With a new parliament fraught with drama I was strangely taken this week to do something I couldn’t bring myself to undertake in eight years working in the Press Gallery.
I went to Kingston on a Wednesday night.
This might seem strange if one is unfamiliar with the ways of Parliament. But it makes a weird sort of sense.
Thursday is usually the last sitting day of the week (back in the days of steam trains MPs needed all of Friday to get home and have become comfortable with the arrangement since.)
Because we don’t use steam trains so much any more parliamentarians and their staff head out of town on Thursday night (and then think they’re fit to have an opinion on Canberra but that’s another story)
So the last night of the week to get out on the lash together is Wednesday night. (Consider for a moment that their working week often begins on Tuesday and one begins to see why letting the people who play by the rules write the rules might have been unwise).
For years the Holy Grail in Kingston was the place to which the parliamentary set (and hangers on) flocked.
But that baton has now well and truly passed to the Kennedy Room (on Kennedy Street if you haven’t had the pleasure).
By 9pm the room was pumping on Wednesday night, standing room only.
Mostly the crowd is staffers, journalists, and public servants (no shortage of Dep Secs on the ground). There’s also a lot of political hopefuls desperate to make the leap into paid coat-tail hanging.
There’s a hungry feel in the air and on Wednesday nearly all the men had new haircuts.
Everyone was sizing everyone else up wondering what they could do for each other.
For the QandA / Lateline / Insiders tragics there’s some star spotting to be done.
The brightest light in the room on Wednesday was the Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson Young (aka SHY to the Twitterati) deep in conversation on a couch with Fairfax’s lounge bar veteran Tony Wright.
By 10pm the comcars started stacking up on Kennedy Street dropping off our lords and masters and whisking them away when they tired of the room.
If you’ve got an interest in the “inside baseball” of politics it’s probably worth a visit. The crowd dynamics are fascinating just to sit and watch while sipping an expensive drink.
But I’m not convinced it’s a world the sane would want to live in.