Sickness sinks crucial subs meeting

FEDERAL POLITICS:

CANBERRA: The overnight hospitalisation of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has forced the postponement of a crucial meeting scheduled for today to clarify any problems connected to the Royal Australian Navy’s $90 billion submarine construction contract with French firm Naval Group.

Ms Reynolds and Finance Minister Simon Birmingham were to have met Naval Group’s global chief executive Pierre-Eric Pommelet in Canberra to discuss the escalating cost of the project.

In a statement before Ms Reynolds went to hospital for precautionary heart-issue checks, she had stated: “We’ll be joined by the RAN chief procurement officer Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale (pictured at top with Ms Reynolds) who has been responsible for keeping an eye on costs,” she said. “So we expect to get some answers about what’s gone wrong.”

Ruston facing the axe

CANBERRA: Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston’s job is on the line after a dreadful faux pas on Channel 9’s 6pm news last night.

The South Australian Liberal Senator has been called into Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office and seasoned veteran political observers and Peter van Onselen doubt she will still be in that post and in Cabinet when that meeting ends shortly.

In the Channel 9 segment last night, Minister Ruston said that an announced increase in Jobseeker would be paid for by Australian taxpayers. Clearly, she meant to say the Liberal Party of Australia.

“She’s gone,” was one commentator’s simple message. “It was an inexcusable blunder.”

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Bookies at odds over Kelly

CANBERRA: ON-LINE bookies are offering wildly different odds on the chances of Craig Kelly retaining the normally safe Liberal seat of Hughes in south Sydney as an independent.

Sportsbet is offering 3-1 on Mr Kelly attracting 2 per cent of the primary vote on election day, while Ladbrokes has a much more generous 10-1 should he somehow miraculously manage to reach that target.

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All over but the shouting?

PERTH: Pre-poll voting has begun in the West Australian state poll on March 13 and media have already gathered outside Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup’s office where he is expected to concede the election later this morning.

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Rhyming Slang’s stern warning

CANBERRA: Health Minister Greg Hunt has issued a very strong warning this morning to those tempted to form an adverse interpretation of Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ unfortunate hospitalisation overnight for heart checks.

Minister Reynolds was due to front the National Press Club at lunchtime today, giving the media its first real opportunity to question her on just how much support she offered alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins.

The Bug couldn’t agree with Mr Hunt more and wish the gutless, snivelling, dissembling, cowardly, blame-avoiding, incredibly average minister a speedy recovery.