Fairfax refugee Misha Schubert has wasted no time in arranging her next gig after departing the Canberra Press Gallery with a big eligible termination payment burning a hole in her pocket. Some say folk of her standing were paid as much as 18 months pay, which is better than a kick up the bum or having to work in close proximity to Crikey’s Bernard Keane.
According to a leaked draft media release bearing a term not part of our lexicon “embargo,” the scribe will be working as communications czar for You Me Unity, which is a taxpayer-funded lobby group campaigning for recognition of indigenous people in the Australian Constitution. Not such a bad idea, indeed, it seems to enjoy support from both sides of politics, at least to some extent.
The well-regarded group chaired by the snarky Melbourne lawyer Mark Leibler is generously supported by taxpayers and currently employs as its boss cocky the former ALP national secretary Tim Gartrell, who achieved legendary status at the Labor secretariat by running up an $8 million debt that nearly crippled the party organisation in the wake of the Kevin07 campaign. (Some refused to blame Gartrell, pointing out some terrified Rudd Cabinet ministers felt the need to wear nappies ahead of meeting the then scary PM Rudd, we’re not so generous) Using means that could only be explained by sorcery, Gartrell was largely able to keep this scandal out of the press. His successor, the industrious Karl Bitar, chipped away at the debt and managed to undo much of Gartrell’s financial damage.
Some blamed Rudd not Gartrell for the wasteful approach, saying the former monstered the latter to insist on extra spending, for example, heavy early TV spending in Queensland, months ahead of the election. Gartrell’s secrecy – keeping the data from the ALP national executive – was really seen as the problem and left him with few friends in Labor campaign circles. It wasn’t enough to stop him being appointed to a number of plum gigs though.
That was then, this is now. Now Misha has to put up with him.
Meanwhile, Misha Schubert’s capacity to work productively with all sorts cannot be questioned. The VEXNEWS Vault of Pictorial Freedom contains this happy snap of the one-time Republican campaigner hanging out with Bruce Ruxton while wearing a splendidly patriotic Aussie flag dress that must have absorbed his full care and attention. Mr Ruxton wasn’t that keen on Aboriginal land rights, as we recall, but he was a kind and decent man despite a certain reputation for gruffness. Ms Schubert’s demonstrated ability to work productively with the big egos on Capital Hill will serve her well.