Australia’s second most senior law officer, Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison, is an energetic fellow when convivialising and even once called the cops to a pub full of Liberal Party heavyweights.

One of the incidents worth reporting that involved Chris which happened while he was juiced up occurred after a Western Australian Liberal Party conference some years ago.

It was at an annual meeting of the O’Connor division of the Liberal party held at the town of Northam about eighty miles east of Perth. Following the conference the delegates, members of parliament and Liberal party officials went to the Northam Tavern for a few drinks.

Towards closing time Chris who had by then had more than his share, left the tavern and the licensee locked him out. When one of Chris’s mates approached the licensee to allow Ellison’s back in, the licensee said that he had previous problems with him and that he was not coming in.

After throwing a major tantrum on the footpath, Ellison departed with Ian Campbell, now also a Senator. Apparently Ellison was staying with Campbell somewhere. Some time later the phone in the tavern bar rang and it was Chris on the phone saying that if the bar was not cleared within five minutes, he would ring the police to complain that there were members of the public consuming alcohol on licensed premises after hours.

One of Chris’s mates in the bar took the phone and attempted to talk some sense into him without success. He was well beyond reason. At that stage there were members of parliament, senior office bearers of the party and senior party officials still in the pub.

A short time later the Northam police burst through the door intent on arresting Chris’s mates and colleagues as a result of a complaint he had made. Because one of the party officials had booked a room in the tavern and by the time the police arrived his guests were all being entertained in his room, the police visit was in vain.

Chris had nearly succeeded in having a whole bunch of senior liberals locked up for the night in the local slammer including some of his mates. Not a bad thing you might think, but a bit off the wall all the same.

We all thought the Federal Justice Minister had got over those hijinks but reports of his recent parliament house incident brings back memories of the good old Uni days.

It is also interesting to note that when journalists made inquiries about his recent late night visit to Parliament when he asked a security guard to look for his car keys, his press secretary Nicole Johnston threatened them with a defamation suit if anything ever appeared in print suggesting he was drunk.

We would never suggest that and believe that he was merely tired after a long day in the office.

Peter Fray

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