A very cruddy fable.

Part 17. Digging yourself a hole is not mining

The Emperor of the First Rudd Imperium has spent a lachrymose week in a vain search for any suggestion that he would receive a hero’s welcome should he propose to stay on and lead Labor to further victories. Indeed, the Emperor might well have cried himself a river of tears as speculation ratcheted-up noticeably on who would present the best alternative should anything untoward befall the Great Leader. The PM’s office was initially mystified by a veritable flood of valid bus tickets that came through the mail urging the Emperor to see the sights. When the lights finally came on an additional limousine was ordered to ensure there could be no chance encounters with a bus.

Solace was not to be found anywhere as seemingly the only person in the land willing to deny that the Emperor’s position was in jeopardy was the purported pretender to the throne herself. It’s all froth and bubble, she demurred fetchingly to the Oak Statue himself as he conducted a customarily lugubrious tete-a-tete with the new darling of the Fabian Optimists’ Club. My every dream is being realised as Deputy Prime Minister, she demurs, with such solemn sincerity that herald angels can be heard lullabying in her presence.

The other two heirs apparent – the Duck with an Abacus and Lendus a Tenner – appear less than enamored of Hot and Sweaty’s current pop star ratings. Unwilling to be seen as churlish (or, worse in the hothouse of politics, as possibly insecure in their own self-belief), they have selflessly not availed themselves of the chance to stick it to her. Well, not in anything said publicly though it’s not hard to imagine dark mutterings, with occasional ferocious outbursts, happening behind the scenes. Abacus Man must be spitting chips that his glorious moment in the sun has been all but forgotten as the Budget sputtered to a dull fate as this week’s fish and chip wrappings. All those months of laborious checking and rechecking the figures to see they all added up right delivered him no bounce at all in the Next PM Stakes.

Worse was the petulant reaction of those filthy capitalist pigs, the miners. Abacus had simply asked them to buy the next round for everyone and, while they had their hands in their pockets, to keep doing so till closing time and, just for good measure, to purchase the pub and, to round-out a great celebration, to implement an enforced takeover of the breweries as well so they could supply free drinks forever. To Abacus this is simply vertical integration. Not quite nationalism, just for the national benefit, you understand. The miners, who could feel their wallets being filched, reacted by throwing a flurry of haymakers. In the ensuing melee, quite a few made a connection. Abacus, the Emperor and their mate King Henry suddenly wondered why they had fancied a drink after all but their moral imperatives came to the fore once again and they tried to quell the fracas by shouting: “It’s for the good of the people”. The crowd that had gathered outside, however, was not quite so sure. They had been bought quite a few drinks by the miners previously and happened to think their occasional free shindigs were always pretty good value. Indicative of most crowd mentalities the onlookers continued to wait till one side or the other gained the upper hand and then they would throw all their support behind the one on top. The scramble for supremacy promises plenty more entertainment yet.

A minor distraction through the week got everyone playing: Who was that? This was the general response of anyone under 30 when asked what they thought about Malcolm Fraser resigning from the Liberal Party. Hardly any could name Fraser as a former Prime Minister though some, when shown photo images, asked if he had ever held a senior post on Easter Island. There was some muttering in retirement villages around the country as those not stricken with dementia demurred that The Statue’s best days were well behind him and that Tammy was the best thing about his prime ministership anyway. Ever since his fabulous Memphis holiday in which he had substantial apparel difficulties The Statue has developed a severe tilt to the left and has been in danger of being more at home in LathamLand than anything remotely like the Liberal Party of today. Our Kevvie’s latter day pole-dancing exploits in the US were but a pale imitation of The Statue having lost his trousers in a hotel in still unexplained circumstances. Nor could this rather essential piece of garb be easily misplaced since they contained enough material to provide a spinnaker for an America’s Cup yacht. So, vale Malcolm. No flowers by request.

And, in late-breaking news, it has been announced that Kevin Michael Rudd (occasionally known to some of his better pals as Our Kevvie) will be the key focus of the forthcoming federal election campaign. This startling revelation came to us from one Kyle Bitter who pulls strings behind the scenes for the Fabian Optimists Club. More astounding still was his statement that Our Kevvie is the Fabians’ greatest asset. Startled hacks and flacks could discern no sarcasm in Bitter’s mien and, so, played it straight in their reports. There was one small resort to reality, though, and it came in the admission that the Emperor’s Praetorian Guard will be arraigned around him during the campaign, the better to help thwart all the slings and arrows sure to come his way. It was portrayed as enabling the Fabians to better get their message out but all the Emperor could hear was that their voices would drown out his own. He kept his own counsel on the proposal but his lips were drawn tight.

The Lollipops and the Naughties, however, know a sting when they hear it and they, too, quickly announced that, yes, Kevin Michael Rudd will also be the centrepiece of their campaigning efforts. What Monsignor Antony thought of this is yet to seep out. He will probably have a confessional with the Gallery tarts and make a clean breast of his sincerely-held belief that he had, in all modesty, begun to believe he should be rather prominent in the quest to persuade Australians that socialism is a spent force and that liberalism is the great hope for all humankind. No wonder so many idealists and just plain folk keep searching for a Third Way that will simply deliver sound and decent governance. There is a greater threat than Work Choices, it is Poor Choices.

Part 17: 28/5/10

Part 16. Hoisting own’s one petard on a forked tongue

Heads went down across the nation this week as punters who lean to the right absorbed the shocking news that their best chance of seizing victory from the jaws of historically-ordained defeat against those who tilt leftwards had been massacred. Worse was that the rout was engineered by the leader of their own forces. Not since the adulation of lemmings have so many people wanted to leap off a cliff.

It was not always so though there have been portents blowing in the wind for some time. Those who exult in exuberance have been pleasurably placid in recent months as the Monsignor went about being crazy brave. True, this did disturb the majority of the common folk who actually like their leaders to be brave but who tend to find crazy just a little outside their comfort zone. Still, it was somewhat entertaining – in the manner of Gough Whitlam, say – that one never knew what might come next. And, also like Gough, one knew that whatever it was, it came from the heart and was the culmination of sincerely-held beliefs. The Monsignor is nothing if not out of the conventional mould and this worked well for some time as punters found the real Kevin Rudd (ever so recently revealed) just too tightly-wound for their liking.

Now, however, the seeds of doubt have been sown and have taken root quickly, flourishing in the hothouse atmosphere that accompanies the looming pagan ritual of the poll.

And what gives with the Jolly Green Giant? The normally ever-garrulous Tinkerbell Hockey suddenly transformed from Mr Effusive to Mr Evasive in a performance at the Hacks’ Hangout that was entirely reminiscent of the late Monsignor Antony’s brainsnap. Had these two creatures formulated a mutual suicide pact? Had they been led astray by mysterious ‘friends’ they had encountered on the internet? Did they just do drugs behind the bushes at the Steel Cage the previous evening? Who can say, for surely their performances defy sensible interpretation (unless, of course, one finds self-immolation a valid way of making a point).

And all across the land – for the most part – the Labor troops held their fire. Though they had their foes trapped in their trenches, they refused to put them to the sword. Instead, they let their opponents sweat in their own opprobrium. Let them breathe the stale fumes of anticipated defeat. Let them suck in the acrid stench of a suicide counter-attack gone horribly wrong.

Many gave pause to consider the restraint involved in the Emperor letting his opponent wriggle on a stake so needlessly self-impaled. And all could recognise the logic of Kevvie’s forbearance. It does not augur well for the tryst with the electorate planned for the spring break. The pheromones that had been zinging on the zephyrs now carry the flaccid odour of premature ejaculation and hang limply in the fetid air.

Nor was there any respite from the trench warfare in the key battle zone of the Shady State where the fledgling bastard child of a forced political marriage has suffered severe casualties of late. Like a weeping statue of the Madonna, though, this cavalcade of calamity is shrouded in mystery. The gob-smacking ghastliness of the LNP tearing itself apart in Queensland is that it is just that: the debilitating debacle of candidate disendorsements, Councillor sackings and MP resignations is entirely self-inflicted. True, the party will be better off without most of these preening ponces who just cannot accept that joining a team involves actually playing for the team. They rode the coattails of the party into office and then spat in the eye of all those who toiled for them. Reminiscent of Tolkienesque orcs they will no doubt eventually scuttle back into whatever black crevices they slithered out of entirely unlamented apart from the battle scars of their bastardry.

In what may prove as compelling as a Shakespearian tragedy the punters will soon determine whether the events that are unfolding will be accepted as setting standards of righteous propriety or simply the stench of a diseased creature that should be cremated forthwith. And with the Monsignor continuing to invoke a blessing for his former ally, now deemed a heretic, one cannot escape an image of lycra-clad legs straddling a razor wire fence. The forbearance of forgiveness is a fine thing, Monsignor, but politics shuns purity for pragmatism. The odds of you being the one person to overturn millennia of entrenched practice are, shall we say, slender. We could wish you luck with that but we are not sure we really want you to try, some of us still harbouring hopes of you achieving the Prime Ministership.

Strangely, much of the weeping and wailing on vexatious veracity was vented by the populist pundits with the common folk mostly having their established prejudices reinforced. Par for the course, some have said, with justification. But others, who read the tea-leaves with real empathy, wonder just how long the cumulative scars of self-inflicted, attention-grabbing self-mutilation will linger. There is no glossing-over that a death by a thousand cuts is just as effective as a dagger through the heart.

