The Press Gallery Mid-Winter Ball 2005.

johnboy 5 July 2005 13

[Note to visiting media – this piece is unashamedly subjective. Feel free make corrections or add your own perceptions in the comments below]

[Correction: Malcolm Farr has denied any part in Mary Coustas’ material]

Wednesday night saw in the sixth Press Gallery mid-winter Ball in the Great Hall of Parliament House. I decided I really should make an effort and pop along. So last week I’d been in the John Hanna and booked a dinner jacket (and the bits that go with it)

The theme was rural, so on arrival in the marble hall of Parliament House I was greeted by service staff with a twist, men in flannel shirts and women in some sort of gingham dresses.

Inside the Great Hall each table looked liked nothing as much as manhattan with place settings giving way to a ring of large, high, brochures for the event, which in turn gave way to a towering centrepiece A large ice filled bowl of assorted beer bottles (with beer in them!) was hidden in amongst the monumental frippery.

Men in dinner jackets alternated with glittering women in plunging slinky dresses. Much chat, laughter, champagne and “Hullo daahling”.

Significantly the room was filled with Hill’s Hoists. Someone equates suburban with rural.

Bizarrely the washing lines were sporting racy underwear. (I swear I’m not making this up)

A who’s who of politics and business were there. Howard, Beazley, Costello. In turn a horde of people who wanted to see, or be seen with, the luminaries had fought hard to fill the room.

Apparently in keeping with the rural theme the MC for the night was “Effie” (aka Mary Koustas). No really, I’m not making this up.

Effie was actually quite insightful in her routine. I was surprised and impressed. It all made more sense when I heard the rumour that former gallery president Malcolm Farr had written her speech. Effie’s contribution was a lisp, some timing, and a hair piece.

The speakers were blowing monumental amounts of smoke up the arses of the audience. Time and again we were congratulated for our generosity.

We could have given the ticket price to charity. Instead we chose to go to a black tie ball, drink a lot of complimentary booze, have a great dinner, be entertained by the likes of the Tap Dogs, and network to the benefit of our careers.

For this we were constantly congratulated?

The Tap Dogs were up next in a kind of homage to Howard’s Australia. Blokes in blue singlets tapping in unison in their Blundstone boots.

John Howard and Kim Beazley both gave speeches. Kim, as always gave the better speech but, as always, you knew the Short Man had come out ahead.

Peter Garrett then convened the “Parliamentary Poets” with Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Roads, Housing and Urban Development, Kelvin Thomson [Actually it might have been Warren Snowdon I was up the back and there were clotheslines covered in underpants in the way], playing guitar. They were interminable and yet weirdly forgettable.

The Press Gallery’s choral society the “House Howlers” followed. They adapted Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody into one of those oh-so-jolly musical numbers where we all laugh because they’ve fitted names we know and slightly naughty words into a song we know. The audience seemed to like it.

There was a bit more telling us all what totally wonderful human beings we were for having come to the ball.

Then the Tall Pop Syndrome took the stage. A very tight and talented group of performers but playing the same tired old bogan rock beloved of King O’Malleys on a Friday night.

I guess the audience had given up Wednesday night Karaoke at the Holy Grail so this was their fix of stale predictable music.

The besuited men and sequined women took to the dance floor with gusto.

Word started to get around (at least to me) that Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson was going to resign.

I’m a godawful networker. Partly because my patience for small talk is extremely limited, and partly because I intensely dislike the feeling of schmoozing people I don’t much like. But a friend did introduce me to some bright young things of the Parliament which was interesting.

A bit after midnight I decided that it was time to head home. An interesting night. I’d recommend it if you get the opportunity.

A source has sent in some photos, here we have the women of the Parliamentary Poets:

Female Parliamentary Poets

And here the men:

Male Parliamentary Poets

And there the House Howlers:

And here the House Howlers

What's Your Opinion?

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13 Responses to The Press Gallery Mid-Winter Ball 2005.
SouthernStater SouthernStater 8:25 pm 05 Jul 05

Johnboy, further to your correction, I’m advised that the current Press Gallery President, Karen Middleton, might have helped spruce up Effie’s speech with a little relevant political perspective, not former President Malcolm Farr. Karen sure wins the networking prize; she opened the night with a power speech & was still networking late into the night at the Holy Grail. And only one person managed to get their photo on the evening’s glossy program – Karen’s portrait beamed out at the punters, ahead of other lesser participants, such as Messrs Howard, Beazley, et al. Middleton is a political performer who’d put many occupants of the Big House to shame.

blossy blossy 8:39 am 25 Jun 05

Thumper, you may have put me off that shopping trip now!

Thumper Thumper 2:18 pm 24 Jun 05

Beazley in a G string????


ss ss 1:40 pm 24 Jun 05

Ok, to clear up a few things – yes the underwear was racy – lace g-strings, bras, Jockeys etc all hanging from the washing lines. Prompted a good quip from Beazley about how the stuff left behind by the gallery from last year’s ball was on display for collection.

The event the embittered Chris went to was not the Press Gallery Ball but the end of year drinks, which continue. The ball was started as a charity event about 6 years ago.

Best lines of the night were Effi’s routine about Sophia Panopoulos, and Kim’s line that “The Greeks invented sex, and 3 years later when they discovered women, it really took off”. “What could I possibly say about Tony Abbott he hasn’t already said about himself” wasn’t bad either.

Thumper Thumper 11:53 am 24 Jun 05

This discussion has the distinct possibility of degenerating rapidly….


blossy blossy 10:06 am 24 Jun 05

like actually buying racy underwear??

sorry, you’ve got me thinking about a shopping trip is all.

Chris Chris 9:23 am 24 Jun 05

A million years ago when I represented a foreign paper I took a friend to a Press gallery bash (they didn’t call it a Ball in those days – but PK did the speech honors) and drinks were served – if i recall, at the Lobby. My guts curled up in fright when Heather Ewart -then in canberra,- curled her (thin) lips at me, not only, I imagine for representing an unfashionable SE Asian paper but because I’d forgotten to take off a name badge I happened to be wearing (the great and the good of the gallery didn’t descend to wearing their name badges that year). And now i can think of lots more I could do with the ticket money.

Thumper Thumper 8:43 am 24 Jun 05

Too upper market and expensive for me….

And I’m seriously not into networking….

Ralph Ralph 7:49 am 24 Jun 05

Too posh for me.

johnboy johnboy 7:26 am 24 Jun 05

Well I didn’t inspect them closely, but there was lots of lace and sequins.

And some of them were pretty insubstantial.

blossy blossy 6:34 am 24 Jun 05

Define “racy” underwear.

johnboy johnboy 11:04 pm 23 Jun 05

$95 for press gallery passholders. I understand it was significantly (i.e. multiples) higher for others.

For me, between food and booze i felt like i owed the organisers. That’s before entertainment and networking potential kicked in.

gingermick gingermick 10:59 pm 23 Jun 05

Ticket cost?

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