THE LAST GASP: Never tear us apart

John Faulkner enflames divisions in Labor's ranks, Kevin Rudd says 'power to the people' and Dulux paints itself into a corner.

The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s biggest news, every week. This week Faulkner sets off a damaging argument in the ALP in a bid to end damaging arguments, Kevin Rudd wants the power returned to the people (or at least taken off those who currently have it) , and Rod Sims knows snake oil when he sees it.

Red faction

Always a great source of unintentional humour, the Australian Labor Party became divided again this week after Senator John Faulkner made a very public call for the group to end the institutionalised divisions he believes are holding it back. The former defence minister claimed the current factional system used by the party concentrates power, isolates it from the community and facilitates corruption. Supporters of the system played down the suggestion, insisting that the issues were really not a big deal, and it was not like they had ever had any real effect on the make-up of the party. Or its fortunes. Faulkner found at least some support at party level, with chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon saying Labor MPs should not be forced to vote in line with the factional powerbrokers. He said those in charge needed to get much better at quiet manipulation like all good faceless Labor men.

Not crazy, just a little unwell

A man who has some experience with influential Labor factions, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, weighed into the debate later in the week, calling the Labor party ‘sick’ and urging immediate reform. Barely containing an ocean of bitterness, the backbencher said power in the party should be taken off unelected factions and given back to party members. Mr Rudd, who is not aligned with any faction (surprise!), said the culture had infiltrated all areas of the ALP, from candidate pre-selections to party conferences. He said it was shocking to see so many people who behaved like children for a living treat a political party as if it was high school.

Rod Sims and the curious case of the magic mystery paint

In a rare win for common sense, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched legal action against paintmaker Dulux for attempting to sell its product under the pretence that it had the power to reduce temperatures inside homes and, as a result, lower electricity bills. The watchdog has hit the group with a deceptive advertising suit over claims the paint could cut 10 degrees from the temperature of rooms. Earlier versions of the product also promised to do your washing, fix your lawnmower and make the pain go away. Dulux has reportedly rejected the suggestion that the claims were inappropriate, noting that anyone dumb enough to believe that kind of advertising deserves to be separated from their money immediately.

Get your mouse off it

Federal communications minister Stephen Conroy told an international conference in Dubai this week that there was no need to change global telecommunications rules to give governments more power to regulate the internet. It’s a strong position from a man who has always stood as a pillar of defence when it comes to online freedom. Except for that time that he tried to censor the internet.

The weekly Clive

Even though recent comments from Clive Palmer on the Queensland government have the public questioning his state of mind (and boy, did they – I mean, he called them Nazis, for crying out loud), the the fact that Campbell Newman chose to respond showed that despite their obscurity, the public attacks are clearly having an effect. The Queensland premier seems ready to check under his bed for the mining magnate before he goes to sleep, after accusing Palmer of being behind outbursts from two former government MPs attacking his character. Palmer has denied the suggestion, claiming that the only time he stands behind anyone is when he is in line for a hot dog. The turncoat MPs Newman was referring to are Alex Douglas and Ray Hopper, who, along with Carl Judge, have all walked out on the party in recent weeks. It’s been a heavy fall from grace for the Queensland Libs, after they seemed invincible earlier in the year following an almost unfathomably-sized election win. It stands in stark contrast to the federal Liberal party, which has pretty much gone from strength to strength since taking the lead in public polls.

Quick misses

– Coal baron Nathan Tinkler lost access to his private jet and helicopter this week, after the company that holds the vehicles was placed in receivership. The mining magnate has now been forced to rely on his starving horses for transportation.

– Opposition leader Tony Abbott spent the week in a truck. No, really.

– Greens leader Christine Milne said Abbott’s personal attacks in the final week of parliament for 2012 had detracted from any debate on policy. Experts questioned her point, given the complete lack of any genuine policy debate in parliament for months.

– Three of the big four banks failed to fully pass on the Reserve Bank's rate cut this week, in an incident which passed by with little fanfare from both the lenders and the public. A spokesman for the Australian Bankers Association reportedly said the industry was tired of pretending to care.

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