Morning - 6:30am
Arrived at Parliament for my first day in the Prime Minister’s Office. Decided to maintain this journal to keep a record of this historic time.
I was met at the security desk in Parliament by another staffer, Jean. She greeted me with the phrase “good afternoon”. I laughed, thinking it was a joke.
Jean showed me my desk and told me the PM’s Press Secretary (everyone calls him Rudd’s Press Secretary - RPS) would be in to welcome me to the office.
Met a very rude man! He walked up to me and said: “Claire! Where the f**k are those hospitals lists?” I told him my name isn’t Claire. He said “I Don’t have time for this” and walked out.
Later I learnt that the rude man was the RPS! He was looking for a list of hospitals in marginal seats. They’ve all been carefully selected to ensure that the patients the PM will meet have “appropriate injuries” and that rural voters, the elderly and kids are over-represented (recreational drug users, burns victims and anyone contagious are out).
RPS approached my desk and said “You’re fired, Jean”. I told him my name was Annie. He disagreed. I showed him my ID and security card. He told me I’d better watch my attitude and ordered me to fire Jean.
I suggested it would be better coming from him.
An Hour Later
So on my first day I told the person that trained me she was fired. Jean took it quite well, said she could use a break.
In the evening the RPS came in and said “Good Morning” and told us COAG was totally stalled and may well collapse. There was still no agreement on the National Hospital and Health Network (NHHN). The PM was refusing to include a vowel in the acronym. Brumby wanted at least two vowels, New South Wales wanted one, and Barnett was completely against an acronym.
My main job is to read the papers and watch Today Tonight and A Current Affair, to make sure bad news doesn’t derail our good news, or that we have good news to cover up our bad news. Again not what I expected.