The Scion, the Wheat and the Cabinet – Chapter I

Nearly eight years ago, the first of the late Malcolm B Duncan’s satires (based on The Narnia Chronicles) was published on Margo Kingston’s Webdiary. Some time ago – I can’t remember whether it was at The Pub or elsewhere – someone mentioned Mr Duncan’s work, and expressed a desire to read it again. So, ladies and gents, here’s Chapter I for your entertainment. We need a little frivolity in these dire times.

(Image Credit: Rocco)

The Chronicles of Nadir
As told from the grave by Tom Lewis

Tale the First

The Scion, the Wheat and the Cabinet

Chapter I

The country had been plunged into war and, to keep the children safe, Peter, Amanda, Alexander and little Lucy had been sent as far from the reality of conflict as possible: Canberra.

When, weighed down with all the usual baggage those going to Canberra carry, they arrived after their wearisome journey on the Sydney-Melbourne XPT having endured the usual 36 hour trip including lay-bys, unscheduled freight trains, track-work and giving way to slow-moving insects (a new Federal Policy to appease the Greens), they were met by STAFFERS who bundled them into Commonwealth Cars and driven to the House on the Hill (well, in it, actually).

The House on the Hill had many rooms (some with ensuite), a vast number of toilets for the disabled and a rehabilitation wing which was filled with journalists. When they arrived, the STAFFERS (none of whom was much older than little Lucy) introduced the children to the CLERKS.

One was a slight man with a slow stammer and wore a black outfit with bands at his collar reminding Peter of the only time he had seen the Moderator-General of the Uniting Church back in the days before it had united and it was still allright for men to wear silk stockings and buckled shoes. Peter, of course had always been brought up to be a good Uniting man (and had once sued for it but, naturally, given his age, by his next friend, a pugnacious boy called Tony.) The other CLERK was a bearded, dishevelled man who gave the impression of knowing all there was to know about knowing everything but not taking any direct responsibility for the Knowledge.

The CLERKS took the children to meet the SPEAKER, a nervous, elderly man who spent most of his time trying to watch his back.

“Welcome Children,” he said in a reedy voice apparently coming form the back of his head, “the CLERKS will show you to your rooms and, once you have put your things away, you will be free to explore but you, Amanda, and you little Lucy, especially you, little Lucy,” he said looking directly at her with his back turned “must never go down to the end of the town to Tilley’s without Alice.”

“Can’t they go down with me?” said Alexander.

The SPEAKER turned a full circle and said “I cannot imagine how that would be necessary, let alone, in your case young man, possible.”

The children were duly shown to a suite of rooms opening off a central study where, after carefully packing away their clothes and necessities (in Alexander’s case, including a Pooh bear) they started to inspect the maps and menus that the CLERKS had left them. Peter and Alexander had green rooms (as boys do) and Amanda had a red room (as Amandas do) while Lucy had a beige room because no-one had ever elected her to anything in her own right and it was no more than she expected.

Contemplating their new lives away from the dangers of war, the children started to speculate on what might happen to them in their new home.

“We might find treasure,” said Peter.

“Or a pedigree,” said Alexander.

“An adventure perhaps,” said little Lucy.

“Immigrants,” said Amanda.

“I know”, said Peter, who thought he was a natural leader, “Let’s explore.”

“Spiffing,” said Alexander. “I’ve got string.” Alexander had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and had a particular soft spot for Jim.

“OK,” said Amanda. “I think I saw some dogs on the way in, I might be able to pick up some illegals.”

Alexander divided the string into four equal parts keeping the longest for himself and the children began to explore.

Little Lucy came into a room that was empty except for a Cabinet. She opened the door and saw a coat-rack filled with furs. Little Lucy loved the smell and feel of fur, especially when it was wet but we probably don’t need to go into detail in a children’s story essentially designed to be an allegory.

