It’s that special time of year, when pay rises are discussed delicately behind closed doors and small slips of paper are slid over tables.

But in Canberra, pay rises are a little more public, and now we all know about the mooted $150 extra a week for MPs. 

We’ll leave the outrage to Bob Brown, instead we’re offering some financial advice to our politicians. MPs can be forgiven for not knowing the price of milk, so Crikey has applied the “sandwich and milkshake” test to their new pay rise.

Former Senator Amanda Vanstone, queen of the sound bite, once speculated as to what the extra $5 from tax cuts would buy voters:

SEN AMANDA VANSTONE: $5, hell what will it buy you?

A sandwich and a milkshake if you’re lucky.

So what will $150 get you as a backbencher on your lunch break in the capital?

Here are a few menu items from some popular high-end establishments in the fancy part of Canberra*:

OPTION 1: $150 bucks a head at Canberra icon The Ottoman  will get a high flying MP something along the lines of:

Entree — Dolma: fresh atlantic salmon rolls of cray, prawns & fish; wrapped in vine-leaves, lightly battered served with a savory piquant sauce $21.00.

Main — Duck: ordek oven roasted confit of duck served crisp on mash with aromatic juniper-berry jus $29.00.

Dessert — Revani — moist semolina & orange cake with orange segments & sauce $14.00.

Wash it all down with a 1996 Hillstowe Mary’s Hundred McLaren at $85 a pop and you’ve got $1 left in your pocket for the cab ride back to Parliament.

Total bill: $149 (not including a tip but then, politicians are known tight a*ses…)

OPTION 2: Portia’s Place  is a little more modest, but they do damn fine Peking duck:

Entree:   You may as well get the house specialty, to share: Crispy fried duck with Chinese pancakes $28.80

Main: A few dishes to share. We recommend  King Island fillet steak with black pepper sauce in claypot $27.80, Kung Po sliced pork $22.80 and Sizzling garlic King prawns with snow peas and cashews $28.80

Add some special fried rice, Large $8.90 and go dry today with Chinese Tea, per head $2.80.   

Dessert: We can’t see any on the menu, but we’re going to throw in some banana fritters at $5 a pop. Two serves.

Lunch is on you.

Total bill: $132.70, so you’ve got enough left over for the cab ride back to Parliament.

OPTION 3: And for that extra special someone, take it up a notch and throw your weight around at the Rubicon :

Entree: Inevitably, caviar had to come into it sometime — Seared fresh Tasmanian scallops served on confit duck and mushroom duxelle, apple and caviar lentil salad with saffron dressing $17.90

Main: Oven roasted fresh herb and potato gnocchi with caramelised eschalots, flat pancetta, wilted spinach and broccolini topped with 180g chargrilled wagyu beef sirloin, micro herbs, thyme jus and Regganio parmesan $37.90

Dessert: French influenced hot upside down caramelised apple tart, warm butterscotch, crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream $12.90

OR for that long suffering partner who’s flown in to the capital for a brief interlude: the Tart of Love $12.90 

Wash it down with NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Ay, Champagne $75.00

Total bill: $156.50. You’re a little over, but maybe your partner can spruik you some change…

 * When in Canberra, Christian Kerr recommends the duck laksa at the Dickson Asian Noodle House. He also likes the Parliamentary Burger at the staff caff.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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