Your story about Larry Anthony last week reminds me of an amusing experience for the then young Larry while he was attending the University of NSW, studying for his Bachelor of Commerce degree. I was there at the same time and was in the same year.

Larry took an early interest in politics, no doubt wanting to see if he was a chip off the old block. He threw his hat in the ring for the post of president of the UNSW student union. There were a few other candidates standing, but none seemed to be pushing themselves so Larry no doubt thought that he would have a pretty clear run. He spent $400 on printing, hired a flat top truck and went around the university with a portable loudspeaker strongly extolling his virtues.

As not much hangs off the outcome of the president of the student union, not many students could be bothered voting. On the day of the ballot (a Friday if I recall), one of the other candidates, an engineering student, went down to the Roundhouse Bar, where all the engineers were drinking and offered a free beer to every student who voted for him. Of course, this offer was greeted with enthusiasm and the engineering student won with about 50 votes, costing him about $45. Poor old Larry got 20 votes, with his costs equivalent to $20 per vote.

True story, although I don’t know how you’d go about checking the facts.

CRIKEY: Let’s just hope that Larry doesn’t offer free beers at any of the 800 childcare centres that he’s now partly responsible for as a well-connected director of ABC Learning, an outfit that gets $350 million a year in subsidies from the former kiddies’ minister’s old department.

Peter Fray

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