Government? Who needs it?

So, Australia hasn’t had a proper government for around three years. The Abbott experiment was a mad scrum of throwback ideas, awkward doorstops and daily outrage followed by months of inaction.

The start of the Turnbull experiment was a melee of ideas, broad smiles and a collective sigh of relief that we finally had a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences and didn’t walk like Donald Duck.

But as it turned out, a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences was too much to hope for too. Fasttrack to a year later and we still have a prime minister who speaks in three word slogans and looks like a ghost of his former self but with a manic grin on his face. Meanwhile Prime Minister meekly submits to the schoolyard bullies and nothing gets done; nobody is obviously in charge and the government limps on. At least I think it does – no-one is paying attention.

But it’s got me thinking. Do we need government at all? Maybe we are a self-governing society. People are still going to cafes, going to the beach, going to work and getting paid. They are still getting married, going to the doctor, going to school and catching up with friends. They are going on diets, they are exercising, they are planning holidays and continuing to ignore politics. Life is going on as normal.

In Belgium a few years ago a hung parliament meant that a caretaker government with very limited powers was put in charge for nearly 18 months. And exactly the same thing happened. Life went on! Who knows, maybe it was better with fewer politicians. I do realise Australia has a majority government, but in a way it is similar to a hung parliament – we have a gridlocked agenda and a parliament not able to make decisions.

So, here’s my solution – a plebiscite question as follows: Does Australia need a government? Yes/No.

And … make the result binding, please.

 

 

 

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Sir Tony and the Chief Corgi

“Hark, Sir Tony”, exclaimed HRH Queen Elizabeth, Royal Garter to the British Empire and Dame of the Oceanic Colonies, far far away.

It was a shame Sir Tony lived in these afore-mentioned colonies. She rather fancied Sir Tony and felt a little flutter every time he frogwalked into the palace. She’d reprimanded Prince Phillip many times for calling him the court jester.

If she had her way she’d like to play Spot the Corgi with Sir Tony in the double poster while Sir Phillip was taking a nana nap. After all she’d done it with Sir Rolf Harris after the life drawing session and that had rounded out one’s afternoon quite nicely.

Those colonials went off at the sight of a tiara in a four-poster bed!

Sir Tony entered the room in his funny walk. “M’lady, ma’am”, he blubbered. She motioned the servants and real court jester out of the room.

“Sir Tony”, she extended a sequined arm and she could feel a little stirring in her own southern colony at the sight of those strange skimpy red knickerbockers she’d been told were so popular in the antipodes.

“Ma’am, milady”, he said. “If it’s ok with you, um, ah, I’d like to knight your husband.”

Elizabeth HRH blinked and her royal garter shook with astonishment and then she said this.

“Sir Tony, you’ve had a long sea voyage. Many days and nights, you’ve risked life and limb to see me. It’s natural you should feel a little delirious.”

“On the contrary, m’lady, I’ve never felt so sane. After all he’s done for Australia, it’s only right.”

“Oh, well, alright then. He is running a little short on titles. It might cheer him up, he was beginning to feel like a useless, pompous old git, but if he is made Chief Colonial that might pep him up.”

Sir Tony beamed. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Elizabeth HRH’s eyes narrowed. “But there is this one condition.”

“Anything, your eminence. Just name it and you can have it” Tony burst out.

“Well old Sir Phil isn’t up to a little Spot the Corgi these days”, she said. “So you’ll have to do. And make sure you wear those red knickerbockers, one would be most amused. I myself will be in the royal drawers”.

Sir Tony went pale. HRH was HRH, not girlfriend material. He was more a fan of the animal print Amazon with the drink driving charge. Speaking of whom, once Peta found out that he’d bonked the queen he’d be needing his own new set of underwear.

But duty beckoned. And so did the queen.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the palace, Sir Phillip nana napped the noon away, dreaming of far-flung outposts where aboriginals still threw spears at each other.

 

Weekend in Burnie with The Three Wise Men

In the year of our Lord 2014, there were Three Wise Men, Tonyavalot (who governed for the small but dominant Havealot tribe), his accomplice Shirazcigar Jo and El Clive from the strange northern lands. These wise and powerful men had much influence and favour with the gods, but were sadly misunderstood in their own lands. One night after a customary banana split and cigar they looked to the sky and pointed.

“Hark!” said El Clive, the largest of the three. He held a monogrammed, gold-plated telescope to his eye. “I think I see something bigger than me!”

