Bill Shorten lunches with Anthony Pratt, Australia’s richest man

The Pratt family is no stranger to Australia’s political class. Pratt and his mother Jeanne hosted fundraisers for both the Labor and Liberal parties at their Melbourne mansion Raheen earlier this year.

On that occasion, Shorten brought along deputy leader Tanya Plibersek to mingle with corporate heavy-hitters including former Tennis Australia chair Harold Mitchell and Ellerston Capital chief Ashok Jacob.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten swung through Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs on Friday morning.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

The man opinion polls predict will be Australia’s next prime minister is no stranger to the Pratts. As former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to point out, Shorten was very friendly with Pratt’s father, Richard, who died in 2009.

Indeed, Turnbull, a multi-millionaire who is partial to French bubbles, used to goad Shorten about “knocking back Dick Pratt’s Cristal”. Back then he was familiar with the inside of Dick Pratt’s private jet.

During the last election, Pratt shelled out almost $800,000 for Turnbull’s campaign.

This time, it is a more bipartisan effort – he’s also hosted a fundraiser for Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Coalition.

Anthony Pratt has hosted Bill Shorten twice in the last month.

Anthony Pratt has hosted Bill Shorten twice in the last month.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

And as one Labor staffer put it: “Someone’s got to pay for the fliers”.

The Liberals aren’t calling it quits on the fundraising effort either. This Sunday, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien are coming together for a special federal election campaign money-making lunch in Melbourne, price undisclosed, but only two tickets remaining.

A few days later, outgoing Jobs Minister Kelly O’Dwyer makes her contribution to her replacement in Higgins, the Liberal candidate Katie Allen, with a one-off $195-a-head cocktail function.

“Selling out fast,” as they say.

Kylar Loussikian is The Sydney Morning Herald’s CBD columnist.

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