Tag: Abbott challenged

Abbott’s Captain’s call a Titanic disaster at Press Club today.

Abbott pensive but incapable of real reflection.
Abbott pensive but incapable of real reflection.

… it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.                                                                                                                              Edmund Burke 1774

Tony Abbott has declared himself ‘a very good captain’ of his Government’s team, after weathering a blistering tsunami of criticism, derision and withering contempt following his recent bizarre decision to confer an Australian Knighthood upon his Royal Highness, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. All hell broke loose, according to most observers, partly because of Abbott’s bad decision itself but mostly because it was the last belaying pin of the breech ropes on a very loose cannon finally, irretrievably coming adrift. For Abbott himself, it was merely ‘a bit of a rough patch’ and a ‘stuff up’; and all he needed to do was to apologise and entrust choice of awards recipients to a committee. It did not seem to enter Abbott’s head that ‘a very good captain’ is defined by his very good decisions.

Unexpected as it was unwelcome by either recipient or electorate, Abbott’s ‘dub-up stuff-up’ was, however, perfectly timed to become a hot topic in Australia Day barbeque settings around the nation as Australians of all persuasions digested this latest captain’s folly while turning well-nitrated snags, chops, steaks, kebabs, prawns and other such burnt offerings as tong-wielding men will fiddle around a griddle while quickly getting pissed and opinionated. Yet while backyard blowhards blew their bags few could be heard backing Abbott’s captain’s pick and none at all upheld the PM’s decision as evidence for his being ‘a very good captain.’

Abbott’s latest desperate boast has pundits scratching their heads and wondering how any sane person could confuse the Abbott brand of leadership with ‘very good captaincy’. No-one, in his or her right mind could. Unless, perhaps, you see Abbott as an anti-captain, an alienated, inarticulate, bewildered, existential hero in the changing Australian political narrative; a story which since The Dismissal of Whitlam has ‘moved forward’ from epic to ironic. In this perspective, Abbott is a product of the times, a cynical caricature of the qualities of commitment, judgement and enlightened conscience as set down by Edmund Burke, a leader in words and deeds, whom, ironically, Abbott felt he could quote with a straight face in his Press Club appearance today.

Or could he just be mad, bad and easily confused? Or both?   Whatever the cause, it is hardly the first time Abbott, the pathological gaffer, has seemingly been so overwhelmed by opportunity that he has come up with something so wrong and so stupid that he has taken everyone by surprise.

Abbott’s political career has been characterised by many sensational lapses of judgement, including his decision in 2010 to publicly inform the nation of his natural tendency towards mendacity during ABC TV’s 7:30 report. The then Opposition Leader astonished the nation when he said his only utterances that should be regarded as ”gospel truth” were carefully prepared and scripted remarks such as those made during speeches or policy pronouncements. Otherwise, statements he made during the ‘heat of discussion’ such as radio interviews or under questioning at press conferences, were not necessarily reliable.

Given this context, the immediate reaction of most who heard of Abbott’s lunatic decision to knight the Duke, a less than chivalric type by nature and a curmudgeon by design were about to laugh it off. Abbott had misspoken; he was misreported; he was making a joke. It was another gaffe or another outburst of Abbott madness. When it became clear it was ‘gospel truth’, this was quickly followed by an angry incredulity in which Australians wondered aloud at their Prime Minister’s alarming stupidity and lack of judgement. Many saw his action as suicidal, a ritual hari-kari with the dull edge of the ceremonial sword of the accolade.

So strong, indeed, appeared the kamikaze element in his indecorous over-decoration of Philip in what he claims was his own decision, a captain’s call that reporters immediately began to canvass other contenders for the position of Prime Minister. Some such as the colourful ‘side-show’ Mal Brough (so called because everywhere he went as NT minister there was a circus) were said to be preening their own feathers before a run from the backbench. Or there was a frisson of interest reported between Turnbull and Bishop, provided each put the other first.

Others, including anti-knight-errant Rupert Murdoch sought to scapegoat the PM’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, on whom, it was felt, a great deal could be blamed, given that she was Abbott’s eminence grise and given that she was a woman. Blame the sheila, was Murdoch’s advice to anyone not paid to listen confirming that whilst Rupert may have renounced his Australian citizenship to become an American, he was still a true blue unreconstructed Aussie male chauvinist when it mattered.

Abbott would have none of this. He claimed his move was prompted by a desire to acknowledge all the very many good things that Philip had done for all Australians, and that it was all his own idea, a decision taken without consultation or any real advice, although he did profess to have confided in another knighthood recipient, the retired Air Chief Marshall Sir Angus Houston and model of Olympian detachment and to the Governor General. In essence, however, it was all his own, a captain’s call or a captain’s pick. And as furious dissension reached white heat, in another flurry of preposterous waffling, he reminded us all of his high opinion of his own leadership. He was one hell of a captain. Or at least, ‘a very good captain’.

