GASP: Who moved my cheese?

Warrnambool's bidders are hamming it up, Leighton lobs a Fairfax lowball and a departing Kevin Rudd finds friends in the unlikeliest of places.

GASP is wry take on the week’s key business and political events. This edition is brought to you by Warrnambool’s cracked pepper cheddar and Bronwyn Bishop’s beehive.

After months of bidding, counter-bidding and one-upmanship in the global battle for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory, at last it's clear what all the fuss is about. The prize at the end of the contest is none other than Cheese World.

Yes, you heard right – a world of cheese. Located in Allansford and owned and operated by WCB, Cheese World is to cheddar lovers what Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is to diabetics.

While the focus of the Cheese World is a museum of farm materials used in early cheese-making, if the bidding war continues to escalate at its current pace, Warrnambool may well find itself including a money-printing machine at the end of its physical tour through the history of cheese.

Graph for GASP: Who moved my cheese?

All’s Fairfax in love and war at Leighton

In its third-quarter profit update Leighton Holdings took particular care to land a pot-shot at the media for what it perceived was a campaign against it amid continuing revelations of the Iraqi bribery scandal.

While the group has been reserved and rather methodical in its replies to articles run predominately in The Australian Financial Review, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, chief executive Hamish Tyrwhitt wasn’t backward in coming forward when he told shareholders just what the effect of the coverage had been: “Commercial negotiations with the client in regards to the Gorgon Jetty project are ongoing and recoveries in Iraq have been delayed, in part, due to the damage created by the recent media campaign conducted by the Fairfax Group.”

What’s in a name?

Despite the promise of an adult government, the return of parliament this week quickly descended into schoolyard name-calling as elected representatives, old and new, adjusted to the new political landscape.

Tony Burke said it was like going back to school in the Harry Potter series, casting newly-minted speaker Bronwyn Bishop as the villainous Dolores Umbridge. Precisely whom Burke thinks Dumbledore was in this convoluted analogy (Rudd? Gillard? Former speaker Anna Burke?) is about as clear as the Coalition’s border security strategy.

But it didn’t stop there. In just one day we had “Electricity Bill”, “Typhoon Tony” and “Shifty Tony”. The latter effort from Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young suggests the party is trailing the majors in more than just lower house seats.

Tweet of the week

Graph for GASP: Who moved my cheese?

One-line wonders

  • “This chamber should never be a place where motives are impugned or characters assassinated.” Tony Abbott

  • “The betrayal of you as leader of your party was one of the most shocking events I have ever witnessed, and I would think any of us have ever witnessed, in politics – the scale of it.” Malcolm Turnbull to Kevin Rudd

  • "No one doubts that the Member for Mackellar is experienced, but we have experience of her.” Kelvin Thomson on new speaker Bronwyn Bishop

  • “And so, having said all that, on this final occasion in the parliament, and as is now officially recorded in the classics for occasions such as this, it really is time for me to zip.” Kevin Rudd

The last gasp

Despite a controversial start as the new speaker, Bronwyn Bishop best encapsulated the mood following Kevin Rudd’s resignation.

Bishop said of Rudd: “You sparked an empathy across the chamber. Something that says the human side of those of us who come and seek to serve our nation in this place … and in your candid bearing of your emotion, indeed part of your soul, you have evoked that spirit that I think binds the parliament.”

Madam Speaker recognised “the fast and furious politics that divide us so often” but tributes from across the political divide from the likes of Rudd’s “friend” Malcolm Turnbull, Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey (whom some have argued displayed more sincerity than those from the Labor frontbenches) certainly rose above such petty ‘argy bargy’.

While it would be nice for parliament to take heed of Rudd’s parting advice to be “gentle with each other”, the kind words shared suggest the “bloodsport” of parliament is perhaps more in its perception than in the chamber itself.

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