Jun 19, 2014

Press gallery party time — and Shorten got the laughs

It's Mid-Winter Ball time in federal Parliament -- so who was hot, who was not, and who drank the most red wine?

Parliament's journos, pollies and lobbyists donned their finest for last night's annual Mid-Winter Ball in Canberra -- and who knew Bill Shorten had a comic streak? The PM and opposition leader always give a speech, and despite being, well, quite drunk, all the journos listen closely to see what they're made of. The verdict on last night? Shorten was funnier. Before hundreds in Parliament's cavernous Great Hall, Shorten noted that the ball was usually a relaxing occasion for ALP leaders -- what with Kevin Rudd and then Julia Gillard being knifed soon after the 2010 and 2013 balls. Shorten joked that much had changed since the year before: a government behind in the polls, a PM being hammered over unpopular taxes and broken promises, unruly backbenchers, a leadership contender saying he’s not interested in the leadership, etc, etc. Shorten mentioned that he'd had a pie before the speech -- he has form in that department -- and revealed he was glad he wasn't being overruled by the former GG (aka mother-in-law Dame Quentin Bryce) with the grandchildren. Abbott's speech was rated second-best. He made fun of his schoolboy French, saying since he'd got back from France there was something he wanted to say. He then rolled out a foreign phrase, translated on the screen as "good evening, my name is Anthony, I've come to stop the boats". Hilarious. Although if Abbott thinks he went to Normandy to stop the boats, he's really got his history wrong ... Abbott also made fun about his famous/creepy winking inclination, pointing to pics of Obama winking and saying it's really catching on. The sombre case of detained Aussie journo Peter Greste, on trial in Egypt, was in people's minds, with several speakers referring to his plight. But the ball is not just about pollies' speeches. Our spies tell us Fairfax stalwart Tony Wright turned heads with his patterned black tie (apparently you're supposed to wear a bowtie, although a few senior pollies went with a black tie). Wright had a few cheeky red wines and told some good yarns. Paul "Bonge" Bongiorno from Channel Ten was holding court at his table (he's not leaving the network, which is cutting back drastically, but will stay on part time). The ABC's Latika Bourke was spotted deep in conversation with Tory MP George Christensen, while a certain Liberal MP generated whispers as he chatted with various "women in quiet corners of the room". Well, that's Mid-Winter Ball tradition. Here's a few of the tweets from last night ...

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9 thoughts on “Press gallery party time — and Shorten got the laughs

  1. MJPC

    Now I know how the Pollies get away with so few critical questions from the Press…they’ll miss an invite to the ball and an opportunity to bid for Dinner with wank..winker Tony.
    I bet the French loved his schoolboy language attempts over there.
    It’s all bread and circus’, and the poor of this country are the unlucky spectators subsidising this circus.

  2. AR

    I nearly fell over, a couple of years ago, when I heard FranK (Fran on all people!)getting girly with… possibly the fragrant Ms Crabbe.. can’t remember, it was the sublime Ms K who floored me with her eagerness, nay.. gusto.. “to get all frocked-up“, a redolent phrase the like of which I had never, in my long sequestered life, heard.

  3. The Quiet One

    Claudia Perkins is the wife of Adam Bandt, why is she referred to as his “partner” which implies a more casual relationship. Is suppose it’s better than just “friend” which is what i think she got called last year…..

  4. zut alors

    MJPC, if the French didn’t relish Toady’s clumsy attempts, I certainly did. It’s rare he makes me laugh that hard.

  5. fractious

    “Shorten noted that the ball was usually a relaxing occasion for ALP leaders …”

    I bet he did. Don’t suppose anyone pulled him up on that “quip”…

  6. Andybob

    What was second prize ? Two dinners with Tony ?

  7. Damien McBain

    MJPC, I suppose you would have everyone rocking back and forth, flagellating quietly, left then right, then left again, muttering a self-demeaning mantre until all the poor are fed and tucked snugly in?
    The event is ticketed and payed for by sponsors, not you nor me, and certainly not the poor. It raises a good whack for its chosen charities.

  8. Cathy Alexander

    Actually MJPC the ball is run by the press gallery, so it’s not a question of Tony Abbott inviting journos. All pollies, of all persuasions, are allowed to go too (they pay). Very few bids at the charity auction come from journos. They come from richer people and GetUp.

  9. Jan Dobson

    Come on guys, subtle or not, this just adds to the rumour mongering about PM’s marriage.

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