Some politicians will always be associated with food.Â There’s the late Labor turncoat senator, Mal Colston, who loved having his Comcar driver circle Canberra’s supermarkets at 10pm when the hot chickens were discounted, then rush in to get his fistful of half-price roast.
Then there was Peter Knott, the short-lived NSW southcoast MP, who ushered Paul Keating into his local bakery during a 1993 election picfac, only to see the PM harangued by the baker for opposing John Hewson’s GST. For that piece of campaign lunacy, Keating referred to Knott thereafter as “the c*nt from the cake shop”.Â (check out Antony Green’s acerbic analysis of Knott’s brief political career here)
And now, there’s John “Beef Stroganoff” Murphy.Â We know Murphy’s a dill who only got his junior frontbench job as parliamentary secretary for Trade as a kickback for past loyalty to Crean, Latham and Rudd.Â But it’s worth asking;Â how’s he going in the gig?
Well, for a start, Murphy’s a big picture man with a grand plan – and it involves pianos. Our man abroad has an eye for detail and an ear for the music, and he’s noticed in his travels that our embassies don’t house Australian-made pianos.Â The ambassadors prefer Steinway, or at a pinch Yamaha.Â Murphy wants to change all that, and his plan is to replace the unpatriotic pianos with Australian-made ones.
Trouble is, there are just two boutique Australian manufacturers, both in Murphy’s home state, NSW; Stuart & Sons and Overs.Â At the rate they produce their hand-crafted pianos, they may be able to supply our embassies and missions with pianos by, oh, about the year 2150.
It’s a fair bet that Murphy won’t live to see his grand political dream completed, but, never mind, in the meantime, he’s doing some good work on the travel front.
Murphy loves a trip – and the planned ten day first-class all-expenses paid trip to South America was to be his third 5-star junket fact-finding mission in his nine months on the job, before the PM cancelled it last Friday in the wake of stroganoff-gate (Editor: As exclusively revealed on VEXNEWS, not that we like to boast. Much.)
Why South America? Well, take a hint here:Â big portion-eating wifey Adriana comes from sometime soccer rival Uruguay, and Murphy has been working his department hard to get up enough meetings to justify a grand tour home for him and the wife.Â Trade minions have been pumped as hard as the Parly House cafeteria manager to make sure the itinerary looks beefy enough to support the main course: a luxury taxpayer-funded return to homeland.Â And we’re told the menu they’d cooked up was a lot more sumptuous than refried beans and rice.Â
It will be interesting to see whether Murphy is smart enough to lay low and wait for the right time to reschedule his South American junket.Â Or if he’ll succumb to the spousal nagging and tequila madness to make a bold early gambit for Montevideo.Â Either way, the early betting is that he’ll be the first victim of a Rudd reshuffle to match-up with Team Turnbull, and his grand piano dream will wash away into the sunset along with his frontbench career.