It is true that the well of forgiveness runs deep but there is a limit of tolerance for mistakes repeated. Leaders must demonstrate, not that they are infallible, but that they learn. And learning is only an acceptable response when anticipation is excusably absent. Blundering in a minefield with no coherent or cogent strategy is simply unacceptable. At stake is the nation’s future. And while roughly half our number find existing arrangements acceptable, we others must defend our cause better than is being done currently.

Part 16: 22/5/10

Part 15:  A downpayment on some decent numbers

Forget the ides of March, it was the tides of the opinion polls that had many in the Labor Party looking over their shoulders this past week. And, guess what, everyone saw the same thing: Hot and Steamy Gillard. Barely a shock jock encounter has passed without WonderGirl being asked if she was ready to step into Kevin Rudd’s shoes. And, sweet thing that she is, she shrugged her flirtatious shoulders each time and breathily intoned that ‘I think there’s a backhanded compliment in there somewhere’. This was followed universally by an assurance that she is only interested in the status quo. Which doesn’t wash with the legion of Labor leakers who have started to tell any media pundit within earshot that perhaps it’s time Our Kevvie started to take the business of winning the next election seriously.

Their concern is hardly misplaced as the Emperor has been doing passable impersonations of a Scottish caber thrower doing backflips as he jettisons anything like a policy or an initiative that might resemble an ounce of lead in the saddlebags. And all the while taunting the Monsignor to ‘show us your policies’. This has been echoed by Lend us a Tenner whose own mating call in the wild is: ‘Your debt and deficit scare campaign is dead in the water’. One can’t be sure just what mating partners this might attract as nothing seems to want to get close to him so far. But the rutting season has a way to run yet and the air reeks of pheromones.

The one thing everybody in fable-land can be grateful for is that there has never been any suggestion that Kevin Rudd’s shoes might be placed under Hot and Steamy’s bed. Verily, the stuff of nightmares! Yet that does not mean the Emperor does not have Hot and Steamy in mind as he tosses to and fro in the marital bed for the twenty minutes he spends there each evening. Like all who reach the heady pinnacle of political populism, Kevin the Dissembler is more than meets the eye – as many commoners have been discerning these recent weeks. Their instinct is that Kevvie is no longer the laudable lovely who wanted to bedeck the nation in policies, pure and pristine. Indeed, theirs is a queasy feeling that perhaps he never was. The revelation of recent times that Kevin has as much sincerity as a Sicilian mafiosi has focused minds more than a little. Whereas there was a time when they clamoured for his kiss on their cheek they now wonder, if such a gift were to be bestowed, whether it would presage a stiletto between the ribs. As a nation of loyalists, the common people do not turn lightly from one they have elected to trust but tremors of trepidation are trilling.

Indeed, the common concern was reflected in the Inner Circle – those loyal Labor MPs who comprise the Praetorian Guard that protects the Emperor’s personage because they depend in large measure on his patronage. The Guard suddenly found a voice as they welcomed the Emperor to their Caucus clique and sought his reading of the tea leaves. Kevin’s prognostications, however, did not accord with their own far-more-febrile fantasies. They could sense a revolt brewing among the people and they sought reassurance. Dissatisfied with the Emperor’s reassurances, they voted to tell him their innermost thoughts. ‘Get your act together, dickhead, before you cost us our beloved lurks and perks.’ This was but a rough translation from an unnamed source inside the clique yet it has not been denied by anyone since. Which makes one think the Emperor has been rather like a bear with a sore head these past few days. This would account for his sternest of stern visages as those whom the clique have dubbed ‘The Communicators’ have been entrusted with spreading the Emperor’s messages to the masses. How the Emperor has been humbled!

And so it was that the Duckling with an Abacus was allowed to gather to his side the vast majority of all the commentariat in the land and lock them up for a whole day while he plied them with words of wisdom enunciating his own intelligence in deciphering the chaos of the Global Financial Crisis. And, wouldn’t you know, the Duckling emerged with an enhanced reputation. Oh, the Emperor must have been furious. But he has, largely, remained inside the praesidium’s walls since the yearly accounts were released. One habit he could not break, though, and there he was gambolling among staff at yet another hospital. Give us a break!

The remarkable thing about the past week was the difference in the public mood once the Emperor had been persuaded to shut up and let the remnant trio of the Gang of Four do the talking. Can his ego cope? Will the Praetorian Guard let someone remain emperor while the deputies do the dirty work? And all the while the pheromones are stirring the loins and minds are turning to flights of fancy. The action promises to be fast and furious as we enter the Coliseum for the final show of the season.

Part 15: 15/5/10

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.

Part 14: 8/5/10

Part 13:  All the morality of tomcats

This was a week in which many players on the political stage revealed their feet of clay. As primus inter pares, Cruddy led the way. During one of his now interminable hospital visits, he stopped pretending he was at a masked ball and showed his real face. Gone was the darling of the teen scene – anyone remember the halcyon days of Kevin 07? – and in his place the one they used to call Dr Death. Yes, welcome back forked-tongue man. There were many who wondered where you were hiding and many who had succumbed to the belief that you had changed. But, no, the nasty little beast that lurks within your breast assumed the ascendency again.

The source of this revelation? The great big new somersault on everything once held dear. He who verily vibrated with indignity when declaiming that global warming was the greatest moral challenge of our times has suddenly gone cold on the concept. His eternal flame of moral indignation has been snuffed out. And for what? Base pragmatism! All who thought moral leadership was above such tawdry concerns can now feel well and truly cheated. On ya, Cruddy!

As part of this repudiation of righteousness, Cruddy re-defined the national electoral franchise: as of the 2010 federal election, voters will be authorised to cast a ballot only on the topic of health and hospitals. This new decree has ruled all other considerations irrelevant. In the face of howls of protest, Cruddy was terse. “You didn’t heed me on climate change so you have forfeited your right to offer me guidance. I know what’s right for this country so just go and get on with your lives. Oh, and keep paying your taxes; I need those funds.”

This was Curt and Dismissive Man who had at last come out to play. There have been many sightings of him behind closed doors but rarely in public. CDM spotting usually happens when staff or subordinates are seen leaving his vicinity with brimming red eyes.

Having dismissed global warming as an imperative, Cruddy clearly decided he liked this persona and thought he’d stay in the role. Which led to his full frontal assault on tobacco-tokers. These poor bastards thought their only problem was having their health destroyed but now they are to have their wealth destroyed, too. But all for the national good. Or is this just for Cruddy’s benefit? Hmm . . .

Those with a peccadillo for pointillism might have perceived a linkage between the abandonment of an Emissions Trading Scheme and the assault on smokers: if Cruddy curbs ten squillion lungsful of noxious fumes each day, he can still claim moral leadership on carbon pollution reduction. And to think there were sceptics who doubted his ability to create torrents of empty hospital beds across the nation! By enforced healing of all those piteously unhealthy smokers, elective surgery lists will now be able to be slashed in no time. Who dared doubt his capacity for programmatic connectivity?

Another to reveal her clay tootsies this week was She Who Couldn’t Lie Straight in Bed, Queen of the Shady State. Faced with a Boxer Rebellion at her own team’s Labour Day March on Monday, she decided to flee to America (home of the capitalist oppressor). In this manner she will avoid the widely anticipated outrage of organised labour objecting to her massive sell-off of state assets. In keeping with her alienation from the masses, Queen Bligh will fly business class to the States but will fork out $10,000 for a First Class air bed for the strenuous return leg. No wonder she needs to flog off the silver. Of course, there were those unkind enough to suggest she realises she is so on the nose that she may as well enjoy some perks while she still has the chance.

Clay modelling was all the go in sandgroper land, too, where Runaway Bus Crash was another revelation. With such a superabundance of turbocharged sexuality, how did he ever decide to pursue politics instead of just becoming a gigolo? Perhaps his utterly inappropriate antics over recent years stem from an innate realisation that his notional appeal is all just his own little fantasy. But Bus Crash was just as profligate with the public purse as he was with his sexual favours. One could be forgiven for thinking his modus operandi as Treasurer was a peculiar form of tithing: nine for the state coffers and one for me. His utter laxity in respecting the public purse mirrors the recently-revealed British parliamentary approach to rorting and thievery. His enforced resignation will no doubt be followed by public repudiation in his own electorate. With such a fate already presaged for his Greens’ dalliance, they can splendidly swan off into the sunset. Oh, but he has a family? Hmm . . . well, that says more about him than anything else. Won’t be missed.

And the true believer hopefuls in the Failed State were eagerly optimistic with a new poll showing that Krispy Kornflakes has more sex appeal than any other leader in the nation. Their optimism, however, was as short-lived and messy as a wet dream for it turns out that voters there have finally learned not to fall for the three-card trick. They love Krispy but won’t have a bar of the Workers’ Guild. The Lovelies, on the other hand, were left to ponder just when their party will elect a leader to challenge Krispy. There was a rumour that someone called Bazza O’Fazza had got the job some time ago but he’s never been seen since and many think he must have passed away. Anyone seen a funeral notice? At least Krispy has the honour – thus far – of having feet that appear decidedly flesh and blood. Here’s hoping at least some of our dreams can be salvaged.

Part 13: 31/4/10

Part 12:  The gunfight at the OK Corral

What a month this has been! The Bland Man adopted a persona. Yes, Our Kevvie read the tea-leaves and decided it was time to get tough. Sick of sledging The Monsignor who got on his bike and rode out of range every time Kev started hurling epithets, our hero recognised a stimulus was needed and called for special effects. This was a rallying cry to boutique agency Hawker Britton who rode into town on the 3:10 from Manuka and ran a quick strategic evaluation.

“Health and hospitals, it must be,” was their prognosis. Reverting ever-so-briefly to his transient alter ego – Emperor of the First Rudd Imperium – Kev snarled: “That’s what I’ve been telling you bastards for two years. Now give me some decent advice or bugger off!” Extra espressos were ordered-in as the consultants burned the midnight oil (not that they needed to but it just looks good in the capitalist free-market system) and they duly made the Big Call. “Great Leader, the strategy remains health and hospitals. But . . . we’ve modified the tactics. Now, when you visit a hospital, which should be at least twelve times a day, you smile. When you meet the Premiers, which should be no more than twelve times a year, you frown.”

They could see that Kevvie had the whole frown thing down pat. In fact, so stern was his visage that some began retreating for the door. But one brave soul found his voice and stammered. “You see, PM, we want you to expend some of that vitriol you normally use on your staff and lash the Premiers with it. Big time. Show them you’re not to be trifled with. And please don’t reprise your role with Death’s Head and the Insulation Debacle. This time we really need some decisive leadership.”

Now, when that poor bastard had picked himself up off the floor and the Emperor’s puce features had faded to a mottled maroon, a light went off. “You’re right. Those bastard Premiers only ever steal my limelight. They get way too much media coverage, they’re forever blaming us for their inadequacies and all they do is whine for more dollars. Well, bugger them! Have we got a policy on having a two-level system of government in Australia? Can somebody work-up some notes for me?” And the wonk was on. By the time the consultants had brought the meeting back to order, Kevvie had instigated two reviews and one inquiry; had established a task force and thrown $3.4 billion on the table in case some stimulus was needed. With the Hawks and the Brits securing 240% of the project outlay in management fees, most of the consultants had their hands deep in their pockets and very silly, albeit wistful, smiles on their dials. There are few things as satisfying as to be in bed with government.

But satisfaction is fleeting (just ask the female population of Australia) and a pre-poll campaign is in full swing so the time for action was at hand. Transmogrification was initiated and with some careful costume design by Mother Theresa and make-up by Gillard’s Guises, Our Kevvie swaggered out front of Miss Kitty’s saloon, stirring tendrils of dust as his spurs jangled on the rough ground.

“Come on out, you premiers,” he hollered. “I’ve got a deal on the table and I’m telling you to sign on before sundown.” The stillness suggested disquiet but the only murmurs were from onlookers who could feel the tension in the air. All wondered: Who will walk tall this night?

As he peered into the day’s fading sunlight, Marshal Rudd could see just one outlaw in the mist. He could not tell whether it was a wild brumby or a sandgroper slithering in from the west. The Marshal thought he had saddled-up those two skittish mares and the rest were afraid of loud noises so they posed no problems. But just as he thought he could recognise his adversary’s outline, a volley of fire opened-up from the sidelines. It was those bastard lobby groups and their shots made him jump.

Still he would not surrender. He was, after all, the Law of the Land and he had might on his side. But as he returned fire he had an idea. He would try to swear-in Doc Abbott as a Deputy to give him support. “Doc, Doc, you know the good folk want me to tame this wild land, so stand should-to-shoulder with me and bring peace in our time.” But Doc was edgy and felt sure there was a set-up. He parlayed: “Let me see if there’s enough bandages, beds and clinical staff in case we get shot. Oh, and we may need after-market mental health and dental care as well.”

The Marshal was infuriated but had other problems on his mind. He simply had to tame these premiers. Once they had been broken-in, he could corral all the other outlaws in the badlands. There was only one still standing. But just as Marshal Rudd was about to blaze away with both his six irons, he could see a massive cloud of dust brewing on the horizon. Even the sandgroper stopped his slithering and turned to see what was happening. Whatever it was, it was coming closer. As all eyes strained to understand this new phenomenon, one of Miss Kitty’s girls on the upper balcony of the saloon raised an eyeglass and let out a wild yell: “It’s an army of bureaucrats. Their banner says they’re coming from Canberra to save us all.” There was consternation near and far for no-one had anticipated such an influx. “Wait, there’s another banner to one side. It’s smaller writing. Oh, I see. It says – Health reform to cure joblessness; full employment to heal obesity, stress and poverty; none shall be sick and all shall have a bed.”

Marshal Rudd knew the element of surprise was on his side so he casually turned his back to the sandgroper while taunting: “If I see your face around here again, Collywobbles, I’ll plug you. Reform while the going’s good or pay the price!” And with that, the Marshall swaggered back to his adoring fans who may or may not yet number a majority. That’s a tale for another day.

Part 12 24/4/10

Part 11: The puffery of pre-poll posturing

The tea-leaf readers’ prognostications give us six months before we get to indulge the democratic right to pass judgment on our national leadership while the nervous nellies fret it could be before the Monsignor gets off his bike. Six months, six days: who knows? But, as always, we the pawns just have to suffer while the political apparatchiks gird their loins and get ready to joust. This is a ritualised sport to establish who has the best credentials and we are about to witness many unsubtle signifiers as the quest proceeds.

Toughness is deemed an essential and so it was that Our Kevvie huffed and puffed like a chronic asthmatic as he slapped smokers senseless with a threat to raise the price of a packet of fags to 20 bucks. All the good people chorused their approval while all the baddies muttered darkly about injustice. The take could be two billion but the health outlay for fumers is said to be $31 billion, leaving a deficit as ugly as a cancerous lesion. As for the supposed healthy stimulus of a discriminatory tax regime, there are many old farts who can recall predictions that there wouldn’t be a smoker left in the land once fags reached a dollar a pack. The idealists and the realists sit on the sidelines hoping that one day the penny will drop that punitive reform of addiction is as efficacious as leeches for bad blood.

Toughness is also the placebo of health policy with Emperor Kevin stamping his foot and demanding that tribal chiefs in each state bow down before him. Most have humbled themselves but the Wild Horse in the Bushfire State remains resolute. “Show me more money,” he shouts. The Emperor has ordered a review of fratricide to assess his options. The coagulation quagmire next week promises to be truly treacly.

And there was puffery aplenty as The Blackfella repaid his debt for cancelling the Kirribilli BBQ by suffering a half-hour inquisition with a feather by the venerable Kezza. Oh, yes, Kezza feinted and jabbed as if there was a real contest but his deference was demonstrable as he elicited that Our Kevvie was the best friend the US has ever had and that, for a white bloke, he wasn’t half bad. Whether punters will translate BO’s endorsement into votes has the tea-leaf readers squizzing the dregs in their cups with avid interest.

And as the Bloody Embarrassing Rort went further pear-shaped we witnessed a truly tantalising transmogrification. Hot and Steamy shrugged off her sultry silhouette and stepped into a facsimile of the metal corset that adorned the cover of Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch. Fit her like a glove, it did. Emboldened by her armour, Steamy spilled $14 million from her overflowing purse and deigned to let it be used for an investigation. Not to actually right any of the wrongs that stick to this program like burrs to a sheep but just to prod and poke things to make it look like there’s a smidgin of contrition. No apologies yet, however, and those hoping for them are turning blue in the face.

The fact that there’s a simple solution appears to have escaped all and sundry. Given the Rudd edict that there shall be no more ruthless hunting and tracking of visa vandals because mainland detention centres are overflowing, Hot and Steamy could solve her BER imbroglio. Just modify one-in-three of the unwanted COLAs springing-up like mushrooms in school paddocks and dedicate them as detention centres. Schools are, after all, noted for imposing inflexible disciplinary regimes and there is an added benefit that detainees could be used to supervise Naplan exams in place of recalcitrant teachers. And, just like Labor’s social housing policy it fits the mantra of enforced inclusion. Win, win, win!

Yet there was sadness, too, among the political leadership cadre as the errant Chinese tanker, Naughty Boy 1, was successfully refloated from the Great Barrier Reef without any further seepage of watered-down Vegemite. Thus came to an end the most brazen series of joy-riding overflights of one of the globe’s most spectacular sights in delicious early autumn sunshine. To Anna Bligh, Peter Garrett, Bob Brown and Kevin Rudd we simply ask: what difference did you make? Aside from yet-to-be-offered apologies for these blatant abuses of taxpayer funds and an unseemly contribution to greenhouse emissions, how did you express your sympathy to family and friends that you could not slip them aboard the flights, too? Must have been some angst at home when the TV footage outed them.

Angst is clearly afoot in Kevvie and his mates’ Ministerial offices, too, with a report suggesting staff turnover has reached an embarrassing 60 per cent. Remarkable that even died-in-the-wool loyalists can’t stomach what goes on. One of Kevvie’s henchmen was foolish enough to liken conditions to a dog’s life. Yelping with frustration at the one meal a day dictum, he howled that one year with Rudd is like a dog year equalling seven human years. Kevvie laughed it off (in that mendaciously mirthless way of his) and declared that if this was the case, staff really did stick by him because three or four years was actually like 28 or 30. Yes, it’s a very twisted logic but that’s how Emperors think – apparently.

And the time has surely come for the National Health and Medical Research Council to step-in and stop Our Kevvie spreading germs among patients at every hospital in the land. Eschewing accepted best practice, Kevvie sits on just about every bed he comes across. And with a media schedule of twelve hospitals a day (and that’s just before lunch) Kevvie has spent the past month terrorising management and staff from Darwin to the Derwent. You can tell them on the TV news each night: the staff are the ones pretending they’re happy to be going to the gallows while looking shiftily left and right to see what might be going wrong and the Rudd camp followers are the ones grinning maniacally straight at camera as they strive to get their ugly skulls into the same frame. Sad but fascinating to watch. And we lucky ones get to vote for some of them. God help us all.

Part 11: 17 April 2010

Part 10: Did anyone catch the resurrection?

Kevvieberra was a ghost town this week given the gladiators had sheathed their swords and left the barbarity of the Steel Cage to commune again with real people. This ritual process is quite liturgical given the tendency for displays of public worship as pollies seek to reassure their flocks that they are in good hands. There were, however, no reported cases of pollies washing voters’ feet. That kind of symbolism was left to the churches although Our Kev could not leave his penchant for stimulus at work and handed-out chocolate easter bunnies at his weekly churchfront doorstop. This tawdry commercialisation of his sacred weekly penitence went unreported by the Murdoch press though there may be plans for a supplement of his sins next week.

The Oz did, however, seek to make amends for its dreadful lapse in reporting a Newspoll in which Rudd and Labor scored well. This event was the talk of the town for it generated a raft of stories about how well Kevvie was doing and how that dreadful Polyester Man refuses to cover his nakedness even as he drips sweat over the great unwashed as he exercises his demons. No, that’s not a typo. He doesn’t want to cast them out; he is quite happy to be driven by them, thank you. Realising that it could be seen as being even-handed, The Oz delved deep into the grit of the Newspoll and found that Labor was not doing well in Queensland and New South Wales and breathlessly reported that this boded poorly for Kev. The Liberals slept soundly that night, knowing all was well in the land once again.

Mind you, the barbarity of the Steel Cage was not left behind entirely with the Australian Lollipop Party most unhappy at being seen as kindly. Strategists decided to ‘go the knuckle’ on the Monsignor and established a website lampooning the Lovelies’ Party leader for all his silly pronouncements on policy, sex, virginity, sex, exercise, sex and everything else top of his mind. Ah, the election circus tent is about to roll into town, folks.

In tandem with this new image of unflinching brutality and bareknuckle bastardry, Our Kevvie rejected invitations from his coterie of international leader mates to talk nukes and stayed home. As if pretending he had some attachment to a domestic domicile, Kev has just endured his longest period on native soil since his ascension to the throne. Fourteen whole weeks. Like a Christmas Island detainee he must be fretting about freedom and longing for an airport departure lounge.

Some discontent among our cartoonists this week for Barndoor Joke said not one word all week. Hallelujah!

Contentment was scarce, too, for Matron Rockson who scolded her state Labor colleagues mercilessly in a determined bid to make them bow down before her on the issue of a new national health and hospitals regime. None had genuflected by the end of the week though She Who Doesn’t Have a Friend in The World from the Shady State was talking-up the prospects of peace. Things are grim when a stern and unmistakably threatening lecture on realpolitik secures a friendly response from the one under attack. The passion and ferociousness with which many Labor devotees play their politics is a lesson the leisurely Liberals have never quite learned. Sure, there are a good few haters in the Lovelies’ ranks but these tend to be dilettantes who are playing the man not the policy. Perhaps it’s time for a change, you sweet things!

But there was anguish and wailing this week as a host of lost souls contemplated the unmaking of an icon. They went to bed dreaming of Hot and Steamy and awoke to find an Ice Maiden in her place. She who is building an education revolution appears to have let contracts for some very expensive barricades, indeed. It would seem project management fees are funding socialist parties and Fabian societies across the land. And despite the mountains of damning evidence compiled by The Oz, it was the Ice Maiden’s unflinching cry of ‘show me the evidence or a pox on your house’ that crumbled her previously sultry charm. We now see revealed the true politician that lives within. A tragic loss on the eve of long cold winter nights.

This was also the week that Our Kevvie was outed as The Big Australian. He did emerge from the closet on this issue somewhat earlier but it was only after the Monsignor averred that his was smaller than Kev’s that things got unruly. The fervour of the leader-writers stirred a clamour among the masses that suggests this is a topic that has the capacity to excite and there were tremulous whispers in all corners as to who’s up who, who pays the rent and whether any of them should be allowed any accommodation at all. Sad that so much unedifying comment from all sides should also be so nation-defining. We will live with the consequences, both tangible and intangible.

Part 10: 10 April 2010

Part 9: A true test of character

As they vie for our votes the patriarchs of our two leading national religions, Archbishop Rudd and Monsignor Abbott, demonstrated their faith this week in very divergent ways. The Archbishop, as is his wont, clutched a prayerbook in his hand and stood shamelessly in front of a church to minister to his flock of fawning hacks. Preaching is his purpose and piety is his text. Sermonising in soundbites, he offers plenary indulgences as a stimulus. Just what penance will be exacted for this shameless appropriation of iconic facades will remain between the Archbishop and his maker (always assuming 24-7 isn’t a test tube baby).

Meanwhile, the Mons sweated a storm in his revivalist tent as he gyrated himself to breathless exhaustion at the end of a long day’s journey into pain. Like flagellants of old, the Mons whipped himself mercilessly as he swam, rode and ran relentlessly in search of stray votes. The naysayers were ten deep at the start of the race declaiming Mons for his lack of policies but few had the fortitude to stay the full fourteen hours of this peculiar contest of character. No matter how questionable some might try to make Mons’ commitment to endurance, the sheer grit he demonstrated silenced almost all critics. And the tea-leaf readers are left to ponder the portents. One was overheard to say: ‘The worm may have turned but the people love a character, even one with flaws’.

This was also the week that the Minister for the Nanny State, Senator Hapless Conrod, got a whack around the ears from the freedom fighters in the White House over his proposed censorship filter for the internet. Kevvie’s confidants have been advised there is no way The Blackfella would ever visit Oz if he could not have unrestricted access to erotic sites during his stay. Mother Theresa is thought to be furious with Kevvie now that her soiree with Michelle and the girls has been postponed indefinitely.

An interesting sight this past week was the Supremo of the Motherdollar Bank, Stingy Sourpuss, playing at being the Easter Bunny. In a performance that failed to secure any plaudits at all, Sourpuss wagged his finger and told the great unwashed: “Your shameless avarice is forcing house prices up to unconscionable levels so you must be punished with a rates rise.” The howls of anguish from those who could not see how they were at fault for this mess and why they should have their pockets picked were strident but failed to lighten the Supremo’s dour demeanour. One suggestion doing the rounds was that Sourpuss was actually trying to create a healthier nation by making people feel queasy before they even started to think about scoffing basketloads of chocolate easter eggs. One thing is for sure, Sourpuss has no intention of letting the markets enter a phase of irrational exuberance. And, God help us, Stingy also revealed that he, too, is given to taking a little divine guidance in his ministering of the Motherdollar Bank. Confessing his sins on morning tabloid television just like any other celebrity-seeking chorus girl, Sourpuss scared the bejezus out of the nation’s non-believers by revealing that his work (30 years with the Bank) is all for the Lord. In a heartening sign that his god, at least, may not be given to hellfire and damnation, Stingy said he did not believe the GFC was a sign from god. Mind you, sinners, he did confess that he sees human behaviour as being driven by greed and fear alternatively. Hardly a gospel of salvation but a fascinating, if almost terrifying, insight into the mind of the Motherdollar Bank’s supremo. God help us all.

As we close-in on the looming federal election, it’s not just pesky MPs getting ready for close-quarters combat. The Australian Army has signalled its intention to keep issuing our soldiers with bayonets. This was in response to the US Army’s decision to surrender centuries of tradition by scrapping the hefty knife that clicks onto the end of a rifle. Which is fine for the traditionalists but one should spare a thought for our brave servicemen and women in an era in which unmanned drones dispense death from scores of kilometres away and even standard issue rifles can take-out opponents from hundreds of metres away. It all smacks somewhat too much of the futility of Gallipoli, really.

This was also the week that the Building the Education Revolution was finally exposed as the shameless sham it really is and will henceforth be known as the Blatantly Egregious Rip-off. For all Kevvie’s posturing as The Saviour (He of the Stimulus who parted the Global Financial Crisis as if it were the Red Sea), a chorus has arisen that the Australian Lollipop Party cannot ever be trusted with more than 2 shillings and sixpence to spend at any one time. And isn’t it passing strange that Hot and Steamy is nowhere to be seen. Clever one, that, muttered a few Lollipop insiders darkly as they pondered the redhead’s chances of putting her shoes under the Prime Minister’s bed (only once he has vacated the room, you dirty little beasts!). The revelation of the squillions of our dollars being poured into the pockets of fat cat construction companies has raised fears that the Lollipop party has masterminded a cute scheme to filch traditional Liberal donors from under the conservatives’ noses.

And as Easter envelops us, we must wonder anew: where, oh where, are we to find salvation in all this fine mess? ‘Tis the time of revelation so perhaps all will be revealed shortly. Then we may be left to ponder: can we handle the truth?

Part 9: 3 April 2010

Part 8:  Up to our elbows in worms

The worms have turned and an absorbed nation is slithering through its collective consciousness to work out what it all means. First, with remembrances of Port Arthur fuelling their long-awaited assault on the ballot boxes, those two-headed Taswegians cast aside that poor young Labor man. Can’t remember his name: hadn’t been there long enough to become familiar. But he was brutally rent asunder in his still nascent political prime just so those sandgropers over there in Wa-Wa Land didn’t feel so alone in having a Liberal regime in charge of affairs. So, you specks in the Strait, your big brothers and sisters on the mainland salute you!

And, speaking of affairs, how about those randy churchgoers in the Promiscuous State? Weren’t they a turn-up for the books? Casting aside decades of prejudice in which they have been adjudged the most god-fearing Aussies in the nation, they rebelled and clutched to their bosom their fornicating premier (in his heart if not actually in Chantelois). A moderate number were given permission to register a mild protest but the rest voted with their dirty minds and approved the salacious appeal of their needy Number 1 ticket-holder. Randy Rann is still their man!

