By ERWIN CHLANDA
OK. This is top secret. Pine Gap is turning 50 and will be celebrating the occasion with a stealth party.
As of course they would.
When? According to Donald Trump’s contacts in Moscow it will be this weekend.
It will be big.
There will be a dinner on Saturday at the Convention Centre and there will be something at the spy base – best guess it will be just outside the gates.
The local A-list of movers and shakers have been invited the dinner which – according to our sources, well informed as they are, will include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Local VIPs will include Minister Dale Wakefield and Councillor Jamie de Brenni.
Not that the Convention Centre will let anything slip: “Unfortunately the details of this weekend’s event are not available for public release,” is what we were told.
According to the Australian head of the base (she introduced herself as Barbara) there will be no media passes.
We’ve raised that issue with the Department of Defence, on 1300 333 362. Can we have the direct line to the media section?
No, that’s classified. I spoke with Sarah – not sure whether with or without an “h” – first names only there as well. Haven’t heard back from her yet.
Maybe we should go direct through Moscow.
Keep it under your hat!
Chansey Paech, the Member of Parliament in which Pine Gap operates, did not score an invitation.
UPDATE July 25, 11:30am
A Defence spokesperson provided the following statement: “The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is proud to commemorate its 50th Anniversary. However, celebrations are restricted to site personnel and invited guests only.”
UPDATE July 28
Absolutely everything about the dinner tomorrow seems to be zip-the-lip. Yesterday we asked the Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD) – a frequent provider of Indigenous persons who, for a fee of course, will deliver a “welcome to country” to gatherings and conventions – whether they have been approached by Pine Gap to provide the service at tomorrow’s dinner. The answer from CEO Kerry Le Rossignol: “No comment.”
UPDATE July 28, 10:50am
Senator Nigel Scullion’s office says it raised the issue of media exclusion with the office of Defence Minister Marise Payne, a Liberal Party Senator for the state of New South Wales. Senator Scullion, who is on the same political side, got the same answer as the Alice Springs News Online received from the Australian head of Pine Gap – see above.
PHOTO by artist Kristian Laemmle-Ruff.
By ERWIN CHLANDA