The Satchel Review - Saturday 12 April, 2012

Things got very awkward this week when Victorian Liberal power broker Michael Kroger told a Melbourne radio station that Peter Costello was not his lunch buddy anymore, in what might be best described as a wobbly. We were gobsmacked. 

But anything is possible in this pigs-can-fly political environment, given Jessica Rudd authored a work of fiction prophetically predicting her father's backstabbing by an underling way back when he was running the show, only to see the plot line unfold just as the story was told before our very eyes. 

As 7:30's Chris Ulhman put it, "Budget week in Canberra is usually a dry affair, but no week is typical in this parliament." Put on your ruby shoes and click three times: maybe you'll be taken to a place where the government rules over all the little people with integrity and keep their personal grievances between themselves... especially if you are playing for the same side. 

What can we learn? That whinging sounds especially bad when it is done by grown-ups. And that nothing good comes from tearing other people down.

That sentiment was not lost on Paul Howes, a Labor Right faction leader and national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, who supported the Kevin Rudd toppling on the caucus floor and wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, "If there is another challenge, I am keeping well out of it, aside from defending the PM. I learnt that lesson the really hard way."

Perhaps, given Sunday's occasion, you, me and every Kroger we know would do well to pay heed to the mother's creed: if you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all?

It did, at least, give Tony Abbott the opportunity to play peacemaker – as Julia Gillard jested at a morning tea for the Red Cross, "I'm red, he's always cross". Meanwhile, Independent MP Tony Windsor is calling for a Code of Conduct for politicians, and the Leader of the House Anthony Albanese has said parliament shall not judge its own. 

In the Northern Territory, a rift between two families attracted 15 police to the remote Yuendumu community following a fight involving up to 70 people, reported Rebecca Puddy in The Australian. Back in September 2010, the Watson family rioted and drafted an agreement banning people from the community after they were forbidden to carry out payback punishment for the death of a brother.

"We Aboriginal people are spiritual people, and in our spiritual way we get upset," said Sebastian Watson, whose brother, Kwementyaye Watson, was killed in the 2010 Warlpriri camp fight (Nathaniel Sims was imprisoned for the death). "Our laws teach us to carry out tribal punishment." 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Mick Gooda has said it is "thuggery dressed up as traditional law". In January, the ABC reported that 'child warriors' had been caught up in the fighting, throwing stones and starting fights. Now, with this latest flare-up of violence, Alistair Turner has suffered severe head injuries. 

On Wednesday, The Australian's Sarah Martin reported that a referendum to recognise indigenous Australians in the Constitution should be timed for when it might have the best prospect of success. While the governmen's 22-member expert panel on the matter has been disbanded, co-chair Mark Leibler told the paper, "I think it is fair to say that right now politics generally is, to put it mildly, toxic, and it would be taking place in a political atmosphere that is not conducive to getting a referendum through."

Meanwhile, human rights commissioner Catherine Branson QC has said that some convicted Indonesian people smugglers may be the victims of human trafficking themselves: 

"You're a kid wandering around a remote fishing village in Indonesia and somebody comes to you offering you or your parents what are very significant sums of money for those communities; if you allow your son to go fishing or if you're speaking to the young boy and he agrees to go fishing and then on being out on the water discovers they're doing something quite different, that comes pretty close to meeting the international definition of trafficking."

As the Islamic jihadists accused of masterminding the 9/11 plane attacks sat before a court this week, unnerving many of the victims' relatives, family members of the victims of the jet plane crash over Mount Salak near Jakarta, which killed up to 50 people, were left in shock... As were the daughters of Brisbane mother Allison Baden-Clay. A trust fund has been set up to ensure the girls' futures are somewhat easier without their mum. You can email to contribute.

Girl With a Satchel