As she moved through the furs, salivating, she went deeper and deeper. There seemed to be no end to this cabinet. As she pressed harder inward, suddenly, she emerged under a smart pole advertising the latest attraction at the National Gallery – a Paul Keating retrospective. As she was dazzled by the colours, constantly changing from black to brown to deep olive and back to black again, she failed to notice the presence of another creature just on the other side. She heard a voice (little Lucy often heard voices but this one was different) and looked up. “Hello” the creature said. She noticed that it had horns growing out of the side of its head. “Er, hello,” she replied. “I don’t want to be rude but I’ve been told not to talk to strangers and Peter particularly has a thing about horned creatures.” “Oh, it’s perfectly allright,” explained the creature, “I’m the Cabinet Secretary.” “Oh,” said little Lucy, “you look after that Cabinet then.”

“I do,” replied the Cabinet Secretary. “And you must be a daughter of Eve?”

“NO. I’m a Roman Catholic, actually,” little Lucy volunteered. “And, if you don’t mind me asking horny Cabinet Secretary, what do you do apart from looking after the Cabinet?”

Suddenly, the Cabinet Secretary adopted a more stentorian tone.

“It’s better you don’t know – plausible deniability and all that. Now, how is it that you have come into the Cabinet in the Land of Nadir?”

“What’s nadir?” asked little Lucy.

Even more severely, the Cabinet Secretary declared: “It is the land at the end of the earth where nothing can sink lower. Now,” even more severely still, “how did you get into the Cabinet without me knowing?”

“I came through that door” little Lucy said pointing behind her.

“But that’s the Outer Cabinet. You can’t come into the Inner Cabinet unless the Dwarf gives his personal permission.”

“Well, I’m sorry but I just walked through. My husband works here you know,” little Lucy added, a touch of desperation tingeing her voice.

“Well,” the Cabinet Secretary said, even more severely than before, “Nobody told me. Then again, that’s as it should be in the land of Nadir.”

“It’s very cold,” said little Lucy.

“As it should be,” said the Cabinet Secretary. “It has been winter in the land of Nadir for these 10 years ever since the Dwarf took control of the sleigh. Come with me little Lucy and I shall give you to eat of the fruit of the land and to sit by a warm fire.”

So they went to the Cabinet Secretary’s private office (with its own ensuite) and he fed her and told her stories of the land of Nadir and the Cabinet and life in the House on the Hill: the midnight dances at Tilley’s; the deflowering of backbenchers; the Ministerial meat parades; the cocaine parties; the health farm where tired and emotional members of the coalition were sent to dry out for a while; the junkets; and the all-night shredding parties before estimates committee hearings or as soon as Royal Commissions were appointed.

Finally, he said: “What do you know about wheat?”

[To be continued]

643 thoughts on “The Scion, the Wheat and the Cabinet – Chapter I

  1. Who says Russians have not got a sense of humour. After the EU made its $15 billion euro aid offer to Ukraine the Russians sent Brussels Ukraine’s $1.5 billion unpaid gas bill.

  2. free article, worth reading it all

    Heat on Abbott as US pushes G20 climate change action

    John Kehoe
    The United States is pushing for climate change to be an important agenda item when Australia hosts world leaders at the Group of 20 meeting this year, placing Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a potentially awkward negotiation that conflicts with his domestic political agenda.

    US President Barack Obama’s G20 sherpa, Caroline Atkinson, said “addressing climate change” was an important issue for leaders in addition to Australia’s priorities of promoting stronger economic growth and employment outcomes.

    International pressure is mounting on Mr Abbott to take climate change more seriously. International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde last month made a veiled criticism about the government’s retreat on carbon pricing, urging Australia to remain a “pioneer” on climate change policy.

    The latest US comments highlight a potential “elephant in the room” for Australia as G20 chair in 2014 and suggest a rare policy divide between Australia and its close US ally.

    “There is very much high level focus on the issue of climate and energy efficiency,” Ms Atkinson said at a G20 discussion at a Washington think tank on Wednesday.

    “In the G20, whether it’s Beijing where there are issues of air quality, other countries where there have been extreme weather events, or impending water shortages, I think there is a growing understanding of the importance in addressing that.”