 “This is a very strong team,” he said. “And one of the reasons why so many members of the team are able to perform so well is because they’ve got a very good captain.

So there we have it: Abbott’s most recent Captain’s call has been to remind the nation of his captaincy. Whilst Abbott’s latest act of naked self-promotion may seem immodest, presumptuous and inappropriate, it also reveals the extent of his desperation to cling to some vestige of power. OK, he is saying, the knighthood for the Duke was a stuff up but I really am a top captain. Just look at my team. Let’s not waste time navel gazing; reflection and introspection are only for wimps; real men apologise for ‘the stuff up’ and move on.

Unfortunately, Mr Abbott, the nation is looking at no-one else but you thanks to your stuff-ups. You have guaranteed its full and undivided attention. The nation is wondering what mistake could be next. You have control of a fair bit of firepower and a track record of preferring to shoot from the hip and apologise after. And even an average captain would never have made the Prince Philip knighthood call. And looking at the team only makes it worse.

Attempting to take credit from a team which no-one in their wildest dreams would call a dream team Mr Abbott gets you even further into trouble. Your nightmare team has done so little to take credit for that your call can only be ironic. Your own captaincy remains even less illustrious as was revealed when you bestrode the stage of the National Press Club today like some bad parody of a modern political colossus.

All eyes were on you to make the speech of your life. In the end it was a rehash, a warmed over repeat of the same mindless platitudes, the vapid, empty slogans that got you into trouble in the first place. You showed the nation once and for all the job was too big for the man. It wasn’t a resignation speech in your mind, perhaps, but it served the same purpose. If ever a captain’s call were called for this was the time and place. In the end it wasn’t a captain’s call or even a decent speech but merely a reprise of the same turgid, clapped-out rhetoric of the campaign stump. Only in this case, time has moved on, Mr Abbott; the tide has run out and left you stranded, high and dry, however much you wave your arms or flap your gums.

Abbott government crisis: G20 Show undergoes urgent revamp.

CHINA APEC SUMMIT

Public derision from any quarter is confronting to anyone. But members of political elites are especially susceptible. When one is derided by 6 billion people, it may well hurt just that little bit more. Even case-hardened psychopaths can prove sensitive, as the contemporary case of Tony ‘Shirtfront’ Abbott superbly demonstrates. Having made a complete international laughing stock of himself with Vladimir Putin and his moronic, mindlessly self-destructive yet sycophantic atavistic ranting about coal and humanity, a pale and visibly shaken Australian PM, Abbott has been forced to ‘rush through’ a total revamp of the G20 show in BrisVegas tomorrow.

Entitled ‘Operation Panic Button’, the remodelled show is supercharged with adrenaline, testosterone and sheer terror. Upstaged from the start by his own complete inexperience, Abbott is galvanised by a terrifying reality – being relegated into perpetual irrelevance and obscurity by a series of real world events, including Ebola, ISIS, Russia’s resolute determination to annex Ukraine and the recent announcement of a deal on carbon emissions between China and the United States.

Clearly angered at being blindsided by the shock announcement from US president Barack Obama and Chinese premier Xi Jinping of new national climate change goals and the way it has trashed his own G20 agenda, Abbott appears to be struggling to maintain any semblance of forward momentum, let alone any show of composure, especially now he has the added distraction of bits of the Russian navy up his clacker.

Having successfully made a personal lifelong enemy of Putin, the world’s most powerful and dangerous psychopath, Abbott is believed to be anxiously receiving regular special naval briefings on the accuracy and range of Russian missiles, nuclear weapons and other sea-borne armaments. Advertisements for auditions for the role of Abbott body double have appeared on all social media, in the press and on selected supermarket community noticeboards in all major capital cities. A food taster has been engaged for all official banquets and refreshment stations. Abbott in the meantime, has issued a statement which has only served to further alarm mental health experts and others who remark the disunity his cabinet demonstrates under pressure.

Spin doctors have been performing emergency triage on the Abbott government. Yet the patient’s vital signs continue to provide cause for concern. Media comments by a politically phlegmatic Julie Bishop and others have provided little but unintended comic relief. When the going gets tough, the Abbott government gets spinning. Avoid the truth at all costs: ‘Of course, the Russian Navy is always doing this sort of thing. It is only to be expected. They are in international waters. We have been monitoring them for some time.’ Hardy ha ha ha!

Australians are left scratching their heads trying to recall the last time a small fleet of Russian vessels was off the coast of Queensland during any international gathering. For those who still don’t get it, Russia has personalised Putin’s gun barrel diplomacy by pointedly claiming, tongue in cheek, that a purpose of their naval voyage is to seek information about climate change.

