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. TILBM says not to worry: breakfast is being served as normal.

    Manus unrest photos appear to show serious injuries and damage to centre
    A set of photographs has been sent by two separate sources to Guardian Australia and subsequently circulated online. They appear to show the aftermath of the Manus unrest and are understood to have been taken less than a week after the disturbances, which left one man dead and dozens injured. Warning: graphic images

  2. “I didn’t say what I said,” has become somewhat of a trademark Liberal move. Put it together with “these two contradictory statements are exactly the same,” and you’ve got their entire suite of defences.

  3. 1984 – I don’t know – Abbott’s tax-payer funded soirees and dinners for hangers-on always make me think of the pigs from Animal Farm.


  5. Leone,
    I see your point, but we never get to know about what the Inner Party members get up to away from the gaze of the telescreens.

  6. First Nash and now Cash. What a lovely pair!

    A Senate committee investigating the refusal of the assistant minister for immigration and border protection, Michaelia Cash, to produce documents relating to asylum-seeker operation has recommended censure motions as well as changes to procedures for dealing with immunity claims.

  7. The one point in Senator Gnash’s favour is that she doesn’t sport the Coalition Coif.


  9. Ducky,
    Thank you for introducing a new word to me: sutler.

    It has, I suspect, broader application.

  10. Postal voting paper arrived for WA senate election – once again by the Libs with a letter stating how they were supporting jobs, fixing the economy etc. -And a handy reply paid envelope which appears not to go to the electoral commission- the PO box is different- I suspect it might go toi Liberal HQ.

  11. If you want to use a postal vote go to the AEC website and apply for one. The letters being sent out are not from the AEC, they are from the Liberal Party. If you use that handy reply paid envelope your details will go to the Libs and they will add you to their data base for future mailouts.

    The best thing to do is chuck out everything but the envelope, then mail it back empty. The Libs will have to pay the postage.

  12. Catalyst,
    I’ve just checked the “Federal Team’s” details – as follows:

    Post: PO Box 49, West Perth WA 6872

    If your RPE has that address, I suggest you burn it, but don fireproof gloves first.

    I hope you realise I’ve risked life, limb, and sanity going to that place for you. However, I forgive you, because I’ve discovered the inspiration for First Dog on the Moon’s hairpiece, courtesy (if that isn’t stretching oxymoronity too far) of your fragrant Senator Michaelia Cash. Is it a quokka? a platypus? a shaven echidna?

  13. Don’t gaze into the eyes … she’s under instructions from Our Mesma of Foreign Affairs …

  14. An annunciation.

    We can expect the tiny clatter of cloven hooves.

  15. I’m happy to be a member of our little Club Of Smart-Arses. Cosa nostra, for short.

  16. Sounds like the ABC are up to their usual tricks tonight. Albo got a grilling from Tony Jones last night, with the rude questioning and the overtalking and the butting in and all of it. Mesma on tonight – and you’d think she have a few areas she could be grilled on, putting it lightly. Nup, foot-rub.

    I speak from second-hand knowledge. I refuse to watch any ABC current affairs shows, because I’m a little more discerning in my choice of fiction.

  17. No self-respecting quokka would be seen any where near a politician’s head! Of any flavour!

    Although I have have heard it rumoured that there may be a breeding colony of hair-pieces in Fremantle that may be frequented by another WA senator … and there is always the possibility that Mr FirstDogOnTheMoon may know something about that particular secret?

    *mock outraged* Sandgroper
    *snorts with laughter*

  18. Aguirre,
    A grilled Mesma would be unpalatably tough.

    Pointz taken.

    Ho hum, time to hie me to my little couch. Night, all.

  19. More in the article, but no helpful table. may turn up on the Newspoll site later

    Newspoll shows health, work top voters’ concerns
    Dennis Shanahan, Political editor The Australian March 07, 2014 12:00AM

    VOTERS have become far more concerned about health, education, Medicare and jobs since the election but are far less concerned about asylum-seekers arriving in Australia.

    There has also been a rise in concern about climate change since the election as the Coalition government works on repealing the carbon tax.

    As the government considers a $6 means-tested co-payment on GP visits, the importance of health and Medicare has jumped, with the opposition slightly increasing its lead over the Coalition.

    The changes in importance of issues come as the latest Newspoll survey on federal politics showed Labor’s primary vote was up and Bill Shorten was equal to Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister.

    As job losses, Qantas and the projected closure of the automotive industry dominate the news, Labor has clearly overtaken the Coalition on the issue of unemployment. But Labor has lost all the advantage it gained last year on handling asylum-seekers when Kevin Rudd announced the reopening of the Manus Island centre in Papua New Guinea, with the Coalition doubling its lead on asylum-seekers since the election.

  20. saw the Lateline interview with Mesma in parts – coincidentally I had also described it as a ‘foot rub’ – Quiet a love fest after last nights blatant rudeness with Albo. Impartiality? Consistency? Complain to the ABC about the rude Albo interview – tried that and you get the usual ‘adversarial style interview’ explanation. The ABC is supremely happy with itself and its ‘star’ interviewer.

    Liberal HQ here in WA seems to specialise in Helmet hair – for Women – the rest of the female population seem unaffected by the trend. Brave Fiona – going to the website. I checked AEC’s postal address and saw that was not what was on the reply paid envelope.. Will do as suggested.

