Parke fumes

03. 24NEWS

Melissa Parke—mad as hell.

FEDERAL Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke is maintaining her rage over premier Colin Barnett’s last-minute expulsion of her fundraising event from the John Curtin College of the Arts theatre in Fremantle.

She says her office did everything by the book and even went to the extra trouble of alerting WA education minister Peter Collier about the event, a “conversation” between Ms Gillard and comedian Ben Elton in front of paying guests.

The event was widely advertised as a party political fundraiser and on June 4 Mr Collier’s office wrote it had “no query”. But just hours before the Wednesday evening event the premier said it would not be allowed on school grounds.

Organisers hurriedly switched it to Victoria Hall.

“It’s my absolute pleasure to welcome you to a special event, that the WA government did not want you to have,” Ms Parke said to the PM. “An event the WA government did not want you to see or hear. I wonder what they are afraid of—a bit of democracy?”

Ms Gillard’s been having a torrid time with Mr Barnett herself, over his refusal to sign up to Gonski, despite the carrot of nearly $1 billion in school education funding.

As for the event itself: Best described as tepid and at worst cringeworthy. If anyone in the 250-strong crowd thought they’d paid $125—some up to $250 apparently—to hear the potentially lethal Elton skewer the PM with wickedly pointed questions about asylum seekers, equal marriage, indigenous relations, or 457 visas they would have come away disappointed.

But given Ms Gillard received standing ovations upon arrival and exit, it’s unlikely anyone felt they’d done their dough.

It was a love-in par excellence, with the PM thrown slow googlies from Elton about her fascination with the Game of Thrones TV series and its similarities to her own life, her favourite Australian movie (Red Dog), and the person she’d most like to meet (Nelson Mandela).

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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