The Puppets of Margie Meagher

Today’s Guest Author is Jaycee, who phoned me yesterday afternoon concerned that his latest contribution was somewhat long (at a bit over 3000 words) for a comment. He was also concerned about the subject matter. I asked him to send it to me. My decision was that it was eminently publishable as a thread-starter. So, here it is, and thank you, Jaycee.

Warning: This is a SERIOUSLY dark tale.

Jaycee writes:

We all, at some point in our lives become witness to another’s situation. In my first marriage, we sent the children to an “alternative” school and I have to say that while it was alright for the children, my growing involvement through my trade brought me into contact with many parents at that school. I have to say that there were a number that would raise the eyebrows of a rational person. Maybe no more than other “private” schools, but this was my first contact with such personalities. Later, I came to know the type and would assiduously avoid them if I could.

I cannot say that the situation described in the story belongs to any one person: it is a blend of several. At the school there was a puppet group, and even I was called upon to speak a small part in one show. But of the others I have only this anecdote.

It went like this:

We Bloom Here

The Puppets of Margie Meagher

If you could imagine us all walking side by side toward a sunset, with our lives trailing away behind; a shadow drawn in perspective from the point of our birth. We are all facing the front so none of us really knows the substance of our neighbor’s ‘shadow’, and we can only make calculated guesses from facial expressions and mumbled half truths.
(From The Last Writings of Carl Jung)

It seems to be always some physical event that motivates humans to get up and do something constructive. Such events have a propensity to the catastrophic, like a sharp jab in the collective ribs of humanity, otherwise we’d probably just lie prostrate in the dirt like a contented sow with half a dozen piglets suckling on her teats! So it was not long after her husband left her that Margie joined the puppet group at the school. She joined to break that cycle of thought that possesses and locks one into a cycle of hate – contrition. She had read that in a therapy pamphlet and, nodding in agreement, decided to join the puppet group.

They met once a week at Maeve’s house; this group of parents from the school. They met at eleven o’clock every Thursday to encourage and assist each other with their dolls. They made soft-bodied hand-puppets for the little plays they would perform for the younger children every month or so and at festivals through the year. When she joined, Margie did not know how to make a puppet in a pink fit. But, with the sympathetic encouragement from the other mothers (sympathetic to her marital situation, that is), she soon got the hang of it, and by and by the materials became putty in her hands. In fact, it wasn’t long before she was producing puppets with such beautiful and tender features that one of the women, Pamela, was moved to say that “It’s a gift – pure and simple – a gift,” and Margie blushed and said, “Oh surely not,” and went on to explain that she had always been good at crafts. “From me mother, I ‘spect.”

“Oh no,” said Pamela, shocked, “It’s a gift, a real gift,” and Margie blushed again and said, “Oh well.”

The first play that they put on for the year was Hansel and Gretel. Margie was given the job of making Hansel. The finished product was so good, so fine, that the other women gazed upon him open-mouthed. He had a soul almost, behind those eyes, and what eyes! – as crisp as a summer dawn, the left hand of God – and his costume and the cut of the cloth made his shape, his proportions seem so natural, uncannily so. Next to him poor Gretel looked like a cheap tart. Margie was asked, nay, implored, to take Gretel home and to fix her up, and gosh, did Gretel ever look so beautiful, so innocent! Together, Hansel and Gretel as puppets matched the immortality, almost, of the classical tale.

After that performance, Margie was given the job of making the star puppets. And didn’t she fulfill that task admirably.

“It’s a gift, a real gift,” Pam would repeat in her parroting voice.

“I’d say it was a release from the stress,” Maeve would comment with a nod of the head then pinch her lips together.

Maeve was the expert on stress. “Yes, you’re stressed,” was her usual prognosis whenever someone expressed weariness. Yet another, Jocelyn, who held a degree in humanities and had studied a year of psychology, would pronounce in dry, measured tones (not for psychologists the heady passions of mankind!) that the beauty of the dolls was:

“Quite naturally an acceptance, a bringing to the front, the beauty of self, the awakening, so to speak, of respect for self and realization of self after the defeat, so to speak, of the broken relationship, you understand?”

Others added their opinions to the pot also, but all were equal in their admiration of the puppets. And Margie basked in their praise, though her big, round face would colour in a blush. She would smile and finger the dolls tenderly and say:

“Well, yes, it does bring me out of myself, helps me to distance myself from me troubles.” And she’d bend to her work, her clumsy-looking fingers deftly sewing a smock or line stitching a vest for the prince.

So it went on, story after story: Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, all perfect joys and didn’t the children’s ahhs and the parents’ ohhs and the applause after each show witness their appreciation, and Margie’s puppets were eagerly touched and stroked by the children as if they were exotic talismans.

“It’s a gift,” Pamela could be heard telling a parent, “It’s a real gift.”

One woman – Bea – started to notice a certain similarity about the puppets, an air of something familiar about them but, not having them all side by side (like a police line-up, she would later say), could not be certain of her memory. But she had a feeling that behind those fabric faces, those carefully stitched costumes, deeper than the wool fibre stuffing in those familiar shaped heads, was the raison d’etre for their very being.

For, having once cast off all the shrouds of resistance, each of us enters the creative obligations of the psyche, whether we succeed or fail in these pursuits of desire depends on the depths of the individual’s well springs of courage, of the risk of surrendering to the will of the muse.

Bea, of all the women, was wary of Margie’s seeming fatalistic acceptance of the breakdown of her relationship, and though she had never met Margie’s husband, she, like any group of school parents, still felt on common ground with the family. But now the family was broken, and Bea worried less the disappointment was too much for someone as exacting as Margie to bear, so she studied Margie, looking for cracks in the facade much as we all study people under trauma with that guilty morbidity of wondering if and when they will crack. Pondering on this, Bea decided to pay Margie a home visit.

As she knocked on the front door, she heard a raised voice emanating from within the house. It was the middle of the day, so the children were at school and although the voice was muffled, it nonetheless was quite tense. Bea knocked louder and the voice stopped, there was a hiatus and then the door was gingerly opened. Margie’s face appeared, flushed and wary in the opening.

“Bea?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Just popped round to say hello.”

“Well, come in then.” Margie eased the door open, Bea hesitated with one hand raised in gesticulation: But do you have visitors, I thought I heard . . . ?” Margie glanced furtively to one side.

“Oh, no, no, it was just the cat,” and she stood clumsily to one side so Bea could enter. A pot of tea was suggested and accepted so Margie adjourned to the kitchen while Bea sat on the edge of the lounge sofa and let her eyes wander around the the room.

A photograph on a side table caught her eye, something familiar . . . the slope of the eyebrows? the cheeks? Or maybe the soft contour of the face?

“Your, your husband?” she enquired. Margie popped her head through the door.

“Oh, yes, ex-husband,” and she came into the room and took up the framed photograph listlessly.

“Richard, ‘the rat’; sometimes I call him ‘Dick’, short for, well, you know what.” She dusted the glass with her T-shirt and replaced it on the table.

There, Bea realized, was the similarity between the male puppets: Richard Meagher with one ‘sleepy’ eye and the brows sloping away just so, and those boyish cheeks that Margie had captured somehow in an abstract way in all the male puppets.

It’s a gift, a real gift.

Pam’s voice resonated in Bea’s mind. Curious, the flow of mood from mind to hand in a clever person – again, that artistic interpretation of psyche. Bea gazed – almost hypnotised – at the photograph, and wondered about the other woman, but discretion forbade mention of so delicate and wounding a subject. Having solved one of her curiosities, she was satisfied she would soon find the other elsewhere so she settled down for smalltalk and tea.

“Who did Margie’s husband clear off with?” Bea asked Maeve one day.

“No-one I know, but I’ll tell you who does.”

So, with a little discreet enquiry and conversation Bea was able to see a photograph (thank heaven for that invention that fixes time and place to deed) of the woman in that duet of complicity. Bea came away from that visit with the second mystery solved: that of the similarity between the female puppets. And, also, the knowledge that Margie’s husband had left with Margie’s own sister – a double blow – betrayal and treachery! Oh woe is the bearer of a broken heart, but even more vexed is the spirit betrayed, especially by one’s own kin.

Bea went quiet after finding out the background of Margie’s domestic life. Sometimes enough is enough when it comes to insights into others tragedies – after all, one’s own life has to be journeyed, eh?

Then the time came for a production of that immortal theme of love and betrayal – Rapunzel. Once again the little group fell to making miniature props and scenarios and puppets for this, the end of year show and it was to be a real bang-up affair. Margie seemed to put all her efforts into the two main puppets.

Rapunzel was beautiful: her eyes glowed with an innocence enchanting and childlike, her body lithe and well proportioned as one could imagine in such a waif, yet with maidenly allure. Like the eyes of a portrait that seem to follow you around the room, so in reverse were one’s eyes attracted to that doll, and then the hair, such golden bounty was unnatural, uncanny, it flowed (can that be the word?), flowed, like some mythical fall of golden fibres, so long, so silky, not a hand could resist trailing it through the fingers, ah!, And the prince, too, such were Margie’s skills that he complemented Rapunzel impeccably, equally without over-shadowing each other, like a matched pair of flamenco dancers, each a part of the other. You can imagine the complimentary ohhs and ahhs Margie received for these puppets. Even Bea, wary of over-reaction now she knew the hurt behind these marionettes, could not but help admire sighingly the aura of that duet of complicity.

“It’s a gift, a real gift,” Pamela said, and they all laughed at the familiar refrain.

Around the middle of rehearsals for this play Bea, returning home from the city one evening, remembered a bolt of cloth she had to pick up from Margie, and as it was not too late, decided to turn down the street to Margie’s house on her way home. It was late spring and the wind rippled freshly through the new-leafed trees, almost like the tittering giggles of youngsters at play, such is spring when the waking of nature seems to bring a friskiness even to the breezes. And the flowers, like the halting twirls of a carnival calliope their petals would duck and sway while overhead a mellow darkness swept upward through the trees into the night.

An old place was Margie’s, with a laced wire gate sprung on squeaky hinges. The path led straight off the street to a flight of three steps to a verandah. Bea knocked gently on the front door, being careful not to knock too loudly as to wake the children. On receiving no acknowledgement from her gentle knocking, she gazed around. perplexed as to her next move. A glow of light brushed silver over the flickering leaves of a rain-washed tree, a light from down the side of the house. Bea stepped off the verandah and made her way quietly down the side path. The light from a nearby window was enough to show the precise, ordered garden beds between the fence and the path that, like the front yard, reflected the meticulous discipline of Margie’s personality.

Bea came abreast of the lighted window and through a small gap in the damask curtains could see a figure bent over a table. It was Margie, her large body adorned in the heavy woven cloth she used to make her dresses, her hair pulled back in a wispy roll on the back of her head. A soft overhead lamp threw its light onto the work bench. Margie’s face was intent on the two puppets she was arranging in front of her on the table; her lips moved in a tight, then relaxing, pout as she sat the two dolls facing her. A slight musical hum in three notes of a descending order issued from her lips at intervals of a few second each. She sat back, crossed her arms and stared at the two puppets. They were Rapunzel and the Prince.

“Well now, there yer be,” Margie sat back and put her hands on her knees.

“And now, me dear Sheila, what would ye be havin’ to say for yourself?” This wasn’t Margie’s usual voice. She spoke a curious softened Irish brogue in a different pitch than her usual voice.

“Will ye not answer your own mother?” the voice more tense, “Just to be a sittin’ there dumb as pots!”

“I told her, Sheila,” (this was the old Margie’s voice), “I told mother what you did.”

Bea frowned, for indeed this was something new to her, this behaviour. For with just a slight change of inflection in her voice, Margie had conjured up an entirely new personality – her mother, a person long deceased – a sudden split in personality, then just as swiftly a return to herself, like an actor playing two roles at the same time on the one stage.

“Hush now, Marg!” the ‘mother’ interrupted, “Ye’ll not be interrupting me.” The puppet fell to one side and Margie leant to gently prop it up again, her tongue pinched between her lips in concentration. She sat back again.

“So ye’ll cower in silence before me, daughter. Not answer to me accusation, ye’d be stealin’ your own kin’s spouse while all the time shelterin’ under her roof, while eatin’ at the same table, exchangin’ glances of wicked delight all the while I’ll surmise, and there, in golden innocence your own sister ignorant of the treachery you and your lover conspire,” Her voice rose in intensity as she went on.

Margie jumped up excitedly:

“They did, they did, Mother, Oh, the sin of it, all the while I worked, all the while I looked after the house they were scheming and smiling and I was the fool, the silly, silly fool for all their wicked coupling, and under my very nose.” She shook her fist at the puppet’s face.

“Well, I’ve got the thing to pay you for your treachery, my sweet,” and Margie swiftly took up a large darning needle and raked it again and again across Rapunzel’s face so the cloth fretted and shredded in its wake.

Bea put her hand to her mouth to stifle a cry, but still she watched. “What sort of madness was this?” she was thinking. Margie paused, put her needle down and took up another with red thread in it and, without, a word set to swiftly and deftly line stitch red marks across the puppet’s face so it looked as if it had been raked by a claw. She completed this morbid make-up with little dots of red ink to simulate blood. All this was done so swiftly that Bea still had her hand to her mouth.

Margie then turned her narrowed eyes upon the Prince.

“And you, Richard,” (the ‘mother’ again), “could ye be so vulgar, so underhand, to your own wife?”

Margie stood and turned side on to talk out of the corner of her mouth.

“Yes, why Richard, why would you betray me so, was it for a bit of skirt? An easy conquest?” Margie sneered the last sentence, “Or would you just be a sheddin’ and avoidin’ your responsibilities, hmm?”

“Richard!!” the ‘mother’ yelled. “Answer your wife! A coward’s life for a coward’s courage, and the devil take your soul,” she hissed, while Margie turned slowly and leant to pick up a Stanley knife lying on the bench. Slowly she moved her left arm and grasped the puppet, raised him toward her, and then, with an angry gesture, swiftly lifted her arm with the knife.

“This for your betrayal!” she cried hoarsely and swung her arm wildly to slash the puppet’s face from forehead to cheek so the tight-packed wool stuffing burst proud from the cut, and there, in jangling craziness of the light awry which she knocked in her violence, each in its own pigeon-hole shelved on the wall, leered and stared the other puppets made by Margie during the year.

But – there were twins of each puppet. Twins of Cinderella, Prince Charming, Hansel, Gretel, and the rest, identically clothed and painted, doppelgängers in shape and face, except – weirdly – while one would be whole and untouched, its twin was gashed, torn or mutilated this way or that. Hansel’s eye torn from a gaping socket and left hanging down by a thread, Prince Charming’s face too was slashed, Cinderella’s hair was almost scalped from her head and so on, all of them sitting squat in their respective pigeon-holes and appearing to gaze interestedly down on this grotesque theatre of tortured souls. Bea looked back to Margie and saw that she was intently touching the lips of the slashed face with red dye on her fingertip so they bloodied with the ink, all the while humming that same three descending notes of sound in short intervals.

Bea’s eyes opened wider and a silent scream choked in her throat as there, in the flickering light, rack upon rack, stood the only witness to Margie’s despair, all those compliments she received must have driven her grief ever deeper into her soul – every “It’s a gift,” a nail into her heart. So this charnel house of thread and cloth and dye grew out of the tempest of her hatred, this was the theatre of shadows that lurked behind her fatalistic psyche. And yes, there too in the recesses of that table, beyond the mutilated bodies of Rapunzel and the Prince stood their twins, gazing on in mute innocence with Margie busy putting the finishing touches to her macabre cosmetics while soft tears edged down her rouged cheeks and saying over and over with childlike hurt:

“You broke my heart, you broke my heart!”

