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Rodents

September 1st, 2004

It would be an exaggeration to say that I am living in a safe Liberal electorate. At the height of Labor’s rising tide in 2001, Labor’s Leonie Short won Ryan in a byelection, losing it again in the general election. And the state seat of Indooroopilly is, amazingly enough held by Labor. Still short of the kind of wipeout that would see most members of the government lose their seats, the incumbent MP, Michael Johnson, is safe enough. As a result, I don’t expect too much media attention for Ryan in this campaign.

So, this will probably be the only occasion on which Ryan makes the news. The claim that George Brandis described the PM as a ‘lying rodent’[1] came from a disappointed preselection candidate for the state seat of Moggill (part of Ryan, I think) and close ally of Johnson, Russell Galt. Al Bundy has the gory details, in a piece designed to discredit Galt but which makes an even stronger case against Johnson. If I had access to the Howard spam machine, I would circulate it throughout the electorate.

fn1. I have no idea whether Brandis actually said this, but Galt has certainly captured Brandis’s turn of phrase. The actual description is, of course, false – the PM is clearly a primate (thanks to reader Nabokov for fixing an error here; I had ‘reptile’ in mind, and put ‘mammal’ as the correct category).

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  1. Mark Bahnisch
    September 1st, 2004 at 23:01 | #1

    John, yes, Moggill is within Ryan. It’s basically Fig Tree Pocket, Kenmore, and the newer areas further west.

  2. Brian Bahnisch
    September 1st, 2004 at 23:21 | #2

    I heard or read that Galt and Johnson were close allies until a falling out about two months ago.

    The most interesting bit is in Al’s Update I.

    Johnson immediately came out backing Galt’s integrity and then back-pedalled awfully fast later, denying he had heard anything of the kind although he was presumably there.

    It is this kind of thing that keeps eating away at Howard’s credibility about anything.

  3. Mark Upcher
    September 2nd, 2004 at 01:07 | #3

    John, I had to Google to find out who the Labor candidate in Ryan is – Victoria Chatterjee.

    I am not sure that Johnson has done much in the electorate but his role in the “lying rodent” incident has certainly helped his profile. Not clear whether it has been to his advantage though.

  4. Mark Bahnisch
    September 2nd, 2004 at 01:16 | #4

    Mark, he’s most famous for branch stacking his way into preselection. Most of his voters were literally bussed in to the by-election preselection meeting from Oxley, and a few flew in from Singapore and Hong Kong. The Libs then ruled some of these people ineligible and changed their constitution so that you had to live in the electorate in which you sought to become a Liberal member. Some bloke who was in the opposite ‘Western Suburbs’ faction (now aligned to Brandis who was formerly a pal of the opposing Santoro faction) got up, and lost the by-election to Labor’s Leonie Short. I was living in St Lucia at the time and I gathered from an email interchange I had with her that Leonie felt that Beazley’s decision on the Tampa hurt her chances of re-election, but realistically they weren’t high. Still, she was good value. Michael Johnson was preselected for the 2001 general election, obviously. He has a BCL from Oxford but has something in common with the former National Party Senator Bill O’Chee in that he’s a barrister who’s not known to have ever argued a case in court. He always struck me as a bit odd when I came across him on the campaign trail. Galt seems to have been involved with him in some dodgy fundraisers and perhaps that’s an indication that he doesn’t feel his grip on the electorate is as secure as his margin suggests. Howard apparently hates him – partly because of the numerous lawsuits etc and factional nonsense which pervades the Qld branch of the Libs – and partly because his preselection opponent was a mate of Howard’s.

  5. Don Wigan
    September 2nd, 2004 at 08:33 | #5

    Al’s dissection of the dodgy people behind this is excellent. I agree with John’s analysis that it would be greatly in Labor’s interests to circulate this info.

    I find it ironic that the one time the character of a complainer about Howard is in question, it is not taken that seriously or even discussed very openly. Of course, it would involve some very unsavoury moments in Qld Lib politics.

    But you look at the jobs done on Wilkie, Scrafton, Collins and Toohey, the Daiqiri Dodderers, and you have to wonder: would the standard character job work anymore? These others, as far as I can determine, are of good character.

    So who’s left to believe when the circs suggest the whistleblower might really be suss? This is the credibility problem Howard faces.

    It has not been helped by Howard’s penchant for forcing others to take falls (or at least express mea culpas): two Defence Services Chiefs, one Head of Defence, the ONA Chief. Nor that others (Shackleton and Keelty)have been forced into humiliating retractions to conform with Govt propaganda. Howard’s ‘benefit of doubt’ factor is clearly running out.

    Funny short letter in the Oz today suggesting Brandis is the first politician to deny telling the truth.

  6. derrida derider
    September 2nd, 2004 at 14:50 | #6

    The AFR also has a piece pointing out that Brandis is able to deny using the phrase “a lying rodent” – but only because he usually always refers to the PM as just “the rodent”.

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