Under the corporate logo of the global tax, audit and professional services firm KPMG, an invitation has been sent far and wide in Sydney with a smiling photo of Premier Morris Iemma beside the bold caption: “NSW State Cabinet Budget Dinner 2008.”
Inside there is a further snap of Iemma alongside his chief lieutenant, Treasurer Michael Costa, media financial guru Paul Clitheroe and the event’s MC, the Minister for Ageing Kristina Keneally. (Wollongong MP Noreen Hay must be furious she has been overlooked for the gig). The slap-up dinner will be held in the ballroom of the five-star Westin Hotel in Martin Place on June 5.
Labor voters anxious to attend will have to pay $550 for a ticket or, if they can raise a table of 10, it will cost a mere $5500. If you are lucky enough to score a VIP table, you could find yourself in the company of one of the Cabinet luminaries like Health Minister Reba Meagher, Planning Minister Frank Sartor, Ports Minister Joe Tripodi, Police Minister David Campbell or factional chieftain Eddie Obeid. Make sure you bring a camera to take photos for the family album and posterity.
The truth is that “working families” can’t afford the entry fee for this one. It’s exclusively for the business sector and the big end of the city. That’s why invitees should pay special attention to the footnote which reads: “All proceeds go to the ALP NSW Branch.” That’s the body which voted at its annual conference on May 3 to give the old heave-ho to electricity privatisation by a thumping seven-to-one majority.
Since then, Iemma, Costa and Keneally have told the ALP NSW Branch it can take a running jump and that they will be selling off the publicly-owned power industry regardless. Just so all the suckers … oops guests … realise what they are doing: by digging deep for the dinner they’ll be filling the coffers of the anti-privatisation ALP NSW Branch administered by general secretary Karl Bitar who was one of the 700 odd delegates who voted against the sell-off.
It may be harder than usual for the ALP to put its vacuum cleaner through the pockets and wallets of the corporate sector this year.
As one CEO told Crikey as he turfed the invitation into his waste paper bin: “These politicians have more hide than the average rhino. As their performance goes down the price to talk to them goes up.”
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