Hot-desking in the seat of power

Hot-desking in the seat of power

The "Julia Gillard" nameplate was still on the door of the Prime Minister's office late Thursday, even though the parliamentary staffers are known to be usually efficient when it comes to matters of protocol. The seat of power may have shifted but like CBD's recent loss of his prized corner office, traditions (and papers) were being shredded.

Until earlier this week, Kevin Rudd was just a humble backbencher with broom closet office. So on Thursday the new Prime Minister's office had temporarily shifted to Anthony Albanese's slightly larger ministerial office where Rudd and Albanese (pictured) were running the nation while doing their own version of hot-desking.

Gala fails to pull

A cold night in Canberra, free beer, food and the State of Origin would usually be enough to pull a crowd. But that wasn't the case when an old-fashioned leadership stoush is in the air.

The last two sitting weeks before the parliamentary winter recess is usually a big deal for corporate lobbyists, chief executives and other out-of-towners and hangers-on. At least a dozen events were scheduled but there was only one thing going on it town.

The biggest of these was the Minerals Council of Australia's gala dinner at Parliament's Great Hall to cap off Minerals Week. The guest of honour, Julia Gillard, had to send her apologies. Resources Minister Gary Gray stepped in where he announced Nelson Mandela had passed away and Liberal MP Philip Ruddock was retiring from Parliament. Gray later apologised to South Africa's high commissioner for relaying wrong advice. No apologies were given to Liberal HQ for the incorrect Ruddock comments.

With political staffers running numbers in the back rooms and every journalist in town camped outside the Labor caucus room there were quite a few empty seats. Those there were less focused on retiring Minerals Council chief Mitch Hooke, but checking phones for updates.

Trouble brewing

Across town the much-anticipated Australian Brewers Association annual meeting was also getting under way at the Rugby Union Club in nearby Barton.

"The night turned into a whole new experience for us all - it was totally beyond our control," Brewers Association of Australia chief executive Denita Wawn told CBD. "We were anticipating about 150 to 200 people ... but just a fraction were able to attend."

The brewers even pulled out all stops - including a shuttle bus from Parliament. "We had lucky door prizes - you name it ... It was supposed to be a really big night. There were at least 30 varieties of beer up for sampling," Wawn said.

"Of the 10 television screens we had there, there was just one on the Origin and everyone else was glued to the events unfolding in Parliament House," she said.

This was the first time the annual event was held in Canberra. But it hasn't dulled the enthusiasm of the brewers. "We'll be back next year," Wawn insists.

Under the radar

For some, though, it certainly helps to have the gaze focused elsewhere. And so CBD combed through the 40 or so announcements lodged with the Australian Securities Exchange between 6pm and the close of business on Wednesday night. Highlights include Ezeatm alerting all about a legal action by former CEO Todd Zani who took issue about his removal as a director.

Biotech Cell Aquaculture dropped its half-year report just after 7pm as members of the Labor caucus were sharpening their pencils. The report included a loss of $429,000 and a qualification from auditors BDO about a mysterious $232,686 expense. Elsewhere, one time Silman Family plaything Bisan also saw fit to flag the sudden resignation of director David Bernard.

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