The government has been skittled. Abbott government unity, as distinct from Peta Credlin’s iron fist, is chimerical. Liberal unity is a contradiction in germs, given its lack of any coherent ideology and the peculiar circumstances of its origin. It is called Liberal because Menzies did not want the electoral handicap of the appropriate word ‘Conservative’. Certainly, on this occasion, it was all over the shop or, giving another dimension to the term, as it is fondly and blasphemously whitewashed, a broad church.

Anti-environment Minister and work experience student, Greg Hunt hollowly applauded the US-China deal in a Monty Python moment of magnanimity and irrationality. Like the Black Knight, his own imminent mortality was not in contention. Yet again, no one paid any attention.  Smart-arse, Julie Bishop claimed she was not surprised. She knew, ‘already, she said.’ The accommodating, avuncular and ponderously inept Joe Hockey deemed it an ‘acceptable item for discussion’ within a larger topic, the world economy, typically missing the point that global warming is the larger topic.

Abbott, finally, took off like a startled hare, bolting along on yet another tack, ‘We are talking about the practical. We are talking about the real. We are not talking about what may hypothetically happen in fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty years down the track. We are talking about what … what we will do and are doing right now, and that is what the Australian people expect of us. I’m focusing not on what might happen in sixteen years’ time. I’m focusing on what we’re doing now, and we’re not talking, we’re acting.’ Sheer spin, fantastically out of control from a febrile leader who is neither talking nor acting but denying. Someone needs to take his temperature.

Abbott’s dizzy spell to one side, boffins are working feverishly around the clock to pull the fat from the fire. Joe Hockey’s original Headland PowerPoint: ‘Who has the key to a bigger GDP? Is now a snappy: ‘Catch the Rats who won’t pay Tax,’ and has been creatively re-crafted into a sultry torch song come bump n grind dance bracket format entitled: ‘Screw you over, give you the bill’: Australia – open wide for business.  

Sharing centre stage, but Miss Piggy style hogging the limelight, Foreign Affairs Minister, the incomparable Julie Bishop will perform her own lap (band) dance whilst belting out a fetching rendition of ‘Hey, Big Spender, while Smoking Joe steps through a specially choreographed IMF routine assisted by ‘The Hendersons will all be there’, an IPA giant dancing puppet troupe and led by a special Australian armed forces massed brass band supported by the Jacqui Lambie backing singers.

A second provisional number, ‘I will survive’ is a less certain Hockey offering, although it is rumoured that the Foreign Affairs Minister has expressed keen interest in putting her own stamp on this classic.

Global warming is back on the agenda. Once opposed as an agenda item (and indeed as anything of significance) by the same man who could not refuse Putin’s attendance because the G20 runs on consensus, will now be fully and energetically embraced in a late night team building and bonding workshop at the Viper Room, a world-class adult entertainment centre in Brisbane’s red light district. Featuring a complimentary international smorgasbord of divertissements, refreshments will include Scots whisky, Cuban cigars, Kiwi green, Cabramatta hydro and Bendigo ice. IMF and World Bank Paramedics will be on standby with wads of money to revive the fortunes of those who may become indisposed, in return for sovereign rights to that country’s economy in perpetuity.

 

Australia needs to be told the true cost of war in Iraq.

How much will it cost the Abbott government to be at war in Iraq? Estimates vary. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott claims that his country’s intervention in Iraq will cost half a billion dollars per year. On ABC television 9 October, the PM volunteered the figure in the context of growing internal debate about where the funds are going to come from. Defence Minister David Johnstone more candidly and credibly has said the government has no idea. Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has cautioned the government that the Opposition will not provide a blank cheque and pointed to savings in scrapping the PPL scheme. Hockey, unsurprisingly cheaply politicised the issue by proposing that Labor, indeed issue a blank cheque to underwrite the war effort as the price of its bipartisan commitment.  Finance Minister Matthias Cormann has not ruled out a war tax. We’ll be told in December or perhaps May.

“We’ll address that going forward without speculation in MYEFO [the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook] in December and then in the budget in May. We don’t need to get ahead of ourselves on this.”

What does Cormann mean?  Could it be that by December we will be treated to emotional blackmail? Shown graphic images of military personnel valiantly suffering the deprivations that only war can confer whilst we are told that we need funds to support their efforts on the nation’s behalf? Told: ‘We must let them finish the job they were sent there to do.’ Except no-one can tell us what that job is. Instead the PM serves us the warmed-up US military briefing leftover: the alliterative ‘degrade and destroy’ slogan. We have yet to learn precisely what this means. Perhaps by December, someone clever will have worked out a plan. Or is it that once we go to war, the whole budget morphs into a magic pudding?