Shirazcigar Jo, who used to be a fat kid himself, gave an inward sigh. El Clive always got the best lines.

Tonyavalot was intrigued, how could he use this next big thing to his best advantage, considering he had failed to use the other big thing, El Clive.

“I’m not a tech head but what do you see in your giant abacus there, Big C?”

“It’s a telescope, dumdum”, said Shirazcigar Jo in a peevish voice, but no-one was listening.

“Hark!” exclaimed El Clive for the second time that night. “It’s a giant comet come to guide us. From this day forth it shall be known as Clive’s Comet”.

“So, what is this comet doing?” asked Tonyavalot, sniffing an opportunity to press reset on his ragged week.

“It’s called Clive’s Comet and its moving south”, replied El Clive.

“By south you mean ….”

“Tasmania”, said Clive with a look that approximated fear but was very hard to tell. It might have just been wind.

“Well, maybe we should follow the star and it might teach us about economic policy,” said Shirazcigar Jo.

“I have long studied the bright star”, said Tonyavalot. “It is prophesied that it will guide us to The Chosen One, he who is sent to earth to give me untold power and influence and marry my chaste daughter, the artist.”

“Whatever. I’m up for an adventure”, said El Clive. “All I know is we have to follow Clive’s Comet. Besides Tasmania is flowing with King Island milk and Huon Valley honey. Plus there’s ice-cream.”

“And while we are there we might even be able to take out the Lamb named Jackie, the Terror of the South”, said Tonyavalot.

“How will we get there? asked Shirazcigar Jo. “It’s too far to drive, and I don’t want to catch a boat with all the poor people”,  he whimpered.

“Stop whinging Jo, we are wealthy and wise remember. We will take our private flying chariot.”

And with much ado about nothing, the Three Wise Men were thence whisked to Tasmania in their flying chariot.

When they arrived in the port town of Launceston they looked again expectantly at the night sky. Clive’s Comet shone brighter still. It was leading them west and they felt sure they were being taken to Cradle Mountain, a golden temple where every whim would be attended to. Alas, twas not to be and they veered further west to a distant place called Dismal Swamp.

When they got down to the swamp they came across a makeshift manger, surrounded by the Lamb named Jackie, Xenophon of Adelaide and Annabel Crabb, a scribe with a basket, who hailed from the left bank of the disputed ABC territories.

“Greetings, O Wise Men” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “I came here by mule, as befits my humble yet enigmatic persona. Whereas you Wise Men three, took the gravy train in order to follow the night star.”

“Clive’s Comet” interjected El Clive.

“Ha, Clive’s Comet up your ass!” scoffed the Lamb named Jackie shaken from her lambielike innocence. “You are the devil himself, and I’ll not kowtow to you.”

She fixed her black gaze on Tonyavalot. “As for you, dark lord, the night star has brought you to Burnie to meet me, since you won’t reply to any of my messages I sent by carrier pigeon.”

“Um, ahh I am a very powerful and busy man”, said Tonyavalot in his most important voice. “And, I am searching for the chosen one, who most certainly is not you.”

“Evening Wise Men all”, chirped Annabel, who was revered for her knife skills and hair curlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tonyavalot turned to her. “What hast you, fair lady in the basket? Is it a gift for the risen son? For we too have brought gifts for the wonder child who will help me inherit the earth and marry my virtuous daughter.”

“And fix the budget deficit wrought by Labor’s Debt and Deficit Disaster”, added Shirazcigar Jo.

“Did you remember dessert, fair Annabel with your rosy cheeks and fair jowls?” asked El Clive.

“Cheeks and jowls are the same thing”, said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Let the lady speak, El Clive and then you can have your cake and eat it too.”

“Well, it’s not an episode of Kitchen Cabinet, you know. You might have noticed there’s no film crew here” said fair Annabel.

“Oh, I just thought that was due to budget cuts”, winked Tonyavalot.

“That’s not funny, you psychopath”, snapped the Lamb named Jackie. “Do you want me to bite your tiny package right off?”

“We need to put that to a referendum” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Do not speak of the holy package in front of the child”, said Shirazcigar Jo.

“Speaking of which”, said Tonyavalot, “I want to see the chosen one.”

“Well, since you insist,” chirped Annabel sensing a column coming on. “I shall do the grand reveal.”

“Please, no Annabel”, said Shirazcigar Jo. “I’m married”.

“Oh, come off it. You sleep with a Bart Simpson doona for Chrissakes”, she said. “I’m revealing now so pay attention.”

She delicately moved the red and white checked blankie to reveal layers of ragged newspaper copy detailing Tonyavalot’s last ragged weeks.

When the last newspaper was lifted, hark! There flew out a hundred barnacles with wings, like Harry Potter quidditch balls. They circled menacingly around Tonyavalot’s head.

“Look, they’ve got little red speedos on”, cooed Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Poo, they stink” announced El Clive.

Like a man possessed, Tonyavalot brushed them off but the barnacles wouldn’t come off him, instead they started attacking and biting him in many Old Testament areas of his body, front and back.

“Oi, go for his package” called the Lamb named Jackie. “Even though it’s small, bite hard.”

“Get these barnacles away from me!”, Tonyavalot squealed uncontrollably in the manner of Christopher Pyne.

“They seem to like you”, Annabel quite reasonably pointed out. “In fact I think they have little names on them. It’s the names of failed policies, here’s one that says Paid Parental Leave. Oh, look, ABC funding cuts”

“Shuttup you meringue-munching leftie. Let me see the child, I must see my own male protégé, made in my image”. Through a haze of brown barnacles, he laid eyes on the child then gasped. In a makeshift manger with straw there was a hideous venomous monster. He went pale and started shaking uncontrollably.

“What is it m’lord?, asked Shirazcigar Jo. “Have you seen the devil himself?”

“No, much worse. A swinging voter in a marginal seat with fire and torment in his eyes. I feel sick, I’m going to vomit, I haven’t done that since Alan Jones was mean to me. Oh woe! Oh lamentation!”

With that, he ran away. He ran up a hill tormented all the way by barnacles. It was a big hill but as a very athletic man he could certainly sheik it.

“What’s he doing?” cried Shirazcigar Jo.

“Seeking asylum no doubt” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Remember Tassie is girt by sea” cried the Lamb named Jackie. “You’ll have to be smuggled in a boat to New Zealand to get away from them barnacles. Let’s hope it sinks!”, she added.

“Look the show must go on” said El Clive. “The Dalai Lama told me that. Or was it Kamahl?”

He moved towards the manger.

“We’ve brought gifts, little voter. From me is a replica of my head, fashioned from opals and rubies, from Uncle Jo is a $100,000 debt paydown for a perfect education and from Tonyavalot is his grandmother, who he’s just sold.”

The little swinging voter made a noise like BARF, and threw a massive tantie, which everyone ignored because it was dinnertime.

“Well, comrades, where are we going to eat? It’s like Bethlehem at Christmas time here, everything is closed” said El Clive.

“Don’t look at me”, said Annabel, “I can’t do the loaves and fishes trick from just one basket.”

“Tell you what”, said the Lamb named Jackie, “Club Burnie is open, it’s only half an hour up the road. All we have to do is follow the light on the hill.”

“Oh, please,” said Xenophon of Adelaide, “Why does everyone wax lyrical at Christmas time?”

“You can all pile into my Tarago” said the Lamb named Jackie.

“Senators, half an hour is a long time in a Tarago” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Is there a game we can play to pass the time, you know, like Spot the Sane Senator. We haven’t played that in a while.”

“I’ll read some sacred poetry I wrote in 45 minutes in the year 1984” said El Clive.

And lo, they piled into the people-moving driving coach and the Lamb named Jackie conducted it. Even though they had enough room inside, they decided to strap Shirazcigar Jo to the roof. On the way they thought they heard Tonyavalot’s screams as he was bitten by barnacles. At the sound of his screams the Lamb named Jackie felt her spirit stir in the golden girdle department.

And lo, a chicken parmigiana and banana split later, that is what happened to the Three Wise Men at Christmas and how it came to pass there was peace on earth across the Great Southern Land.

 

And the caravan rolls on for Claudia Karvan

Claudia Karvan seems like a reasonable actress. Especially if you like your characters middle-class, uptight and on every show you watch on the telly.

I have nothing against Ms Karvan, but it does seem that she is getting the lion’s share of Aussie actress roles. Everything that is coming out now has her name on it: Puberty Blues and Time of Our Lives. Before then it was Love My Way and Secret Lives of Us and before that it was Heartbreak High (her best role yet!).

