Spinning out of control, Johnston’s case for war is no case at all.

davidjohnston

Australian Defence Minister and high flyer, David Johnston posing at the controls.

Australians breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when it emerged that not only did our nation have a defence minister, our very own colossus of modesty Senator David Johnstone, but that he had been despatched to Iraq. ‘Tongue-tied Titan’ Senator David Johnston is of course not the same as Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston who is the joint chief of staff although, remarkable as it may seem, the senator may be no stranger to a joint.

The proud Australian nation enjoys a richly-deserved reputation for its eagerness to follow-the-leader to any war anywhere, anytime, as much as for its historic involvement in a series of US-led military misadventures, and the odd disaster such as Gallipoli or Crete. Yet, until recently, the Australian people had simply assumed that their Prime Minister had assumed the defence portfolio, as is his wont, without telling anyone, including the hapless, low-profile Johnstone who until now has been flying completely under our radar. This is no longer the case, indeed, it seems ‘Joint-operations’ Johnstone has recently been flying high as a kite.

‘Stone-wall’ Johnstone, who appears by all reports, including ISIS agents’ photographs, phone taps and listening devices to have greatly enjoyed Iraqi hospitality was, it seems not AWOL but simply MIA. The senator is reported to have spent some considerable time ‘inside the tent’ with key Iraqi officials and other unconvicted fraudsters, con-men and petty felons whose topless personal assistants promised him a bit of the action as they plied him with sweetmeats, soothing unguents, emollients, sweet talk and endless Narghile (waterpipes) of Baghdad Bhang.

topless girl hookah party

photograph courtesy of Peshmerga candid portrait, passport and special event photography

Afghan Kush and other connoisseur’s choices were also on offer from the vast array of weed freely available throughout the city, a flourishing commercial centre, rapidly emerging as a major world cannabis supplier thanks to US aid and military investment in the region. Australian consumers can look forward to high quality imports before the end of the year as our troops keep their boots well and truly high off the ground in their high flying, morale boosting joint missions.

The hitherto camera-shy 58 year-old Senator ‘Pockets’ Johnstone, a barrister and solicitor in WA in civilian life, took the fight right up to ISIS by hunkering down well in a lavishly appointed mess tent well out of range of any real fighting while taking part in protracted and arduous smoke-filled negotiations lasting long into the Arabian nights with intervals only called for ingesting vast quantities of refreshing sweet things and finger food.

Johnstone, the defence chief whose personal mission is to put the joint into ‘joint forces’ is reported to have staggered from his tent some days later startling unwary security guards, by his state of undress and incoherent ranting. Gibbering nonsense about morale building, Australia’s mission and the sheer grace, athletic beauty and fighting spirit of the Aussie Digger and the desert camel, Johnstone was holding up his trousers with one hand whilst waving a befouled piece of paper in the other. The paper purported to be a type of agreement which has later become his script as Johnstone debriefed before the Prime Minister, Peta Credlin and the nation on national television.

‘Pockets’ Johnstone’s subsequent comments and his address to the nation have confirmed his commitment to evading the truth rather than merely ‘weeding out’ himself and his opponents. He has made a number of assertions, promises and undertakings that were it not for the weed he will help bring into the country, would have him committed instantly to a spell in psychiatric care. Amongst his claims is the statement that the Iraqi army not only exists but that it can fight. More precisely, ‘pockets’ Johnstone has repeatedly claimed that there are pockets of fighters which are highly trained and highly effective. Well done, Minister. No-one else has spotted anything like this. Nor will they, without a share of your herbal medicine. Just how pockets of fighters will be any good in a situation which needs a whole army as yet to be explained, although a few pockets of men may be nimble enough and sufficiently well-armed to make off with the drug stash before they are busted by ISIS. Pockets of men, further, is probably not the best morale-boosting form of words for a nation that is reported to have 275,000 active frontline personnel with another 500,000 in active reserve.  Pockets of men can only draw attention to the vast numbers who have simply deserted or joined the other side or highlight the widespread corruption and the practice of pocketing funds sent for buying arms and other useful materiel.

Johnston, Australia’s current Defence Minister says he is optimistic about how quickly a coalition of forces will be able to undermine the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Iraq. He does not detail how this might be done but the script so far is that air strikes will do the trick. This does not take into account such experiences to the contrary as VietNam, where a determined Viet Cong made steady advances despite massive air strikes. Nor does Johnston admit any concern with regard to collateral damage, a term which the United States gave to the world when its air strikes in Vietnam killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children.  Above all, he fails to explain the ways in which pilots will be able to discern targeted enemy combatants who will be hidden or embedded amongst civilians in cities.

There are many other elements of the Defence Minister’s briefing that are wacky if not outrageous but perhaps none so much as his confident prediction of victory which he cautions may be months rather than years. Even the expert spinner fellow Sand Groper West Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is more cautious about the prospects of successfully defeating ISIS through military intervention. And most expert commentators warn that the engagement could last years and faces only a slender prospect of success – not that we have managed to draw up a battle plan or decide what success would look like.

Most baffling of all his pronouncements was Johnston’s confident assertion that our Australian troops would boost the morale of Iraqi soldiers who until now have yet to win a single battle and who have distinguished themselves only by their capacity for corruption and their readiness to run away from battles. Johnston’s major blind spot here is that he is wilfully evading the truth that the Iraqi armed forces, expensively trained at great expense by the US with some assistance from the West, have no commitment to fight to the death for a government which is alien, effectively a dysfunctional, unrepresentative, US puppet government. Even if, somehow, with the ingestion of certain ‘joint force’ substances, perhaps, Iraqis could be influenced to stay and fight, the elephant in the room is the corpse of the Iraq government which itself has failed, and in the process lost control over vasts parts of its territory to ISIS.

Putting his head in the sand is unlikely to help us or David Johnston’s career. Nor is it wise for him to collude in the delusion that a military adventure will boost his party’s electoral fortunes. He needs to get real and level with the nation before someone else does it for him: Iraq War III is about protecting multinational oil companies and their interests and about maintaining strategic bases in the area for the United States.  We are in it because our Prime Minister rushed to offer his country’s support without considering the matter closely or deeply or responsibly sharing the decision with the people.  And if, at the onset, our Defence Minister is so far off the ball, then heaven help us when basic truths about Iraq and its lack of real fighting capacity emerge, as they must, in the heat of combat. We will have rushed to join an unwinnable, protracted war for no good reasons but to curry favour with a United States which does not have the means to pay for its own involvement let alone look after its allies or manage the vast costs of rebuilding and reconstructing Iraq. Abbott and Johnston’s flag-waving is an appeal to patriotism and national sentiment but Australia’s true colours in this field are self-deception, self-interest and irrationality, the abandonment of rational, responsible decision-making is what causes us to join in the real battle in Iraq.

