MC Jean Kitson ran affairs like a St
Trinian’s headmistress, the unlikely Bronwyn Bishop and Pete Garrett shared a
stage as part of the pollies’ choir, The Parliamentary Poets, and meeja
melodists The House Howlers sang “Barnaby Joyce, the rebel Senator from
Queensland” to “Pardon me boys, is this the Chattanooga choo choo” – but the
unexpected comedy highlight of last night’s Press Gallery Mid-Winter Ball came from the Prime Minister.

“I’ll keep coming to these as long as my
party wants me to and as long as it’s in the best interest of my party”, he
told a crammed Great Hall of Parliament. Now, in what context did we hear that
form of words before?

In a few short minutes, the PM praised the
Gallery’s fundraising efforts – more than $150,000 is going to charity as a
result of last night’s knees up – then took the mickey out of the evening’s proceedings,
himself and the Canberra press corps (we’re battlers, so he wants to look after us).

Someone’s clearly very relaxed and
comfortable – or did a very good job of looking that way in front of the
biggest names in the Australian media.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey