A fairy tale. Tony Abbott and the backbenchers.

Author

Tony Abbott gathered together those who had failed to make the exalted rank of Cabinet Ministers.  It was just like Jesus gathering the disciples at the last supper.

“I have gathered all you backbenchers together today to get some feedback as to how ‘good government’ is going.  The public seen to think I should talk to you plebs a bit more so this is your opportunity to listen to me.”

The PM continued.  “So how are we going?  I’ll tell you how we are going.  I reckon we have shirt-fronted the opposition and are about to jump on their gooleys.  I said let’s shorten Bill Shorten and we did.  The opposition is in utter chaos and the speaker is picking them off one by one.  Raise a question I can’t answer and Bronwyn has them out the door.  We could not be going better.  Now is there anything else before you crawl back in your holes?”

“One little thing PM.  I was talking to a constituent last week and he asked me a question.  Maybe you can help me with an answer.  He asked if we are just starting good government, did that mean we were practicing bad government for the last year or so?  Said he had been telling me that we were a bad government and I wouldn’t believe him. ‘How thick are you?’ was how he expressed it.”

“Not worth wasting time on.  Probably a rusted on Labor voter.  We only want to talk to people who support Tony Abbott.  These are the voters we need to keep happy and supportive.”

“Sounds like I can take it easy.”  said one of the marginal seat holders.  “Think I talked to him last week.”

“PM what about being more consultative with the voters?”

“Don’t know the meaning of the word.” said Tony.  “Who needs consultation?  What we need in this country are more decisive leaders.  There is not enough talent around who can convert thought bubbles to legislation.  Scott does it.  George does it but not many others.  Joe and Christopher are better at turning legislation into thought bubbles.”

“PM what do you think about the polls?”

“If they want to join the Ukraine in fighting Russia that is their affair.  If they want, we can threaten to shirt front an invading country but we would never actually support the country being invaded… unless of course we are asked by the US or Israel.”

“No Prime Minister.  I was talking about the popularity rating of the government, and you in particular.”

“Oh.  Those polls.  You guys are so stupid.  No wonder you are still backbenchers.  ‘Kauri’ Pyne pointed out to me that they only survey a few hundred people.  Even if it is a thousand and 90% don’t like us, that is only 900 people.  There are 24.5 million people in Australia so what is a mere 900?”

The sound of sobbing came from some sections of the room.  Only one member nodded appreciatively as he absorbed the new information.  That particular member had failed every maths test since kindergarten before finally abandoning studies mathematical the year before he left school.  That would be year 4.   He currently had his eye on Joe Hockey’s job.

“What will we say about the upcoming budget if we get asked?”

“Tell them it will be dull.  Dull and boring.  It will be so dull they will probably nod off.  If everyone nods off we should be able to sneak it through both houses and nobody will be the wiser.”

“But surely there will be some initiatives we can talk about.  Have you any new ideas you are exploring?”

“OK.  I am excited about a few ideas I had lately.  You need to keep this information to yourself.  Lately there have been more leaks than a Welsh farm show.  One idea I had was about negative gearing.  Negative gearing sounds so negative.  Let’s call it positive gearing and take all that bad energy away.  How could they write a bad headline about positive gearing?”

There was much gnashing of teeth from the assembled backbenchers.  Several burst into tears.  One exploded spontaneously.  As they were on the ground floor, one threw himself out the window 20 times since there was not a 20 storey window handy.

The PM was on a roll.  “Another idea I had was to put a ceiling on the aged pension.  Think how unfair it is to all those who die in the late 60’s when others collect a pension to 100?  We need to put a ceiling on how long we pay them.  Maybe cut off their pension and medical benefits when they reach 75.  Eighty and ninety year olds are just a bunch of leaners.  I will run it past Joe.”

Another three backbenchers spontaneously exploded.  The windows were jammed with leaping legislators.  One dropped down on his knees pleading “Please, please stop consulting with us!!”

“As for the submarine thing in Kauri’s state, we had a few ports last night and decided to revolutionise aquatic defence.  We will combine the best features of submarines and drones.  Let the Australian Submarine Corporation develop an underwater submadrone.  What it costs us to build, we save with crew.  Just recruit a few young guys who have played Grand Theft Auto and Roberts your mother’s brother.”

“I think he means ‘Bobs your uncle” chirped the incredibly shy Peta Credlin.

“And a few more budget bonanzas.  Speedos for kids on Nauru.  Do away with States.  A posthumous knighthood for Margaret Thatcher.  Do away with the Senate.  Les Patterson for Treasurer. Declare the Greens a terrorist organisation.  Appoint the Queen as speaker of the house.  Fund a project to resurrect Menzies.  A dame-hood for Gina.  Australian citizenship for Rupert.  Make Cardinal Pell Governor General.  Make Turnbull Minister to Monaco.  Who said this is a government without ideas?”

“Time for your medication, I mean vitamins, Prime Minister.”  said Peta the timid.

Now readers I need to digress.  Scientists have discovered that sheep, when threatened, have no idea what to do.  Eventually one cracks.  That sheep bolts.  The previously paralysed sheep see the bolter.  With no better option they follow the bolter.  It may be into a barn wall; it might be over a cliff;  where one goes, the others follow.

That generally describes the state of backbenchers.  The member for Upper Downtown bolted through the door of the gentlemen’s convenience.  The remaining backbenchers followed.  The wall opposite the door of the convenience could not sustain the onslaught.  Bursting forth in an explosion of broken timber and shattered urinals was the entire backbench (excluding those who had self imploded of course).

“Seemed to go well Peta, don’t you think?  They left full of enthusiasm.”

The shy and demure Peta turned.  Upon her face was an expression that reflected incredulity, passion and brick dust.   As she dug herself out from under the plasterboard and broken timber, words seemed to allude her.  Obviously moved, she spoke from the depths of her soul.  Her words almost unable to match the enormity of the occasion.  As though what she was about to utter would be recorded for all time.  She finally found her timorous voice.

“You fucking idiot!  No wonder I keep you away from the backbenchers.  What were you fucking thinking!  Did your brain finally short circuit?”

“Hang on Peta.  That is a little unfair.  Malcolm just sent me a text to say the backbenchers reckon I lived up to their expectations.”

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