The Case of the ‘Disgusting’ Dining Set at the Parliament House

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By Athena Yenko | February 11, 2014 1:25 PM EST

In what a seemingly overly doting behaviour, Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan had the habit of turning over things at the Parliament House. He fussed over chairs, tables and dining set. This is when he found a disgusting thing about the current dining set used at the Parliament House.

"I quite often turn over things in Parliament House - chairs, tables and whatever else. I looked for the source of [the dining set and] I found it was made in the UAE - I was disgusted," Senator Madigan said.

Together with Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, they decided to chip their own moneys in for an Australian-made dining set worth $11,000. They felt that the Parliament House should promote using Australian-made products more than any other houses across Australia.

Apparently, nobody from the Parliament House was grateful for the gift. No one wanted to use it, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

"We're talking about an Australian product that is purchased by Senator Xenophon and myself at no cost to the taxpayers - what better value for money could you get for that?" Senator Madigan asked.

"If you ask me, this is a whole lot of crock. The Parliament should have Australian-made crockery in its dining room. Most Australians would want their MPs eating off Australian-made crockery, not something made in another country."

A Gift as Old as Time

The gift, apparently, was given when it was Kevin Rudd who was seated at the Parliament. Senator Madigan penned a letter to Mr Rudd requesting for the gift to be used on behalf of the Parliament, ABC reports.

Mr Rudd never responded to the letter.

Mr Abbott for his part responded to the letter but did not address the issue of the disgusting dining set. Instead, he used the gift as an instrument to attack the then Labor government about its neglect of Australian-made products.

"The Coalition believes that the Commonwealth should prioritise Australian-made goods, provided there is value for taxpayer money. Had Labor given more attention to the procurement practices in place at Parliament House, they would not have sold two parliamentary billiard tables for $5,000 and then spent $102,500 finding out whether they got true value for money," Mr Abbott wrote.

As a plan B, Mr Xenophon will dump the plates in the offices of Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Thursday if they continue not to use the gift.

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