Then there was the debacle of a debate. Apostolic altar boys and girls burned incense and uttered hosannahs for the Monsignor but it was all in vain. Clearly the stain of mortal sin taints all us believers; why else would we be punished so? The Mons carried a fresh hankie and wore clean undies for the television event (just like his Mum told him to) but all to no avail. Who would have thought a former national journalist and ministerial press secretary would need media training? But you do, Monsignor, you do! Frankly, on that performance, old son, there is cause to believe you need to finish Lent early, indulge yourself heartily in carnal delight and then get your mind back on politics. Catholicism is all about discipline, Mons, (quite apart from those clergy who can’t keep their cassocks below their knees) so imbue yourself in the milieu and think: restraint. However bitter the Press Club pill may have been it was a timely reminder that the Krudd ain’t dead and buried just yet. All those who perceived an Abbott ascendancy (including the Fabler) now have to subdue their optimism and gird their loins for the long haul. We’re with you, Mons, but we need you to maintain a very tight focus.

And speaking of discipline, it’s heartening that Barndoor Joke has lost his abacus (except when he goes upstairs for an early nap and he can keep playing with it). Barndoor is a fascinating breath of fresh air on the national political scene and his candour and commitment will serve him well in his new role of getting things done in the bush and adjacent areas, big projects that make life easier and the stuff you drink when thirsty but there’s no beer. In the end, Barndoor, you were the only person in the whole country who did not want to recognise that Finance was not your cup of tea. Your dogged determination is admirable but this is better for all of us who share the dream. And wasn’t it touching to see Malcolm Turncoat hovering near the cloakroom in the hope of picking-up a late cancellation ticket to the Cabinet matinee. Those who thought he had taken bat and ball home now see that there remains a field marshal’s baton in his knapsack. But will he have the patience to wait until after the next election to try his luck again for the First XV?

This week also saw a continuation of the great Chinese lay-by of Australia with another down-payment being made through a pledge to buy $60 billion of coal seam gas from Queensland over the next two decades. Such is the veritable torrent of Chinese Yuan flooding into Oz that you have to wonder if it is a money-laundering scheme on a scale never before conceived to help China disperse some of its staggeringly vast hoard of foreign reserves.

Oh, and wasn’t it great to see the budgie smugglers rivalling the people smugglers for coverage as the Monsignor got down and dirty to demonstrate his leadership credentials once more?  Frankly, it is almost impossible to imagine how the Monsignor makes time to indulge his exercise regime but the value is perhaps best summarised by that post-socialist wealth redistributionist, Swanee, who harrumphed haughtily that naughty boy ought to spend more time on policy than on his bike. What, and have him end up like Prime Minister Policy Wonk? Nah, don’t think so, we’d prefer considerable difference between our two candidates for Top Office, thank you. Perhaps it was the thought of Swanee in budgie smugglers that sent a shiver of palsy through the assembled hacks. LOL!

Part 8 – 27 March 2010

Part 7 – Did somebody mention a pig in a synagogue?

Strange things are happening across the land. Our Kevvie graced the pages of many newspapers this week cuddling a baby. Dear god, could there be an election in the offing? And this from the man who promised us a new approach to politics! What was on his mind? Oh, the latest polls, you say? Indeed, his slide in popularity is reminiscent of the movie Crash and Burn. Perhaps now Kevvie will accept that the apologise-for-the-sins-of-all-mankind approach of former Shady State Maestro, Cheesy Grin, is no longer a winner. After all, every Australian believes politicians are lying each time they open their mouths so why would we accept an apology as sincere, no matter how prim and prissy the delivery?

Speaking of Doctor Death (that would be the aforementioned, Our Kevvie), hasn’t he had a fabulous return to form? Doc’s treatment of Krispy Kornflakes the other day was insightful. Not the way to win the women’s vote but insightful. It involved the imperious Emperor deliberately snubbing Krispy by refusing to even look at her when sitting side by side in the full glare of the media just because he wanted to pick a fight with the Failed State over his hospital reform measures. Nikki Savva in The Oz deliciously summarised the scene thus: ‘She looked like a wounded Bambi, graceful and doe-eyed, while he had the steely glare of a hunter ready to skin her dead or alive.’ And this is his treatment of one of his own loyal comrades: a key leader on his own team. You’d hate to be sitting across the breakfast table from him on a bad morning, eh? Or serving him the wrong thing on a plane. Or trying to work less than 21 hours a day in his office. Or . . . okay, you get the point.

It’s a reminder of Doc’s past in the Shady State when he was Director-General of the Office of Cabinet which made him the supremo of all Shady State pen pushers. Now Doctor Death is hardly the kind of moniker you’d want your children to know about but, as they say, if the cap fits . . .  The pertinent aspect of this epithet is that it was bestowed by the staff who worked with he of the bedside manner. Yes, all those Labor loyalists who got to work in the Premier’s Office – the real trusted apparatchiks – were the ones who discerned Our Kevvie’s true nature. Certainly not nurturing! They were the ones who went home in tears after a roasting for their supposedly less than perfect efforts. They were the underlings trampled with disdain by the callous perfectionist who could never acknowledge anyone else as being able to deliver to his lofty standards. Megalomania is at a hair’s breadth remove in this man. And only now are many voters starting to realise something is not quite right with the image being projected by the Emperor who cuddles babies. Perhaps they are picking-up undertones of King Herod who had a similar high regard for infants and could lop off two or three heads before breakfast.

Perhaps The Blackfella has picked-up the same vibe, too. The Supreme Being of The Entire Universe As We Know It appears to share the Australian public’s fading love affair with Kevvie and has cancelled his Kirribilli sleepover. Perhaps it was the thought of spending dinner with Kev and Mother Theresa that scared him away. I mean, no matter how much fabulous Australian wine you could quaff, nothing would make-up for hours of haranguing about the importance of policy, would it? Far better to wait until The Monsignor gets into office and then the conversation would be about vestal virgins, the joy of Lental deprivation and the gift that keeps on giving. Come to think of it, perhaps it would be best for our major alliance if sleepovers were never mentioned again. You would have to think Michelle and the kids would be eternally grateful, too. But Saccharine Man has no intention of letting them off the hook so easily. Claiming the First family as his very best mates in the world, Kevvie promised to phone the White House appointments secretary every Friday for the next six months in an effort to co-ordinate diaries and find time for a mid-winter slumber party. Mobile phones are to be left at the door in case risqué photos emerge from the evening’s entertainment.

Meantime, an icon of recent Australian political history has gone missing from the national landscape though efforts to find it could be likened to the attraction of putting your unprotected hand into a jar of funnelweb spiders. Of course, you guessed it straight away: it’s climate change! There are suspicions it has been buried in the backyard under a pile of cow dung because as Our Kevvie has intoned or droned all week: it’s now all about health and hospitals. And he has offered to do a live-to-camera jelly wrestle with The Monsignor to see just who has the best health cover. Authorities advise the program may contain traces of policy on the run and have warned that parental guidance is strongly recommended.

(Part 7 – 20 March 2010)

Part 6: Kev and Ken: A tale of unrequited admiration

Like two poster boys for their generation, Kev and Ken wander the corridors of Canberra eagerly accepting the plaudits of all the fawning functionaries who pass within their purview. They carry themselves with the easy assurance of those accustomed to media attention and the bulwark of very successful careers. Yet a frisson of turbulence has entered their once-cosy relationship.

It’s not as if these two paragons of Australian leadership – one dominant in politics and the other a master of the bureaucracy – are lovers: they just, shall we say, have a very healthy respect for each other. And (shhh . . . the truth should not be shouted) their respective intellects stimulate each other to buggery. Well, not literally, mind you, just metaphorically. Hey, this is a family blog, okay?

But their mutual fascination did lead to a heady engagement. When Kev inherited control of the nation’s taxation system it almost made him swoon. But its provenance disturbed him: it still carried all the hallmarks of its former owners, that rampantly dysfunctional duo, Howard and Costello. Kev plied the trade he knew so well: review and report. He called Ken: ‘Let us root and branch this system. No, let us root a review. No, let us review the system and find some roots and branches. Oh, hell, Ken, you know what to do. Just get on with it, mate’.

And then he called Swanee, his little acolyte, and told him the news. Swanee was cautious because he harboured a dirty little secret: he wanted the tax system for himself. But he figured that while Ken was root and branching and Kev was wonking policies all he had to do was bide his time and hope that Ken somehow shot himself in the foot.

But, then, the fly in the ointment! That bastard Abbott killed the merchant banker and all hell broke loose. The deckchairs were sliding hither and yon and it grew ever more difficult to maintain one’s balance. What the hell was happening?

None of this bothered Ken, who stalked the countryside asking anyone who would listen how they would like the pickpocket’s grubby fingers to enter their wallets. Ignoring the inevitable ‘not at all’ response offered by all and sundry, Ken pushed on. At nights, sitting alone in his lounge-room while the wisp of the white dragon curled up to the ceiling, he imagined a system that no-one had ever before conceived. The mornings were difficult because none of the numbers ever added up to just 100 per cent. But he knew he was on the right track; the voices in his head told him so.