It’s not that I dislike Claudia Karvan or think her acting is particularly good or bad. It’s just that for some reason, she is now considered a fabulous actress, who must be in any quality TV series. Need a wannabee yummy mummy – no problem, book Claudia. Need a stressed-out teacher – here’s Claudia. Need a doctor, Claudia’s free. Need someone to not show emotion. Show Claudia (I mean the could just hire Julie Bishop but that’s a whole other blog). Need someone to act hysterical, here’s Claudia (again).

I’m pretty sure there must be other actresses around who could do an equally good or better job and who are not getting a look in, because, well just because.

If Claudia really is the only one in Australia who can do hysterical helicopter mom, then so be it, the gig is hers. But I’ve got a feeling quite a few actors can do annoyed and I’d like to see them given a red hot go.

St Julia – Patron Saint of Earlobes

Sainthood could be Julia’s toughest gig yet. Only a week ago she couldn’t even fart without stuffing it up according to the media. Everything about her was wrong: legs, bum, hair colour, jackets and earlobes. (I never understood the earlobes thing – I mean, seriously?).

Never mind she was the most productive prime minister ever, in terms of legislation passed averaged over days spent in office  (if you don’t believe me see The Guardian’s analysis and cute red chart on respective Australian Prime Ministers’ productivity).

Fastforward one week. Now the media don’t have her at their disposal to criticise, they have taken to eulogising her. Poor Julia, she wasn’t listened to, she wore too many white jackets and people were mean about her earlobes. One day I sincerely hope Laurie Oakes takes a look in the mirror himself. Just saying.

I think it is a real shame that people have to die or be publicly humiliated for the media and people in general to finally say nice things about them. Why can’t people say some nice things at the time? Not when they are politically or actually dead.

I think Julia might have preferred a fair go by the media when she was actually in charge of the joint. There’s no point the media offering her a sainthood now out of guilt or need to fill screenspace. Because I’ve got a feeling Julia isn’t interested in sainthood. White’s not really her colour.

A political life is full of woe

Who would be a politician? At least in Australia. (It’s probably pretty good in Italy where you can bonk underage Middle Eastern prostitutes and then lie about it, be convicted and still be a hero).

As for Australia, all you have to do is keep the economy strong, introduce a disability scheme and educational reforms and put a price on carbon to help the environment and they’ll hate you.

I know what happened to Julia was partly of her own making. I know she should never have hung out with the faceless men, donned the pearls or slowed down her speech to pre-kinder level. It was all, well, not the real Julia. But then what is? The sad thing is we never got to find out.

So now, as a relatively young woman (I don’t know about you but 51 is looking younger and younger all the time), she’s lost her career, along with so many others in the Labor party. These are people who devoted their life to the joint and probably started out with some grand ideas and are now unceremoniously cast out. I guess they get to keep their parliamentary pension, a bit of super, and some can land a book deal or hop on the speakers’ circuit if they are interesting enough. But it is a shame that our political system and the 24 hour news cycle doesn’t allow politicians a little breathing space and we are all the poorer for it.

Nick D’Arcy – role model of what not to do

The Olympics are meant to be about fair play, doing your best, passion for sport and inclusiveness. That’s why it’s sick, with a dollop of extra sick on top, that Nick D’Arcy should be going to the Olympics.

It’s not because he decked someone that night, it’s not because he hides behind daddy, it’s not because he doesn’t seem that contrite, it’s not because his eyes are too close together and he has stupid hair. It’s because he declared bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy. No money? Really?  So how does that explain the gazillions spent on legal fees, a shonky-as-hell PR firm, not to mention all the costs  associated with the Olympics not picked up by the taxpayer. I’m sure there’d be lots of travel, diet, therapies that are paid for by D’Arcy Inc.

But nothing for a victim who has had two operations, had to change jobs and been thrust into the limelight for no good reason I can see. His only crime was he happened to suggest, according to witnesses, that D’Arcy should take it easy. And the rest is history.

In a funny way, D’Arcy is a victim of the system. His father protected him with his three prior assaults, ensuring it never went to court and he was not formally presented with his crimes. The judge presiding over the Cowley case, gave him an extraordinarily light sentence. Did D’Arcy’s father, a surgeon, exude some old-boys club pressure? And he is let down by Swimming Australia and the Australian Olympics group, who should have made a stand about bad behaviour, instead of gold at all costs. So in a way, D’Arcy is a victim of the system, and he clearly believes he has done nothing wrong.

It does look like D’Arcy is off to the Olympics. I’m sure most Australians don’t want him there representing them, and it is a shame that the pillars of society – judges and government sport bodies can’t man up and chuck him out.