Bea turned away shamefaced from the window, her curiosity satiated, her emotions wretched. For here in the silence of another’s despair she had gazed into the forbidden abyss and, in doing so, was she not edged just that little bit closer to her own?

Castle of Costa Mesa

255 thoughts on “The Puppets of Margie Meagher

  1. I can see a cartoon of a clapped-out ute, driven by Godwin Gretch,with the back filled with squabbling LNP. members having fisticuffs while Malcolm Turnbull is in the passenger’s seat giving directions to a half-blind Gretch about to drive the ute over a cliff in a pea-soup fog..with the talk-bubble from Malcolm saying..: “Not far now, Godwin..just a slight rise ..if I recall…”

  2. Jaycee,

    Alright, as Michael Jackson once put it, ‘It’s as easy as . . . [now, there’s an elipsis for you 😉 ] A B C’, so let me suggest . . . [anothery]

    abetz

    bernardi

    christensen

    but indeed, the field is wide.

  3. jaycee@jaycee ‏@trulyjaycee 3m3 minutes ago
    Diff’ ‘tween Muir+ Turnbull : Ricky Muir does the honest, decent thing 4 respect from peers..Turnbull has be crooked for respect from his.

  4. Something I don’t think that the Libs have brought into consideration, the school kids bonus runs out on the 30 June and unless they extend it in the budget. There are going to be some very angry parents.at that time.

    Not a good time to have an election when the hip pocket gets a kick. I know from my grandkids that money tides them over for all sorts such as uniforms, books, school trips etc

  5. Oh goody. I will brave Lib Uber Shill Paul Murray’s program tonight. On this DD Day he has as a guest..http://www.ozpolitic.com/album/forum-attachments/Tony_Abbott_090.jpg

    …WOW de WOW Murray rips into CPG and the ‘genius’ of Truffles. Also mentions re ABCC that we (voters) are not going to be spending the next 15 weeks thinking about it. Advised Shorten not to do photo ops with unionists during the campaign though.

    Lazarus ,’Lionhead’ and Muir saying pretty much “get stuffed Truffles” re ABCC. Lionhead said he is willing to ‘blow up’ his political career over the issue. Very not happy with the extraordinary powers given to the ABCC and the impingement on freedom. Did not realise Muir tried twice last week to get the ABCC debated but Truffles mob said ‘No’

  6. I tried watching Waffles on 7.30. What a condescending, pompous rude git! Mansplaining the DD process to Leigh Sales was not a good start. I turned him off when he started lying about all the great policies he said he has introduced. Yuck! What a creep!

  7. As one of those bustards with Foxtel , only for the rugby mind, I have noticed a definite change in tone over the last 3 or 4 weeks. More sympathetic coverage for Labor and more willingness to BOO Truffles. am I dreaming ? Has any other Foxtelian noticed ?

    Truffles ‘big day out’ and ups pop Abbott, coincidence ?

    • Only noticed it today, but I haven’t been watching Sky News much.

      Paul Murray certainly seems to have it in for Waffles today.

  8. I don’t post at PB these days, but occasionally go over there to lurk, especially if a poll is due and possibly interesting. I think I picked up once that Briefly was standing as an ALP candidate in the federal election in WA. Does anyone know which seat he’s going for? I always rather liked him as a poster and hope he goes well.

    • I agree with you. Briefly is also a deep-thinker and a writer. He’s always pleasant. True Labor man.I wish him luck. We need more people like him in Parl.

  9. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. Of all the mornings to sleep in a bit late!

