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If you loved Tony Abbott’s 2013 page-turner, Battlelines, or couldn’t put down his other book, Abbott, the Defining Speeches, published in 2019, then we’ve got exciting news.
Looks like the former prime minister is putting his elegant pen to paper once more, and if the way Abbott has been talking is any guide, this could be his most eye-catching literary effort yet.
“Crazy things are happening everywhere”: Former prime minister Tony Abbott.Credit: James Brickwood
During a recent appearance on the Triggernometry podcast, hosted by right-wing Russian-British commentator and comedian Konstantin Kisin, Abbott revealed that he had begun working on his next book – working title Peak Insanity.
But if you’re expecting a behind-the-scenes look at Abbott’s mad-cap two years in The Lodge – and there is so much about that crazy ride we’d like to know more about – you’re going to be disappointed.
No, we’re afraid that it sounds like Tony wants to traverse terrain that won’t be unfamiliar to anyone who’s been paying attention to our man these past few years.
“The climate cult, the gender fluidity push, magic pudding economics, the cultural self-loathing that appears to afflict the best countries in the world,” Abbott told Kisin.
“Crazy things are happening everywhere. In fact one of the books that I would like to write, and have tentatively begun, I have given the working title to Peak Insanity, because I think that is something we’re on the verge of.”
We’ll wait for the movie version.
ACCOUNT ON ME
We weren’t expecting a barrel of laughs when the Institute of Public Accountants got together for its annual national congress at Sydney’s Four Seasons on Thursday.
However, with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) – the outfit that sprung consulting giant PwC in its nefarious confidential tax information activities – as well as PwC political pursuer-in-chief Labor senator Deborah O’Neill both due to speak, there was some anticipation around.
Senator Deborah O’Neill Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
We couldn’t begrudge the board’s chairman, Peter de Cure, his restrained pat on the back for himself and his colleagues in the PwC affair.
“I think the TPB has performed very well,” he said, with admirable understatement. But we were intrigued to note that he wouldn’t say much else about the matter because the board is not done with the consulting giant; “further investigations” are under way.
We also got a fascinating glimpse into the mysterious ways the organisation goes about performing its wonders, with de Cure divulging the board is increasingly turning to tech. “Automated tools” are being deployed to detect dodgy accountants and pick up on “key indicators”.
Seems obvious when you think about it, but it turns out that a big red flag is a tax practitioner’s non-compliance when dealing with the Tax Office over their own affairs, according to de Cure.
Good. To. Know.
As for O’Neill, well, a bit of a fizzer, we’re sad to report.
The NSW senator beamed in from Canberra’s Parliament House but didn’t have time to deliver any of her trademark PwC fireworks, in between voting on Labor’s key water bill and another, unspecified, piece of legislation.
The state Labor government finally moved this week to try to clear the logjam of cases before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with the hiring of 20 new tribunal members.
One of the names on the list rang a bell: Louise Bygrave, about whom the Australian Labor Party appears to have changed its tune.
Bygrave used to be on VCAT’s federal counterpart, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and Labor in opposition whinged that she was one among many political appointments to the federal tribunal by the then Coalition government.
The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison operation did put plenty of mates into AAT jobs, it’s true. But Labor’s case against the Bygrave hiring – that she had once worked at the Human Rights Commission with “freedom commissioner” turned Liberal MP Tim Wilson – was a little skinny.
Credit: Pat Scala
Then, a couple of years ago, Bygrave was among four Liberal-appointed AAT members whose pay claims Labor senator Murray Watt described under parliamentary privilege as “fishy”. Watt’s colleague, then-shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus, wrote a lengthy submission to the National Audit Office demanding an investigation.
It went nowhere in the end and CBD is certainly not suggesting any wrongdoing by Bygrave, but we did wonder when Labor decided that Bygrave was all right by them after all. We asked Victoria’s Attorney-General, Jaclyn Symes, who announced the new VCAT appointments on Monday.
“All 20 new VCAT appointees were identified through an open and competitive recruitment process, and each has satisfied strict probity requirements to ensure that they are appropriate to be appointed,” she told us.
As for Watt, well, the office of the now agriculture minister said he didn’t have capacity to comment at the moment.
The festive season is a busy time for the inmates of federal parliament, who are treated to many a free piss-up during the final sitting weeks of the year. But the major parties have been doing their best recently to dial down the boozy culture up on the hill.
Thursday night was supposed to be a busy one for the press gallery – until Anthony Albanese’s office postponed the prime minister’s drinks at The Lodge until next Wednesday, owing to the inclement weather lashing the capital this week. You’d think the prime minister’s abode could deal with rain, but this is Australia after all.
The change avoided an awkward scheduling clash with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s brief press gallery drinks, scheduled for an hour and 15 minutes on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, Albanese made a surprise appearance at the Labor all-staff sitting-week meeting on Wednesday usually led by chiefs of staff to thank the troops for their hard work and give the usual spiel about the importance of a long-term Labor government.
Given the state of recent polling, we’re sure those Labor hacks will be glad to see the back of this year.
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