Chris Calcino wonders what gift are in store for Malcolm Turbull in 2016.
Chris Calcino wonders what gift are in store for Malcolm Turbull in 2016. Patrick Woods

Opinion: No pandas or Komodo dragons on PM’s gift list

MALCOLM Turnbull better clean out the carport. An absolute avalanche of presents is on its way.

The release of the prime minister’s gift register is always a fun time of year, even if Australia’s haul pales in comparison to some of the bizarre things bestowed upon international politicians.

Former US President George W. Bush was once given about 150kg of lamb meat from the president of Argentina.

Russia’s gremlin in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, took delivery of a 10-week-old Bulgarian shepherd puppy named Buddy, a tiger and a Komodo dragon.

And the ever-tricky US president Richard Nixon got two pandas from the government of China in 1972 in exchange for a couple of oxen he had thrown their way.

Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing were the bamboo-munchers’ names.

Our own erstwhile PM Tony Abbott’s list was fairly tame, considering.

Since rising to the top spot at the stubby end of 2013, Abbott received a Chinese scroll, a kangaroo leather jacket, more coins than he could poke one of his numerous fountain pens at, and a bunch of fancy rugs.

A few sculptures were thrown in the mix, a personal favourite being an interpretation of Sumerian demigod Gilgamesh, who used his superhuman strength to build walls around the city of Uruk and somehow survived the Great Flood.

Two swords were in there – one from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and another from Indonesian President Joko Widodo – and a dirty great big oar made by indigenous Canadians.

Anthony “the man” Mundine’s best mate Danny Green chucked some signed boxing gloves the then-prime minister’s way, and someone even built him a made-to-order chair.

A pair of RM Williams boots made the list alongside a stack of business shirts, perfectly offset by a set of silver cufflinks from US Secretary of State John Kerry and two more pairs (studded with diamonds and sapphires) from Sri Lanka’s president.

It seems everyone wants to get the top dog drunk, and dozens of expensive wine bottles were thrust upon Abbott along with a top-notch decanter to capitalise on their creamy sumptuousness with hints of gooseberries and pencil shavings, or whatever.

A couple of bicycles came his way along with a generous portion of form-fitting lycra clothing, and a “beautifully decorated” surfboard which wonderfully balanced the luminous red blush of his preferred budgie smugglers.

The rest were fairly boring: hotel and flight upgrades, tickets to the Australian Open, jewellery, edible dates and things like those.

Not sure if most of the generous donors were aware, but a fair portion of the gifts were surrendered to parliament because they were too expensive to fall within the allowable price limits.

Still, Abbott did okay.

Turnbull’s catalogue of spoils was just pathetic.

The former Communications Minister fittingly received some free internet stuff, a few tickets to the cricket, AFL, opera and some hotel upgrades.

Other than that he just got a small canvas painting and free entry to a movie showing.

A depressing and entirely too skimpy swag for the man who would be king.

Fortunately, the list showed he was not struggling financially.

Between him and his wife after the last election, ol’ Blue Eyes had a portfolio of nine properties including a farm in the Hunter Valley and a swanky New York apartment.

So there should be plenty of garages around to house that incoming booty.

Seriously though, what the heck would you do with a Komodo dragon?


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