By: BEN CUBBY and JORDAN BAKER on August 26, 2005

Barrister Wayne Baffsky usually arrives at court in style. His pride and joy is a black 1999 supercharged Mustang Saleen convertible, which carries the number plate 556A (a reference to a section of the Crimes Act which means that even though you have been found guilty, no conviction is recorded).

The wheels have certainly impressed the crowd at Glebe Coroner’s Court, where an inquest is under way into the alleged arsonist Max Gibson’s death by a “hot shot” of heroin. Baffsky is representing the Vincent clan, led by underworld figure Tony Vincent snr.

But yesterday his Mustang was nowhere to be seen. He told the coroner it was at the repair shop. While the car had been sitting in the court car park the day before, someone had scraped one side and driven two nails into a tyre on the other. “I put it on record,” Baffsky told Spike. “It may have been an accident.”

If you can’t beat ’em

Firebrand Murrandoo Yanner is going mainstream. The outspoken Aboriginal activist was this week elected to Burke Shire Council in north-west Queensland. It’s an organisation he has locked horns with for years.

Councillor Yanner will attend meetings, cut ribbons and second motions but, if his past is anything to go by, he won’t be able to keep a lid on things for long. When Palm Island erupted in riots last year, he said: “Bloody good on ya, one for us.” In 1997, he was convicted of three assaults outside the Burketown Pub and in 2003 was jailed for punching a Townsville nightclub manager into a pot plant. He is also inclined towards hyperbole.

Of his tribal initiation, he has said: “I lost my foreskin. They made it into a saddlebag for an elephant.” One of his biggest victories over Burke Shire came when he stopped construction work related to the Pasminco Century mine. The gig went to the neighbouring shire, and some locals are still bitter, though others seem to have forgiven him.

Local publican Peter Upton says there are two Murrandoos: the public loudmouth and the private gentleman, who is “well-spoken, intelligent and thinks things through”.

What shape, what style

Bulldogs bad boy Willie Mason was revealed as something of an artist last year, when his doodlings of a rabbit, a flower and some maniacal-looking faces were published in the Herald.

This week he was flexing his artistic muscles again. He was spotted at the launch of Sydney Art ’05, an art fair otherwise known as the Affordable Arts Show in less snobbish cities. The launch on Wednesday night was hosted by fellow sportsman Ian Thorpe, who had regular manbag Lee Furlong in tow.

Spike’s spy heard Mason giving a running commentary on the work in an apparent attempt to impress the attractive young woman by his side. At one stage, while gazing at a photo of a schoolgirl in her bedroom, he helpfully pointed out the Britney Spears poster on the young lady’s wall. Move over Robert Hughes.

What lies beneath

Yawning has become a political act in Queensland. The pineapple state’s Opposition Leader, Lawrence Springborg, has been chastised for yawning in Parliament as the Small Business Minister, Chris Cummins, was preparing to answer a question, AAP reported yesterday. The Speaker, Tony McGrady, said Springborg had been expressing his weariness all morning, and told him to get a good night’s sleep. Springborg countered by saying his yawns constituted a protest against the Labor Government’s rhetoric.

Springers has long been dogged by claims he is too bland to beat the flamboyant Premier, Peter Beattie. “I note that some people said I was too much of a Mr Nice Guy in asking questions to the Premier,” he told reporters shortly after he was elected in 2003. “So today I will come in here [to Parliament] and course my brow and clench my fists. Is that tough enough?”

Keeping it real

A Dutch television company will further push the limits of good taste and common sense with a new reality show called “I want your child … and nothing else!”

Backed by John de Mol, the man who created the Big Brother TV concept, the show features a woman choosing between candidates for a sperm donor to conceive a child. She will then be artificially inseminated, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s own version of reality television has got off the ground in Baghdad. About 2000 hopefuls have auditioned for Iraq Star, the local equivalent of Australian Idol. For security reasons, the final will be held in Beirut, and there is no studio audience. As the BBC points out, aspirants have often braved bullets and bombs just to reach the studio, only to have their egos badly bruised when they are bluntly told to go home and practise more often. On the bright side, they don’t have to have anything to do with Kyle Sandilands.

In union is strength

Labor MP Reba Meagher was the picture of wedded bliss last night as she ventured onto the social scene with her new husband, Tim Gleason, in tow. The pair eloped to Las Vegas to get married last month, and Meagher’s mother Jackie ended up watching the Vegas chapel ceremony from Western Australia via an internet link-up. Unfortunately Bob Carr’s resignation meant Meagher had to cut the honeymoon short so she could get back to Sydney and join the ALP caucus vote for a new premier. Gleason, Bob Carr’s former press secretary, is still looking for work. Last night the pair were spotted attending rising Sydney foodie Ross Dobson’s Chinatown book launch in Surry Hills.