Digging deep: Annabel Crabb explores the underbelly of Canberra.Should any current politicians be worried about what will be revealed on your new show, Canberra Confidential?
All politicians past, present and future should be worried about how easily – as history demonstrates in Canberra Confidential – covert operations and intrigues can detonate, with disastrous effects.
Which skeletons to emerge from the proverbial closet most intrigued you, and why?
I knew that Canberra had a history full of secrets. But I didn’t know much about what an erotic secret life the city had until we made this show. That’s all I’ll say.
Should we really be surprised that Canberra’s political scene has a history of skulduggery and subterfuge?
Human beings love secrets. The thrill of being privy to something is a perfectly unsurprising human instinct. What surprised me is how much Australian politicians will excuse in the name of intelligence gathering; it’s as though they all had childhood dreams of espionage and haven’t entirely grown out of them.
What are your fondest memories of working in Canberra?
I am a sucker for secrets too. My favourite memory of working in Canberra is the day a politician leaked me a document by taping it to the underside of the giant billiard table that used to be in an annex to the Parliament House cafeteria.
And what memory would you rather forget?
I would rather forget the moment that Philip Ruddock walked into the room when I was loudly telling the story of the gorgeous security officer who had just been assigned to accompany him on his morning jog. The temperature in the room fell about 10 degrees. Later, I got a call from the security services warning me not to publish details of the minister’s movements. Awkward.
Which politicians, past and present, would be on your ultimate dinner party guest list, and why?
Fred Daly, for anecdotes. Amanda Vanstone, for cooking and outrage. Tony Abbott, to annoy Amanda. Colin Powell, for his mimicry. Harold Holt, for sheer surprise value. But if I could invite only one, it would be the former Thatcher-era minister Alan Clark. He was fearless, erudite, hopelessly optimistic as to his own abilities, and an extraordinary chronicler of his times. His diaries are among the best books on politics I’ve read. Sadly, his career never quite recovered from when he was caught bedding the wife and two daughters of a judge. But we might not mention that at dinner.
Why is politics so entertaining?
The same things that make it crucial that politicians are closely monitored: human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.
What can we expect before the election?
Human relationships, secrets and intrigues that change the course of history.
Canberra Confidential screens on Thursday, March 14 at 8.30pm on ABC1.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.