It was the beginning of the festive season in Canberra and a small balding man with jug ears and bandy legs who walked uneasily as if he were carrying a pig under each arm strode towards the steps of parliament while appearing to address a claque of journalists who tottered after him, a tangle of cameras, blazing lights, some waving microphones disguised as woolly bed-socks, other offering phones with recording apps; phones so intelligent they outsmarted their owners.
‘Solid achievement …,’ the Prime Minister, intoned, squinting as he feigned a reflective pose whilst wincing inwardly and avoiding catching David ‘Paddler’ Johnston’s eye as he lurched in late, ‘a year of solid achievement…’
Abbott was multi-tasking, as he liked to call it: talking to reporters on the fly whilst readying himself and his government for photographers on the steps of parliament on the last sitting day of the year. In reality he was rashly attempting two tasks either of which would have been better delegated to someone else yet there was no-one else he could trust not to stuff it up either.
“The carbon tax is gone,” he said. “The mining tax is gone. The boats are stopping. The roads are building. The budget is coming into better shape. The three free trade agreements that have been successfully negotiated will set our country up for the long term … I know that appearances do count and I concede that the appearance last week was a bit ragged but, in the end, nothing matters more than performance and this is a government which has a very solid year of performance under its belt.
His government, that false and faithless bosom of buried scorn, flanked him like a whelp of hungry mongrel pups performing nods, eyebrow stretches and other intended expressions of solidarity for the camera, most of which were completely lost in translation and which ended up instead making some of them look like a cat with a fur ball, or a dog when you put its medicine on its tongue. Most, however, just looked like exhausted and clapped-out character actors after a long season on the boards before hostile provincial audiences, hamming it up for the camera con brio lest unemployment come before they had paid the gas bill.
Bruce (small business) Billson should really give up the garlic, he thought, if he can’t stop sticking his face in other people’s businesses. And give up all the hearty hail fellow well met stuff. Such an unctuous toad. Besides, that’s my routine. Bet Frankston’s happy when he’s in Canberra, oleaginous, grasping, self-propelling bag of fart gas.
The unemployment rate has hit 6.3% the highest since Abbott was Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations in 2002. Business and consumer confidence are at an all-time low. Other financial measures suggest that Australia may well be headed for an economic recession.
‘…Achievement,’ he continued, giving himself thinking space to work out where he was, what day it was and where his weekday Malvern star was parked. Trust Johnston to stand upwind and near him. You could fuel a small gas bar-fridge on the alcohol on his breath. Glad that he’s so close to Ian MacDonald, the double-crossing, back-stabbing, pompous misogynist. How dare he accuse me of over promoting Peta Credlin? If only he knew how much I owe, how much we all owe to Peta. She even does the Cabinet footy-tipping. Ungrateful bastard!
Stopped the boats; scrapped the carbon tax;
Abbott has delivered on his campaign to roll back action on global warming and has effectively thrown the off switch on the booming renewable energy industry …direction action, the so-called centrepiece of his government’s climate change policy is a hoax.
‘Solid achievement’ chorused the Treasurer, the Foreign Minister, the Trade Minister and all the other overlooked Ministers for whom the Christmas photo is as close as they will ever get to their PM. They packed closely in around their hapless leader like pin-striped blowflies on a country dunny, in a parody of solidarity whilst nudging one another aside for a bigger share of the lens. It was the last parliamentary steps photo-opportunity of the year. Some reckless pundits were musing that it could be Abbott’s last ever.
Health, Education and Community services have all been cut savagely…while the Abbott government has shown the interests of big business and mining interests will always come before the needs of communities and the environment.
Features contorted into toothy grins, manic rapture, bucolic reverie, mindless ecstasy and other grotesquely insincere affectations of guileless bonhomie and esprit de corps for the camera. Christopher ‘Glad hands’ Pyre pumped Peter Dutton’s hand on the pretext of endorsing the Health Minister’s latest Medicare fiasco whilst hoping against hope to forge some covert alliance of desperate mediocrity which might be traded upon in the future. Greg Hunt shook his own hand, there being no-one more worthy or suitable nearby or in the entire government, come to think of it.
Inwardly all members of government were filled with various forms of bickering and dissension, each herniated with self-pity and gall at their misfortune, each cursing their luck to have such a dud leader, each bitter and miserable about their PM, Peta Credlin’s high-handed control over every detail of their lives and their government’s record-breaking low performance in the polls and each fearing unemployment next election.
The Abbott government has increased secrecy and cruelty towards vulnerable people seeking asylum. Domestically, it has undermined attempts to address discrimination in society regarding sexuality and race.
All present, of course, were singing from the same song sheet, namely Peta ‘chokehold’ Credlin’s daily song sheet of talking points, a type of scripted autopilot-autocue provided daily or more often as required for the mentally challenged, enfeebled, bone idle, brain dead and any other members of the Abbott government. It was a stunning display of solidarity, unanimity and state of the art micromanagement.
Fittingly, capping a busy, busy, busy and richly productive year, in which its myriad achievements appear daily ever more solid and uplifting, and in David Johnston’s Defence, also very much more liquid, not forgetting so much offered that was simply rarefied and gaseous, the Abbott government then reached deep into its chest cavity to furnish its long-awaited, hand-crafted, homespun, heartfelt, Christmas message to the people of Australia.
Its mug filled to overflowing, with the business, the small business-and-lifeblood-of-our-nation-amen business, of dispensing (with) largesse, the (dried) fruits of prosperity and stale beer-nuts of good cheer, the Abbott government with typically reckless generosity bestowed its spirit of mean and sneaky upon every household in the land. The photographer, a wag from way back, cleverly by-passed ‘say cheese’ in favour of something much more suited:
‘Say: Mean and Sneaky,’ he instructed, test camera aloft.
‘Mean and Sneaky, they chorused, bubbling with festive spirit and goodwill to all men and one woman in the cabinet.
‘Monstrous, mean and sneaky, thought the man with the automatic weapon on terror alert as he surveyed the lot of them, his gaze coming to rest on Scott Morrison’s features, which were ablaze with such crazed, rampaging zealotry that he would have immediately called for reinforcements had he not been sure that he was one of the most popular and widely respected members of the Abbott cabinet. They are all a worry, he thought, his forefinger on the trigger of his assault rifle, and especially when the best of them, in their own eyes, in their own esteem, is a raving psychopath.