Albo fixes Gillard gaffe

SYDNEY: Staff of Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese have moved quickly to neutralise the effects of a political gaffe he generated with public remarks insisting he would be a prime minister in the mould of Bob Hawke or John Howard.

After media coverage of his remarks Mr Albanese’s office in Canberra was deluged with complaints that he had not given sufficient credence to former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard, especially in the same week as International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

To head off criticisms the Opposition Leader’s office hastily arranged a photo shoot for media outlets with Mr Albanese at his Sydney home where he subtly paid tribute to Ms Gillard. (main picture)

“We thought we’d evoke memories of Julia by staging the photo opp in Albo’s kitchen,” a spokesperson said.

“But we made sure we didn’t repeat the mistake her staff made by having an empty fruit bowl which, you may recall, sparked a whole new wave of criticism of her.”

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CANBERRA: Commonwealth bureaucrats have suggested an answer to an apparent problem with allocating disaster relief identified by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

In an interview with ABC TV’s 7.30 host Leigh Sales, Mr Joyce responded to questions about NSW flood victims’ anger at the alleged slow response to their urgent needs by the federal and state governments by blaming the need to navigate “the bureaucratic process” when declaring a national emergency.

“One of the biggest parts of it is to get through the bureaucratic process in a more efficient way,” he said.

Following his comments a spokesperson for the Australian Public Service Commission said federal bureaucrats were offering a solution to the alleged bottleneck identified by Mr Joyce.

“Perhaps Mr Joyce might look to speed things up by adopting the same bureaucratic process his government has used when allocating sports grants and grants for railway car parks,” the spokesperson said.

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CANBERRA: Defence Minister Peter Dutton says an announced surge in the size of the Australian Defence Force from 60,000 to around 100,000 announced today will ensure any threat from a hostile China can be repelled.

Speaking to reporters who doorstopped him outside Parliament House, Mr Dutton said the 20-year plan to boost the nation’s military capability would work in tandem with existing plans to build new nuclear submarines for the Royal Australian Navy and the ongoing program to acquire new RAAF fighter aircraft.

“These decisions will put Australia in a very strong position to see off any threat from China,” Mr Dutton told reporters before whispering “as long as nothing happens before 2040” as he pushed through the media throng and entered the building.