Burqa Berserker unveiled in Canberra

Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors who are primarily reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk.
‎Berserker (disambiguation) – ‎Harii – ‎Trance – ‎Old Norse literature

Wikipedia

The fury of the berserkers would start with chills and teeth chattering and give way to a purpling of the face, as they literally became ‘hot-headed’, and culminating in a great, uncontrollable rage accompanied by grunts and howls. They would bite into their shields and gnaw at their skin before launching into battle, indiscriminately injuring, maiming and killing anything in their path. Dating back as far as the ninth century, the berserker Norse Warriors were said to be able to do things that normal humans could not. According to ancient legend, the berserkers were indestructible, and no weapon could break them from their trance. They were described as being immune to fire and to the strike of a sword, continuing on their rampage despite injury. – http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/viking-berserkers-fierce-warriors-or-drug-fuelled-madmen-001472#sthash.OjUlp4Ue.dpuf

ned kelly

Sunday, October 05, 2014
3:56 PM

In a rare moment of capital Canberra madness this week, Australian Prime Minister Tony Berserker Abbott once again unleashed a perfect desert storm of unbridled ridicule and derision when he publicly exposed his position by professing to his finding the burqa ‘ personally confronting’. Abbott may as well have tipped his kitchen slop bucket, or his bedside commode over his own head or defended kick-back king Arthur Sinodinis before an ICAC hearing such was the ensuing great stench, a stench which threatened to put the PM even further on the nose, even, as he himself contended yesterday threatening to create such a distraction that it would upset important business such as his spin on Australia’s illegal invasion of Iraq.
What the PM really wanted to share with the nation was that the very good news, the very good news, his very, very good news, that when the Iraqi-US puppet government came back to work from its holiday (if it ever came back) and if it by then still had anything left of Iraq to administer, and further, should it ever have a defence minister, to even at this late stage, have a foolhardy person sign his own death warrant or strap himself into the virtual suicide bomber’s belt of the portfolio of Iraqi defence minister, why, at that point in time, the minister would sign the utterly worthless piece of paper which gives Australia permission to invade the country, kill other Iraqis and generally look after the interests of multinational oil producers and the strategic requirements and expectations of the United States. Up until now, the complete absence of any candidate was merely a testament to the ways Iraqis have so fully embraced the democratic process. This includes pocketing billions of dollars transferred from would-be supporters donated to build up their defence stocks of helicopters and armaments. Above all it includes engaging in the ruthlessly systematic, joyous wholescale persecution of infidels adhering to minority religions such as Sunnis which at last reckoning made up a fair swag of their nation’s population.
The push of thinly veiled scallywags, disguised as journalists, in the Canberra press gallery countered that Abbott should pull his head in, arguing reasonably that most Australians found the sight of a PM out in public in red underpants or speedos truly confronting. Some ventured that Bronwyn’s bouffant beehive hairdo was not only a cruelly confronting and tasteless parody of iconic children’s role-model, Marg Simpson, but that because of its inherent capacity for concealment was a security risk. Others, including the worthy but truly sidelined voice of mature reason, common sense and justice Christine Milne faced off against Abbott, making appeals to tolerance and acceptance even despite, or perhaps because of, their true feelings that a woman in a burqa is a symbol of oppression unless she is an Afghan cameleer in disguise fleeing exploitation in historic outback Australia.
On-the-record-Burqa opponent, Peta Credlin unveiled the complexion of her thinking eagerly compromising her boss with either an ill-considered piece of tactical advice or a shrewd dog whistle to those Coalition rednecks who wanted to put their heads up above the parapet to oppose the burqa to do so for security reasons. All this did, predictably, perhaps was set the hares after the Afghan hounds.
As if his unguarded comment was not enough of an ‘own goal’, Abbott was then ambushed by the right wing of his party which boasts such stalwarts as Cory Bernardi, Bill Heffernan, Bronwyn Bishop and sundry other rednecks, racists, chauvinists, boors, philistines, undiagnosed dementia patients and rabid haters of the ABC, tolerance, science and reason. The events proved especially embarrassing to Abbott who showed once again that he was out of touch both with contemporary mores and out of touch with the rabid beast that is his own party. Many took his gaffe and subsequent fall out as yet more evidence that he could not control his own rump, although one backbencher did pull his head in when Peta Credlin threatened to smite his neck in a thinly veiled allusion to the Koran and its sanction of decapitation as the just desert of all infidels, a fact which up until now the PMC and its spin unit have been keen to publicly deny.
Whilst some expert Tony-watchers claim that his moves were just the latest in a series of craftily veiled dog whistles, many others conclude that he spoke the truth. As Annabel Crabb has so capably put it, the truth parrot on his shoulder spoke out, as it has to his cost so many times in the past, to put the kybosh on Abbott’s thin and flaking veneer of moderation and his confected illusion of control.

Wimpy Bill goes to war.

In the latest of a series of disturbing and disappointing career moves including winning Labor Party leadership, second musketeer Bill, ’war for one and war for all’, Shorten has further diminished Labor’s electoral standing and dashed the hopes of decent working men and women throughout Australia. Yet, surely, it is at times such as these ordinary Australians need a voice and deserve a representative who will stand up for them. Instead Australians have been betrayed by lickspittle Bill eagerly stepping up for his own turn on the war drum, acting as Tony’s roadshow toady. It’s an alarming and dangerous turn of events: another out of step drummer is frankly not in the national interest. An effective Labor Leader of the Opposition is.

For those who must serve in uniform, short-shrift Shorten has helped to cruel their futures, cancelling some of them and aborting yet others. Rather than protect his followers, he has helped make things dangerous at home and deadly abroad. Shorten has aided and abetted PM Tony Abbott’s fetish for militarism by backing him in sending us to an undeclared war, a war which Abbott’s spin doctors insult the nation’s intelligence in calling a mission. Accidentally, the word ‘mission’ may be heading in the right direction if only because our over-eager acquiescence in the US military adventure is not unlike assuming the missionary position.

Whatever form of words you choose, however, this latest military adventure is a dangerous war game. We have no strategy, no end game and there is no prospect of anything but a long, protracted engagement in an alien environment against forces which are difficult to identify. Many will suffer. Death, serious injury or a lifetime of traumatic psychological disorder await the unwary, to say nothing of the suffering such military service will bring to the combatants’ families and the nation. Mission improbable will morph into a mission impossible which will rapidly outwear our current hysteria, our quickly whipped up appetite for vengeance against the evil anti-western death cult desert dwelling barbarians, a hate-inspiring phantasm, the constructed enemy of the moment, created by tabloid media assisted by the PM’s strategic communications media. the outcome of such an engagement is impossible to predict. The only certainty is that it will be protracted, expensive and ordinary people will suffer. Those who survive ISIS can look forward to a civilian life of alcoholism, ostracism, family breakdown, a rat shit pension and PTSD. Ordinary men and women are the ones who get sent to their deaths in war, Bill, not the scions of the elite. Surely you would have learned that at University.

Why is Labor’s leader tamely agreeing with Abbott on the need to go to war? Abbott’s not making sense. Never has. No compelling case for war has been articulated by our gung ho,trigger happy leader. And we know that the little Aussie scrapper has a history of anger management issues, an unhealthy interest in fights and physicality matched only by his unbecoming attraction to grandstanding, his predilection for posturing and his ruthless expediency, his capacity to do anything else that he thinks will win votes. Why indulge him? It’s irresponsible. It’s like shouting another drink to an alcoholic who has fallen off the wagon. Perhaps Wimpy Bill has caught something. Perhaps he’s been careless with his prophylactics again. Is obsequious fawning an infectious disease? There’s been a fair bit of it about lately. Clearly the man’s not acting right. What compels him to join Labor to this latest conga line of suck-holes? What makes him think it is OK to go along with Tony’s going along with the USA and commit Australian troops to Iraq and Syria? We all know Abbott may be lacking in many things but the last thing the PM needs is help boosting his war lust or wimpy Bill cheering him on. Shorten has morphed into an embarrassing fan who claps the beat, whistles and throws his underwear on stage – or the moral equivalent of his underwear . Indecent is his haste: the curtain is barely up on the First Act.

Why is he doing it? If he knows he is not telling and his silence fuels unhealthy speculation that he is in it for self-interest, in the hope that the gravitas conferred by joining cause with the war effort will boost his credibility as a leader. Wet lettuce Willie Shorten has passed up on the need to offer any explanation or clearly articulated alternative position, preferring instead to whimper that Labor is bipartisan when Australia’s security is at stake. Bipartisan may be OK in key areas of public policy but here it is an unconvincing cop out. Our national security is not at stake, Mr Shorten, despite the government’s hysterical war propaganda, but it soon will be if you continue to support ‘Wall-Banger’ Abbott in committing troops to a cause rather than a conflicted military zone, a cause that will that will serve to put us fairly and squarely on the ISIS terror target map. As for your own or your party’s future, if you lie down with a dog of war, you wake up with fleas.

Committing our troops to serve in the Middle East will create more enemies than Rat f**k Rudd having a bad hair day. For despite Abbott’s spin, and the rhetoric of the coalition of the concerned, it is not a mission or a cause. It is not our freedoms that ISIS hates, Bill, it is US air strikes. ISIS does have a problem with being bombed and shot at or having a missile shower skewer their fundamentalism. It’s not an unreasonable reaction. Public decapitation in the name of Islam, however, is a means to an end for ISIS, a guaranteed way to get our attention which must be seen in historical context. Whilst Mr Abbott seizes on this with his pure evil death cult slogan and confects a cause from moral outrage it is vital to not confuse the causes with one barbaric symptom. Let us not ignore the long history and theological underpinnings of decapitation in the name of Islam and pretend that the task is an aberrant atrocity and let us not assume that our confected moral outrage is a just cause for  war. Challenge the government’s scare tactics by asking for empirical evidence of threats to our security and for evidence of  our attempts to deal with it before new laws make this even harder.

Enough of that dangerous ‘bipartisan’ drivel, Bill. Challenge Abbott to drop the demonising rhetoric of rampant evil and instead stick to the facts. Or do your own analysis and apply your own thinking. Now, Mr Shorten, it seems as if you are not really listening or understanding, so let us put it as simply as we can. An Opposition is meant to keep the government in check not lie down and let it walk all over you. You are leader of the opposition, not Tony’s double or cheer squad. People look to you to for leadership and they expect you to be independent from the vested interests of the machinery of war. Ordinary people expect you to stand for something and they need you to represent them. They look to you to ask the hard questions and they have a right to expect you to act in their best interests; the interests of ordinary Australians. They do not expect you to throw your hat in the ring with Abbot’s: into the dirty whirlpool of the war monger who deals in death; who denies our common humanity; whose evil business may destroy us all.

Abbott’s Death Cult Zombie Show

Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like. Regrettably, for some time to come, the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift.

There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.image

Tony Abbott in Parliament 23 September 2014

When it comes to entertainment, terror takes the cake. Say what you like about romance, game show or reality TV. None of these can poke a stick at terror. Not even Budget Crisis, the long-running LNP soap opera featuring popular villains Debt and Deficit. Not even sport. (Sport, like politics contains powerful theatre but essentially is applied psychopathy.) In sport and in politics you dedicate yourself to putting shit up your opponent. And occasionally on your opponent. Terror, on the other hand, scares the shit out you. And it’s good for you. It combines the therapeutic power of catharsis while it reinforces conventional morality. No wonder Abbott and the Death Cult Zombies, the latest smash hit theatre sensation is taking the country by storm.

Death Cult Zombies is a shrewd investment attracting powerful backers such as Rupert Murdoch. And billionaire entrepreneurs who have long lunches with the treasurer. It’s a sure thing. With terror you can’t go wrong. It’s tried and true. A box office you can bank on. Little wonder then, our LNP coalition has just treated us to a feast. It comes naturally. Political conservatives have a natural talent for popular entertainment. And creative fiction. It shows in their day to day dealings such as dropping unpopular bits of their budget while claiming today that they remain completely committed to their budget. It shows in their central political tenet that looking after rich mates is some form of public service. And it finds expression in rich theatrical occasions.

Who can forget such baroque epics as Malcolm where’s your trousers? Hockey’s biography: the compelling achievements of a man who so far hasn’t amounted to anything, much. So far. And who will go on to do even less.

What can compare with the finesse and fictive inspiration of Abbott’s intent to repay his mate Andrew Bolt for his support in winning the election by promising to gut racial discrimination law? And then claiming this would improve freedom of speech for the nation.  And then doing a backflip because of some mythic concern for the Muslim community. It’s a wonder they don’t incorporate the party and publish it as a work of fiction. It’d be a best seller. Shit all over the opposition. But then, Labor hasn’t walked out on the show. They are clinging to the second best seats in the house.

Death Cult Zombies is an all-singing, all dancing, (mostly) all Australian, anti-Terror Terror show. It’s a show to die for. Of course, it’s a Dutch treat. You get the bill in your tax assessments. With interest. Unless you are a big corporate sponsor like Murdoch. Then you’ll pay one cent in the dollar. Yet it’s compelling viewing. Endlessly diverting first Act. Then an enormous dramatic pause. So dramatic in fact that the suspense is killing us. Some of us are even beginning to notice impresario Anton’s vestments. The (former, would-be) holy roman emperor’s new clothes. And wonder if he’s wearing any.

Where’s the second act?

Why so quiet? A cone of silence has descended. The curtain remains down. The Greatest Australian terror raid played to packed houses mid- September. Two weeks have passed and there is not even an apology for extending interval. Why? What do the authorities have to share? Have to hide? Is it tough love? Or tough titty: we are never going to tell you and soon we will change the law so we never have to? 800 police and AFP must have more to show for their efforts than a pimply 22 year old with paranoid delusions about killing a random pedestrian.  When do we get to see it?

We love big shows in Australia.  Especially those which are big overseas. We love to talk them up before we go and afterwards. Up and up. This gratifies us for many reasons, not the least of which is the virtuous feeling we derive from talking up our experiences generally, our quality lifestyle, our good taste, our superior networking and of course our nose for good value.  “Great show and we were so lucky to get the best seats in the house so cheaply …”All sold out by my mate who knows the producer got me tickets.”

Exclusivity, amazing fortune, breathtaking bargaining skills or special contacts and great connections are all part of the weave of the legendary experience retold. Especially at ICAC. Rich indeed is the warp and weft of your typical après show discussion. Yet most of this is missing from our latest national diversion. Curiously absent.

It was a big operation. Massive. Even bigger was the hype. Australia’s biggest counter terrorism operation ever was the way it was presented. And re-presented. And commented upon. Repeatedly. Never has any show been so in love with its own production values. Not that we have that much to compare it with. A couple of smaller shows with a limited cast of evil bearded rotters and plotters. Still, others are bound to follow. You may depend on it. Now we’ve set a benchmark, we will have to better it. We won’t be able to help ourselves.

Australians deserve to know the score. It can’t just be nothing. Or next to nothing. After all we’ve just been slugged a cool $600 million for the beefed up security. And the costs don’t end just with the show. Factor in the cost of anxiety, fear, panic, paranoia, xenophobia and alarm washing through our consciousness as we battle to remain focused on those daily tasks which ordinarily make us if not paragons of productivity, a people chasing world’s best for time spent at work.

A great deal of fuss was made of the busting of terrorists on the day Abbott signed us up to fight in Iraq or Syria or wherever the United States said. But not go to war. Not yet. Humanitarian arms supplies and assisting air strikes. And a great deal of money was spent. And made, no doubt. Commercial news was full of the threat of a random beheading. Could happen to anyone. Just around the corner.

Abbott insists that we are all in real and present danger. Not because we are going to war. But because ‘truly evil’ jihadist terrorists in Syria and Iraq have stretched out their terror tentacles to Australia. ISIS operatives are hiding in bedrooms all over the country.  We need to go to war over there to stop them over here. If we could swat the ISIS blowfly in the Middle East we could be free from domestic maggots.  We would be safe in our beds at home.

But we haven’t really found any. Even though police kicked down doors and upturned beds all over the country. It’s not much of a plot, really is it? Stated baldly it’s not all that convincing is it? Or logical. True, there are successful shows that have creaky plots based on implausible stories but impresario Abbott needs to pull a rabbit out of a hat or his audience will walk out during intermission. Are walking out, as we speak.

Every impresario has something up his sleeve. Abbott is no exception. In this case it’s introducing new anti-terror laws. Laws that curtail our freedom. Especially the freedom to enquire about the missing second act of his Death Cult Zombie Show. The freedom to ask to see the proof of this dire new threat. Ask why we need new laws. A question we all need to ask. A question we need to be able to ask freely. Or remain forever silent.

Or before too long we will get laws we don’t need and didn’t ask for. Laws that don’t make us any safer. But which give much greater power to the government and its agencies.  Surely we don’t want that. No citizen  wants that. Or is it that after the Death Cult Zombie show, Act One, we are so frightened we’ll be happy to give up our right to stand up for our rights. Or even ask what’s going on.

Morrison stitches up deal with Cambodia in bizarre rewrite of Australia’s obligations to refugees.

A move within the Abbott cabinet to establish a homeland security super-ministry drawing together several major departments and functions looks to have been scuttled because senior figures viewed it as an attempt by backers of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to elevate him to future leader status.

The Age 1.10.2014 MARK KENNY AND JAMES MASSOLA

MORRISON: That you, Tony? Morrison here. Best on ground. Your star performer. Rising star. Team captain before too long. And on dancing with the stars. On hundred dollar bills soon.

ABBOTT: Scotty. Maaaate. [aside. God give me strength. The clowns I have to deal with. Some think they’re God Almighty. Or comedians. Or both.]

MORRISON: Are you free to talk, mate? Not got you at a bad time? Need a quick dicky. A quick word.

ABBOTT: Never a good time, Scotty. Not since opposition. Remember the days? Bag the shit out of Gillard all day and all night you could. Never had to do anything else.  Apart from sloganeer. And have Alan Jones blow smoke up my arse.

Ahhh … the slogans. You know tell I love them still. Axe the tax. Turn back the boats. Turn back the boats. Still good. Wake up at night. Find myself shouting it. And punching the bedroom wall.

And we did it. You did it. Always time for you Morrison, old cock. Time for you, Scotty. Time for you. Time for you. Time for you. You.

MORRISON: God Almighty! What the hell is that echo?

ABBOTT: Peta on conference phone. Credlin. The Boss. Oh and  ASIO, ASIS and the FBI. Of course.  Peta’s gotta to be working for them all I reckon. Smart girl that one. And the best arse in parliament.

CREDLIN: [aside: hold it right there, Abbott. Keep your hands in the open. Where I can see them.]

Scott Morrison! How the f**k are you. Back already? You lucky bastard! Didn’t step on a landmine, then. Kept out of bar doorways. No grenade in the kisser? Clap missed you, too I guess.  How was your trip?

ABBOTT: Near the doorway? Clear of doorways? Clap?

CREDLIN: Doors of bars in Shinaoukville. Rival owners on scooters. Ride up. Toss in grenades. Ride off.  Nobble the opposition. Disrupts trade. Smart tactic, though. Go well in Canberra. Not on Shorten, though. Be wasted. The bastard would fall on it like a giant wet weetbix. Smother the blast. Spoil the fun.

