It was revealed that no refugees, no genuine refugees that is, on Manus had been ‘settled’ yet in PNG. It had been two years. One with job interviews in Moresby had not been allowed to go there. Some were going mad. Two had been killed while waiting, none had been admitted there. Several, who were homosexuals, feared getting fifteen years if they went there. This, Dutton boasted, had ‘stopped the boats’ — the fear, the very fear of the savage post-cannibal justice of a wild hot land.
Bronwyn Bishop paid back the money she spent on a helicopter to a party function an hour’s drive away, but did not apologise for it. Nor did she apologise for April 25, 1994, when she invaded the pilot’s cockpit of a stacking plane, yelled, ‘Do you know who I am?’ and commanded the poor terrified fellow land prematurely, endangering passengers, and indeed all Sydney, so she could lead the Anzac Day parade up Barrenjoey Road. This, her most legendary interference in world aeronautics, had long since faded in the public memory, like the Hindenberg. But it may have inspired, some said, Mahomet Atta in 2001.
Julie Bishop told Leigh Sales the world is in an ‘existential crisis’ more dangerous than the Cold War because DAESH was out to conquer it and Leigh asked, then, why we weren’t fighting it with two hundred troops in Iraq. She said, ‘Because Iraq won’t let us go there.’ Leigh said yes, but if we’re going to protect ourselves… And Julie said, ‘Oh no, you have to get their permission to do that.’ Asked if Bronwyn had done the wrong thing, she said, ‘I don’t know the details.’ She did not say why not. She was Deputy Liberal Leader and she should have known.
It became clear Bronwyn, the worst, most biased Speaker in the history of the Westminster system, should resign. If she entered the House, and the Opposition rose, singing, ‘The minute you walked in the joint’, she was finished. And she was finished anyway, and corrupt, and likely to spend time on trial, like Slipper, and Thomson, even maybe in gaol.
This left Abbott in a difficulty. She was his captain’s pick, but he could not, constitutionally, sack her till her till the House next met and voted her down, in five weeks’ time. He therefore had to offer her something she would take. But the only thing she wanted — TOTAL POWER! — was not in his gift.
It was certainly a puzzle. Barnaby threatening to euthanase Depp’s dogs; Abetz alleging gay marriage would lead us to fuck marsupials; Abbott bidding Obama get the hell out of ‘our’ Barrier Reef; Joe saying the fastest road to a house in Sydney was a job in a big bank like his wife’s; and now Bronwyn throwing out four hundred MPs, showed they were a bunch of ratbags and, in some views, the laughing-stock of the planet, and it seemed they might not win any seat at all. And they were in big, big trouble as never before.
Paul Murray amazed himself by denouncing the rape of children. It happened on Manus, he said, where it should be ‘reined in’. If inmates committed it, he said, they should b ‘instantly deported’; if guards did it, they should have their wages reduced. ‘Detention centres are good,’ he said, ‘they work, they do the work, they stop the boats, they do the job. But there are…details, we should tidy up.’
You can’t make this stuff up.
The dead of MH 17 were commemorated. Abbott said Putin should spend several million roubles investigating, convicting and imprisoning himself for his part in the shooting down of an aircraft in the wrong patch of sky in war time, a heinous crime without precedent in world history. If he did not do this, he threatened, Australia would continue sanctions on a nation that occupied twelve time zones and ‘bring it to its knees’. Julie Bishop said she was nearly certain the Russians had done it, but all the details were not yet in, and it might take ‘years, decades’ before the young serviceman who pulled the trigger would suffer ‘the full force of the law’ in a court that was still to be invented, with Putin’s help, at a cost of hundreds of millions.
Angus applauded himself for ‘bringing them home’ and was puzzled why so few families were there. It may have been they were tired of it, and the failure to name a culprit, anywhere.
Julie Bishop said it was okay with her if George Christiansen addressed a fascist rally, ‘Reclaim Australia’, at the end of Ramadan and so incite a jihad in Queensland. ‘It is important,’ she said, ‘to keep up the fear of DAESH swamping the world, and, ‘in my leader’s words, coming for us all’. It was noted that her advocacy of the asbestos industries had hastened more deaths, in Australia, than DAESH — or, indeed, any ‘terrorist’ — in a hundred years, and she said, ‘Don’t get off the subject.’
The Labor Party asked the Commonwealth Police to find out what Bronwyn had signed, and what she was hiding, and what she might, now, go to gaol for.
In her office, she had a gin; and a strange light came over her, suffusing with a pale, celestial glow her broad, uplifted, Tongan face.
‘Tell Mr De Mille,’ she said, ‘I am ready for my close-up.’