Journal of the Minister for Community Concerns
Monday, 22 August, 2011
Return from question time. Paul Howes (AWU) is sitting in my office chair. Says he’s checked my office and has found no less than eight items that were manufactured overseas. As a representative of the manufacturing sector he feels I owe him an explanation for my unAustralianness. Ask Howes if I could have my chair back. Howes says he’ll do better than that, he’ll replace it with an Australian made seat. Will invoice my secretary.
Tuesday, 23 August, 2011
Morning: Met with Same Same (marriage equality group) and GetUp to discuss same sex marriage.
Midday: Receive call from Joe De Bruyn, member of Labor’s national executive and also head of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Asks why I’ve been meeting with anti-marriage groups, especially at a time like this when the morality of the party is in question?
Enquire how De Bruyn knows who I’ve been meeting with? De Bruyn says he could tell me, but then he’d have to expel me from party. Say I was just trying to consult members of my electorate on gay marriage. De Bruyn says my electorate doesn’t support gay marriage. Australians don’t support gay marriage and retail workers especially don’t support gay marriage. If I want to do any further consultation on the issue I should call him.
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011
Morning: Back really sore. Not sure about chair, feels like it’s almost designed with kidney damage in mind.
Midday: Arbib calls me into meeting to discuss “Thomsongate”. Ask why I am needed? Arbib says I know Thomson. Tell Arbib I don’t know Craig that well. Just know him through caucus and have had a few beers with him. Arbib says Thomson identified me as one of his closest friends.Awkward.
2pm: Albanese, Shorten, and Gillard Press Secretary (GPS) in meeting. Albanese expresses curiosity as to how the NSW Right and Arbib preselected Thomson. Arbib admits that with the benefit of hindsight, Thomson was less than ideal, but resents implication that that’s Labor Right’s fault. Albanese agrees we can’t make this a factional issue. “Your f-k up is now everyone’s f-k up, and so I just want to know how your f-k up came to be so totally f-ked up. I hate to say I told you so, but I thought he was a useless prick even before there was a paper trail that suggested he was officially a useless prick.”
Point out that charges haven’t been laid, and we just have to weather the storm until it’s off the front page. It’s not like we were winning on the issues of asylum seekers or the carbon tax anyway. Albanese agree there’s nothing we can do now. But suggests that part of pre-selection process should include “Have you ever slept with a prostitute and, if so, did you pay for it using other people’s money?” Of course Albanese would like things to be even more thorough but he’d hate to overtax the hardworking Labor Right. Arbib unhappy but agrees.
Wednesday, 24 August, 2011
Afternoon: Fiddling with seat adjustment levers. Accidentally drop a foot in height just as Arbib storms into office. Towering above me, he angrily exclaims that the Health Services Union (HSU) has launched an attack on Labor movement. I ask what they’ve done? They’ve surrendered documents regarding Craig Thomson to police. Genuinely shocked. I thought I knew the HSU better than that. Makes me feel low.
Thursday, 25 August, 2011
Morning: Another meeting re: Thomson. GPS says this union squabble is going too far. Last night someone left a dirt covered shovel outside the National Secretary of the HSU, Kathy Jackson’s, house. Arbib outraged as well. Can’t believe Jackson reported this to police. Arbib insists unionists have a long proud tradition of leaving garden implements outside one another’s houses. Says he’d have a pretty bare shed if his factional opponents hadn’t been so ferociously generous over the years. Says he once found his front door hacked apart and a hatchet on the doormat. He was alarmed until he learned that a factional opponent was sending a message that he just wanted to “bury the hatchet”.
GPS understands that he’s not fully conversant in “unionese” traditions. But if all the people in the room could tell all their people to not leave objects that could be construed as murder weapons anywhere, that’d make media management a lot easier. Arbib nods. He’ll get onto it. Will leave symbol for silence, a roll of duct tape, outside all his associate’s houses.
Friday, 26 August, 2011
Morning: Decide to get rid of Australian made chair. Back pain so severe am struggling to walk. Secretary received invoice from Howes for $2500. Sigh.
Midday: Discover chunk of steel outside office with “Australian Made” imprinted on it.
Afternoon: Howes calls. Asks if I got his message? Thank him for his views. Have decided to sit on Australian made medicine ball to deal with back problems. Howes asks if any Australian steel was used in construction of medicine ball? Says I have two choices, one: support Australian manufacturing, or two: have my preselection challenged by a candidate backed by Howes and Joe De Bruyn. Tell secretary to get chair back.
Saturday, 27 August, 2011
Cancelled all my consultations with gay marriage advocates after I discovered a smashed wedding cake on my door step. Have arranged to meet with Australian Christian Lobby and George Pell on Monday morning.
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