  3. But what happens when those $75,999 babies are six months old and mummy wants to go back to her high-paying career? There won’t be any childcare avaialable. This government has been so focused on the PPL that they have forgotten babies don’t stay newborns for ever. Abbott won’t be able to afford his ‘a nanny for every baby of calibre’ scheme, if the latest forecast is to be believed. Hockey says childcare costs are forecast to blow out to $22 billion over the next four years and will be significant for the budget. The AFR reports that the cost of Tony Abbott’s parental leave scheme is also set to cost $22 billion over the next four years. Hmmmmm. Hockey is promising to spare the childcare rebate from the budget axe at least until the next federal election.This is paywalled, I’m relying on what others have reported.

    This ‘we won’t do a thing until after the next election’ line keeps popping up. Eric Abetz was sent out to do damge control this morning after the leak about the terms of reference for the Prductivity Commission review. he says any proposals adopted will not be implemented before the next election. Paywalled,

    A couple of weeks ago Pyne ‘promised’ there will be no changes to retirement or pension age until after the next election.

    Then there was this bad news for Sloppy today, meaning there will have to be more promises of more cutting and slashing. It seems Joe’s book cooking to make the deficit look worse than it was has come back to bite him in the bum.
    Path to surplus sunk by $18bn plans: Treasury

    The government spin in the next election campaign will be fascinating as they try to convince us we will all be much better off with much less than we have had for decades. The government will be campaigning on cuts to benefits, the pension age,the childcare rebate, work conditions and more, and we will be expected to vote for all of it.

  4. J Bishop true to Abbott. Same style: “…But what I believe I said …”

    TONY JONES: Now, in Israel in January, you surprised many by suggesting that Israeli settlements beyond the 67 lines are not illegal under international law. Is that now official Australian policy?

    JULIE BISHOP: No, what I said is I wasn’t aware of any binding determination on the issue of the settlements. And that …

    TONY JONES: Can I interrupt there? You were quoted, at least in the Israeli press, as saying, “I would like to see which international law has declared them,” – the settlements, that is – “illegal.”

    JULIE BISHOP: Well it was hardly the Israeli press. It was a blogger who was interviewing me and that was his quote. But what I believe I said was that there is no binding determination of which I’m aware in relation to all of the settlements and I believe that that is a fact. But the point I was making is that we currently have negotiations underway for a two-state solution and the question of the boundaries and the settlements will be part of this negotiated political solution, not the result of a binding judicial determination.

  5. In a withering critique of the government’s alternative greenhouse policy, the former Labor government’s expert climate adviser says the government’s direct action green paper “shoots the breeze” instead of outlining a serious policy, and that the plan will quickly cost an unaffordable $4bn to $5bn a year. He advises the Senate to stick with a floating carbon price until the Coalition comes up a sensible alternative.

    The Coalition has promised $300m, $500m and $750m to direct action over the next three years and indicated there would be around $1bn a year after that. None of this money appeared in the mid-year economic statement late last year. The Coalition said it was contained in the “contingency reserve”.

    But, according to Garnaut, in order to reach the same emission reduction targets as the carbon pricing scheme, direct action would need at the very least $4bn or $5bn by the fourth year, and would very likely require a lot more than that.


    Free-speech fears in race act switch
    PATRICIA KARVELAS The Australian March 07, 2014 12:00AM

    THE federal government is considering repealing controversial provisions in the Racial Discrimination Act and replacing them with stronger language which outlaws “vilifying” people on the basis of race rather than the current “insult” which is seen as a limitation to free speech.

    The Coalition’s election promise to dismantle Section 18C strengthened after News Corporation Australia columnist Andrew Bolt was found guilty of racial vilification under this section of the act, which prohibits remarks that offend others on grounds of race or ethnicity. But the government’s partial backdown will face fierce resistance from the right-wing think thank the Institute of Public Affairs, which says the government would be reneging on a promise if it did anything more than fully repeal the section.

  7. Looks like the right have decided they can’t let Ludlam’s speech pass unchallenged, so they’ve begun their attempt to provide ‘context’ to it. They’ve drilled down on two words – ‘homophobia’ and ‘racist’ – and used them to damn the entire thing. ‘Homophobia’ I will grant them, as Ludlam appeared to be directing it straight at Abbott. ‘Racist’ not so much, as it only pertained to our current AS policy.

