The doors to
the Great Hall in Parliament House are all locked. Vague noises suggesting a sound
check were emerging when Crikey dropped by around 11:30 this morning – but that’s all we can offer
in the way of a preview of this afternoon’s Bonza Beaconsfield Bash in Canberra.

Still, we did get some ideas of what’s on offer. Remember how the PM began his presser when news of the rescue broke:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I know that I speak
for all Australians in expressing relief and joy and gratitude that Brant Webb
and Todd Russell have been brought to the surface. They appear to be in
remarkable health and we ought to give thanks to everybody responsible for this
great achievement. It has been a triumph of Australian mateship…

Well, Todd and
Brant are dropping by this afternoon – and bringing a few mates with
them. The Prime Minister’s office has sent out nearly 1,000 invitations
and airlines are putting on free flights to bring guests from
Launceston to Canberra. And just
to keep things nice, even Kimbo’s allowed along. Everybody’s going to
be mates
for the occasion.

Still, there are some problems. This
morning, I walked past a couple of cameramen deep in debate. Are you a hero if
you survive a fortnight trapped in a mine – or a hero if you rescue someone
trapped in a mine for a fortnight?

And there are other questions, too. Yesterday,
around 1,000 people turned out for a family barbecue in Beaconsfield to thank
those involved in the rescue of miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb after the
Anzac Day rock fall.

If our politicians wanted to honour the
survivors, their rescuers and express their condolences to the family and
friends of the miner who died, Larry Knight, wasn’t this the perfect
opportunity? Why this Canberra extravaganza?

Do they know that when they’re safe on
their home turf, in the awe-inspiring settings of the House on the
Hill, no-one’s going to ask them the really awkward question about
Beaconsfield: “What
do we do now, mate?”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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