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Australia From picket lines to pansies: Unions’ floral tribute to David Pocock

06:21  29 november  2022
06:21  29 november  2022 Source:   smh.com.au

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Battles over industrial relations reform in this country just ain’t what they used to be.

Roses over rottweilers: David Pocock’s office has been inundated with flowers after a campaign by the ACTU. © John Shakespeare Roses over rottweilers: David Pocock’s office has been inundated with flowers after a campaign by the ACTU.

The union movement’s decision to make love, not war on independent ACT Senator David Pocock – whose crucial vote was eventually wooed to enable the passage of Anthony Albanese’s signature workplace reforms – looks to have been a smarter move than, say, sending some lads from the CFMEU to have a word with the former Wallaby.

But the Sally McManus-led ACTU’s shout-out to trade unionists and those who love them to send roses to Pocock’s office has left them with a dilemma; what to do with the nearly $4700 blooms that have been ordered, keeping the florists of the nation’s capital busy at what might otherwise been a quiet time of year.

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McManus told us that she and her colleagues never expected the volume of flowers that are arriving at Pocock’s door, and they are determined not to let them go to waste.

“We’re … exploring whether they can be sent to aged care homes or other places they might be appreciated in the ACT.”

It’s all enough to give CBD a case of the warm fuzzies, even if a little part of us misses those bygone days of balaclavas and rottweilers.

Party poopers

Once upon a time, Optus Christmas parties were the stuff of legend. The 2018 edition, for example, featured a male stripper gyrating in front of employees at Sydney’s The Star, which the telco firmly denied until confronted with leaked video evidence.

But after a rough year for Optus, featuring a disastrous cyber attack and more disastrous public relations response, it’s fair to say the bosses aren’t feeling all that festive.

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Industry rumours have it that the telco is concerned a Christmas party might be a bad look after all that. And so what was once a queer-friendly corporate event to rival Mardi Gras has been toned down, with staff encouraged to have small gatherings and express gratitude, rather than indulge in the flamboyant, festive foolishness of years past.

Optus wouldn’t exactly deny things would be more low key than usual, with a spokesperson telling CBD the telco “will have a small scale get together to thank our people for their hard work and customer focus”.

Turns out all the War on Christmas needed was a bunch of malevolent hackers, and a floundering CEO.

Optus, No: The telco is planning a low-key Christmas party after a rough year. © Nikki Short Optus, No: The telco is planning a low-key Christmas party after a rough year.

Macquarie Street pollies know how to spin

With NSW Parliament finished for the year, Macquarie Street’s regulars took time out to engage in a century-old tradition – the annual pollies versus press gallery cricket match.

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Played at an empty Sydney Cricket Ground, there was talk that Treasurer and captain of the pollies side Matt Kean had managed to enlist West Indian legend Brian Lara.

While the Prince of Port Spain never showed, it wasn’t like he was needed. A hat-trick from sports minister Alister Henskens helped restrict the journalists to under 100, with the politicians’ cruising to that target with 15 overs to spare and five wickets in hand.

Nationals MLC Scott Barrett was handy with the bat, while Labor’s Rose Jackson hit the winning runs. Kean, meanwhile, was described as “annoyingly good” with both bat and ball, while One Nation leader Mark Latham was also among the wickets.

The poor showing from the fourth estate at least went towards a good cause, with Barrenjoey sponsoring the event which provided funding for women’s community shelters.

While we reckon Dominic Perrottet could probably generate a bit of pace and bounce with that lanky frame of his, the premier’s sole contribution was to pull out his keys and pretend to tamper with the wicket, before leaving after the toss.

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But this was marginally better than his opposite number Chris Minns – who despite being a keen cricketer, was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he feared a hostile spell from the gallery? Unlikely – we’re told the Labor leader was busy preparing for a press conference.

Coal calling

Facing censure over all that weird business with the multiple ministries, former prime minister Scott Morrison could probably use a good spinner right now.

A shame most of his old staff took advantage of very generous taxpayer-funded severance payments and jumped ship after the Liberals’ May massacre.

But while Morrison struggles on the backbench, his former staff continue to do well for themselves.

Former communications director Andrew Carswell, who set up his own lobbying shop Headline Advisory post-election, has recently landed the Minerals Council of Australia as a client.

Those who recall Carswell’s at times aggressive approach to handling the media might recognise his fingerprints all over the council’s recent threats to unleash a full bore advertising campaign unless Labor rules out a resources windfall profits tax.

And given Carswell was on the Morrison payroll when the then-treasurer stood up in question time brandishing a lump of coal – supplied by the Minerals Council themselves of course – he’ll no doubt be well-placed to serve that new client with distinction.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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