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The Outsider: Office politics

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After a couple of weeks off*, The Outsider returns with tales of political exile, the race to the bottom and a new definition of “sensible”.

Office works

The second floor of the State Parliament building is a strange place.

It houses the Opposition Leader’s office in its centre, with badly positioned rooms for staff and a couple of MPs.

The hollow square around a doughnut-style hole in the centre of the building means there’s a lot of “running around in circles” for those who work within the Leader’s compound.

In past years the Deputy Leader has either taken a room near the main office, or just outside the area. You know the saying: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Further down the rear corridor and off to the right (in parliament’s far north-western corner) is an unusually large office that in recent years has housed a couple of MPs in the twilight of their influence.

Former Premier and Opposition Leader Rob Kerin ended his days in this office, out of sight and out of mind from the main game until he retired in late 2008, forcing an early 2009 by-election (hello Brocky!).

In recent times it was occupied by long-serving country MP Ivan Venning, the party’s former Whip, who retired at the last election.

Now we hear that the far-flung room has a new occupant: Shadow Treasurer Iain Evans has moved out of the Opposition Leader’s compound and into the far corner. For the former Blackwood Footy Club full back, the view from afar may be familiar.

A word of warning – the wall between the office and the neighbouring toilet isn’t totally sound-proof…

Down on the first floor, meanwhile, where Government MPs have their parliamentary offices, there’s a couple of new boys in the mix.

“Independent” MPs Geoff Brock and Bob Such have been allocated neighbouring offices – between Health Minister Jack Snelling and Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis. That’s a nice comfortable squeeze.

Former Labor MP Bernie Finnigan has been given the Harry Potter treatment – virtually under the stairs.

Parliamentary catering outside Bernie Finnigan's new office.

Parliamentary catering outside Bernie Finnigan’s new office.

Extra, extra

A digital subscription to the dear old Tiser will now cost you an extra $2 a week.

The Tiser’s owners News Corp quietly announced the rise this week at the bottom of a corpoate media release.

The good news is that the extra dough will get you a bright, new colourful site from next week.

If it’s anything like the Daily Telegraph’s redesign, unveiled this week, it will be a slavish copy of the website of UK trash tabloid The Daily Mail, particularly its legendary “sidebar of shame”.

The Mail – considered the McDonald’s of news websites with its high fat, high sugar news offering – is in the throes of establishing an Australian version.

It’s going to be a race to the bottom. Literally.

One of the choice items from today's Daily Telegraph "sidebar of shame".

One of the choice items from today’s Daily Telegraph “sidebar of shame”.

Totally sensible

The Outsider doesn’t give much thought to our eventual demise, safe in the knowledge that our golden words will outlive our crumbling body.

However, our interest has been piqued by the heavy radio advertising for a “Harley Hearse”, in which the coffin is attached to a motorcycle on a kind of macabre side-car. That’s some kind of death ride.

The best thing about the Harley Hearse?

It’s exclusive to Sensible Funerals.

Rope-a-dope

The Commission of Audit is a style of political ploy that’s been played out time and time again, but we keep falling for it.

Here’s how it goes: Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott will spend the lead-up to the budget keeping their powder dry about the specific recommendations, but offering choice little hints about broad measures needed to fix our fiscal “emergency”.

Labor, interest groups and others will voice outrage and make dire predictions about the future of our fair country.

Then the budget will come out and will be only a third as nasty as the audit has suggested.

People will wipe their brows and say “Phew”, despite the fact that government never intended to implement the ideas from which we have apparently been saved.

It’s an obvious, cynical and cruel exercise, particularly for the elderly and the disabled.

And while we’re on the Commission of Audit, how does an ABC employee get permission to be involved in such an obviously political exercise?

* The Premier is also back today after a couple of weeks off. To circumvent any uninformed gossip, we must point out that The Outsider isn’t Jay Weatherill.

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