Julia Gillard and Cory Bernardi both famously claimed that they took their hatchet actions because their party had “lost its way”.
Might or might not be true, but I know of one senator who literally lost her way the other day. No names, no pack drill (oh, OK, it was Senator Jane Hume). Let me just say that I wouldn’t let this Hume navigate you down a highway.
I was sitting in my office with my staff, going through the Order of Business for the day, when a woman appeared at the door. Not the front door. She had come through the reception area, through the staff desk area and through a fourth door ending up about a foot from my desk.
An embarrassed Senator Hume went the colour of the Senate chamber as she realised her office was on the floor above us. Her map lapse excuse: “I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.”
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Pot calling kettle black. The night before, I’d been guesting on Paul Murry Live and, as I left the Sky studio at 10pm, I took a “short cut” towards the Senate exit and a shuttle Comcar.
Tonnes of time … the shuttle doesn’t shut down until 10.30pm. I made it with just 10 minutes to spare after wandering lost in a deserted maze for 20 minutes.
Speaking of corridors and the size of Parliament House: I almost missed a vital division this week, which would probably have warranted a censure motion or even a Hinch resignation.
The Senate bells rang for a vital vote on the ABCC — a matter only before us again because of my change of position (as outlined in last week’s diary). The division bells were called unexpectedly, giving us four minutes to get to the chamber.
As the clock lights started flashing and the bells started ringing, I was five or six minutes away in Bill Shorten’s office. It was a mad corridor dash (while wearing a knee brace from a mountain accident), and I just made it.
One Labor wit pointed out that the Opposition Leader missed an opportunity; he should have locked me in his office for a few minutes.
And still on the ABCC controversy:
In the Senate this week I described how I returned to Melbourne from Canberra last Friday to find a CFMEU tent outside my Melbourne office with a banner saying “Hinch sells out workers. Shame.”
The union also started bombarding the Justice Party’s and my personal FB pages with claims that I was in favour of robbing Australian workers of precious jobs by increasing 457 visas.
As I said on Facebook:
“This is such a despicable, lying, orchestrated CFMEU campaign. In the Building Code amendments last year, I voted with the Labor Party to make it compulsory for companies to advertise nationally for Australian workers (plus other conditions) before applying for 457 visas. Unlike Labor under Industrial Relations Minister Shorten who brought 457 imports in to work at KFC.”
In the office building lift that day, a man who had just seen the union protest shook my hand and said: “You must be doing something right if you’ve made an enemy out of that mob.”
Who would have thought that Senator Mitch Fifield is a crooner? Even if he did return from the summer break with a beard and wearing R.M. Williams. Perhaps he was just cloning yours truly.
At a Senate function to celebrate commercial radio, the looming changes to the media reach laws was the elephant in the room. The Minister for Communications said he didn’t know Bill Shorten was such a Meat Loaf fan when they discussed media reach and suddenly burst into a pretty good rendition of Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.
Better than the old rasper’s now notorious rendition at the grand final at the MCG.
Among the guests at the soiree in the members’ dining room alcove were Macquarie Radio’s Russell Tait and Adam Lang. I told Senator Fifield: “If you ever have trouble with me in the Senate, blame him,” and pointed at Lang. “He was the man who sacked me from 3AW. If he hadn’t, then I wouldn’t be here.”
Ben Fordham was the MC. He interviewed a couple of well-known blokes from the other side of media: TV’s David Speers and Kieran Gilbert.
Turns out they both got their start in regional radio, Gilbert in Cairns and Speers in Geelong. Speers jumped from K-Rock in Geelong to be an FM traffic reporter in Melbourne. Now he’s a traffic cop for pollies who try to get lies past him.
Last Thursday was my 73rd birthday. A journo asked me if I even imagined, on my 72nd birthday, that I’d be spending this one in the Senate.
I told him that anything was possible: “I spent my 70th birthday in jail and the first birthday greeting that day was a gruff ‘Happy Birthday, Hinch’ from a guard at the 6am line-up.”