Attempts by Tony Abbott to play down and shrug off that now notorious lunch in 2004 with the Prime Minister attended by the violent pornographer and now convicted criminal, Scott Phillips, will simply not wash.

Despite the claims that Phillips was an accidental attendee, several things need to be cleared up. First, did he pay his own way or did someone else pay for him? And if so, who?

Second, did the Liberal Party, when it learned of the incident, seek to return his money?

Third, did he get “face time” with the PM, which is what these events are about?

Fourth, if he did, what did he talk to the PM about, and did any of the PM’s staff take a note of it, as is often the case?

Having attended many of these events as an industry consultant, the practice is usually for a select few to be given a private audience either before or after the event. Did Phillips seek one and did he get one?

To justify the payment extracted from guests at such events – actually an outrageous form of political soft money raising – the chief guest, in this case the PM, usually goes from table to table to ensure everyone gets at least token access.

Very few other than the hopelessly starstruck go along just to bask in the glory. Most are hard-headed deal-makers who want something done,something not done or something stopped.

What category did Phillips fit into?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey