The Satchel Review - 26th May 2012

By Liz Burke

It was a big week for entertainment, launching show-biz calendar highlights the Cannes film festival, billboard music awards, and a few film premieres. But the first popcorn-worthy moment for those with a penchant for politics came early in the week with cross-bench MP Craig Thomson delivering his defence speech to Parliament at midday on Monday.

Eyes were glued to the screen, but as the speech billed at 15 to 30 minutes carried on for almost an hour, some of those would have had to be kept open with match sticks.

"Thommo" used the time allocated to him to defend accusations of misusing health services union funds mostly to lash out at the media, the Opposition, and his former colleagues, while also giving an oration of his CV to let his audience know what a great bloke he is.

He skimmed over details in defending allegations against him. But for all his efforts to quell the controversy, the plot would only thicken.

In their own investigation A Current Affair claims to have tracked down a former prostitute who will say she slept with the member for Dobell at a date that coincides with one of the credit card transactions in question. What seems to be of greater interest is how much she’s being paid to say in the tabloid news’ program’s upcoming display of “grubby journalism” (Thommo’s words, not mine).

The Prime Minister returned to this and more controversy on Wednesday after schmoozing with world leaders at the NATO summit in Chicago. The meeting in Obama’s home town was dominated by meetings with Afghan president Hamid Karzai with whom Gillard signed a partnership agreement promising more aid and development for the struggling nation, and urged other nations to do the same.

The long-term agreement means special forces may stay in Afghanistan after the scheduled withdrawal of the rest of Australia’s deployment. While the return of troops is always a hot topic, one Aussie’s plan to come home overshadowed other international news this week, and it’s not a case that the Prime Minister can take credit for.

If we thought we’d seen the last of Schapelle Corby and her ever-media-present family, news that her plea for clemency had been approved by Indonesian authorities earlier this week put those thoughts to rest. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang signed a letter confirming Corby’s clemency, sparking hopes the Gold Coast girl famously jailed for smuggling cannabis into Bali strapped to her boogie board, could be home as soon as August.

Now, although she could be granted parole from Kerobokan prison, it looks more likely Corby would be unable to return to Australia for another five years. But that’s not to say she won’t be popping up in our living rooms before then; her sister Mercedes has already given an interview to 60 Minutes.

Mining mogul with media interests Gina Rinehart topped the BRW rich list and affirmed her place as the richest woman in the world. Only 16 women join her on the list, one of those being Australia’s former first lady Therese Rein, who scraped in at #199 in the list of Australia’s 200 wealthiest individuals for 2012. In eighth place was Clive Palmer, who, despite a worth of $3.85 billion, couldn’t manage to spare $333 to pay a speeding fine, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported earlier in the week. Palmer did slip from fifth place on the list, so perhaps his budgeting may be an effort to reclaim his spot.

Treasurer Wayne Swan can rest easy on his Budget. The world’s peak economic body, the OECD, gave Labor’s move to get the budget back to black by 2012/13 the tick of approval, even tipping the Australian economy might beat current budget forecasts and become the fastest growing amongst developed nations.

The news certainly put smug smiles on a few faces, not that they were needed: the OECD also decided Australia was the happiest of the world’s industrialized nations, coming out on top in the organisation’s annual Better Life Index. And, surely, of all Australians, Queenslanders are the happiest of all this week with a *cough*, and though I remain impartial, deserved, State of Origin win. *cough* QUEENSLANDER *cough*

Liz Burke