eBay attracted some negative attention last week for refusing to
regulate scalpers trying to flog Ashes tickets, but the world’s biggest
online auction house is hoping to win some political and media plaudits by
pioneering the first ever Press Gallery charity auction at the
Midwinter Ball.

Anyone familiar with politics would be aware of those interminable
fundraisers where businesspeople pay vast sums for the privilege of
talking to some thoroughly bored minister for a few minutes.

The Press Gallery certainly is not stooping to that at the Midwinter
Ball, where tickets cost $90 for members and $110 for politicians and
staffers. And there will be no Max Markson auctioneer pushing prints of some long
gone Miss World with promises that only 90% of the proceeds will go to
the political party but some worthy charity will get the other 10%.

The eBay proposition is quite attractive because the whole gig
happens online, 100% of the proceeds will go to charity and the
politicians have dug deep for some alluring prizes.

The PM has offered two tickets to the Australia-England Prime
Minister’s 11 cricket match, including attending the pre-match function at the Lodge.
Even better – or worse, depending on your politics – six people are
being offered a private dinner with Kim Beazley. The eBay spruiker
points out that Crikey voted Julia Gillard “Australia’s s*xiest
politician”, so “dinner for two” with the wannabe PM might attract a
few leering blokes and Kim Beazley will be hoping the bidding is weak.

If you want to learn more the Iraqi wheat market, why not bid for
you and two mates to have a round of golf at Royal Canberra with Mark
Vaile. There could be some embarrassment for the political heavies if this
offering ends up pulling in the largest sum:

Join former rocker come politician,
Peter Garrett, for dinner and show at the Basement in Sydney on 5 July. On offer
are two seats for a special reunion concert featuring Aussie rockers Dragon, The
Badloves, Jenny Morris and the Choirboys. This show doesn’t end with the
encore – 2 AAA passes are also included to backstage after the show.

And one can’t imagine Wilson Tuckey or Ross Lightfoot bidding aggressively for the “VIP escort for two by Senator Bob
Brown to the ‘Mark Latham’ tree in the Styx Valley, Tasmania.”

Proving that rival pollies don’t hate each other, we have
dinner for four with Simon Crean, Alexander Downer, John Anderson and
Natasha Stott Despoja. Essendon’s nine straight losses take the gloss
off the prospect of spending an afternoon in the NAB corporate box with
Peter Costello but the lowest yielding prize will almost certainly be
the press gallery tour and lunch which includes a special performance
by the House Howlers choir.

The auction closes at midday on 21 June and we’ll keep you posted on
how it progresses. Some are tipping an overall collect of almost $100,000
and we’ll try and work out a way to get up there for the biggest Canberra social
function of the year. Free Crikey subs are on offer in exchange for invites!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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