The last weeks have seen the NSW Labor government and Liberal opposition at each other’s throats over corruption, allegations of child sexual assault and incompetence.

Strangely these tensions were little in evidence at last night’s annual NSW Parliamentary Christmas Party at Parliament House in Macquarie Street. Over 250 journalists, staffers, advisers, pollies and hangers-on congregated for the informal event.

Figures from across the political spectrum were there – Fred Nile, post-Survivor contestant David Oldfield and John Watkins just three of the assembled crowd – and reporters from all major media organisations.

It was a strange night. Perhaps the oddest encounter was a conversation between broadcaster Mike Carlton and NSW Liberal right-wing powerbroker David Clarke.

Clarke said that he thought the last week had been kind to the NSW Liberal Party and wondered if Carlton agreed. Carlton said Clarke was delusional to think his party had performed well, principally because leader Peter Debnam had attempted to smear NSW Attorney-General Bob Debus with false and misleading information sourced from a known liar.

Clarke wasn’t convinced (interestingly, a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald told me Clarke was politically savvy but clueless about how issues played in the media). He seemed to believe that throwing enough mud would be enough for the public to start distrusting the NSW Labor Party.

Predictably enough Clarke and Carlton also debated gay marriage – and ended up agreeing to disagree. It was soon time for the annual bloopers tape, assembled by the Press Gallery Committee. Premier Morris Iemma and Debnam stood adjacent to each other and seemed to share many laughs together. The film portrayed Iemma as Tony Soprano from The Sopranos.

Peter Fray

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