Rinehart tried to buy favourite fashion label

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Last week, Morrison officially surrendered the goody basket to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which is protocol for the bulk of gifts the PM receives in the course of official business.

Given the UK’s reputation for sitting well outside the ranks of the world’s great culinary destinations, it’s good to see BoJo knows how to play to strengths. The hamper included Godminster Vintage Organic Cheddar, Penguin Chocolate Biscuits, Belvoir Farm Ginger Cordial and Tregothnan Tea. Other items included an Embellish with Relish cookbook, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee and Joe&Seph’s Gourmet Popcorn.

And then there was the whisky. Images accompanying the exchange of gifts snapped in the garden at 10 Downing Street feature a rather impressive looking box emblazoned “Johnny Walker, Blue Label”. But there was more. BoJo also handed over a bottle of Downton Abbey Finest Blended Whisky, a bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey and – rather bravely – a bottle of fizz from the Hattingley Valley called Kings Cuvee 2014. British sparkling? No thanks.

The lot has now gone to DPC, which keeps official gifts as part of a political archive.

WHODUNNIT

Of course, the PM deserves some credit for the fact the hamper made it to the department. Recall what went down with Australia’s other greatest ally, the US, over a $6000 bottle of Japanese whiskey gifted to former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo by then Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in 2019. It mysteriously disappeared. The US State Department is now investigating.

BETWEEN MEALS

On the menu of Canberra power-dining venue Courgette last week: braised wagyu cheeks and caramelised onion pithivier, Mandagery Creek venison and shimeji mushroom. Oh, and an arrest for money laundering, perjury and fraud.

Courgette’s owner and Canberra chef James Mussillon – who formerly owned the nearby Waters Edge restaurant on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin – was arrested and charged with money laundering, perjury and fraud. He was charged on Friday with 14 offences, some dating back to 2016. Police also seized about $1 million in assets including a Lamborghini.

Amid the Canberra elite, jaws collectively dropped at the news.

The restaurant is a venue in favour with those who make Canberra tick.

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Phil Gaetjens had a birthday bash there a few years back, while the PM’s chief of staff John Kunkel celebrated his 50th birthday there. Mid-week during sitting weeks, the restaurant known as much for its white tablecloths as for its four-course set menu is packed to the gills with the lobbying and adviser crowd. After all, its price range is better suited to those with corporate cards.

Mussillon has not yet entered a plea and will return to court next week.

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