    Anyway, that’s all they have. They dare not touch any other part of the speech because it raises lots of uncomfortable issues. So they’ll be shouting those two accusations long and loud from the rooftops. Good luck to them. In my case it just drove me to go and watch the speech again to see what they were complaining about. And reminded me of what a good speech it was. I’m sure it’ll be the same for lots of others.

  8. That ‘blogger’ Bishop derided was no blogger. It was Raphael Ahren, the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel, doing an official and exclusive interview for his paper with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was a big deal, it was seen around the world.

    Asked whether she agrees or disagrees with the near-universal view that Israeli settlements anywhere beyond the 1967 lines are illegal under international law, she replied: “I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal.”

    There’s much more.

    Julie Bishop is a conniving, lying bitch. There is no polite way to put that. She might like to think that all us Aussies are so preoccupied with cricket and beer and BBQs that we don’t bother about the things she and her political cronies say, but she’s wrong. We remember, and when you say something to an international publication with a huge internet following your words are read not only in Israel but at home as well. We remember, Julie, we can find and quote your exact words.

  9. In a submission to a Senate inquiry into the Direct Action policy, the CSIRO says there are many options for achieving the 5 per cent target, but warns that soil carbons may not deliver much.

    “Soil carbon in agricultural zones is likely to provide low levels of greenhouse gas abatement,” it states.

    “Saturation of carbon sinks (the maturation of forests and the restoration of soil carbon levels) means that per annum abatement from the land sector will decline in the decades after project establishment.”

    I won’t bother quoting what Grunt said.

  10. Chris Kenny has been having a bit of Twitter argy-bargy with Scott Ludlam. He began by saying Ludlam’s speech was ‘vile’. That’s a bit rich, coming from Kenny, who pretty much epitomises ‘vile’ himself.

    I’ll just summarise what happened after that –

    Kenny asked Ludlam to follow him so Kenny could send him a direct message.
    Ludlam – ‘Why would you want to do that?’
    Kenny said he thought that Ludlam, as a senator for WA, might want to ‘engage in a television discussion’ about his speech. That would be on his shonky little show on Sky News.
    Ludlam didn’t sound keen and came back with this, which will probably go almost as viral as That Speech –

    .@chriskkenny m8 i don't want this to sound harsh but the reason i won't be going on your show is that *nobody watches it*— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) March 7, 2014

    Kenny then took offfence and accused Ludlam of lacking courage and preferring the ‘comfort’ of the ABC.

    Ludlam’s final comment –

    .@MWhalan @EnsignR i just want to be in rake why aren't they demanding to DM me.— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) March 7, 2014

  11. Click to access PC_workplace_draftTOR.pdf


  13. “Turnbull has just announced an inquiry into the former government’s establishment of the NBN. Royal Commission all the things.”

    The Noalition’s version of policy development and implementation.

  14. To be clear, the NBN review is an independent audit, not a Royal Commission. I figured that was an obvious exaggeration.— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) March 7, 2014

  15. This last political week has just been bizarre, if we hadn’t met Fiona and her Mum, I would be thinking I had gone absolutely crazy.

  16. Not everyone is a fan of Swan as Treasurer. He was regularly bagged at PB by Labor supporters among others. But the fact that he was Treasurer for six years through the GFC, maintained good employment figures, kept up economic growth with record low interest rates and obtained triple A credit ratings from all agencies pretty much speak for themselves. He might not have been the most articulate, and he rather foolishly went along with the surplus agenda for too long… but otherwise an enviable record. A good piece from him here:

  17. More on the WA senate election application for postal votes thing, from Crikey this time.

    Don’t fall for this one. It’s election season in WA, with the Senate rerun set for April 5. Let’s hope they don’t lose the ballot papers again. A WA reader received this in the mail; it’s the application for a postal vote complete with a prepaid envelope. Sounds above board, right?

    This is part of a lurk where the political parties send out these forms (paid for, of course, by taxpayers) and trick you into returning them to the party itself. That’s not an AEC address, it’s a Liberal Party one. They usually send the applications on to the AEC but not without harvesting your personal details for their database first. Because it all looks official many people don’t even realise they’re dealing with a party. ………………………………….. So what should WA readers who can’t visit a polling booth on April 5 do? Apply for a postal vote via the AEC directly.

