(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

Pass the Canapes Following on from our pieces last week on Liberal Party lifer, Josh Frydenberg cheerleader and senior member of the AAT Karen Synon, some tipsters pointed out something we missed.

A couple of readers wrote in to say that the second person in the image we shared of Synon beaming next to a Frydenberg campaign poster is also an AAT member with a long Liberal pedigree: Rachel Westaway.

Crikey revealed in 2017 that Westaway, who had been promoted to senior AAT member, had run (unsuccessfully) as a Liberal candidate for the NSW upper house in the 2003 state election, when she was known as Rachel Creek.

As one Crikey correspondent told us, Westaway “wasn’t on the invite list and effectively gatecrashed Josh’s campaign party at the Grace Park Tennis Club. We were told she was a friend of Karen Synon”. Top marks for enthusiasm.

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Westaway’s annual salary at the AAT is around the $350,000 mark, while Synon — appointed as a pick of Attorney-General Christian Porter — sits near the top of the tree on $500,000 a year.

The totally politically independent AAT tells us they asked for the incriminating photo of Synon and Westaway to be removed from Facebook. But the Liberal stalwarts of the tribunal’s Melbourne office remain otherwise untouched.

CPAC Attack Last week the ousting of rapper Young Pharaoh made us question the Conservative Political Action Conference’s (CPAC) commitment to their theme of “America Uncanceled”. But it looks like we needn’t have worried, with the conference really demonstrating its commitment to unfettered freedom of expression in platforming Angela Stanton King over the weekend.

King’s call for an investigation into the baseless claims of QAnon believers — allegations that various elites from the Democratic Party and Hollywood sexually abuse children and drink their blood to stay young — were greeted with applause.

At time of writing, the good people at CPAC were being treated to Donald Trump rambling about “cancel culture” and “the windmills, the windmills, the windmills that don’t work when you need them” in his first post-presidency speech.

Vale Tony Barrass In sad news, WA journalist Tony Barrass passed away over the weekend after a short illness. In 1989 Barrass became the first Australian journalist to be jailed for refusing to name a source. In 2013, amidst a new push from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for national shield laws — an utter hodge-podge to this day — Barrass wrote in Crikey of his experience:

I was taken from the dock, frog-marched into the bowels of the East Perth lock-up, deprived of my tie, shoelaces and belt, ordered into the back of a paddy wagon, which I shared with three boisterous, angry fellow convicts, driven to one of two maximum security prisons in Western Australia, stripped, searched (I can still hear them barking: “bend over, lift your balls!”) and then put into a cell that seemed no bigger than your average shower.

….But it’s not about me, it’s about the system, a system that protects the state and demands journalists be punished if they don’t play by its silly, archaic rules.

Barrass’ principles and courage hold a crucial place in the history of Australian journalism.

Tudge-ing an inch There’s never a great time for politicians to invite wacky responses to a fun Friday question — guys, everyone hates all of you, and rightly so. Even so, we have to ask: what was going through the heads of Alan Tudge’s social media managers when they concocted this?

Tudge’s request for particularly tricky words to spell — attached to the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee — was answered with several suggestions befitting the political environment in February 2021: “corruption”, “consent”, “compassion”, among others.

Meanwhile the most frequently suggested entrants for the spelling bee were Tharunicaa and Kopika Murugappan, two siblings from Queensland, currently residing on Christmas island. The tweet has since been deleted.