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Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Page: 77

Senator HUTCHINS (3:23 PM) — I must say after those valiant efforts by Senator Fierravanti-Wells and Senator Adams they should be commended back in the party room. I notice none of the other heroes over that side put their hands up to try to defend the indefensible, and I must say that, after Senator Adams’s contribution, I am a little bit more confused about who went. There might have been more than 225 guests at this nosh-up. Was it just the business observers paying the $8,000-odd for the introduction to Kirribilli House, the prawns, the rock oysters—I am assuming they would be Sydney rock oysters—and posh soup? I cannot work out what the posh soup was; maybe Julian can tell me. Maybe it was vichyssoise. I do not know, that is about the only posh soup I know of, but you would probably know of a few more. Then you have the fine wines. If you work it on the basis that there were only 225 people—I am assuming that is 225 people who paid the $8,000-odd—I am not sure if there are any freeloaders on top of that. Are those freeloaders the Liberal Party Council delegates? I am not sure from the contribution just made by Senator Adams if they are included because it may be that there are more people who have gone to this function. So if we divide this so-called cost of the function of $5,000-odd, we might have to divide it by more. That would mean that for the prawns and the Sydney rock oysters—one oyster, one prawn and the posh soup, if there are only 225 paying people it comes to $9.46 a head. That is still only 225 paying people plus these fine wines—it does not mention beer and it does not mention spirits, so I am assuming it is nice, fine wines. That is $6.46 per head. Where in Sydney can you dine and drink for that sort of money at that sort of venue? You can go to anywhere around Sydney—start at Doyles at Watsons Bay—do you think you can go in there and grog on and put your snout in the trough for two hours, have some prawns and some oysters for $9.46? Do you think you would pay $6.56 for some wine? If you go to Catalina further along, do you reckon you could do that for that amount of money? Could you dine in these nice, prime locations? Go to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which is right near Kirribilli House. Do you reckon you could dine at the Kirribilli Workers Club, as some people call it, for $9 for food and $6 for some grog? Not on your nelly! The only place you would be able to dine for that sort of money in that sort of location might be Harry’s Cafe de Wheels down in Woolloomooloo, and you do not get that same sort of ambience from that part of Sydney that you do looking across from Kirribilli House.

I have never been to Kirribilli House. I think Senator Campbell has in his days of dealings and all of that. I have been outside Kirribilli House protesting, but I have never been inside. I do not know when the opportunity might arise for me to go in, but I would like to know how you could feed anybody at that location and at that venue serving that type of food for that figure. You simply cannot. No wonder we question how much this cost the Liberal Party to put on. There is no way in the world, if there were 225 paying guests, that you could do this for just over five grand. I agree with Senator Ray. I do not object to the Prime Minister using this as an official residence, and I would not even object to him taking the Liberal Party Council there to show them the place, but when it is used as a fund-raising venture they should pay for it. That is the point we have been making for some time. We have seen instances of how much it costs for charities or whoever else to rent out the Great Hall; I think it is $46,000 for a few hours. What do you imagine the real cost would be to rent out Kirribilli House for the amount of hours that those Liberal Party delegates and functionaries were exposed to on that evening? I think it is outrageous. As we delve more and more into this we will find that it has been rorted by the Liberal Party and it is something that the Prime Minister, who always tries to say he is above all this, will live to regret.

Question agreed to.