Thursday, May 11, 2006

Costello brings in the cash

It was a little too early in the day for the meeeja - but this morning's 500 Club Liberal fundraiser breakfast featuring Peter Costello at Melbourne's Crown Palladium ballroom was worth getting up on a frosty winter's morning for.

The Treasurer attracted more than 1000 paying guests, delivering a commanding oration that reeked of ambition.

Former Coles Myer and Fosters boss, and current chairman of the Australian Sports Commision, Peter Bartels, was MC - and he welcomed his friend the Treasurer warmly. As might a man whose organisation was one of the big winners from Tuesday's Budget; the ASC got an extra $55 million.

Founded in 1982, the 500 Club is, in its own words "the largest, most infuential and most successful supporter group of the Liberal Party in Australia." At $1100 a year, membership's for the Top End of town, and the Sports Commission has demonstrated how very astute having a 500 Club leader and friend of the Treausurer at the helm can be.

Lucky guests were given a showbag featuring a selection of Budget documents, a mouse mat and cap and sports socks from property developers Bensons. The event was also a key fundraiser for Costello's local fundraising arm, the Higgins 200 Club, which charges members $300 a year to schmooze with like-minded businesspeople, with this promise: "Of course it isn't possible to place a value on the network of contacts you will make."

200 Club coordinator, Gail Wallman, looked delighted with the turn-up to the event. And the event wasn't solely a Liberal affair: we spotted Law Council president John Cain Jr listening attentively. And Wallman ensured the grassroots were being nurtured carefully, too. Some 100 invited private school students were sprinkled through the crowd, though not a public student was to be seen.

How much did the function raise? Well, Brendan Nelson charged $200+ a head for his Budget night function at Parliament House. At $200 a head, Costello has tipped up to a cool $200,000 into Liberal coffers.

That is the power of incumbency.

Gruesome Twosome:

New Liberal leader Ted Baillieu strolling into the function slapping backs with one John Dorman Elliott. Big Jack is just shameless, swapping banter with Ted and exclaiming: "Jeez, hope it's not bacon and eggs again!" After a wooden and unconvincing start to his job, is it really wise for the Party's Great White Hope to be seen schmoozing with a dodgy businessman like Elliott?

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