Katharine Murphy was given rare access to the real power station of government in Australia - the Prime Minister's office.
The young men in Kevin Rudd's press office could get old and not even notice. The nerve centre of the 24/7 enterprise hums in a Neverland-like present. This illusion is reinforced by clocks along the wall. There are four, but three have stopped working.
It's 6am. Spring fog hangs heavy outside and the hair of Sean Kelly, a prime ministerial press secretary, is still wet. Suite MG65 smells stale on first contact, like discarded running socks or the signature left by the alpha males who have inhabited the PM's press office for the past 20 years.
A forlorn pot plant on the window ledge swoons; another leans into the frame, its will to stand upright lost.
The press office has an almost ostentatious lack of adornment, like a bunch of Swedish modernist freaks have moved in and swept the joint clean. This is not the environment of a particular aesthetic but the reflection of its inhabitants who live almost entirely at the whim of the man running the country, who have little more certainty than the next bullet point on the Prime Minister's ''tick tock''. Dried rations are stashed under the desk. There are no family photographs because there are no families, dogs, lawns or detritus of any kind, apart from some long-suffering girlfriends. A half-eaten punnet of cherry tomatoes sits on a desk...