Christian Kerr’s Wednesday reminiscences on dope smoking in parliament
brought back some fond memories – flashbacks, even – for those of us
old enough to have trawled the old Parliament House press gallery in
the ’70s, and young enough to remember it.

Back
in the late ’70s, a Reps committee – which the late Kevin Newman and
some other notorious wowsers sat on – all tried the evil weed as a
social experiment. I kid you not. The results were not at all pretty:
the honourable members were all reeling around red-eyed and ripped off
their melons at the back of the chamber, giggling like lunatics.

Back
then, dope smoking, and later coke and speed snorting, was almost de
rigueur in the old Canberra wedding cake, especially for the younger
journos and pollies who didn’t care to spend all evening sinking beers
with Mungo MacCallum in the non-members bar.

When Labor was in
opposition, ALP staffers (some of them now very senior barristers and
lawyers) and some of the younger media types used to gather in the T J
Ryan room on Thursday sitting nights for regular toke-fests.

Two
bright young journalists once shared a “j” at the back of the Senate
press gallery very late one night, just to boast they’d smoked dope in
parliament while it was sitting. They weren’t surprised that no-one in
the chamber noticed.

And what of the former ALP staffer – angry
that her minister kept stealing cookies out of the communal office
cookie jar without contributing – who put some more “interesting”
cookies in the jar and watched with glee as he snaffled a few just
before question time. Didn’t make any difference. He was away with the
fairies most of the time anyway.

And which journos will own up
to the fact that they frequently used to pool their meagre resources
and bake up a batch of hash cookies to take on the PM’s VIP plane
during overseas trips during the Hawke years?

Will the journo
who lost $400 to Hawkie playing poker at the front of the plane now
admit that he was, for the duration of the game, as stoned as a harlot
in ancient Jerusalem? Oooh, the colours maaaaan…

CRIKEY: That’s raised the stakes. Anyone care to fill in the blanks
here? Just who were the great parliamentary stoners? Send your
contributions to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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