Oh dear, perhaps I’m becoming a tad too sceptical.
Admittedly, this is a good look for the incoming LNP government.
Which, of course, is the whole point of the exercise.
But I for one cannot help but be reminded of the classic episode of BBC’s Yes Minister, the first episode of Series 3, entitled ‘The Economy Drive’:
TONY Abbott has decided to bunk with Australian Federal Police recruits in a $120-a-night flat while renovations are conducted at the possum-infested prime ministerial residence The Lodge.
The modest and unusual digs, in a red brick AFP building close to Parliament, will feature a kitchenette and around-the-clock security from his AFP security officers and their junior colleagues.
Perhaps most importantly for the fitness fanatic, the student quarters also include an impressive gym…
Mr Abbott rejected the other options on offer: a $3,000 a week dress circle rental in the nation’s capital. Mr Abbott currently stays at the five-star Hotel Realm.
Providing proper security to the Prime Minister was the biggest problem in finding a temporary new abode, with many options requiring significant security upgrades if AFP officers were to properly protect the PM. For that reason, staying a hotel was swiftly discounted as an option…
The plan represents one of the most unusual Canberra living arrangements for a politician since former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson camped out in Joe Hockey’s shed to save money after his divorce settlement. When Mr Abbott needs to entertain VIP guests he will do so at his Prime ministerial offices at Parliament House.
And then there is this:
Incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop has already clashed with her department over luxury hotel accommodation on an upcoming trip to New York.
The minister-elect told Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade bureaucrats to slash the cost of the trip after they planned to book $1850-a-night rooms at a swish Manhattan hotel for an entourage of dozens.
Ms Bishop also instructed DFAT not to book her on first-class flights when she travels overseas in her new brief.
It is understood departmental bosses want to take a delegation of 23 public servants to the United Nations leaders’ summit on September 19-20 along with two ministers and three of their staff with the travelling party staying at the four-star Westin Midtown Hotel. The department planned to put Ms Bishop and her colleagues in a suite at the Westin as part of an accommodation package worth $132,048.
But the incoming minister, who has yet to be sworn in, told her department she wanted to stay in an ordinary room and that they should ditch the idea of the suite and that, for future reference they should not book her in first-class on international flights. She sent the public servants back to their department to revise the cost of the trip.
After all the scene-setting headlines, and seed-planting news stories like this are done, and the positive PR benefits enjoyed, I wonder how long it will take for reality to set in.
About as long as Jim Hacker’s ‘Economy Drive’ lasted?
I wonder if any in the mainstream media will bother to follow up on this in … oh, let’s say, a month or three … to see how Abbott’s Economy Drive is really going?