Final of the COVID Open
Not only did Victoria’s short sharp lockdown last week cost the Australian Open about $20 million over the five days it was devoid of spectators, but it has another consequence: a deleterious effect on the calibre of celebrities who turned out on Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night for the men’s final. Casualties sadly included the intriguing tennis bromance of Lord Alan Sugar (who in an amazing coincidence just happens to be the star of tennis broadcaster Nine’s forthcoming reality TV program, Celebrity Apprentice) and Oscar winner Russell Crowe, who decided against flying down to watch last night’s finalists, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. Also absent were other interstate invitees including Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman and Idris Elba.
Halfway along the main concourse of the Rod Laver Arena, a nondescript lift rises one floor to deliver invitees to O, the “private, iconic and exclusive” corporate hospitality area whose guest list is the personal preserve of Tennis Australia chair Jayne Hrdlicka and chief executive Craig Tiley.
A white neon O signalled the entrance to the vast hospitality suite with a peach pastel colour scheme and indoor pergola over the centre table. After dinner, guests could box their Victorian wattleseed and chocolate eclair from the dessert station and descend directly to their VIP seats.
Dress code was strictly business casual (tie optional, no jeans, no shorts under any circumstances) for guests including former premier Steve Bracks, Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski, Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau, Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan, John Wylie from Sport Australia Hall Of Fame and Australian tennis legend Frank Sedgman and wife Jean.
Also present at the O: Sport Minister Martin Pakula represented the state government, Rupert Myer, scion of the retailing family, former Dan Andrews comms director Adam Sims now at IFM Investors, fellow spinner Mark Hawthorne at Civic, Maurice Blackburn lawyer Liberty Sanger, KordaMentha founder Mark Mentha and Lisa Mentha and Ivana Isidorovic, Chargé d’Affaires of the Serbia embassy and Nikola Isidorovic.
Also spotted at the final: Nine chair Peter Costello, Shane Warne and former AFL footballer Majak Daw. Propping up the Piper Heidsieck champagne bar were swimming gold medallist Mack Horton, model Tash Oakley and Hawthorn footballer Jaeger O’Meara. Guests of Ralph Lauren included Andy Lee and partner Rebecca Harding.
Portrait of a princess
A newly installed piece of artwork is quite the talking point in Jacqui Lambie’s office.
The Tasmanian senator has decided to hang in her office a painting of herself donated by a couple of supporters that has to be seen to be believed.
Six years ago artist Lindsay Spears entered the work in the Bald Archy Prize, a cartooning parody of the Archibald portrait prize. The painting depicts Lambie as the bikini clad Princess Leia from Star Wars, recreating the iconic scene where she strangles the gruesome Jabba the Hutt with the very chain he had imprisoned her with. Even readers with only a passing knowledge of Lambie’s career will appreciate the parallel with her split from former MP Clive Palmer, who is depicted as the Star Wars villain.
“I think it’s brilliant,” Lambie told CBD. “Ray and Elain really made my week by gifting it to me, it’s an absolute treat. I’m hanging it in the office. I tell you what – you won’t see anyone else in Australia with control over Clive Palmer like that!”
After an interminable wait for a COVID-19 vaccine to touch down on Australian shores, it’s understandable Prime Minister Scott Morrison didn’t want to share the limelight as he took his COVID jab on Sunday morning.
But how’s this for a cold shoulder? Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese had originally been scheduled to get jabbed at the same time as the PM … until he wasn’t. Health Minister Greg Hunt indicated earlier in the month that the PM and Opposition Leader would be in the first round as a bipartisan show of confidence. By the time Insiders rolled around on Sunday morning and the PM was en route to a Sydney medical clinic, Hunt said Albo’s jab had been scheduled for later this week. Team Albo only found that the joint-jab plan had been killed when they saw Morrison on TV rolling up his sleeve for the vaccine.
Shadow minister and the spinner
And there are some congratulations in order for Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler who married ex-Santos spinner Daniela Ritorto in Adelaide on the weekend. Felicitations.
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Stephen Brook is a CBD columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He is a former features editor and media editor at The Australian, where he wrote the Media Diary column and spent six years in London working for The Guardian.
Samantha is a CBD columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. She recently covered Victorian and NSW politics and business for News Corp, and previously worked for the Australian Financial Review.