That was before people started whispering about Ken and Kev, though. Word was that they were more than just master and servant. It was suggested they saw things in each other that transcended mere politics. This was truly a meeting of the minds. Like Romeo and Juliet, however, love – no matter how platonic, you filthy creatures! – rarely runs true. And the Abbott was threatening to withhold the sacraments. Kev railed at Mother Theresa but she could offer no solace for the love that dares not speak its name. ‘Intellectual infatuation, shall we say, is never easy,’ she whispered on the Kirribilli doona, ‘you just have to be strong enough to withstand the slings and arrows.’ Kev was not reassured. He feared the worst: an outing. He was not convinced that Australians could comprehend an overnight reformation of the health system, combined with schools that actually taught reading and writing, and all enlightened by a system of workplace fair play in which no shop steward was ever looked down on by management. Utopia was at hand and nothing must be allowed to interfere with that. His legacy was nigh.

And so it was that Ken was appalled one day recently to hear Kev’s schoolmasterly tones coming through his Blackberry: ‘I have some bad news, mate,’ Kev said soberly. ‘We can’t afford to be seen together anymore.’

‘What? You’re dumping me?’ Ken exclaimed.

‘I’m afraid so. But you understand the situation. Your roots and branches have started fluttering everywhere and people are beginning to talk about us.’

Ken was miffed but knew his place and, so, retreated to the Commonwealth Club for port and cigars with the other scions of the Service. He waited – without fulfilment – for word from Swanee. But the post-socialist wealth redistributionist had problems of his own. Every time he thought he had his May Budget preparations finalised that idiot, Barndoor Joke, kept ruining his concentration by calling billions millions and millions billions. Frankly, it made Swanee bilious. So, when Kev called and told him things had cooled with Ken, he was not thrilled.

‘But you promised I could announce the engagement. What will I do with all those invitations?’

‘Shut up, Swanee,’ barked Kev. ‘You’re so damned whiney when things don’t go your way. How do you think it is for me?’

‘But I want the world to know there can be a new kind of love; one that frees us all from the stale domination of base mercenary considerations. Yes, we know not everyone will be happy. There will be winners and losers but that’s what being a reformer is all about: you get to choose which side you’ll be on. And I’m promising you a winner.’

Kev, however, would not be moved. Unrequited admiration carries its own emotional baggage and despite every media outlet across the nation denouncing the break-up and demanding the release of the roots and the branches, Kev would not budge. ‘There are important affairs of state to be managed and we shall not be distracted by the image of the Adonis,’ he cried shrilly. ‘I mean, we won’t get sidetracked by the beauty of the proposals. No. I mean . . . we just have to focus on schools and hospitals.’ And then Kev revealed his big policy wonk. At a specially convened piss-up at the National Press Club he breathlessly told the slavering curs: ‘From this day forward, we will never again mention the word taxation. I am promulgating regulations tomorrow that will outlaw its use for the full term of the First Rudd Imperium.’ To stunned silence, he resumed his seat and beamed beatifically at the hacks. ‘Thank you, Mother Theresa,’ he intoned silently to himself, ‘that will confound the Abbott and keep us on the straight and narrow. I’m so glad I gave up Catholicism because otherwise I suspect I’d be drowning in guilt. But, hey, as a High Church Pom I’m free of all that. Hallelujah!’

And so it came to pass that Australia’s possibly, potentially, supposedly best chance at tax reform languished like discarded lover’s letters in the top drawer of Kev’s dresser at Kirribilli. Sooner than he thought, though, they might be discovered by the next occupant.

Part 6: 13 March 2010

Part 5: Mea culpa, mea culpa!

Hark, The Sydney Morning Herald angels sing: “Blessed is He who loves his brother”. And so it came to pass that Our Kevvie died in the polls for the sins of his fraternal. Instead of casting Death’s Head to the wolves (which he really, really, really wanted to do), he sent him to the back paddock where he could gambol with the ewes and chew the midnight cud. It was less a punishment than a plenary indulgence but it gave the impression of action and that stirred Kevvie’s loins. “When the people see how I can act decisively, they will prostrate themselves before me!” he exulted.

It was around this time that Kevvie had a revelation (no, you heathens, it was not Mother Theresa). He had found a new acolyte: Gregorian the First. Gregorian had brought to Emperor Kevin a suitable dowry: the love and affection of tradies. This vast, trenchant and frequently militant demographic had the capacity to influence electorates the length and breadth of the land and the Emperor recognised the opportunity it offered. “We could exploit their basic knowledge of tool to construct barricades to corral those mongrel conservatives and then cast them into the everlasting fires of eternal damnation!” Kevvie’s voice rose, his heart pounded and his brow was asweat as he imagined a great southern land uninfested by that pox of capitalism and all its fellow-travellers. Still, that might have to wait a bit, he realised with deep melancholy. Gregorian was already busy studying for his new role as Band-Aid Man and the states had suddenly become jittery.

The very thought of those treacherous bastards, the State Ponces, made Kevvie stamp his foot and brush his wispy strands impatiently to one side. What was wrong with them, he wondered in genuine bemusement. I finally give them a major dose of policy and they don’t like it. Kevvie could see nothing wrong with his massive program of KRudd Wholesomeness & Wellbeing Centres that would bear his picture from one end of this vast land to the other. And his stroke of genius – working out how to do it all without costing him one cent – seemed to be the sticking point. How could that be, he wondered. The states get to work twice as hard for one-third less money and I get the credit. So far as Kevvie could see, this was the best bit of policy he had ever wonked. You start with an apology and get better from there! And he had finally worked out how to make Matron Roxy look sexy: dress her in a blue snood and smock and she came up halfway decent. Too easy.

Meantime, Hot and Steamy continued to build her education revolution. Happier now with the pace of memorial halls being flung together all over the land thanks to an influx of sacked ceiling insulators and the release of massive reserves of metal fasteners, she turned her attention to numeracy problems. Deciding that what kids needed was more practice, she announced that from the third anniversary of the First Rudd Imperium all schoolchildren would henceforth be known only by a number. Their names would be expunged from all records just as that hideous Winnie The Little Poo had been erased from the memorial hall of the Steel Cage. A mislaid copy of Steamy’s speech notes indicated plans to tattoo the numbers on forearms in case of a computer glitch or children wandering shopping malls after school but that was later denied by a spokesperson who said trials would probably begin with non-washable felt marker pens. No date for tattoos – which Steamy promised would be provided with no upfront fee payment thanks to an expanded HECS scheme – has yet been set.

Still, there was even more excitement from Hot and Steamy as she got down and dirty in the arena of curriculum reform. Sharing Kevvie’s disdain for the State Ponces, Steamy decreed that all knowledge now resides in the national capital of Kevvieberra. “The states don’t know how to spell and they don’t know how to add up. Just look at their budgets, if you want proof,” she intoned breathily. “We who have trodden the path to enlightenment know some people need saving from themselves and we have magnanimously decided to reward you all. Henceforth, literacy and numeracy shall join socialism and Fabianism as core subjects across all years.” And, in case anyone thought the Absolutely Loony Party had cast off the shackles of history, Steamy further decreed that “ . . . no child shall fail in class. By the year 2011 every student in the land will be guaranteed a conceded pass in all subjects undertaken so that access to higher education is available to all. This is truly the dream of the Ancient Zealots realised,” she quivered, already sensing that the field marshal’s baton may yet emerge triumphantly from her knapsack.

And while all this was happening, Kevvie had turned a cold hose on Robin Hood who had innocently asked what he should do about that chap, Henry, who was waiting in the wings. “Don’t you ever dare mention Henry the Horrible to me again,” the Emperor declared imperiously. “But you like him. He keeps pledging his undying love for you in public forums across the land, Sir,” Robin stuttered in surprise. “That was before the great poll slump of 2010, you knave! Your task now is to get an iron mask for that scoundrel. And get an iron box for that damned tax review thingy of his while you’re at it. It must never see the light of day. Can you imagine the mischief the Monsignor could cause us if he stumbled across all those secret formulas?” And as Robin scuttled back into the shadows, the Emperor cast a glance into his bedside mirror and was briefly shocked to see he had no clothes on. Still, he thought, not bad for an old bloke.

And in breaking news, the Monsignor reached the second of the six Sundays of Lent and showed all observers just how pious he has been by not mentioning sex or virginity once during the past week. His ability to refrain from mentioning the naughty word brought a prayer of praise from Cardinal Templar who strongly recommended a continuation of ice baths to keep lust in check. Either that or three fond remembrances of Amanda Vanstone. Bless her McKillopean heart.

Part 5 – 6 March 2010

Part 4: Vale, Premiers!

Observers of the Steel Cage were agog recently when they spotted what they thought was the Prime Minister scrabbling about in the Cage’s courtyard with an empty 10 litre paint can strapped to each foot. On further inspection they noticed his head was shaved. A flood of inquiries to his office met with stony silence despite insistent questioning about this peculiar mirage. It was only when Prod and Poke Time resumed that it dawned on media curs that Our Kevvie was trying to channel Death’s Head in preparation for his “to err is human, to forgive is divine” speech in which he exonerated the halt, the lame and the unclean and took all sins upon his own shoulders. “Ah, the mantle of divinity: it fits so snugly,” Kevvie smirked.

Still the rhapsody was fleeting as the antics of idiots all around him brought home the sheer magnitude of the disparity between Kevvie’s greatness and the imbecility of everyone else. And, just like members of your own family, some of the worst fools were those bloody state premiers. Accusing them of performing worse than Brendan Fevola at a Brownlow function, Kevvie confided to Mother Theresa that he was imposing his own blackout on the State Ponces. “Not one of them could tell a policy from a pineapple and I’ll guarantee none of them could use programmatic specificity in a media conference even if they were given speech notes.” Just as his indignation was forcing some bright red colour into his otherwise albinistic cheeks, Mother Theresa muttered an imprecation which Kevvie sincerely hoped was aimed at his enemies but decided it was probably time to go to work anyway.

