Good times never seemed so good: Sweet Caroline wows Canberra

US ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s arrival was always going to wow Canberra. Daughter of JFK and inspiration behind Neil Diamond’s hit Sweet Caroline, Kennedy is the kind of American royalty far too illustrious to be living in the cold capital.

But Kennedy – by far the highest-profile American ambassador we’ve ever had – is a big enough deal that people come to her, and at a meet and greet on Wednesday, business, political and cultural leaders flocked to the embassy for a chance to kiss the ring.

Caroline Kennedy, Peter Dutton and Chris Bowen.Credit:Shakespeare

There was a bipartisan smorgasbord of domestic pollies – from the government, Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts; from the Coalition, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, shadow foreign affairs minister Simon Birmingham, and shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie.

A few formers too – notably ex-foreign minister Julie Bishop (now chancellor of the Australian National University) and recently retired speaker Tony Smith.

Cardboard box billionaire Anthony Pratt, who was Australia’s most generous political donor, made an appearance, although we imagine his very public friendship with former president Donald Trump can’t have gone down well with the Democrat.

Representing “culture” – theatre executive Michael Cassel and Australian Museum chief executive Kim McKay.

We hear it was a whirlwind affair – just an hour and a half all up. Hope 15 seconds with a Kennedy was worth the trip.


You might think former health minister Greg Hunt, who retired from politics at the last election, might be sick of talking about COVID. Not so. Hunt is set to address – via Zoom – a Boston-based conference for medical journalists called “the health coverage fellowship”, as the minister “who led Australia’s pandemic response”.

Former health minister Greg Hunt.Credit:Nine

The fellowship, which is backed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of Massachusetts – a not-for-profit health insurance company – will put Hunt on a panel to provide lessons for the future from countries who “handled the pandemic right and those that demonstrably didn’t”, alongside two American epidemiologists.

In other words Hunt is representing Australia’s COVID success to the world, even if criticisms over his speed in procuring vaccines, and the Morrison government ceding most pandemic heavy-lifting to the states and their chief health officers hasn’t been forgotten over here.


Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy’s donor scandal has this week triggered memories of his last major integrity problem – that time he dined with alleged mobster Tony Madafferi over several bottles of grange and crustacean.

It’s been a tough week for Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Inspired, a group of protesters donned lobster costumes and picketed outside Spring Street on Thursday, with placards declaring: “This guy smells fishy.”

The snap protest had an unexpected visitor, when underworld figure Mick Gatto drove past in a car, pulled up and asked Seven News reporter Sharnelle Vella what was going on.

Just another day of alleged crooks and crayfish for the embattled Liberal leader.


It was awkward timing for the Property Council’s biggest event of the year.

The lobby group hosted its biannual luncheon in Collin Street’s Grand Hyatt on Thursday – two days after executive director Danni Hunter resigned over racially insensitive comments.

To a room filled with 350 mostly white people, Property Council national chief executive Ken Morrison said it had been a difficult few weeks and praised the Victorian team for their “resilience” and “commitment”.

He wished Hunter “nothing but the best” after the “powerful advocate” had “sadly departed” and announced Adina Cirson, Finance Minister Katy Gallagher’s former staffer, will replace her in the interim.

While the council no doubt wanted conversation focused on getting city workers back into the office, we’re told gossip was lively in the Savoy Ballroom.

Notables in attendance include deputy Melbourne lord mayor Nicholas Reece, the Future Fund’s new chief investment officer Doug Cain and Charter Hall office boss Carmel Hourigan.


What better way to spend your Friday lunch than rubbing shoulders with mining execs?

The Melbourne Mining Club is hosting its fourth luncheon for the year on Friday, with Rio Tinto’s Australian chief executive Kellie Parker delivering the keynote address.

Rio Tinto chief executive Kellie Parker.Credit:Dan Peled

The “club” is a lobby group and networking forum for “the biggest names in industry” but when CBD contacted the organisers to inquire about the guest list, the shutdown was swift. The event or its attendees are not advertised, we were told, to prevent pesky activists turning up to ruin the fun.

For $85 a seat or $800 a table, you can come along and find out yourself.

The venue? None other than the Melbourne Town Hall – home to the progressive city council that declared a climate emergency in 2019.

The event is sponsored by corporate heavyweights ANZ Bank, EY, KPMG, a raft of lesser known mining companies and … the Victorian government. Who said mining subsidies were on the way out?


CBD has kept a keen eye on the movements at energy giant AGL after billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ raid triggered a wave of resignations. The latest is longstanding legal eagle John Fitzgerald who joined Tabcorp last week after 14 years with the company.

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