I can’t believe it. Australian politics’ spiral into utter absurdity is beyond belief – beyond, even, stupidity (and do we have that in spades in the present “cabinet”).
So, let’s revisit another cabinet from a gentler, kinder, politic, with the late Malcolm B Duncan’s take on the HoWARd era. Enjoy . . .
(Image Credit: Bill Leak)
Another pair of underpants arched through the air and landed in the suitcase which lay open on the bed. AW Board was packing (not just clothes – he was really packing) and he was packing quickly. A series of hurried phone calls that morning had revealed that black spots were being issued from the Coalface like confetti. Most of the former agriculture advisers to the Mesopotamian trade had received them but what really spooked AW Board was the call from the Cabinet Secretary to tell him that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Fortunately he knew a couple of blokes who had a tinnie and he thought if the worst came to the worst he could avoid ports and airports and get out via the mouth of the Murray. A bottle of aftershave narrowly missed the bed and smashed on the floor. “Get a grip,” AW Board said to himself musing that the Telstra job was now completely out of reach.
Suddenly, the shower curtain caught fire. The records he had been hoarding for years as insurance had to be destroyed but there were so many of them that the only safe thing to do was use a wet room. The newly-installed smoke alarm shrieked into life. “Just what I need now,” AW Board thought, “the fire brigade.” He sat on the top of the suitcase, forcing it shut, and fled the flat, hurriedly hailing a taxi. No more Commonwealth cars for him.
The Coalface faced a dilemma: he knew why he’d been appointed and he knew what he was supposed to say, but the bloody evidence was getting in the way. Oh, he’d been to Paul’s and he knew what Deo Patriae Tibi meant, but it was just proving so hard to apply. The documents which had fallen off the trolley in the Federal Court were just too hot to handle. The white-haired chap who’d been helping was exhausted – they’d sent out about 3,000 black spots in the last week and Blind Pugh had worn his white cane down to the size of a pencil stub. It was looking increasingly like they had found a bloke who knew a chap who had a friend who had had a conversation once with someone who actually knew what was going on. There was a real and present danger that the truth would out. Both the Coalface and the white-haired man knew that wasn’t what Governments set up inquiries for but there was nothing they could do. The Coalface missed his Dad – it would be so nice to sit down and talk about a few foreclosures and take his mind off things, but the problem just wouldn’t go away and his Dad had been dead for years – gone to that vast clearing house in the sky.
Alexander, on the other hand, had problems of his own. One of his most trusted chums had got a black spot and blind Pugh was hanging round like a bad smell. Tap, tap, tap – all day and all night – tap, tap, tap – followed by the occasional muffled curse as blind Pugh encountered the odd tank trap Alexander had borrowed from Brendan. The Lady Jadis was in a foul mood as well, and even the Dwarf was getting worried – it looked like the subterfuge of transferring the Boy Dweeb into a new portfolio wasn’t going to work either side of the Cabinet. It wasn’t widely known, but the Boy Dweeb had received a black spot, and blind Pugh had accidentally speared him through the foot with his cane.
Back at Kirribilli House, Jeanette was in a right pet and was talking to Corder. All this switching about between worlds was getting very confusing.
“That woman. That damned woman. Bloody Goulburn. She’ll be in Yass forever. I want you to keep a careful eye on the runt, Corder. And this time I want them off.”
Corder shifted uneasily from foot to foot. He had never been comfortable with castrations ever since … well, this is a children’s story after all so just use your imaginations.
“And what’s all this about black spot? I thought that only happened to roses.”
Corder distracted himself by remembering the way Jim Killen and Margaret Guilfoyle used to hold hands in the old days before the House on the Hill (or in it, actually) had been built.
“This is a complete disaster, Corder. Board has disappeared and it looks like the entire National Party is going for a long stretch. Worse, it threatens the pension plan.”
Corder gently guided Jeanette, who was still raving and starting to froth at the mouth, to the door of the cabinet and forced her through the damp coats.
As they came through the magical entrance to the Land of Nadir, the Dwarf was waiting for them by the smart pole. The Keating retrospective had finished and it was now advertising the latest Margaret Whitlam biography. “We lose time, milady,” the Dwarf said. “We must hasten to the teak table for the final encounter.”
He grasped the Lady Jadis by the hand and in a tricycle, they were there. Their forces gathered and a chained Alexander was thrust towards the teak table. Alexander actually hadn’t enjoyed himself actually so much for such a long time actually that he didn’t appear to be frightened at all.
“Things have been going ill at the Coalface, child,” said the White Witch. “Blood will serve.” Ruddock, in his magical guise as a wolf, strained at his leash and bared his teeth, which bore stains with a remarkable resemblance to Pakistani blood.
Alexander went white.
The forces of darkness gathered as all the while the temperature rose.
“This heat presages the presence of the Scion.” Said the Lady Jadis. “The winter draws to an end and the battle must be waged.”
“Could be global warming,” said the Dwarf.
“Shut up, dwarf,” said his mistress. “You’ll be running around in a tinnie next.”
“No, we’ve cut the ABC’s funding again,” said the Dwarf. “There’s no petrol for the tinnie.”
“Scion?” asked Sir Alfred Deakin.
The Dwarf turned to him and said: “You are the Scion of the Party. Our founder, our inspiration.”
The Lady Jadis turned and said, “The boy is mine, I have the right, Scion, I demand blood and the sacrifice.”
In any ordinary Christian allegory, one would expect some element of self-sacrifice but Sir Alfred was a Liberal through and through. “I’ll swap you young Alexander for this creature,” Sir Alfred said miraculously producing Barnaby Joyce from under his waistcoat (he was a Liberal, after all). “You didn’t think this was going to be some pathetic Christian allegory where I was going to sacrifice anything but my principles. did you?”
“Well, no,” said the Lady Jadis. “Will the creature bleed?”
“Like a stuck pig,” replied Sir Alfred.
Just then, the other children appeared over the top of a small hillock accompanied by the beavers and a strong smell of fish.
Alexander ran towards them on wobbly legs and fell into little Lucy’s arms.
Barnaby Joyce was being tied to the teak table which had been extended even to its last leaf. The Lady Jadis approached with a stone knife honed to a keen edge and pulled his head back in preparation for sacrifice.
Peter, still smarting from the unfortunate accident with the baton, rushed forward to the rescue as the forces of darkness aligned themselves against him. Amanda, deftly (surprisingly deftly for a lass of her size), whipped out a foot and sent him sprawling headlong.
One of the sad things about the teak table that had never been realised fully before was that it had been made in the Philippines. As the White Witch drew her hand back for the fatal blow, the middle leaf collapsed and Barnaby magically fell into the ice melt and was instantly translated into the land of Oz. As this is essentially a story about CS Lewis’ insane ravings rather than a story about getting the wind up, I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there: different story; different lion.
Thwarted, the Lady Jadis exclaimed something which although not entirely clear, sounded to those within hearing distance something like “Wheat.”