The plan for dealing with the Ponces came to light as Mother Theresa was chatting idly about those two nice girls: Couldn’t Lie Straight in Bed from The Shady State and Krispy Kornflakes from the Failed State. Mother T was prattling on about how they had done wonders for womanhood by their pacesetting political success but Our Kevvie was having none of it. “The bitches are costing me votes,” he snarled. “They keep asking to have their photo taken with me but I’m not getting my gear off for anybody. That little Monsignor winds up the media about me being all posturing and no titillation but everyone can tell he’s got more hang-ups about virgins than a suicidal jihadist.”

As he ranted in front of the bathroom mirror, Our Kevvie had to apply ointment to a niggling itch that had become a rash that threatened to ruin his whole morning ablutions. He had a sneaking suspicion it was an allergic reaction to the pancake makeup applied for his segment on Cockie’s Afternoon Delight. Happened again on that bloody Q&D (Question & Dither) on ABC the previous week. Kevvie had complained to Mother Theresa that every time he fronted those bloody young people and their fatuous, asinine, lugubrious interrogatories he felt suffused by a flush of embarrassment. And that howling pack of curs from the media pilloried him for daring to seek some additional detail to provide an intelligent and insightful response to each probe. The ungrateful scum! One day he’d show them how fortunate they truly were to be covering national politics during the First Rudd Imperium.

But before that he simply had to escape the torture of those hideous young neo-Liberals they hired each week to harass him. What to do? Perhaps he could kill two geese with a golden egg? He called Steve the Conduit and asked him to pop over to Aspen and chew the fat with Stoke the Fires. “Ask him if he knows anything about broadband rollouts to see if you can kick-start that NBN thing – I notice Kaiser Wilhelm hasn’t done much to earn his money yet – and then see what the networks would like for an early Christmas present.” Steve was thrilled but wanted to show he was not just at Kevvie’s beck and call and so demanded: “Only if I can take my skis”. The Emperor’s only response was thought to be: “Are you still f—king here?” When Steve got back he breathlessly shared his big, hairy audacious idea to Kevvie: “You know that Re-election Fund – sorry, the stimulus package – that Robin Hood’s got? What if we give the networks $250 million out of that and pretend it’s for production of local content. That way it’ll look like we’re cultured; we stick it to those press bastards who get nothing; AND it should persuade Afternoon Delight to give you a new format.” The Emperor was mightily pleased and told Senator Conduit to quickly get a cheque from Robin while there was still some slush in the bucket. Soon it would all be spent on fire-proofing ceilings. “That bastard, Death’s Head”, he muttered.

The very thought of the living skeleton sent Kevvie all atwitch. He knew that if he didn’t oil that bugger up pretty good and slip him into another world, he’d be the death of all of them. Bloody Prince of Pop, Kevvie muttered. I know, he thought, I’ll send him out to do all those ceiling inspections. That’ll keep him away from the Steel Cage until those bloody neo-Libs and Naughty Nats find something else to talk about. Even as he drew consolation from his concept, Kevvie realised with sinking despair that trying to squeeze all 14’ 7” of Death’s Head into ceilings would cause an outbreak of houses being unroofed all over the country. Aaaaagh! Was there no end to the torment this man could produce?

But there were bigger fish to fry. And speaking of fish and chips, thank god that bitch Pauline Pantsdown was upping stumps and going to flee to the Mother Country. Kevvie figured he’d better ring Hang Dog at Number 10 and make sure his Customs people didn’t return her as an illegal alien. Surely they owe us one in return for all that bloody convict trash they sent us years ago? Kevvie made a note to get the call in quick before Hang Dog himself got hounded out of office for brutalising staff. Secretly, Kevvie admired Hang Dog for his bitchy streak. Kevvie loved cutting staff down to size but could only do so by trying to work them to death: Hang Dog actually got physical with them. Ooh, the very thought sent a twitch along his left thigh.

But it wasn’t enough as he contemplated his inability to get a policy platform up. God knew it was a vigorous enough organ of intellectual grunt but nobody wanted to get their hands dirty with it. None of them are worthy of me, Kevvie confided to the forlorn image in the mirror.

So, sick and tired of being a performing seal trying to impress everyone else, Our Kevvie decided to forego an early election this year. In the face of flagging interest in seeking a quick comeuppance over Her Majesty’s Loyal Curmudgeons, he felt he should just rest, relax and go full term. Indeed, in a worrying sign that Aussies may not be allowed to cast a ballot in a federal election until around 2040, Kevvie has insisted that he will have implemented structural reform of the health system before he sends us to the polls. Best to keep up your health insurance premiums, folks. Oh, but you can’t afford them anymore? Well, increase your mortgage. Oh, but that keeps going up, too? Well, take on some more debt. Oh, but Barndoor says we’re up to our hilt. Well, what do you bloody expect from a bunch of post-socialist wealth redistributionists! I didn’t vote for them!

(Part 4: 26 February 2010)

Part 3 – Vale, Budgie!

The Monsignor got his knickers in a twist this week when he failed to recognise that he was not a breast man and suggested, inadvertently of course, that only sheilas really know how to get the creases right while ironing. Having burned his thumb on the hot iron of gender balance, the Monsignor executed a strategic withdrawal back to the safety of the benches in the Steel Cage allocated to Her Majesty’s Loyal Curmudgeons. From there, his close-quarters knife and nunchakus assaults on Our Kevvie appeared, finally, to get up the Great Leader’s ribs. In reply and opting for attack as the best form of attention-diversion, Our Kevvie made it clear he would no longer play to The Monsignor’s strengths and budgie smugglers will forthwith no longer be mentioned across the Despatch Boxes. A minute’s silence was upheld to commemorate a fading vision of Australian manhood. Vale, budgie!

Playing to his strengths (yeah, right) Our Kevvie launched into the heartland of his policy platform. “I welcome the start of the health and hospitals’ debate”, he harrumphed. Suddenly all the Curmudgeons could hear mental replays of ‘Let’s do the time warp again’. Just a shame really that he was supposed to have resolved that issue last year. And to think a Grand Coalition of Labor state administrations and a resurgent federal government was supposed to presage the solving of every problem known to Australiankind. Talk about talking about talking about talking about! Hop to it, Mr Ditherer. We’re all waiting, mate.

Meantime, Robin Hood (the post-socialist wealth redistributionist) touched our lives with a Grand Gesture this week. He stopped subsidising the banks! Now, you might wonder why a post-socialist is looking after the biggest end of town instead of consigning them to the everlasting fires of hell to repent at leisure on their sins? Just a Faustian pact to enable post-socialists to steal power in a capitalist system. Go figure! Be that as it may, Robin told those dirty, filthy banks he was no longer going to subsidise their borrowings. ‘Toughen up and compete on global markets on your own’, he shouted at them from the safety and comparative isolation of his Steel Cage office. Having admitted he had called upon the Council of Financial Regulators (known to the gremlins of Canberra as the faceless bastards you can call upon when needing to make apparently tough decisions to look good), he then thundered: ‘Don’t you bastards dare raise your interest rates inappropriately when that Motherdollar Bank next does its thing. You’ve sucked on the teat of our generosity way long enough and we are starting to feel a little uncomfortable in the arrangement’ (there was more – a lot more – in this vein but it is inappropriate in a family-oriented blog to go further down that path. Suffice to say that suckling and teating and legitimacy and who’s up who and who’s paying the rent and lots of associated issues were all too incestuous to reprint here). But just as Robin felt the first stirrings of his manhood as he stood tall against the monopolistic capitalist bastards that are the banks, he shuddered as Queensland’s enfant terrible – Treasurer Andrew Fraser – argued that this relaxation of boundless generosity would force the Shady State to sell-off more public assets. Robin Hood was last seen in the Steel Cage garden banging his head against the flagstones in front of where the Great Leader talks to the assembled media hacks. Startled onlookers could have sworn he was saying: ‘I’ll kill the little bastard’ but the reports were unconfirmed.

This was also the week in which those ‘privileged’ enough to have time to watch vacuous television shows could have stumbled across one of the more disturbing sights since Hieronymus Bosch had some bad dreams. It was none other than – and the name appears likely to stick! – Tinkerbell. Having appeared to have misplaced his copy of the last Budget Estimates, Tinkerbell flaunted his all on national television. Well, his all was covered by trousers and a tutu but you have to agree that raises more questions than it answers. The wand and the crown were simpatico accessories but still one feels queasy about what it might all have meant. Whether Tinkerbell was contemplating life after the Steel Cage, a disastrous and failed recovery from one helluva night before, or a complete mental breakdown that made Gordon Grech look cool, calm and collected, is not known. Perhaps the best that could be said for the performance was that it no doubt continues to create miraculous mirth across all factions of the Australian Loyalists’ Party. To have achieved such unity is a rare thing but one wonders whether Tinkerbell actually deserves praise for it.