Are we likely to be told the true cost? Don’t hold your breath. Today, Abbott appeared evasively up-beat and keen to brush aside the issue of the likely cost as he dampens any speculation that the cost of fighting in Iraq will be a drain on a budget which he has already described as ‘in crisis’ and worse. Surely it would be irresponsibly extravagant to commit further funds when we can’t afford to meet our current expenses. Indeed, in his party’s determined but unconvincing spin on the state of the nation’s finances, he or any other LNP spokesman will fondly trot out the tired old chestnut that the nation faces imminent financial ruin because of ‘the debt and deficit disaster that Labor left us in.’ If there is no money in the kitty what are we doing? Spending what we don’t have? Pledging more than we can honour? Following the US example into financing our efforts by increasing debt until it becomes so massive that it bleeds us dry?

Yet the debt and deficit rhetoric is a handicap on the cost of war issue. It begs the question of the wisdom of incurring further debt when as he would have us believe we are already up to our necks in hock. Consequently most would expect Abbott to play down the true cost of the war or it will look as if he has signed the nation up for another costly item it cannot afford, as, indeed, it seemed with his now shelved PPL scheme. In addition to appearing reckless with spending, it will add to the gathering impression that in an Abbott government the urge to be glad-handed with the nation’s resources comes ahead of any sober reckoning of either support or true cost. Finally, Abbott’s pro-US stance appears to override caution or common-sense. It stretches our credulity and damages his credibility. We are getting into something unforseen, something ill-defined with no precisely specified outcome yet he would have us believe that it is likely to come within budget? Or is that we must jump at the first opportunity or even before to honour our curiously one-sided alliance with our ‘great and powerful friend; to give and not to count the cost.’ Perhaps it is high time we had a serious look at the ANZUS Treaty. Should we be under attack at home the US pledges only to consult us in the matter.

Abbott’s estimate cannot go unchallenged. First it appears to be yet another attempt to fob off a reasonable line of enquiry on behalf of those who have a right to know, the Australian people. Why should we believe Abbott? What makes this any more credible than any other Abbottism? After, all we don’t have it in writing. Yet he should know. It is his responsibility to know. His duty to share. Surely his advisors would have already provided him with an estimate.

Although Abbott is on record for acknowledging that he can seem to be fast and loose with the truth when it suits him; or unreliable with oral or off the cuff commitments, he should be briefed on the real cost and on the likely cost of our foreign adventure. He should also be briefed on his need to level with the nation. Instead, it seems as if we are being told, once again to ‘run along, sonny’. Or, as in the curiously gradual nature of his disclosure of our military involvement in Iraq, we are treated to a dance of the seven veils, a type of strip-tease of a series of partial revelations.. The strategy further erodes our trust and Abbott’s paper-thin credibility.

A straight answer would be welcome. Time and again we see Abbott quickly prevaricate or be dismissive when challenged. ‘Tell them anything to shut them and we will sort it out later’ up appears to be his typical strategy. Yet the remark is not acceptable. It is not a credible estimate. He should not be allowed to get away with it.

First, his comment does not acknowledge any likely expansion of Australia’s military involvement. Expansion is more than likely, however, given expert advice that to defeat ISIS will require BOG (or boots on the ground.) US Defence Chief Martin Dempsey has already warned of a likely need for a deeper involvement including combat troops on the ground. The odds are Australian will be expected to step up its commitment to a war which will become protracted, difficult and debilitating.

Second, the cost of involvement is also the cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction both in Iraq, whatever is left of it and at home for those who have served, whatever is left of them. If the war effort continues even for even five years and it could well go for much longer, its cost in terms of repair and restitution will be high. Just how high is impossible to estimate but the Viet Nam legacy provides some valuable clues for comparison.

The cost of war in Iraq is not something Tony Abbott should treat lightly. He should stop his dance of the seven veils approach to difficult subjects. Withholding information or the staged gradual revelation will never establish the genuine partnership, the equal relationship needed if Australia is to be put on a war footing.

The nation demands more from its PM than a figure plucked out of the air. If you don’t know, Mr Abbott, it is your job to find out. Similarly, Australia also deserves a PM responsible enough to share this information and all other key concerns and considerations openly from the outset. It is alarming to see a shifty evasiveness masquerading as consultation in our nation’s leader when what is required is candour. Not only is the nation entitled to honest communication and open accountability, it is the only way to secure the support required to sustain a war effort, especially Iraq War III, an intervention in a foreign war of attrition between rival local factions whose real interest to the West amounts to their capacity to obstruct the flow of oil from the Middle East and threaten US strategic bases.

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.