Will the conservative columnist, critic and commentator Mark Steyn be singing Hello Dolly when he visits Australia later this month?

Crikey has learnt Alexander Downer’s Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade is giving him a helping hand with his trip under its International
Media Visit program.

Steyn is in Australia for speaking
engagements in Sydney and Melbourne, but an informed source has told
Crikey that with his official status he’ll also be visiting the
Commonwealth Parliament, attending Question Time, sharing his thoughts
with pen pushers at DFAT and dropping by the War Memorial. We
hear that senior ministers are star struck at the thought of meeting
the conservative controversialist.

Steyn has sung the praises of John
Howard. He talks up the concept of the Anglosphere – an international
English speaking zone of influence for economic and political liberty
based around America, the UK and Australia. Does this fit the
official DFAT description of its program?

A Departmental spokesperson said today: “Mr Steyn’s visit is in full accordance with the IMV
program guidelines. The IMV helps generate informed and balanced international
media coverage on Australia with a particular focus on the strength of the
economy, and our key foreign and trade objectives . The department invites
senior international journalists and commentators to Australia as IMV visitors,
providing them targeted programs according to their interests. In the financial
year 2005/06 the IMC arranged sixteen separate visits involving 63media
representatives.”

A source tells
Crikey that virtually everyone who visits Australia under the program
is a leftie, joking that Steyn will provide a balance.

And one of Steyn’s special interests is musicals. Perhaps he can greet his ministerial host with Hello Dolly – then do a write up of Dusty.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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