Keating, whose government introduced compulsory super, has advocated for the increase. For her comments, Goldie was accused of having a fundamental misunderstanding of the scheme. ACOSS, Keating opined according to three people who spoke to this column, was a “truly no good organisation”. ACOSS, he added, had given John Howard the idea to introduce a GST. If the organisation ever came knocking, MPs should turn them away.
He also reserved harsh commentary for think tanks and lobbyists, a missive he delivered standing in front of a Hawker Britton banner (the outfit, whose boss Simon Banks was centre stage, sponsored the event).
Robert Menzies, beloved by Liberals everywhere, was apparently labelled a “vacuous pansy”.
We put the reported content of the speech to his office. In response, Keating’s spokeswoman Susan Grusovin raised grievances about a perceived slight visited by this column on the ex-PMs daughter Alexandra Keating and made reference to a spurious conspiracy that this was done “at the bidding” of our “associate” at the Financial Review.
We console ourselves in the knowledge Keating’s list of enemies would stretch from Potts Point to Perth.
The dinner, meanwhile, fell on Labor MP Ed Husic’s 50th birthday. The celebrations included a bagpipe serenade provided by The Australian’s former scribe turned Labor speechwriter James Jeffrey.
BEFORE THE VOTE
Over at the Lodge — and on the eve of Barnaby Joyce’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to return as the leader of the Nationals — Scott Morrison hosted a more sombre affair.
There to watch the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack speak was the newly demoted former agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie and a number of other Nationals.
Our sources saw no sign of Joyce nor his influential backer Matt Canavan. They were both, however, spotted caucusing over lunch on Tuesday outside Parliament House’s staff dining room after the failure of the leadership spill alongside fellow travellers George Christensen and Llew O’Brien.
Four years after the last round of acrimonious negotiations, political staffers across the aisle in Canberra are back at the table trying to agree to what pay deal they will put to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.
At the top of the Coalition negotiation hierarchy is none other than Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s senior advisor Josh Manuatu — who this column revealed last Wednesday would be departing to run the ACT Liberals.
Coalition advisors, a statement of claim seen by this column reveals, want a modest two per cent annual increase in wages, with more money set aside for some of the most senior staff.
That’s in line with the government’s own cap on public servant wage increases.
But Labor staff, assisted by two public sector unions, reckon the salaries of electoral staff are being unfairly benchmarked against the most junior public servants and even people who work in local government.
An executive assistant at Riverina Water, their log of claims points out, is paid more than the staff of some MPs where salaries range from $50,956 to a top of $86,180 (advisors for ministers and shadow ministers are higher).
Coalition staff almost revolted in 2016, with a vote narrowly endorsing the government’s preferred pay rise. There has more recently been angst that 52 advisors were last year given bumper salaries above the normal cap. Finance Department documents show those special staff have added an extra $1.4 million a year to the budget.
Still, as one Nationals representative apparently told the committee earlier this year, electorate staff in Broken Hill are pretty happy with the $50,000 they’re on already.
Liberal heavyweight Michael Photios lost his lobby firm’s sole Labor spinner last year. On Monday, he’ll have a new one. He’s recruited former prime minister Julia Gillard’s press secretary Darrin Barnett to the job at PremierState, one of the state’s largest lobbying firms. Barnett, for the record, last worked for independent Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps. But for this, he felt the ire of some of his former comrades.
Kylar Loussikian is The Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD columnist.
Samantha is the The Age’s CBD columnist. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.