Macklin: How to disappoint everyone but Labor

“Here’s a small scoop: my Labor spies tell me Paul Keating’s been asked to consider a return to Federal politics… His response was pure pithy Paul,” writes Seven Days columnist ROBERT MACKLIN

LET’S hope Treasurer Joe Hockey’s Budget guests got their money’s worth from rubbing shoulders with his most senior staff and key ministers. At $3000 a pop to his North Sydney Forum they certainly deserved it.

Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

Most of us don’t have a lazy $3000 to donate to the Liberals. Makes you wonder if they could pay in kind – with a bottle of 1959 Penfold’s Grange for instance.

Anyway, it turns out Joe’s Budget was really inclusive – there was something in it to disappoint nearly everyone… except the Labor Party, of course. The whole exercise has been a wonderful bonus for the Opposition, if only they had a leader who could string a pithy sentence together.

SPEAKING of which, Paul Keating provided an object lesson this week on the ABC’s “Lateline” with his call for a government “longevity” insurance system. It was pithy Paul rekindled… and here’s a small scoop: my Labor spies tell me he’s actually been asked to consider a return to Federal politics with more than one sitting member prepared to stand aside. And at 70, he’s in his prime. Alas, his response, I understand, was pure pithy Paul (as in ‘pith off’).

ATTORNEY-General Simon Corbell tied himself in garrulous knots this week with his boasting about the wondrous results of his new liquor laws that showed they had reduced assaults in the ACT by 11 per cent. And though they’d actually risen in Civic, where the laws apply most pertinently, that was because “there are more police around to witness them”. Fair go, Simon.

ANOTHER piece of Corbellian flap and fluster was his announcement of a $743,000 policy review in response to the disgraceful overcrowding in his Alexander Maconochie correction centre.

Hard to believe, isn’t it, that until March 2009 we were able to do without a jail at all. It’s Parkinson’s Law gone troppo. And while it has been administered by unbroken Labor governments, suddenly Simon has decided: “Justice reinvestment involves the rebalancing of criminal justice expenditure from custody to community-based initiatives that tackle the causes of crime rather than the results of crime.” Make of that gobbledygook what you will. Chances are they’ll just build a bigger jail.

MUCH more flap and fluster this week over moves to end the “sick note” from the doctor. Tony Abbott’s Government has imported one Carol Black from the UK to advise on the change and she’s a “Dame” so Tony reckons she must know what she’s talking about. She advocated a “fit note” setting out what the previously “sick” worker can actually do in the workplace… other than infect colleagues with the thing that sent her/him to the doctor in the first place.

AND if you’re really fit, try not to show off your rippling curves, especially if you work in the Tax Office. Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan himself, we’re told, has personally sent workers home to cover up their naughty bits. Honestly.

MAYBE life really is a cabaret. And if you doubt it, get in early for your tickets to the Canberra Philo’s July production. They’ve snaffled a London West End star – Angel Dolejsi – to play the MC that Joel Grey made famous in the “Cabaret” movie… mighty tough act to follow.

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