    Abbott’s still banging on about how great he is (was).
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-is-running-on-my-governments-record-tony-abbott-20160321-gnnrtv.html
    Peter Martin introduces the 56 millionaires who pay negligible tax.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/tax-stats-meet-the-56-millionaires-who-pay-next-to-nothing-20160321-gnndna.html
    Lenore Taylor – it’s all about tactics.
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/21/malcolm-turnbull-hits-reboot-after-political-operating-system-starts-crashing
    Michelle Grattan says Turnbull’s not being canny, he’s just pulled out the six-shooter.
    https://theconversation.com/turnbulls-not-being-tricky-hes-just-brandishing-a-six-shooter-56619
    Dave Donovan describes it as Turnbull’s Machiavellian plan.
    https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/malcolms-double-d-debacle,8801
    Not a particularly good night on QandA for the conservatives.
    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/qa-recap-student-carter-smith-makes-passionate-plea-for-safe-schools-program-20160322-gnnsuc.html
    Jaqui Lambie opened up on Dyson Heydon’s “secret TURC volume”.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/03/21/jacqui-lambie-qanda_n_9515074.html?utm_hp_ref=australia
    What the budget re-timing will mean to public servants.
    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/public-servants-told-to-prepare-for-late-nights-after-early-budget-announcement-20160321-gnn57n.html
    Channel 9 goes too far during the Sam Burgess incident.
    http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/south-sydney-rabbitohs/channel-nine-went-too-far-in-showing-distraught-julie-burgess-as-sam-lay-injured-20160321-gnnb6j.html
    Hartcher must have spent his time during the strike to stock up with knob polishing materials.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/weeks-in-the-planning-we-now-see-malcolm-turnbull-has-been-biding-his-time-not-wasting-it-20160321-gnnflt.html

  10. Section 2 . . .

    A better effort from Mark Kenny who says it will test Turnbull’s salesmanship skills to convince voters that cutting taxes for big business but not workers is a good thing. He says he’ll probably handball it to the marginalised Morrison.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/why-cutting-taxes-for-big-business-instead-of-workers-will-test-malcolm-turnbulls-sales-skills-20160320-gnmxxx.html
    How Leigh Sales rattled Turnbull on 7:30.
    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbulls-own-words-turned-against-him-in-abc-730-interview-with-leigh-sales-20160321-gnnrlu.html
    http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/work/your-enthusiasm-for-putting-words-in-my-mouth-is-commendable/news-story/d7b71d20121a5c99f58b12d6f4dfc48a
    This election will not be about the construction industry but rather about house prices.
    http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2016/03/21/pms-housing-scare-election-campaign/
    “View from the Street” previews the election campaign.
    http://www.smh.com.au/comment/view-from-the-street/view-from-the-street-election-2016-let-the-empty-ideological-pretendies-begin-20160321-gnnhf5.html
    Greg Jericho crunches the numbers on negative gearing and bracket creep.
    http://www.theguardian.com/business/grogonomics/2016/mar/21/bracket-creep-might-be-all-the-rage-but-the-tax-statistics-tell-a-different-story
    Is home brand snobbery costing us big dollars?
    http://thenewdaily.com.au/money/2016/03/21/how-much-cheaper-is-home-brand/
    This guy’s not a member of the CFMEU is he?
    http://www.smh.com.au/business/markets/asx-chief-elmer-funke-kupper-quits-in-face-of-investigation-20160321-gnn1m3.html
    Surely this reinforces the principles of Gonski.
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/naplan-bright-kids-fall-behind-at-disadvantaged-schools-20160321-gnn0t2.html
    Michael Gordon on the re-energised Opposition.
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/have-another-look-at-me–shortens-challenge-to-voters-20160321-gnnkdt.html

  11. The contrary and confident arrogance I just heard Turnbull use against Brissenden on the ABC. AM shows the power the LNP. holds over the ABC. news dept’…and the oily lip-smacking dribbling by Uhlmann I saw yesterday on the ABC.shows just where that is coming from

  12. Exactly.

    • I’m sure the primary consideration when selecting “front-desk” commentators for the MSM. is : “Big eyes, little brain.”

