When Barnett and Rudd made a fine pair
Despite its holier-than-thou attitude, The Note is partly human and occasionally succumbs to vices such as voyeurism. That is why we couldn’t resist trawling through various stolen US diplomatic cables made public by Wikileaks.
Even though most of the contents were rather mundane updates of the obvious, there is something uniquely satisfying about reading something that someone thought was a secret.
In a May 2009 cable, entitled Western Australia Politics: the Rudd-Barnett Duet, then Perth-based US consul-general Ken Chern waxed lyrical about the strong relationship between newly minted Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett and nearly as new first-term prime minister Kevin Rudd.
Observing, as many others did, the unusual synergy between the Labor PM and Liberal premier, Mr Chern noted Mr Rudd’s generous backing of the Ord River expansion as the “new breadbasket for Australia” and Mr Barnett’s support of the federal government’s stimulus spending. Even then-WA Treasurer Troy Buswell chipped in, reportedly telling Mr Chern he was pleased with the national broadband project because it would save the state from paying for it.
Ah, how times change.
Less than a year later, WA and Canberra were at war. The feds wanted to takeover WA’s hospitals and the Buswell-Barnett duo were both miffed about the slowing flows of GST revenue.
And, of course, there was the surprise mining tax sprung on everyone in the 2010 budget that really took federal-WA relations to rock bottom. It was about then that we learned who was really paying for the NBN.
We’ve heard of genetic engineering and all manner of weird and wonderful things that it might produce in the future.
We never realised it was reality. Take for instance the opening last week of a new purpose-built facility in Queensland. It’s called the Banana Engineering Skills Training Centre; we kid you not.