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From the Gallery

  • Coffee stoush: It first hit the fan in Senate estimates last month and now it’s escalated into a full scale barney. The Parliamentary Services Department frontperson, Secretary Rob Stefanic, told the committee that the annual rent on the iconic Aussies Café in Parliament House would rise from $87,000 a year to $150,000. He denied that reports that current owner, Dom Calabria, had been told to ditch the name “Aussies’ which we hope is true since it was named for the café’s original leaseholder who, in a previous life, had been Bob Hawke’s chief tea and coffee maker back in the days when they all sat in the old Parliament House. The word around the water cooler is that, after Parliamentary Services took over the general parliamentary food businesses, they found it hard to turn a profit, so the bean counters doubled Mr Calabria’s rent, making his business pretty much non-viable. While Mr Stefanic vigorously repudiated these allegations, we’d venture to suggest that, while public servants are very good at lots of things, it’s just barely possible that running a business isn’t high on the list of their core skills.
  • We’re awash in apologies: In the wake of her remarks last weekend when she linked vaccines with autism and the following open season of criticism, Pauline Hanson’s joined the apology bandwagon, telling Channel 7’s morning programme yesterday that she was mistaken when she urged parents to subject their children to a non-existent test for allergies to vaccinations. “I have heard a couple of doctors have said that there is no test. I do apologise. If that be the case, I am wrong,” she said. “I was of the opinion that I did read that that was the case. Apparently it’s not.” She stopped short of apologising for her observation that the government’s ‘no jab no pay’ policy was akin to dictatorship. Given that, as AMA President Michael Gannon pointed out, approximately 10% of Australians were either “vaccine hesitant” (up to 8%) or “rusted-on flat-earthers” (up to 2%), when she backed away from the vaccination brouhaha, the Senator might have had her eye on another set of numbers: the returns in the WA election next Saturday when her One Nation Party is expected to pick up 10% of the vote.
  • Official government photographs on display at Parliament House: For the past 25 years David Foote has been one of the official government photographers, snapping the important moments in Australia’s political history: Prime Ministerial moments, state visits and significant political events here and abroad. Hundreds of thousands of these pictures, stored in Canberra on hard drives, CDs and in boxes, are to be compiled in an online archive so the collection will be available to the public, much of it for the first time. In the meantime, forty photographs, including the shot of former Prime Minister John Howard power walking past the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on September 11 2001, have been selected to go on display in Parliament House to celebrate Mr Foote’s lengthy career. The exhibition will be in the Presiding Officers’ exhibition space until 14 May.

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Image Source – JJ Harrison