    We had a query from another WA reader who’d received the form, and when we told her how the scheme works, she said this:
    “I can’t see how they can’t write ‘By sending this, you consent to us collecting the data provided in the form. The data will be used for [x] and [x] and will be provided to [x].’ Explicitly, up-front in the letter. It seems like Ethics 101 to me.”
    As it does to us. A third WA reader asked us “how many of our oldies are going to be sucked in by that, why red on the envelope and not the Liberal livery colours, blue and white? I’m a bit pissed.” If you’ve received the letter, tell us which party sent it to you and where you live.

  18. gd,

    Some low-class trolling in the comments to that article. By the regulars.

  19. It may be his version of irony. And he didn’t even use all 140 chars.

  20. leonetwo

    I got one of those the other day. It all looked full on Electoral Commission until I opened it . First sight of Liberal logo meant it was binned asap.

  21. kk
    You should have filled the reply-paid envelope with some sort of rubbish and mailed it back. If the Liberal Party want to send out junk mail they can damn well pay postage for what they get back.

  22. Today’s First Dog on the Moon
    Prime Minister Abbott – Envirofeminazi or Busy Mum? You decide!

  23. Having worked an election, I can assure you that both parties partake of this particular tactic (a goose/gander thing) I don’t think other parties do it so much because of cost.

    Don’t forget that both the State and National Libraries are interested in election ephemera though. Last year I only collected the minor parties, what there was of it. But depending on electorate there was quite a range of stuff shoved into letterboxes or hands. In a warped way, I’m wondering what we will be inflicted with this next month.

    Declaration of candidates will be March 14 (ghads, PI day too *chuckles evilly*)

  24. The girl in bronze:

    The life-size statue was placed in downtown Seoul to mark the 1,000th weekly protest that a handful of surviving former sex slaves, known here as “comfort women,” had waged at the embassy. Commissioned to a husband-and-wife sculptor team and placed by a nongovernmental organization in Seoul, the statue has prompted the Japanese government to call for its removal.

    See more at:

  25. Unicorns abound:

    The audit’s terms of reference stretch from April 2008, when former the communications minister Stephen Conroy issued a request for proposals for an NBN solution, up to May 2010, when the NBN implementation study was released.

    In particular, it will examine “the origin and basis for NBN Co’s mandate to run fibre to the premises (FTTP) to 90% to 93% of Australian premises” and “the approach taken in regard to obtaining cost benefit or independent reviews of the project”.

    Looking forward to an inquiry about Fraudband.

  26. Turnbull apparently imagines that if he keeps having “audits” eventually one will give him the result he wants, or possibly the public might think there was something dodgy about the NBN. 5 in 6 months seems a bit excessive, even with Ziggy in charge.

    It encourages the belief that Turnbull was not just naively buying into the Greche utegate scam. He really believed he was onto something, or at least that the public would.

  27. Ross Garnaut: climate debate has become a Martian beauty contest
    Former Labor government’s climate adviser tears into Coalition’s direct action policy and green paper

    Ross Garnaut says Australia’s climate change debate is like a “Martian beauty contest” where some flaws in the existing carbon tax are on full display but the still-hidden Coalition “direct action” policy “contestant” would certainly be far worse

  28. I reckon you are spot on there, GD. Truffles is one of those who will waste dollars on inquiries and audits until he gets what he wants to hear. His fans in the media have been writing up his credentials and intelligence way above reality and therefore he is shit scared that they’ll find out he can’t live up to it all. He is as big a fraud as his fraudband and he knows it – he just doesn’t want others to twig.

  29. After being told for eight years I was on pair gain so couldn’t get ADSLx.y, then being told my exchange had no space for another DSLAM I am now being transferred to ADSL2+ or whatever the highest type of ADSL there is.

    No big change but should be more reliable and I now have 100Gb not a measly 8Gb. Really hoped to be signing on to 50:20 FTTH but stupid simian thinks the net is just about porn and gaming or something, dickhead!

    Looking forward to finally being able to watch maths/physics/cosmology/geology/biology–zoology lectures and stuff.

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