MORRISON: Place is f****d. Filthy. Stinks. Trash everywhere. Sewer stinks. Sex industry worse. Prostitutes everywhere. Ugly older men and young girls. Sleazy Europeans fondle teenage girls on their laps. Crawling with sex tourists and touts for child prostitutes. Children come up, begging or trying to get hold of groceries, snatching food out of your bag. Homeless kids live on the street. Crawling with children everywhere. Cambodian population mostly school kids. It’s what it looks like. Bird flu epidemic. Corrupt. Most corrupt country in the world. Or among them. Rampant corruption among judges, prosecutors and court officials. Slavery and child sexual abuse. Dangerous. You can get away with murder. And torture. You can die from just drinking the water. No-one in his right mind would want to go there. Live there. [laughs] Perfect place for asylum seekers.

CREDLIN: Spare us the travelogue, Scott. We didn’t send you over to dip your wick. Cut to the chase. Did you get us a deal or not? Where the bloody hell are you?

MORRISON: The Deal? Yes. Got good news and bad news, PM.

ABBOTT: Let me guess. The telegram that said your mother had died?  Turned out to be your mother- In- law? You drop 40 million at the casino. Turns out to be someone else’s money? And your boss gives you a pay rise?

CREDLIN: Keep it brief guys. Tony, you and I have a briefing soon. No time to listen to a couple of galahs rabbiting on.

MORRISON: Briefing? Course you do, Peta. What on? How to tell Obama’s arse from his elbow? Hope he’s in on it. Someone needs to tell him! Seriously. Where the border between Syria and Iraq is? Jesus! Better let the Syrians and Iraqis into that. Or how we wasted all those years and all those billions training up an Iraqi army who can’t fight its way out of brown paper bag. Whose battle plan is to drop their weapons and run away? We’d all love to know the answer to that.

ABBOTT: Enough of that, smartarse. Deep briefing from top brass on keeping our boots off the ground.

CREDLIN: While we fight the mother of all battles. Aleppo. Baghdad.  Armageddon.

MORRISON: Not another oil war in the Middle East. You know they are unwinnable. Got your head up your arse again, Tony. First we arm and train ISIL against Syria. Now we turn them into Anti-Christ. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper just to take more Timor oil? I know some good lawyers.

ABBOTT: [changing subject] How’d the bubbly go? You really know how to seal a deal, Morrison. But if you want Moet, by Christ, we’ll give you Moet. But we do expect you to turn up on time. And not to spill their drinks.

CREDLIN: Yes. We heard you turned up half an hour late. Crashed a tray of Cambodian glasses and then pretended to toast the deal for the camera. Poor bastards didn’t even have empty glasses to raise for the photo-opp.

MORRISON: It’s not all bad. Good news is the Cambodians agreed to take a few. From Nauru. Now that we’ve redefined our refugee obligations. So that we don’t have any part in looking after their welfare.

CREDLIN: In legal terms, the deal represents an abrogation of Australia’s responsibility to refugees who have been found to legitimately need our protection. Moving refugees somewhere else does not absolve Australia of its legal obligations. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, describes it as “a worrying departure from international norms”.

ABBOTT: [ignoring Credlin] A few hundred? Morrison, you are a legend. A few hundred, you say?

MORRISON: Not that many.

ABBOTT: A hundred now. Five hundred next year?

MORRISON: No. Two or three at this stage. They will see how they go.

CREDLIN: See how you go, you mean! You gave them 40 mill? The 40 million we gave you to sweeten the deal. $40 million over four years. No strings attached. No questions asked. And they are taking just two asylum seekers?

MORRISON: Two or three. It was news to me too. They call it a pilot programme. But just wait. There’s a bit you haven’t heard yet. They keep the bastards in Phnom Penh a year. After that they are relocated.

ABBOTT: Jesus. Your  Cambodian officials will all be down the casino now. Just imagine it. $40 million. Pissed up against the wall. Then it’s return to sender? God almighty!

MORRISON: No. They send them home.

CREDLIN: And where would that be?

MORRISON: Where they bloody came from. And don’t you worry about the 40 million being spent by officials. Any spend’s a good spend. It’s bound to trickle down. Create opportunities.

ABBOTT: So what’s the bad news Scott?

MORRISON: We still have to pay them.

CREDLIN: Pay them?

MORRISON: Yes. Everything you do in Cambodia costs money. Haven’t worked out how much yet. Under wraps. Christ, they know how to haggle. Basically, Australia agrees to pay the board and lodging. And …

CREDLIN: And?

MORRISON: Agrees to let Cambodia set the fee.

CREDLIN: Which is likely to be how much?

MORRISON: Billions.

ABBOTT: Mary, mother of God! Tell me again. Why did we send you Morrison? What in God’s name possessed us?

MORRISON: I’m the Immigration Minister. I am the star of Sovereign Borders. Soon I will be the head of Homeland Security.

ABBOTT: And?

MORRISON: And I’m way out in front in the opinion polls. You’re in negative territory. Going backwards. I can do what I like. Get away with anything. The country thinks your government is shite. Your budget stinks. Your terror diversion isn’t working. Your Royal Commission is a waste of money. You couldn’t lie straight in bed. No wonder Australians don’t trust you. But they know where they are with me.  Gotta go now, Peta and Tony. Mission accomplished. Leave you two to sort out the invoices.

Teen shot dead in knife attack; police and nation critically wounded.

No words can ever tell what led him to attack Police with a knife in the first hour of darkness on that fateful September evening. Strike at them not once but many times. Again and again in a mad frenzy. He wanted to settle things, perhaps. Unsettle everything, certainly. To settle nothing in the end. No words can ever let us into the deep, overwhelming darkness of his fury; the blind, frenzied lashing out, of his final, fatal acts.

No words can ever mend what has been done. And undone. No words can tell of his victims’ pain and shock and terror. Nor how their lives will never be the same. And those who know them. Belong to them. Love them. No words can tell, either how any of us will ever be the same. Bystanders, onlookers, outsiders every one of us, we can only re-trace some steps in his descent into madness.

Endeavour Hills is no stranger to desperation. Once a shift workers’ dormitory satellite serving Melbourne and Dandenong’s factories, it is today a many-layered place, a migrant melting pot, a terminus and refuge for the marginalised and dispossessed.

There are no hills to speak of.  You do climb a bit on your way through from Frankston to Dandenong. Any further elevation is all in the developer’s copy writer’s imagination. Increasingly those who live here, descend here. The place itself bears witness to much that is in decline.

Fading brick veneer buildings edge narrow streets, stunted drives, guillotined cul-de-sacs and crescents.  The 70s tint de jour was Dulux Mission Brown. Unmistakeable. Nothing like it. Imagine if you mixed every colour you could get together, you would end up with this brown. Perhaps how they made it. It’s a smart way to use up your leftovers, if you are DuPont. If you are just a consumer? You wear it.

