The social highlight of Canberra’s calendar is on tonight – the press gallery’s 16th annual Midwinter Ball.
It’s a night of fun and frivolity for journalists, politicians and captains of industry, with the prime minister and opposition leader heading along and doing their best to audition as stand up comedians as a next career move.
Part of the fun is raising money for charity and the pollies get behind it by offering themselves up as auction prizes.
What people are prepared to pay to hang out with them is a small litmus test on how everyone’s faring out there in voterland.
This year there are 11 prizes up for grabs on eBay and with just two hours left before the auction closes at 5pm tonight, foreign minister Julie Bishop is the hottest item, although she’s enlisted some heavy hitting star power as part of her deal, which includes two Qantas business class flights to New York and dinner at Nobu with actor Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborah-Lee Furness. It’s billed as “A foreign affair to remember” and a keenly contested item with 60 bids and currently stands at $30,300.
Qantas is also helping out with two more business class tickets to London or New York, currently on $11,600 from 28 bids.
In third place is breakfast at Sydney’s Kirribilli House with PM Tony Abbott on $9,100 after 16 bids, while dinner with communications minister Malcolm Turnbull is close behind at $8,700, and well head of dinner with opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen on $7,900.
The next most popular item is dinner with what promises to be an interesting odd couple, Labor’s South Sydney supporter Anthony Albanese, alongside South Australian education minister Christopher Pyne attracting a $4,135 bid, well in front of a meal with ALP duo Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek on $2,550. A meal with the heavy hitters of the press gallery currently has a $2551 bid, with the chance to hang out at a Canberra Raiders game with footy player turned independent senator Glenn Lazarus found one fan willing to fork out $2000.
New Greens leader Richard di Natale is still looking for someone to take him up on the offer of a VIP footy package dinner, with an opening bid of $2000 still to be made, and dinner with the senate’s four “crossbench power brokers“, including Jackie Lambie and Nick Xenophon, is still waiting on some love.
If you’re keen to bid, you have until 5pm AEST today, June 17.
The auction items are here.
UPDATE: 5pm. Dinner with Bishop and Jackman sold for $35,500, Bill Shorten ended up pipping the PM at $10,750 to Abbott’s $10,707, the press gallery $4,254, Wong and Plibersek $3100, the senate crossbench $2,125 and the Greens leader eventually found a bidder at $2000.
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