The shocking truth: politicians are human
You can tell a lot about someone by how they prepare a meal, Annabel Crabb reckons. It’s especially true of politicians.
For example, when she arrived at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s apartment to film an episode of the hit ABC series Kitchen Cabinet, she found perfectly chopped ingredients neatly displayed in individual bowls on a pristine counter.
“By contrast, Joe Hockey was unable to locate the knife drawer in his kitchen,” Crabb recalls.
And then there was unpredictable billionaireturned-politician Clive Palmer, who almost set her on fire with a can of oil spray.
“I didn’t see that coming,” she says. “But that’s the beauty of this show — we always end up on an adventure.”
Now in its fifth season, Kitchen Cabinet — part cooking, part interview — sees a new crop of the most fascinating figures in Parliament allow Crabb into their homes for an intimate meal they’ve prepared.
Whether they can cook doesn’t matter too much.
“It’s more about the exchange and the conversation — that’s the interesting part. It’s using food, whatever it might be, as a vehicle for a really fascinating chat.”
When she first arrived in Canberra in 1999 as a political reporter for the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper, Crabb was struck by how normal elected officials were when off the record.
But the moment the cameras or recorders flicked back on, most of them returned to being “cardboard cut-outs of themselves”, Crabb says.
It’s hardly surprising, given the 24-hour media cycle and the enormous pressure that comes with it. Not even the most polished of performers is immune to the odd headlinegrabbing gaffe.
“It’s why all of them, from junior to senior politicians, tend to develop a shorthand, whether it’s a three-word slogan or the official party line.”
Among the highlights of the new season is the episode with new Treasurer Scott Morrison.
“He has quite a sense of humour, which I don’t think many people realise,” Crabb says.
She was equally surprised by Senator Ricky Muir. “He came to the Parliament with a very heavy prejudice against him … I reckon that he’s kind of turned out to not be a bad senator really. He takes the job very seriously … I was really impressed by him. And we finished up doing some fun burnouts in a car.”
KITCHEN CABINET, ABC, TONIGHT, 8PM