Mission Brown will cover anything. Cover a multitude of sins. Here it’s everywhere like a dirty brown canker. Suck the life out of any streetscape. And out of you if you let it. Still keeping on keeping on defying you to rest your eyes on it. Find anything cheerful, anything remotely uplifting in it. Let your imagination run riot, as Barry Humphries might have said. Paint the town brown. Whatever it does for the painter, it’s not uplifting to the human spirit.

Cramped cream brick or tumbled brick veneer cottages have titchy unweeded yards where neglected dogs bark themselves stir-crazy. You get surround sound without having to ask for it. Neighbours can listen to neighbour without having to make up an excuse to pop next door to borrow a cup of flake. Hear their neighbours’ TVs; their domestics; doors slamming; their boy racer tuning his V8 in the drive; feel his sub-woofer shaking the bars of his roll cage.

These homes are too close for comfort. Closer to each other than their inhabitants will ever be in many cases. Their owners who have invested a lot in blinds and curtain netting. And more than the odd Rottweiler, mastiff, Pit bull terrier or mongrel combo with the lot. Estate developers cut costs and corners. Threw them up in a flash. Squeezed as many into the subdivision as they could get away with. Then got out in a flash. Made their fortunes. Made a killing. Put on white shoes and set off to walk arm in arm with another government to plunder the Queensland coast.

Cheaply made and poorly fitted, your average dwelling pinches at the elbows and around the seat, standing the test of time like a cheap 70s suit. After time that you couldn’t build quality if you wanted. Later constructions reflect how the ’80s and ’90s building boom strained building supplies. It shows in cheap and low quality materials.  Creature comforts are basic. Luxury is in low supply.

Not all the houses are tiny. Some are two storeys. Grass castles for stoner kings and queens. But the place feels cramped. Skimped. Confined. Tense. It is not the Australia of House and Garden magazine. You wouldn’t set Ramsay Street here. Domestics are violent.

A man shaved his wife’s head, bound her with duct tape and beat her for twenty minutes with a garden hose in a jealous rage. “If a wife cheats on a husband, she can expect to have this done to her. She made me do it,” her husband said in defence. His three-and-a-half year sentence would be nearly up by now.

Another resident kidnapped a Nepalese student he had befriended online, stealing from her bank accounts and was apprehended when about to push her into a grave he’d dug in the back yard. Her parents would not pay his $20,000 ransom. He said in court it was her idea.

Endeavour Hills bears more than its fair share of domestic conflict, home invasions and random bashings. It gets a bad press in some circles. But then, nothing good ever came out of Bethlehem or so they said. Best thing that comes out Endeavour Hills, wags say, is the road to Dandenong. And Dandenong’s rough.

Disharmony is a design feature in Endeavour Hills. Patterns, colours, textures and materials often argue with each other in the same fascia. Cheaper to get the job finished that way. Under budget. Parsimony knifes the soul. Cut-price suburban neurosis festers. Unwary visitors feel its chill. You could go easily go mad here. Kill yourself. If you weren’t a bit mad to have moved in.  Or desperate to escape another war-zone. Another hell hole. An Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon from the long gone days when Australia accepted refugees.

Any place at all suits when you’re desperate for shelter. Desperate to settle. Yesterday’s bargain build appeals when your budget is small. Practical necessity wins any arm wrestle over taste or design. No point in champagne taste on a beer budget. You may already know someone here.

And so it is the Hills have filled with migrants over recent decades. And their children. Their children’s children. It’s cheap real estate. Easy to get to. Near work. Handy to schools and other factories. It is an obscure place, unknowable to all but those who must reside here.  Unknowable even to itself. Easy to get lost in. Safely out of the way. Until now.

Today news bolts into our consciousness in an incandescent flash. It flashes, flares and burns like Icarus too close to the sun of everyday necessity. Simple stories are quickly whipped up and served hourly in our living rooms. Our anti-social social media is driven by them. Sick with them. Riven by them. Most are short-lived, self-destructing, fabrications. They burn up as they enter the atmosphere of our contested consciousness. Burn to ash in the short-fuse furnaces of our fractured and attenuated attention spans. How big is JLo’s butt, now? Celebrity obsession and our all-consuming appetite for the novel, superficial and the trivial help fan the flames. Yet others are ground out by big money’s boot heel, threatening law suits or big money calling the shots.

Yet our stories shape us. Define us. However long they may last. Give us a sense of ourselves. Who we are. Who we imagine we are. And who we are not. Stories define the outsider. The other. The threat. The monster. The real and present danger of the terrorist within. The red under the bed. The DIY mechanic boy with a petrol leak from his car yesterday in the parking lot of the Doveton mosque at his teenage friend’s funeral becomes a potential jihadist.

In a flash, a rampaging beast takes off. The demoniser. The hate-maker. It helps us ease our guilt. Cauterise our wounded pride. How could this happen on our watch? Quickly, the hapless man-child is the devil’s servant. A monster. In league with jihadist forces head-quartered in Syria and on Facebook. Gushers of hate-speak spew forth from public orifices to seal the deal. Pure Evil. Under the influence of pure evil, Tony Abbott says, of Jihadist forces abroad. Pure evil.

But wait, there’s more. There may be others like him, waiting to strike.

A heightened sense of alert feels very much like a paranoid panic attack, however, well the PM’s strategic communications unit may package it. Or the PM sells it. It strengthens the arm of central government. It sells newspapers. Boosts Rupert Murdoch’s income. No wire-tapping needed. It boosts ratings. Sets the hounds after the hares. Yet it also tears us apart as a nation. Tears at the very fabric of our social being. Turns us against them.

A young man is killed. Only now, forlornly, belatedly, do some of us seek to know him. Know who he was. What drove him to such desperate behaviour? Seek to find what went wrong. Discover the story. His story. Our story. For the rest, it seems, there is an easier way to deal with the facts.

‘Scum’ is the word many Aussie Bloggers are using in their rush to judgement. Too many.

Such simple-minded but savage attacks feed on ignorance and emotional immaturity but they now receive oxygen from the top. They are nurtured by a dominant public discourse in which we are under attack. Under attack not from our own lack of charity, compassion and concern for others but from the other. Evil is not in all of us. It is disembodied. Out there. In the young jihadist. This shameful, wilful black and white political narrative does none of any good.

It is a dangerous but familiar story which seeks to band us together against an enemy within.

It is the narrative of the witch hunt. We must root out the evil within us and destroy it. It is both infantile and lethal. It does not become as a nation. It does not serve us a people. It is a fiction which story which distorts our social conscience. It wilfully blinds us to the responsibility we must all bear for one of us has been lost. The flames of bigotry are fanned.

