A very cruddy fable, Part 14: All the world’s a stage for the mad maestro of markets
As a performance it resonated like a basso profundo and the tremors reverberated like some wild child’s subwoofer on wheels. The performer, of course, was none other than Australia’s own gift to world markets: Kevin Rudd. He, of the ubiquitously named Resources Super Profits Tax.
The fabler has joked before about the post-socialist wealth redistributionist penchant of the Rudd administration but surely only Hieronymus Bosch could have dreamed the fantasy now entering folklore as The Bastardisation of the Big End of Town. As an encore performance it harked back to the masterpieces of E G Whitlam and his ensemble, The Loony Left Players, who wowed audiences in the 70s with their unique version of socialism in a capitalist cloak. While Whitlam had a legendary capacity to hold audiences spellbound, his works rarely received critical acclaim. Thus far, playwright Rudd appears trenchantly headed down the same path with his portfolio of works-in-progress being jettisoned as fast as he can conceive new scenarios.
Yet, it was his interpretation of the previously unreleased manuscript, ”The Henry Report”, that so dramatically captured attention on debut.
The team at Rudd’s Fabian Productions have for months been feverishly re-working Henry’s taxation tour de force with many insiders suggesting the project would never see light of day because of fundamental disagreements over interpretation. But at the eleventh hour they finalised their text which will now be known as: My Part in the Downfall of the Capitalist System. No dramaturge could ever have conceived how fiendish their plot devices would be.
Scene One was An Ode to Working Families in which the undying fealty of Labor was betrothed to ordinary Australians for their part in having suffered the ravages of the hated Howard years. The hoi polloi’s reparations are to come in the form of a Supercilious Generosity Lien (a typical handout, ever so favoured by socialists) and it is to be taken from the hides of those bastards, the employers. Scum of the earth, that lot. And Commissar Rudd confided that none of them will be missed once they have all been buried in pauper’s plots. Aficionados of sleight-of-hand watched spellbound as Rudd’s leading man, Swannee, surreptitiously gave two shekels in tax but snatched three shekels in super. He distracted attention with oratorical flourishes promising manna from heaven, especially for junior audience members who are to get a flat five shekels off the price of their seats at this performance to encourage investment in season tickets. Substantial pockets of the audience found the scene not to their liking but there was still sporadic applause from Fabian followers.
Scene Two was an odyssey of experimentation: A Moratorium on Mining. Critics were incandescent in their denunciation of the scene’s core premise and flayed the ability of the performers to carry it off. Audience reaction was muted initially as all struggled to discern the author’s true meaning. Naivety occasioned some premature arousal as their superficial reading of the work led them to believe there could be wealth for all with no toil. True, these were the actual lines delivered but Rudd has become infamous in recent times for his deviousness and deceit and, so, a deeper meaning needed to be discerned. A select group, colloquially known as The Big Miners, were in no doubt at all. This is the end of the world as we know it, they cat-called from the balconies.
Remote audiences who were watching this farce unfold from screens set up in financial centres around the world reached a quite unanimous conclusion of their own. They were alarmed by the Rudd interpretation but also cast the Big Miners as untouchables. As side screens showed the latest production of Greece going up in flames with audience members storming the stage, Rudd’s Bastardisation of the Big End of Town was howled down unceremoniously. The global reaction was swift and brutal, and the cost to investors in this production has so far been measured in the twenties of billions. Deaf to the denunciation, the Fabian players retired to the Green Room to refresh before continuing their assault on the senses.
First-nighters who returned to their abodes were shocked several days later to learn that while they had been engaged in the performance their superannuation accounts had been siphoned and they were already out-of-pocket despite the playwright’s promises of a socialist utopia for everyone holding a union ticket.
Late reports on the night of Bastardisation’s first public performance described how insulation batts in the theatre’s roof had caught fire leading to some structural and severe smoke damage. A safety audit is expected to recommend the building be condemned. There were initial reports of four deaths but these were strenuously denied by Fabian Productions. All eyes now are on the highly-anticipated next production from this team which is apparently being rehearsed under a working title of “There once was a man called Khlemlani”. Hold onto your seats, folks, this has become a wild ride.