Are Hugh kidding? Crossbench MPs’ very noughties Christmas

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We’re calling it: Love Actually. Richard Curtis’ 2003 Christmas-themed “ultimate romantic comedy” has dated so horribly – watch it again this year, you’ll see – that not even one of Hugh Grant’s standout portrayals of himself can save it.

But that hasn’t stopped 15 of the 18 independent, Greens and minor-party federal MPs from riffing on the movie’s schtick for the invites to their festive gathering this year.

An invitation to the federal crossbench Christmas party.

“CrossBench, Actually, Very Powerful, Very Festive,” goes the tagline.

But we’re happy to report that one outfit keeping up with the times is the Department of Parliamentary Services, which has got the builders into the big house on the hill, knocking together a “fourth party room”.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like crossbench-mas.Credit: John Shakespeare

Passers-by have noticed a sign outside the Senate wing room disclosing that the “the fourth party room” was under way inside, perhaps reflecting the increasing, dare we say it, non-binary make-up of the parliament with its huge crossbench and burgeoning Greens presence.

It’s unclear exactly what the room will be used for. Parliamentary Services didn’t answer questions – and whisked away the sign when we began asking them – and the Greens reckon it’s nothing to do with them.

So we’ll call it a Christmas mystery for now.

But if you’ll indulge us going all ghost of Christmas future for a moment, that all-time-high crossbench, combined with the growing heft of the Greens and the long downward trend in support for Labor and the Liberals, suggests the norm of major-party majority governments might soon look as out of date as that stupid creepy movie.


To say the City of Stonnington and local activist Dean Hurlston have history doesn’t even scratch the surface. Hurlston might be familiar to readers as vice president of Council Watch – he’s also behind Stonnington Ratepayers and Ratepayers Victoria – the reliable go-to man for any Melbourne journo looking for someone to have a sook about local government.

Hurlston’s activism was born with his Stonnington Council Watch project launched almost 20 years ago, with which he has tormented successive mayors and councillors, at one point eliciting a threat of defamation action from the council’s chief executive – although legal threats do fly like rates bills at the famously feuding council.

But anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see how Hurlston and his website adjust to the reign of Stonnington’s new mayor, Joe Gianfriddo, elected on Tuesday night, who also just happens to be Hurlston’s domestic partner and long-time collaborator in the various activist groups.

Gianfriddo – that’s His Worship to you now – didn’t respond to our offer of a chat on Wednesday.

But Hurlston was adamant he wouldn’t be backing off his hardline approach to the council just because his significant other was now wearing the robes.

“If he did something and the organisation didn’t agree with it, we would say exactly what we would say about any other councillor,” Hurlston told us. Oh yeah? We’ll be (council) watching.


Victorian Greens members received their ballots on Wednesday as the contest to replace stalwart senator Janet Rice – who will give the game away at the next election – at the top of the party’s Senate ticket gets under way in earnest.

The field contesting the all-but-guaranteed seat is: former Macnamara candidate Steph Hodgins-May, ex-state Legislative Council MP Huong Truong, Coburg surrogacy lawyer Sarah Jefford, RMIT academic Apsara Sabaratnam, who ran for lord mayor of Melbourne in 2020, barrister and long-time Greens member David Risstrom and City of Monash councillor Josh Fergeus.

Steph Hodgins-May is in the running for the Senate seat.Credit: Wayne Taylor

Peering into the opaque inner workings of the Greens is a mug’s game, but we’re mugs for you, dear reader, so we’ll have a crack.

Our informants pick Hodgins-May, who burst out of the gates early with her candidacy, as an early front-runner. But we’ll keep you updated.

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