Perhaps demonstrating that the neo-Libs and naughty Nats weren’t just a one-trick sideshow the Curmudgeons’ other star trouper, Barndoor Joke, gave a tour de force, too. Whisking the wheat stalk from his teeth for the day, Barndoor set off for the National Press Club dressed so smartly that he looked for all the world as though he had as much money as Patrician the Turncoat. Not bad for a rural accountant. And not bad for the stylists who clearly don’t think a bunch of rabble-rousing hicks can’t be made to look a million dollars with the right make-over. But there had to be disappointment. Why? Because you can’t address the Press Club without opening your mouth. And when Barndoor did that he reinforced every nervous curmudgeon who ever fretted about fiscal policy. There are those who think the Monsignor made a ghastly mistake in trusting Barndoor with such a challenging portfolio. A few secretive members of the Machiavelli Society, though, reckon the Mons set Barndoor up to fail. Which seems even at this early stage to have an air of inevitability about it, you have to confess. That is, lest Hand Me The Spanner keeps kicking own goals by indulging in nastiness such as labelling Barndoor a Freak Show. He should remember that the Mums and Dads don’t mind smart-arses getting their comeuppance and it’s a national characteristic to give a sucker an even break (just ask Pauline Pantsdown). Beware Mr Spanner. Cold showers are such a valuable commodity, even in the hot-house that is Canberra.

Highlight of the week: watching Death’s Head wrap his skull in aluminium foil and plug it into an electric socket to demonstrate how safe his home insulation scheme really is.  The startled gasps of media hacks as they watched blue sparks erupt from Death’s Head’s head signified something was dreadfully awry. But Death said he had lost only four brain cells so, clearly, everything was just fine.  His repeated mutterings of ‘Only four, just fine’ continuously as he re-entered the Steel Cage for Prod and Poke Time made others wonder, but not our mate. Spare a thought for the poor four.

Part 3 – 12 February 2010

(2) A few new rounds in the Steel Cage

Faced with the prospect of yet another interest rate rise this week, Our Kevvie huffed and puffed about the need for restraint until, well, he felt short of breath. Not for him the fitness that flows from midnight lycra-clad cycling up mountains. Leave that to that idiot Monsignor. Must be because the Mons knew just which church he was aligned to that he got such support from Above. Kevvie couldn’t quite choose which was the best brand of heaven (the Poms or the Eyeties) so he was still conducting analysis. In the meantime there was that hideous Motherdollar Bank threatening his chances of becoming the world’s longest serving Prime Minister. Didn’t those idiot savants in charge of that place understand that this is an election year? Still, since they appeared to have taken his purely reasonable and legitimate concerns on board and not boosted the usury rate by another shekel, he might not sack the lot of them just yet. But they’d better consider themselves to be on notice, Kevvie harrumphed to himself.

And he did a bit more of that when all the Animals crowded back into the Steel Cage. Our Kevvie was looking forward to a bit of blood sport with the Mons. Damned shame he had to share a church service with him first but Kevvie kept a close watch to see if Mons made any secret signs of the cross or whatnot. Nothing he could spot but then there was the galling frustration of having to be nice to him out front with Mother Theresa like a bloody performing seal for all of those cameras. It was enough to make Our Kevvie mutter a prayer.

The first few rounds of blood sport went quite well, too. Mons made a mistake the first time he spoke but Kevvie roughed him up enough to show who was The Top Dog. And then he unleashed his big surprise: he has invited the Blackfella to pop Down Under and lecture the troops on how to impose centre-left hegemony on all the peoples of the world. Kevvie said that the Blackfella, fresh from his recent How Things’re Going fireside chat with the American people, had been brushing-up on Fidel Castro’s legendary speech-making abilities. “Hilarity Condom phoned me early yesterday our time to confide that the Blackfella can now go eight and a half hours without a break so I’m warning all you Animals to keep your hands out of your pockets or face the consequences.” When advised by industrial roundspersons that such lengthy mandatory listening was a breach of ILO conventions on forced labour, Our Kevvie told them they could have Work Choices back if they were not nicer in future. Imbeciles, he muttered to himself.

Then Kevvie remembered the touch-up he’d given his sidekick, Way Down Upon The. It was during the first few rounds in the Steel Cage when he was telling everyone how many championships he’d won during the past two years. He’d learned this from Chocka the boxer who’d phoned his office one day to offer ringside seats. Offered some bikers and all to protect him but Kevvie kept his bile down while yelling at staff to just tell him to naff off. Anyway . . . Way Down had been sitting nearby with a big smirk as Kevvie extolled the virtues of his team and their wonderful contributions to the Aussie Lullaby Party’s success when he thought he’d have a bit of fun. So he heaped accolades on Hot and Steamy and several more of the front office staff even including Death’s Head who hasn’t scored a point in half a year but he didn’t mention Way Down once. Well, the look on Way Down’s face as he stormed out of the Cage was worth a year’s salary, Kevvie reckoned. It was all he could do to keep a straight face.

But, hey, Way Down had scored big time in the publicity stakes during the week with his Indigestion Report which predicted that many more Australians would get tummy aches in the years to come, expected to number 36 million cases by 2050. The report’s major thrust was that there would be too few Mylantas to cope with the burgeoning tide of dyspepsia. Way Down doesn’t like the thought of having to provide for all these malingerers and he warned us we’ll have to flog the horse harder if we are to all afford a burial plot. Joe Knock The Socks Off ‘Em quickly went into scare mode, warning that all under-the-mattress nest eggs would be filched and eons of poverty would curse our remaining days. When that little booster failed to fly he quickly buggered-off again in his eternal quest for another morning television slot.

While Kevvie was eager to sink the boot into The Monsignor, he had another distraction to deal with. A mischief-maker was alleged to have commissioned secret market research into what voters think of Hot and Steamy. Those inclined to a nod and a wink suggested the results showed the DPM could win more votes than Kevvie even if she kept her clothes on. Many of Her Majesty’s Loyal Curmudgeons appeared quite distracted by the very thought and ruminated during Prod and Poke Time even more than a Nationals-voting bovine. Hot and Steamy shed no clothes nor any light on the research, again much to the annoyance of many of the Curmudgeons. Kevvie knew that behind her coy smile and whimsical Welsh wiles, there lurked a determined and ambitious competitor. He’d fix her, one day, but first he wanted to let tenders for a Great Big New Rack upon which he could slowly lengthen the Monsignor’s short-arse frame. A frisson of frustration flexed Kevvie’s own frame as he knew he could not get away with such a torturous twist of his new nemesis. But the mere thought comforted him. One day he’d make them all suffer for their slights. Until then . . .

Part 2 – 9 February 2010

(1)   Dresssed for success

Kevvie looked at the clothes Mother Theresa had laid out neatly on his bed and did a slow pirouette before the mirror in his boxer shorts. Somehow, they just didn’t seem right. This was the week Blood Sport resumed. The Wire Cage was back in all its ferocious glory and Kevvie couldn’t wait to take charge at the Despatch Box again! But this time . . . this time, things were different. Patrician the Turncoat had been cast out by that bloody Monsignor: he who favoured nude bathing.

Kevvie felt a surge of electricity course through his groin. This was no time for boxers. Today he would wear . . . aagh, why did it all have to be so damned difficult? Man panties, Reg Grundies, what? That bloody Monsignor and his budgie smugglers. How could he? And in public, too? That damned priest had no shame, Kevvie muttered to himself as he took a deep breath and withdrew a sleek pair of jet black briefs from his top drawer. Mother T had bought them for him at Harrods the last time he had a meeting with Hang Dog at Number 10. She had urged him to wear them for a quick walk through Hyde Park and perhaps a step up onto the Soap Box but Kevvie had begged-off, feeling they were too risqué for normal wear.

As he slid them over his admittedly rather fat ankles, Kevvie felt energised. Loins girded, he was ready to take-on the world. Uh oh, that reminded him of the last time he’d felt that way – just before Amsterdam or wherever it was. How could those bastards leave him hanging on a limb like that? He’d gone there fully prepared to show the whole world how the planet could be saved only to have them snub him. And why? He’d already showed them how they could run their economies. A bit of fiscal stimulus here and there and, hey presto, the Global Financial Crisis was reduced to manageable proportions. Just imagine if that dreadful, dreadful, dreadful Winnie the Little Poo and his sidekick The Smirk had still been in charge! What a mess Australia would have been in.

As Kevvie slipped on the rest of his gear he thought of his own sidekick, Way Down Upon The. Funny that he should have the same misgivings about Way Down as the Little Poo had about The Smirk. Kevvie remembered when he and Way Down had been a pair of Nambour nubiles. They’d fallen out, of course, when Way Down had developed aspirations of his own. But Kevvie had shown him. He got to be Doctor Death while his mate Larry the Larynx ran Queensland. Way Down had slipped into the shadows but every Great Leader needs a good money man and Way Down had a way with an abacus so Kevvie forgave him his aspirations. Theirs was, well, an interesting relationship. Perhaps best summed-up by acknowledging a degree of creative tension.

But that didn’t matter this week, there were bigger fish to fry. Slick Paulie had once confided that the greatest pleasure to be had (apart from Mahler, of course) was to fillet your opponents and fry them slowly. Kevvie didn’t really care for the analogy. Didn’t care too much for anything Slick Paulie said, frankly. That old dog had had his day and he should just play with his fob watches and keep his mouth closed. Like that would ever happen! But Kevvie had a few challenges of his own this week. He had to cool down the planet, save the whales, construct a Play School website that wouldn’t crash under the weight of expectations, revolutionise school hall construction, protect Australian womanhood from virginity and exorcise the demons from that damned Monsignor. Lesser mortals might quail but Kevvie felt the tight grip of his briefs and knew he had what it took to show Australia real leadership. He could feel it.

And now, girls and boys, out of respect for national political institutions we will resume our regular programming. Let’s just hope we can get a few more episodes to air before Stephen installs his specially-recruited Chinese censors as part of his NBN. Stay tuned!

( Part 1 – 2 February 2010)