  13. I have just had very nice chats with Senator Muir’s and Senator Madigan’s electorate offices.

  14. Oh goody! High Court challenges to Turnbull’s DD plans.

    Malcolm Turnbull’s push for double dissolution faces challenge in Senate and courts
    Crossbenchers, Greens and Labor ponder political and constitutional moves to counter prime minister’s risky strategy
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/21/malcolm-turnbulls-push-for-double-dissolution-faces-challenge-in-senate-and-courts

    If it all goes pear-shaped there is only Turnbull to blame. Yesterday’s announcement was a captain’s pick.

    Asked why the treasurer, Scott Morrison, had been insisting the budget would be on 10 May until shortly before his announcement, the prime minister told ABC’s 7.30 program: “The treasurer was aware that we were considering a whole range of options but until I made the decision to change the date of the budget, the budget was on the 10th of May.”

  15. RNM 1953,

    No inside goss. Just told the electorate officers that if there’s a DD and their respective Senators were running, I would be voting below the line and putting both in the electable range. I was told that at this point both will be running.

  16. The answer to yesterday’s question – how can debate on the ABCC bill continue if parliament has been prorogued.

    It’s all about the Senate standing orders.

    If parliament has been prorogued and then recalled without first going to an election then debate on bills already in progress can be resumed. The ‘clean slate’ thing only applies if prorogation is followed by an election.

    There is a big ‘BUT’ though. Debate can only be resumed after a successful motion by whichever house had the bill before the prorogation. That’s why there has been so much chatter about a senate strike. The senate might refuse to reintroduce the bill for debate.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/aso/so136

    The government says refusal to debate the ABCC bill would be taken as a failure to pass the bill and the DD would then follow, as threatened. The Greens are looking at a High Court challenge.
    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/21/malcolm-turnbulls-push-for-double-dissolution-faces-challenge-in-senate-and-courts

    Labor is being a bit more cagey, saying only they are looking at options.

    • IMO Labor shouldn’t sign up to any high court challenge as it will start a narrative that Labor’s too scared to face an early election.

  17. The PM’s New Three Word Slogan Is Straight From This “Veep” Episode
    When you get caught using political satire to describe your government.

  18. jaycee@jaycee ‏@trulyjaycee now

    C’mon @abcnews ,how does it go? “Leadership challenge;it’s on!”,y’know every day, every news break,every BAZZ CAZZ ;”Leadership, leadership”

  19. Update on rich-list tax avoidance.

    Have fun flicking through 186 pages of figures which reveal all the dirty truth about who earns what and how much tax they pay – or don’t pay.

    The tax affairs of the companies linked to Australia’s richest people, including Gina Rinehart, Harry Triguboff and Lindsay Fox, have been published in an Australia-first data dump by the Tax Office.

    Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting paid $466 million in tax on taxable income of $1.5 billion in 2013-14, making the iron ore producer by far the nation’s largest privately owned corporate taxpayer.

    The Tax Office on Tuesday published total revenue, taxable income and tax paid for 321 privately owned companies with total income of $200 million or more.

    It reveals that 98 of these companies paid no tax at all while 123 companies paid exactly 30 per cent of their taxable income in tax

    http://www.afr.com/news/policy/tax/the-ato-reveals-the-tax-secrets-of-the-rich-list-20160321-gno066

  20. Tim Dunlop on The Drum :
    ” And yet, key players in the mainstream media are now asking us to believe that this was all part of some master plan capped off by his “striking and authoritative move” to call an early election.

    Give me a break.”

    Reminds me of Wolfgang Leuschel “shadow boxing” showing his Ju-Jitsu skills around an unimpressed Bodo Skrypeck..who on taking a last draw on his cigarette and flicking it thither, calmly took hold of Wolfies flaying arm as it “cut through the air with sword-like hands” and flung him over his shoulder onto the ground…

    Wolfie lay inert for a fair number of seconds before a concerned crowd slapped him around..