Now outbreaks of racist intolerance are reported in some quarters. No real surprise here. A litany of lies and wilful blindness is publicly broadcast. The deceased has become the enemy. Not ourselves.  This boy’s death, we are told in the subtext, is not our loss. He was not one of us in his growing up. We did not take him and give him succour. We did not nourish him, guide him, take care of him in every way we could as he grew into a man.

Instead of showing leadership, The Prime Minister’s spin on the story is to call it ‘a nasty incident in Melbourne’. Absolved, assuaged in this way is the fear-mongering unleashed in a terror alert upgrade. Absolved are those who resort to terms such as ‘pure evil’. Condoned is a primitive blood-lust for revenge and counter-attack.

A reporter calls on a neighbour in Narre Warren last week. A few doors away is the young man’s home. Blinds and curtains darken this house, with its untidy teenager’s room, a room that only yesterday was filled with music, life and laughter, friends and bits of gym equipment. A room whose emptiness is now eternal. No-one will call on him now. The dark angel has flown. Forever.

The neighbour turns the reporter away. He will not give his name.  Mr Go Away does not want to get involved.  None of my business.  Fear is in his voice. And anger.

Leave me alone is the gist of what the neighbour is saying. Just as the boy was left alone. Police covered his body with a tarpaulin. Left him on the road where he fell. Until the next day. The corpse could have been dangerous, they said. Lethal. A risk to our safety and security.

Mr Go Away is but one voice of the ‘community’ which surrounded, supported and educated the young man who has died. But it is not a helpful voice. This is not the voice of neighbourly concern. It is not the voice of any true community. Rather, it is just one representative of what has come to usurp community. A post-modern aggregation of self-absorption, self-interest, irrational fear, mistrust and indifference.

Sadly it is this voice which is privileged. It is this voice that appears to be in the ascendancy, nurtured, called forth by our national terror alert and all its eager handmaidens.

Narre Warren is another Endeavour Hills in the making. A cheap knock-off. Only the buildings are newer. The general idea is the same. Knock them up cheap. Sell them dear. The quality is the same or worse. The dead flat blocks are smaller. There is a sense of a future slum evolving before your eyes. A ghetto. It rises on stony ground: the stinginess and greed of its developers’ and builders’ hearts. Kids’ cars clutter streets and drive ways. Doors slam. Dogs bark all day. You feel instantly that you will be forever on the outer. Unwelcome. Uninvited. Unconnected.

There is no neighbourliness, no community speaking in this man’s voice. It is the voice of denial. Go away. In these words, we deny ourselves, our love for one another. That part of others that makes us whole. Our delight in another’s company. Another’s joy. Grief in another’s sorrow. Our humanity. Go away? We cannot go away. We are not made that way. Not one of us.

Perhaps Mr Go Away senses this. Perhaps he dimly realises that we are all in this together. Perhaps in some way it disturbs him. Traps him. Perhaps even he suspects that there is no easy way out. Senses that we are all involved for better or for worse in the end. All he would say for the record was that of course he knew of his neighbour. He knew of is a form of words you choose when you don’t know a person at all. Knew of is the Judas kiss of death to any real community.

Abdul Numan Haider’s knife attack on two policemen and his subsequent fatal shooting outside Endeavour Hills Police station at 7:45pm, Monday 23 September troubles us for many reasons. What caused this eighteen year old to attack police when they called him in for questioning? He clearly intended to harm them. He took knives. He set it up. He phoned to arrange the meeting outside the station. He reversed his Nissan Pulsar into a park as if making for an easy get away.

He did not get away. Whatever plans he may have had of escape, his actions have unleashed a perfect storm of hatred, recrimination, discrimination and revenge. And evasion.

Who knows what disordered thoughts ran through his teenage mind? Martyrdom? Revenge? Anger? Suicide? We need to ask hard questions of the evidence. We need to look into ourselves, our own hearts. Avoid boarding that juggernaut of popular opinion on its rush to judgement.

Media reports describe Haider as yet another desperate Islamic fanatic, an ISIL extremist obeying instructions to decapitate. A jihadist carrying out a fatwa.  An automaton programmed to destroy and self-destruct. Or a lone wolf. A lone wolf who chooses to carry out the fatwa rantings of a jihadist madman. The two are logically opposed but either fits well within the PM’s national scare strategy. Serves its purpose. Purpose? The euphemism is ‘team-building’.

Other journalists looking for the person discover personal stressors: his relationship breakdown. Some report his anger at having his passport cancelled, his resentment at being visited at home and hassled.  They write of a good kid from a decent family. They report his parents’ grief and disbelief. They write of his becoming a target for investigation of terror suspects. Earlier that day the police called at his home. They searched his bedroom while he was out before issuing their invitation to join them at the station when he returned. His parents tried to prevent him from going to the station.

Few trouble to raise some basic questions. A lethal trap sprang shut last Monday. The consequences are tragic. Was it entrapment? Was it a random act of madness? What efforts had police made to assess risk? Could police have not sensed the suspect’s psychological instability? They made many visits to his home. They quizzed him about his contacts his networks. Did they follow these up? They raided his room while he was out. They then requested that he attend the station. Could they not have reasonably foreseen a confrontation brewing? What steps were taken to defuse a volatile and potentially lethal situation?

The tragic events will not, of course, yield to any quick and easy explanation. Their origins are highly complex. Some would have us begin with the story of a migrant boy from Afghanistan and his family. Deep in this story are wounds of the heart and soul. Wounds of loss. Of deprivation. Dispossession. Betrayal. Conflict. Wounds that are slow to heal. If they ever really heal. No outsider can measure the pain and suffering. Embedded in the refugee’s trauma is the damage inflicted by a war torn homeland on all its people and especially those who forced to flee for their lives as refugees.

Others will talk of influences and radicalisation. And it is true, part of his motivation will be found no doubt in the ideologies of hate and killing that ensnared him. But these are catalysts more than causes. To be radicalised, it helps first to be alienated, unwanted, marginalised, dispossessed, and discarded. Cast off to one side. Made to make do with a place on the edge of things. It is not the influence itself so much but everything that has led to his vulnerability to such propaganda that should be our true concern. We do not need to cast him off. We do need to accept what is ours in this. Accept at least some of the responsibility.

The important questions are less easily explored. But they must be explored. Located deep within the fabric of our social being, they involve us all. Who took care of this family? Who took them in? Who made sure they were OK?  Provided for. Taken care of beyond the basic needs.

