Dame Edna says Amanda Vanstone can’t go to Rome. “Some of those gothic doorways are quite narrow,” Australia’s greatest female ambassador has been warning her audiences.

Now the Senator herself has said that she ain’t going nowhere. There’s a Senate preselection for the local Libs in South Australia on Saturday and while Vanstone’s position isn’t up for grabs, sources say that her future has become a key issue.

There’s a strong push on to dump the number three on the ticket, Grant Chapman, who has been using Parliament House as a sheltered workshop for most of the time since 1975. He’s countered by pushing his experience – and hinting it may be needed.

Vanstone has responded with a letter (Page 1, Page 2) to preselectors. “There are rumours that I am not going to stay in the Senate for much longer,” she writes. “In actual fact nothing has changed the fact that I have four and a half years remaining on my term.

“Actually, I’m a bit annoyed that my future appears to be being used to influence preselectors. I can’t stop that happening, but I can tell you I don’t think anyone should be influenced by chit-chat.”

But the letter’s scarcely unequivocal. It looks more like one of Vanstone’s idiosyncratic stream of consciousness efforts.

Not only has Vanstone bought into the preselection, she’s failed to clear up speculation about her future. Sources say that Vanstone wants a job, but has been told by the PM that none are available. Now. She has to wait until after an election.

When Crikey called Vanstone this morning she said she was bogged down with “practical matters” like sorting through “10 years of stuff” and was knee deep in the task of combining her Canberra and Adelaide offices. But she also added “I don’t regard my future as being resolved at this point.”

In case you’re wondering, in Italian that’s Non penso che il mio futuro sia risolto a questo momento.

Peter Fray

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