Crikey reporter Jane Nethercote writes:

For politicians
out of inspiration for their next parliamentary speech, why not turn to
pop. That’s what Justin Madden, Victoria’s Commonwealth Games Minister,
did earlier this month with this Dorothy Dixer response that detoured through pop history:

We have reached the final countdown,
and the government has introduced a number of initiatives that it is
great to see are being implemented across the games. Let me take
members through the wonderful world of the games.

The
government has made the games affordable and accessible. For this, our
first international multisport event, we have introduced a family
ticket. As well as that, there will be a ticket to ride
free on public transport using their Metcard ticket on the day of the
event, making it even better value for spectators and greater value for
families. As well as that there is the $10 V/Line offer, encouraging
people travelling from rural Victoria to travel on the day before or
the day after an event, providing they book ahead. Seventy-nine
Victorian local councils have received funding under the $4.5 million
Getting Involved grants program to assist local communities right
across Victoria. Whether they have been warming up for the games with
the physical activities on 20 November last year or celebrating the
cultural aspects of the games or even joining in the enthusiasm
displayed by local governments, Victorians right across the state have
in a sense adopted a second team.

As well as that, because children are our future,
the government has implemented a suite of educational activities in
schools right across Victoria in the lead-up to the games. We have
planted one million trees so far to make the games carbon neutral, and
we have implemented a number of environmental initiatives focused on
water saving, energy efficiency and litter control.

We have introduced the Equal First policy that promotes inclusiveness and celebrates diversity – because we are one, but we are many.
As well as those initiatives there is our Respecting Indigenous
Communities strategy, which provides indigenous Victorians with the
opportunity to showcase their culture and participate in the games. I
hope Australia’s largest free cultural event, Festival Melbourne 2006,
will have people dancing in the streets and embracing the opportunity to make Melbourne’s reputation as a funky town

Given
this is the last question time before the Commonwealth Games, I take
the opportunity to thank many people … As a token gesture, all
members of Parliament will today be receiving a free water bottle to
encourage them to walk to the games and get active –

The PRESIDENT – Order! The minister’s time has expired.

After
a “pretty long slog” in the lead up to the Games, the minister “was
looking for something a little bit different”, says Madden’s press sec
Brent Hooley. Hence the game of spot the pop song. In fact, “maybe we
should have tried to get a few more in”.

A true performer,
Crikey hears that Madden signalled each pop reference with a dramatic
hand flourish. But some of the pop references still went unrecognised –
maybe because there’s “no musical appreciation on the other side of the
house”, says Hooley.

Apparently the minister planned to really
bring things home with a final cheesy pop note, but with an
increasingly raucous house the President cut him off before he could
get it out. The word is that Madden was heading towards a touch of “Walking on Sunshine“.

Peter Fray

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