Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Fabulous Friendship

This is not the real story:

"It was just before question time that the Great Spill Kerfuffle began, a panic in the press gallery that a delegation of ministers was giving Julia Gillard a taste of what Kevin Rudd experienced that bumpy June day in 2010. It was news to the PM, who emerged from her office - shoulder resolutely untapped - to find a phalanx of television cameras and photographers recording her walk to question time. On and on it kept building, before blowing out in a puff of nothing. We hear it started with the stationing of some burly federal wallopers outside the office of former attorney-general and retiring MP Robert McClelland. This triggered talk the PM was paying a visit and there could be the prospect of a by-election, an early election or even... a leadership change. Rumours spread and metamorphosed, cameras rolled and Twitter went bananas." (Strewth, A spill wind, James Jeffrey, The Australian 15/3/13)

This is:

"So, what actually happened? Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem had popped in on his old friend McClelland, complete with the gift of a very nice bottle of plonk. The federal coppers Rotem had arrived with stayed outside and, well things got a tad out of hand." (ibid)

Of course, while few mainstream journalists, least of all those writing for the Murdoch press, would find the story of an Israeli ambassador, complete with Federal Police escort, bearing a gift to a federal politician of interest, others might.

Old friends, eh?

Now I do recall reading recently* that McClelland had been briefed by ASIO on Ben Zygier's arrest in Israel in January 2010 but was keeping the contents of the briefing to himself, a state of affairs which must have come as an enormous relief to the Israelis at the time. Nor has he since seen fit to release details of its contents to the press, a position no doubt much appreciated by the Israelis.

Make of that what you will.

When all is said and done, however, I guess Canberra, being Canberra, it must be rife with these fabulous, long-standing friendships between politicians and ambassadors, such that the latter, cops and all, are wont to drop in at Parliament House any old time and share a glass of whatever.

How very touching!

[*See my 9/3/12 post Prisoner X: Well Hello...?]

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