversee the implementation of the government’s 65 new family relationship centres.

Labor claimed it was “bizarre” that six out of the eight chosen occupy marginal seats and four of them are parliamentary rookies.

Not so, said Fabulous, some of his best cronies have taken great pleasure in surfing the Bureau of Stats data to find the most suitable locations for mums and dads to thrash out their domestics.

The attorney general assured the House on Thursday (Aug 18) the committee members would be responsible only for the inconsequential task of overseeing how the adult play centres will work in practice.

Perhaps the backbenchers might take some inspiration from comments by the enlightened Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews at the St Thomas More Forum in Canberra on Wednesday night (Aug 17).

Would be priest Big Kev told your correspondent the centres would be a “one stop shop” and he was certain there would be a “very real role” for the Catholic Church in the $200 million dollar project.

Christ. That’s put the project in a fresh light.

Andrews said the government’s new centres would avoid the usual family law situation of trying to act as “an ambulance picking up the pieces at the bottom of the cliff” and instead be a sort of “fence at the top of the cliff.”

I wonder whether his wife Margaret helped him hammer out that rather gruesome turn of phrase.

She offered some deeply theoretical observations of her own at Wednesday night’s forum, including this pearler: “marriage and politics are noble callings.”

Not that Mrs Andrews, editor of the marriage advice magazine Threshold and a relationship counsellor in Melbourne, would want any say in the guidelines the committee members come up with, surely.

Alas, the rest of the week was perhaps not quite as spiritual for the Minister for Workplace Relations.

How, asked the shadow attorney Nicola (“Big Gun”) Roxon in question time on Thursday, could the member for Goldstein, former Liberal Party secretary Andrew Robb, claim that the government had not “spent any money of consequence yet” on advertising its IR changes if the bill has hit $5 million already?

Specifically, why had the companies of Liberal Party advertiser Ted Horton and the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff Graeme Morris received around $1 million and $250,000 respectively?

It was all in the context of a misleading campaign by the ACTU which, shame on them, had tried to find the grieving parents of an injured or killed worker to aid its cause, said Andrews. Ordinary Australians would be appalled and, vowed Kev, “we will properly educate them about the changes”.

Through Liberal Party media machines, of course.

Finally, there was the legal menace of Abu Bakar Bashir, spiritual head of Jemahh Islamiah whose sentence was reduced by four and a half months for good behaviour due to a presidential decree passed in 1999.

As always, Howard Sattler, of Perth’s 6PR provided remarkable insight: “We could see that cheesy grin out in the streets again by April next year.”

The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said that representations were made to the Indonesian Attorney General and Minister for Law and Justice among others and so, “we’ve done our best”.

Not good enough for the Leader of the Opposition, Kim (“Bomber”) Beazley. Bomber labelled it a “dereliction” of Little Johnnie Howard’s duty that he did not ring the Indonesian President to argue against the reduction in sentence.

Due process in politics, you’ve got to love it.