When a young man begins to act strangely, it is seldom a sudden event. Who was there who was prepared to get alongside this young man when he began to act so bizarrely? Who was there to take him to one side and untangle his snare of unreason? Which one of us made time to listen? To help bind his hurts? To move him out of harm’s way before he attracted the attention of the police? There will be hurts, wounds, hardships and other causes deep within that we need to acknowledge. Investigate. For our own sake. For the sake of the many strangers in our midst. For how we look after those at the margins, those on the edge is in the end the true measure of our humanity.

Abbott’s private terror attacks

“First day back down, Boss”, croaked Team Captain Abbott, opening a frosty Phoenix Migration stout beer with a discarded set of dentures Warren “Tusker”, Truss or some other old NP blowhard had forgotten to take home after drinks. He made a mental note. Return Wozza’s choppers. It was the right thing to do.

They were stained, he noticed as he slipped them into a pocket. And chipped. I’d leave them behind, too. But no-one dared collect forgotten belongings after PM’s drinks and nibbles. They were too afraid to front Credlin. Too afraid to even look at her most of the time. But they loved Tony’s boutique beer. And Peta’s smack-downs. Well, they laughed anyway. Funny that. Especially Pyne.

“Great to get back to the bar fridge. Top end’s great but so dry. Dry as a Rudd tea party.”

Abbott perched on a leather Natuzzi Revive, his favourite new chair in the suite of furniture he had entitled himself to in the July  $50,000 furniture upgrade to the PM’s Parliament House Office. He patted the leather with genuine affection and pleasure.

“Boss” was his pet name for his personal chief of staff Peta Credlin who would soon be over to unlace his shoelaces for him, he thought happily. And his tie. Undo his top button. Adjust his waistband. No wonder Malcolm had raved about her. That girl could handle anything. Looked like it, too.

Credlin reached for her Bollinger. She detested beer and those who drank it. She did her best not to look at Abbott. He let her put her IVF needles in his bar fridge. But had to tell the press about it. He thought it made him look enlightened. Feminist. She thought it was tacky, another cheap and self-defeating lunge at image- boosting. Malcolm “rotary nuts” had not felt the same need. Any moment now he would burp. Or fart. Disgusting little chimp. Had the hide to appoint himself Minister for Women. Most women can’t stand the sight of him. The sound of him. No wonder that they remain another of life’s total mysteries to him.

Peta Credlin, personal assistant and most powerful woman in Australia, rose to adjust the new electronically operated curtains to obscure the ASIO operative disguised as a useful human being pruning the pittosporum outside the window. She was a tall woman. She loved controls. She despised mediocrity. She was offended by incompetence. She hated fraud. What was she doing in Abbott’s employ?

She made a mental note to have the ASIO agent replaced. He looked uppity. Poor disguise, too. He appeared to be looking in. With intent. And he failed to salute her.

She would dismiss him by email later that evening. Or get Tony to tell him on the way out.

Abbott and Credlin met regularly to review the day and to plan strategy. The encounter was typically bruising. No holds barred. Neither of them liked it. He was all “yes Boss” “no Boss”, “you’re the boss, boss” But the next day, give him an open mike on his mate Alan Jones show and he’d come out with his same old shit. Couldn’t stick to a script if it was Araldited to his bum. She was in the mood to let him have both barrels.

“We still suck in the polls”, she glowered.

“You’re kidding! ”

“Not even a dead cat bounce. We stink. Our budget stinks. You rant about terror and opinion drops further. And stop perching like a Cockatoo trying to shit. No point in getting fine furniture if you don’t relax in it.”

Credlin knew Abbott was incapable of relaxing. He lived on stress. If you stripped out his anxiety, you wouldn’t be left with much. Tics. Abbott certainly put the tics into politics! Best to sidestep the bad news in the opinion polls. Still, she felt like slapping him. Jolt him into reality. He wrote about his masturbation in his wank Battlelines but there were times when she thought he was a total wanker. Many times. And so did others. You could tell.

“Terror raids were a shemozzle!”

“I thought they went off rather well.” Abbott hated it when he found himself sounding defensive. Especially with women. Besides when Credlin was in this sort of mood, you couldn’t take a trick. Best not to try.

“No-one’s fooled. Apart from the intellectually challenged, the mentally feeble, the terminally confused and readers of Rupert’s papers. And we’ve already got them onside. They already voted for us. They are our demographic. And the idle rich and would-be rich. The aspirational voters. Wankers the lot of them.

The terror raid was as fake as a three dollar bill. It was contrived. It looked contrived. It was unsuccessful. It didn’t work. And it has created a wave of resentment. We’re getting even more off side.”

“Geez. I know what you mean. Know what you mean. All we could get is one 22 year old lunatic. One 22 year old mental defective. And we put so much work into it. Even had the police doing their own press releases with pictures. And the choppers. No looking real flash is it, Boss.”

Well, I got my point across in the House. Great speech the unit did for me. Statesmanlike.”

“You sounded like a dodgy undertaker reading someone else’s badly-written, lame obsequies. And all that: they-hate-our-freedoms-shit. That was lame in the days of the Korean War. ISIS is tech-savvy. They have billions of dollars. Many of ’em have enjoyed Western freedoms. They have thousands of recruits from other countries who … ”

“Well, at least we’ve got Shorten on the payroll.” Abbott cut Credlin off.

“Don’t get me started,” Credlin snorted and poured herself another flute of champagne. She was glad she included flutes in the refurb. She felt like kicking the little runt in the chair.

“Shorten is a whining, mealy-mouthed moral pigmy. Wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. No credibility, Bill. Useless as tits on a bull. A total tool. Less horsepower than my kitchen blender. Nothing to look at. Nothing to listen to. He’s redefined the charisma bypass. No integrity. He’s a right wing leftie with the Queen’s representative as his mother in law, for God’s sake. He makes Peter Dutton look credible. All he’s ever been good at is brown nosing. Cultivating the right connections. A Clayton’s. He’s the leader you have when you are not having a leader. Labor put the little whinger in to keep the seat warm for Albo. Just in case we get a crack at two terms. Which right now looks highly unlikely.”

And so it continued. The new anti-terror laws which were not new at all and entirely unnecessary were beginning to look iffy. And they’d prevented police from questioning the handful of suspects they did detain. Pyne had got himself into trouble with his travel bill. And then there was the stinking carcase of the budget so dead and stench-ridden even the blowflies wouldn’t touch it. Then there was the RET. The back bench were getting mouthy.

At this point Abbott drifted off. Thing about Credlin, he thought, apart from her natural cattle-dog authority is that she tells it like it is. Never short of a word. Not much that gets by her. Wonder how she puts up with me. Wonder how I put up with myself at times. Just hope there’s another frostie in the fridge.