How much is it worth to dine with some of the nation’s top politicians? No, it’s not the latest donations scandal, it’s an auction to benefit charity.
Parliament House’s annual Midwinter Ball is approaching and the who’s who of Canberra are hoping to raise tens of thousands for support services for Australians.
Up for auction from $5000 is tennis at The Lodge with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, or even a game of pool.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is offering a bidder to join him to watch Brisbane Heat at a Big Bash League cricket game.
Newly arrived independent ACT senator and former Wallabies skipper David Pocock is putting a fine dining experience on the menu.
Likewise, a dinner with the teal independents, Allegra Spender, Kylea Tink, Zoe Daniel and Monique Ryan is also up for bids.
But it doesn’t have to be all politicians, there are packages for the AFL Grand Final, return Qantas business class flights to London or Los Angeles, or even an intimate dinner with political editors at the Canberra Press Gallery.
The money raised goes to charities including a support service for families dealing with miscarriages, Pink Elephants; food relief organisation OzHarvest Australia; support group for women and girls, Fearless Women; a Ukraine Crisis Appeal; and farmers charity Rural Aid Australia.
Labor heavyweights Senator Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek are charging into the auction with a “power feast”.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers is offering a night with him at the NRL next year, while Defence Minister Richard Marles needs a golfing buddy (and someone keen to have a beer after).
Of the time with pollies on offer, so far only Mr Albanese and Senator Pocock have attracted any attention, scoring only one bid each as of Saturday.
But it seems two years of lockdown has seen people crave a flight off the continent rather than a meeting with anyone from Parliament House.
The Qantas package had 16 bids as of Saturday, with the package starting at $10,100.
Mr Albanese said the the Midwinter Ball charity auction has previously raised $4.4 million.
“I urge everyone to dig deep and make this year’s event a success,” the prime minister said.
Canberra press gallery president David Crowe said the funds raised made a real impact.
“The funds will go to important work that helps people who are doing it very tough,” Mr Crowe said.