The staff dining room at Parliament House, known colloquially as “the Trough”, is the least popular place to get food, according to an audit report.

In an Australian National Audit Office report on the management of contracts in Parliament House released on Tuesday, a survey of the catering on offer (but curiously excluding Aussie’s Cafe) taken in April found that the Trough, a place of much complaint within the halls of power, was the least favourite place, for people who work there, to eat at. The Trough recorded a net satisfaction rate of 39.5%, compared to 45.5% for the public area Queen’s Terrace Cafe, 70.3% for the coffee cart and 57.9% for catering.

In January, the Department of Parliamentary Services received a report on its options for reinvigorating the food options in Parliament that recommended continuing with an outsourcing model where the food service is provided on contract. DPS disagreed with the report, and now DPS is moving to an in-house model for the supply of food in Parliament from January next year. The ANAO noted that there had been no business case developed for moving services in-house.

In July, the Trough announced it was listening to feedback from customers and bringing back the $9 roast. The Trough is where former MP Clive Palmer was heard speaking with former senator Dio Wang, saying that Senator Jacqui Lambie, then a member of the Palmer United Party, was “not very bright”. There’s no word on whether the venues were rated by the quality of gossip that could be garnered while also grabbing a feed.

Peter Fray

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