Shut the gate, the Ute has bolted!

What an incredible, hilarious waste of time this week has been in the House of Representatives. Has there a more ridiculous non-scandal than Utegate - a stupid, absurdly Australian moniker that befits the stupidity of the whole saga. Here's my Player Ratings on the winners and losers among the Utegate Dramatis Personae:

Great moments in local government in Marrickville

We live in a truly golden age of politics.

An federal election contest in Australia between Me-One and Me-Two. A state government in New South Wales where the treasurer knows more about fictitious conspiracy theories than he does about economic globalisation. In New Zealand, when parliamentary debates get boring, they step into the foyer for a bit of biffo. And of course there's America, where the President creates a whole new language to speakify in, and inventorates whole new meanings for existicated words such as "torture".

Which national government deregistered 19 political parties over Christmas?

"On 22 December 2006, the delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission wrote to the following political parties to advise them they would be deregistered on 27 December 2006, as required by Schedule 3 of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006..."

- Media release, Australian Electoral Commission, 22.12.06

Amazing coincidence besets Liberal Party

In an astonishing set of coincidences, political advertisements placed in three Tasmanian newspapers early in 2006 condemning the Greens on behalf of the Exclusive Brethren were recorded as being paid for out of Liberal Party electoral accounts.

Three separate and entirely unrelated "administrative bungles" at the Hobart Mercury, Launceston Advocate and Devonport Examiner caused sales records to give the totally and utterly absurd impression that the Liberal Party was colluding with the Brethren.

Howard's reshuffle and the Cultural Revolution

Never mind the personnel changes announced this morning in John Howard's ministerial reshuffle (though I'll get to those shortly). The thing that struck me on first reading through the press release was the changes in vocabulary.

Up the Youtubes

"Innovations such as YouTube are just one of many reasons why technology and time are making a nonsense of the current media rules."

- Senator Helen Coonan, addressing the conservative Millennium Forum, Sydney, 3.10.06

One week after the Minister for Information and Communication Technology cites Youtube as an example of contemporary media diversity, we are greeted this morning with the following news: Google To Acquire YouTube for $1.65 Billion in Stock.

Fight no battle you are not sure of winning

Julie Bishop is one of the brighter hopefuls in the ever-depleting talent pool of the federal Liberal Party. Alternatively, she has been pushed to the forefront by the Howard Government as the Anti-Gillard. Certainly she is one of the few female members of cabinet the JWH era who is neither (a) in the mould of Jeanette Howard, or (b) Amanda Vanstone. (Or indeed c, the unrelated Bronwyn Bishop).