  21. David Pope on the G20 and tax avoidance. Featuring a lovely Joe Hockey

  22. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    Ah! “Flexibility” at work.
    I’m sure Fiona Nash will be right on top of this!
    Here we go! WorkChoices II into the breach.
    READ THIS. Waleed Aly puts it to us that Abbott’s plan is to have no plan at all.
    Now we have the “operational matters” deflection applied to the kitchen!
    Something must be rotten with the operational systems of management at Cootes.
    I suspect the viral reaction is more about the subject of the speech rather than the deliverer.
    Of course Qantas was heavied by the government!
    And the ACCC skewers Abbott’s “argument”.
    The conspiracy of silence spreads to PNG.
    The Guardian now has photos of the injuries from Manus.

  23. Whoever leaked the terms of reference for the Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act deserves a stack of medals. The other day we had the news that the government was not going to release that information today, as planned, but would hide it until after the state and senate elections. Someone decided to fix that, so good on them.

    Piss off the public service and you get leaks of information. We can expect lots more leaking as the sackings continue. Soon Abbott won’t be able to keep anything at all a secret.

  24. Directly from the Liberal policy document.

    “Removing the carbon tax is the quickest way to reduce pressures on household budgets and to remove an impost on Australian businesses.
    Labor’s carbon tax has increased electricity prices by 10 per cent, gas prices by 9 per cent and has impacted prices more generally.
    Next year alone an average family will be $550 better off under the Coalition’s plan than they are under Labor’s tax this year.
    Our policy will see us provide the necessary support to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the Australian Energy Regulator and State-based price regulators to ensure the complete benefit of the repeal of the carbon tax is passed through.
    If elected, a Coalition government will create a special unit within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to ensure that the reasonably expected price reductions that will accompany the scrapping of the carbon tax flow through to consumers.
    Upon repeal of the carbon tax, we will make surcharges attributable to the carbon tax a contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act and liable to penalties of up to $220,000 for individuals and $1.1 million for corporations.”

    So now, Tone, how is Qantas going to be better off with the repeal of the carbon tax?

  25. Waleed’s piece today ties in with my theory that Abbott is an habitual mucker-upper. He loves chaos, because rats like him do well when everything’s up in the air.

    Where I disagree with Waleed is over whether this is a matter of ideology. I don’t think it is. It’s simply a matter of Abbott’s standard modus operandi. It’s coincidental, in my view, that it complies with some of the right-wing Tea Party-type rubbish being spouted about lately.

    As a boxer Abbott came out, not sparring, but swinging haymakers, right from the bell, in the hope of landing one and ending the fight there and then.

    At the “end of the Age Of Entitlement” he invents a new one: his PPL scheme. What the…..!?!?!?!?!

    He likens it to holiday pay, penalty rights and sick leave (all of which he wants to get rid of in some form or another, incidentally). Getting heads to nod as he ticks off these supposedly inalienable rights, he then places his PPL at the end of the queue, hoping that the nodding momentum built up over the rest of his list will carry on to paying full wages to women of calibre.

    Except that the other “entitlements” are paid by the employer, with only a 30% contribution from the taxpayer via tax deductions for wages, and the PPL scheme is being paid 100% by… us, the taxpayers.

    So it’s not like other workplace entitlements at all!

    But he’s hoping that salivating women and their hubbies will excuse him his slight misrepresentation and go for it anyway. Women with jobs, that is. Stay at home mums can go whistle. They’ll get the minimum.

    I do sometimes wonder how long it will take for rags like the Daily Telegraph to start printing stories about “baby factory mums” spending more time on PPL than at work as they churn out brats by the dozen? Or the women who work the system by getting hubbie’s business to pay them a six-figure salary for “doing the books”? There are so many opportunities for rorts, but Abbott only cares about whatever gets him over the line today.

    “Tomorrow” is another day, another opportunity for another haymaker from the Whirling Dervish. But it’s not ideology, except by co-incidence.

    It’s in his DNA. He couldn’t do it any other way.


    Greens at risk in poll payback
    The West Australian
    Andrew Tillett Canberra March 7, 2014, 2:25 am

    Left-wing minor parties are threatening to withhold preferences from the Greens at the re-run WA Senate election in retaliation for what they say were dirty tactics by the Greens at last year’s Federal poll.

    As Parliament ended the week with the major parties setting the scene ahead of the first full week of campaigning in WA, Greens senator Scott Ludlam is in peril, with Labor preferences also in doubt.

    Labor is set to capitalise on the anger of several progressive parties which preferenced the Greens at last year’s election.

    WA gets nice GST surprise
    The West Australian
    EXCLUSIVE Shane Wright Economics Editor March 7, 2014, 2:35 am

    The Barnett Government will get up to an extra $500 million in GST that will help bolster the State’s bottom line.

    The West Australian can reveal a better-than-expected proportion of a growing pool of GST cash will come back to WA.

    The Commonwealth Grants Commission has decided that WA will get 37.6c for every GST dollar raised in the State in the 2014-15 financial year.

    When Treasurer Troy Buswell handed down the State Budget in August last year, WA was forecast to get just 27c in the dollar.

    The windfall is partly because of a change, directed by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, in the treatment of iron ore fines.

    However, other parts of the country have started enjoying faster economic growth than WA, and that has also slowed the rate at which the State loses its share of GST.


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