    “What happened?” He groggily asked. When the action was described, he stood confidently up, dusted himself off and announced with pride..:

    “Well..lucky I knew how to ‘fall’ .”

    The slogan for Turnbull after the election.

  21. My twitter has gone off like a rocket. Richard diNatalie has obviously said something. I blocked him and many Greens ages ago because of their negative attitudes.

  22. Quick, Watson, the needle!

    Abbott was ousted from the prime ministership in September, but told Sky News on Monday night that his legacy lived on.

    “The Turnbull government is seeking election fundamentally on the record of the Abbott government. Stopping the boats, finalising the free trade agreements, our strong national security policy,” he said.

    “It’s very easy for me to campaign on the election of a Turnbull government because the Turnbull government is running on the Abbott government’s record. It’s a very strong record.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/mar/22/tony-abbott-turnbull-is-campaigning-on-my-governments-record?CMP=share_btn_tw

  23. Jezus that was a tight squeeze!..Am replacing and re-pointing the brickwork in the old vault-oven in the bake-house. It hasn’t been used for about seventy years or so and it needed some repair..still more to do..but when it is finished and we work out the wood-burning requirements and temp’ control, the OH, is going to cook some things in it to get the hang of it…then we’ll have a big cook-up and get the crew out again for another “knees-up” as Puffy so glamourously calls it!

  24. More “continuity and change” nonsense. Someone should ask Waffles whether he has Stopped The Boats and Axed The Tax

    “It’s very easy for me to campaign for the election of the Turnbull Government because the Turnbull Government is running on the Abbott government’s record because it’s a very strong record,” Mr Abbott said.

    Mr Turnbull hit back this morning, telling AM that Mr Abbott was “not right in that sense”.

    “The bottom line is there is continuity and there is change,” Mr Turnbull said.

    “There are many policies that have been announced and many initiatives that have been undertaken that were either not policies or not being pursued by Mr Abbott.”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/turnbull-abbott-not-right-to-claim-full-credit-for-policies/7265502

    Anyone else heard about these “many policies”?

  25. The Greens seem to have woken up and realised they were used.That’s why we now have the damage control farce.

    Voting with the government last week to block debate on the ABCC bill was dumb, the Greens played right along with the government’s plans and didn’t even notice. There must have been a lot of celebrating in dark places when that happened.

    • Concupiscence for recognition and power is quite a drug.

      When it wears off and you recognize that Waffles didn’t love you in the morning ..

  26. Beautiful autumn day in Melbourne with everyone wandering around smiling and smugly congratulating each other on being able to enjoy such a glorious day

  27. Anyone know what happened to the Innovation revolution? One minute it was all they could talk about, now it seems to have disappeared. I know it was a stupid idea, but still, it was their stupid idea, and they could at least have stuck with it a little longer, just for form’s sake.

    They’re actually just scrolling through a whole bunch of things at Turnbull HQ, trying to find something that might stick in the minds of the electorate. I can tell them that bashing the unions didn’t work when the idea was fresh in everyone’s minds in January, and it sure as hell ain’t gonna work now.

    Turnbull might want to have a bash at creating the impression that he knows what he’s doing. He hasn’t tried that yet. Changing the date of the Budget, snarling about a DD over something nobody cares about, fending off Abbott, letting Bernardi and Christensen run loose, tooling up for an election with nothing to actually fight it on (his suggestion that there have been a lot of policy innovations since he became leader just highlights the obviousness of their non-existence) – these are just making things worse for him.

    The rot had already set in when he became leader. Starting off with spirited defences of Abbott policy, which is all he did for the first couple of weeks (along with putting an SSM decision on the backburner) was a big pointer. But I think it became obvious to all that he was just a cipher earlier this year, when his party was fracturing under him and he decided that would be a good time to stroll the streets and take a few selfies.

    Essential is now 50-50. I think the only poll left giving Turnbull a clear lead is that dodgy IPSOS one with the weird figures for SA.

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