Letter from London
Sunday, May 27, 2018
Justinian in Australia House, George Brandis, Malcolm Turnbull, Postcards from George

It hasn't been all beer and skittles as the new High Commissioner to the UK takes his place on the marble stairway ... An early missive from our man at Australia House ... Correspondence from lofty sources finds it's way to Justinian's in-tray 

Dear Malcolm, 

A quick note to advise on arrangements pertaining to my settling-in as High Commissioner to the Court of St James's.  

I must say, it hasn't been easy. The Downers left Stoke Lodge in a dreadful state. I won't describe what I found under the bed in the master bedroom, but needless to say there were apple cores, a decaying half-consumed lamb chop (a gift from the Australian Lamb Board), various items of underwear, some in an unhygienic condition.  

As you would appreciate all of this should have been removed prior to my predecessor's departure. Of course, any expenses associated with removal of this detritus will have to be met by Finance. I'll be sending a bill to Cormann.  

Achtung Mathias! 

That's the least of it. A large valise with my suit and other formal accoutrements for presenting my credentials at Court and other meetings at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has disappeared, mysteriously, I might add. 

I have requested staff to put all duties on hold while they hunt high and low for the missing portmanteau. As you often say, Malcolm, prioritisation is the key to success. 

Talking of staff, I'm sending you a snap of my inspirational gee-up to the troops upon my arrival at Australia House. As you can see from their rapt attention they are delighted to at last have a High Commissioner who has a grip on things. 

By all means stick it up on the wall in the Party room. 

I don't wish to seem immodest, but can I just add on a personal note that you made not only the only choice in appointing me to London, but a choice that will have lasting impact of Austral-British relations. 

The not so subtle remarks I'm hearing about Downer are enough to make my hair curl. More of that another time. 

Tim Wilson MP is coming to spend a few weeks during the winter parliamentary break and I'm sure the department won't be adverse to my putting his expenses on the slate. 

While on the topic of expenses, there's one thing in need of urgent attention - decent bookshelves for my rooms at the House and at the Lodge.

There's the last remaining stand of Norfolk oak trees that I have earmarked for the job. 

Please warn Cormann, so there are no nasty surprises for our Tight-Arsed Exchequer. 

My library is in need of a more commodious arrangement than was suitable for the Downers, most of whom could barely read. I say that advisedly. 

Anyway, it's an endless round of talks on trade, Brexit, meetings with the Cheese Export Board, a concert at the Albert Hall featuring the Coonabarabran Boys Choir, a lunch at Boodles with Pyne who is visiting. 

"Poodles at Boodles." I'll get a huge giggle telling him that.   

Enough about my petty travails,  Malcolm. Let me hear how thing are going in my absence. Not too well, according to a little dicky bird who has whispered in my shell-like. 

Cheers, as ever, 

The Honourable George Brandis QC 

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (http://justinian.com.au/).
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