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.”


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