The Thirty-Two Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (180)

Abbott’s mad Prince Phillip caper caused concern among his colleagues. ‘No political radar,’ they said, ‘Politically naive.’ ‘Really, really out of touch.’ Xenophon said the Duke had gongs aplenty already, and it was like ‘giving Bill Gates an abacus’. Murdoch, a hater of monarchy, printed a list of the Prince’s gaffes (‘Do people trip over you?’ to a man in a wheelchair) and it was noted that a ninety-two-year-old Australian who actually deserved a knighthood, Tom Uren, died the same day. A survivor of the Burma Rail, and the Nagasaki A-bomb, he had paid his dues. Phil had merely married up.

It was also noted that Rose Batty, champion of punched wives, had been deprived by Napthine and Abbott of money and support that could have saved her from her brutal, bipolar husband, and her son Luke from death at his hands in front of helpless witnesses, and her.

‘Sir’ Angus Houston, a Liberal voter, who had failed to find MH 370 after a billion-dollar search in three oceans, and failed as well to find out who shot down MH 17, or found out it was the Ukrainians , perhaps, and kept it dark — at rather less expense — was modest about his achievements. Not the least of these was being thought ‘sexy’ by Julia Gillard, another ‘captain’s pick’ that was, at the time, contemptuously derided. He was reputedly incensed that his knighthood had been ‘devalued’ within two hours by it having been coupled, and equated, with that of a ‘jumped-up fancy-man, Phil the Greek’.

Across the nation, it was clear that Abbott, now widely thought mad, could not long survive as Prime Minister. Across the world, this latest foolishness was compared with his ‘speak your heart’ adjuration to the world’s leaders and his abuse of Obama for liking the Barrier Reef. A Senate motion, long mooted, to ‘investigate his sanity’ was likely to get through. Campbell Newman, harassed by questions about him, was likely to lose office, and Andrew Clennell, of The Daily Telegraph, now reckoned Luke Foley might just get up as Premier in March in New South Wales.

Julie Bishop said more ANZACs would be fed into the meat-shredder of Afghanistan. ‘Our sacrifice will continue,’ she said serenely, ‘even until the end of time.’ A thousand Afghans were dying a week, more than at the height of the war, she noted, ‘and it’s important we add more Australians to the total.’

The worst snows in ten thousand years fell on New York, convincing some doubters that climate change was real. New York papers, agog, said, ‘Aussies Appoint Queen’s Husband A Knight!’ Jon Stewart prepared his one-liners. Most foreigners were helpless with laughter.

Some, not all, of Abbott’s ministers professed ‘full confidence’ in him. It was thought by party insiders he would be rolled if Nooman lost, say, thirty seats and his own. If Palaszczuk won outright however…these were uncharted waters; and might mean Costello, say, being called back into the leadership to save the situation by contesting, say, Kelly O’Dwyer’s vacated seat, which used to be his own; or Howard put into Abbott’s vacated seat, Warringah. Or Abbott in panic advising an election, and losing sixty seats across the nation.

Cormann wouldn’t say if he agreed with the knighthood. It was the Prime Minister’s call, he said, ‘and my job is to get on viz ze jerb of claining erp the dibt and dificit diserster that Leebor lift behaynd’. Barnaby, not a Liberal, implied it was a fool decision, and said plainly ‘all such awards should go to Australians, and not to undeserving foreigners, like Nelson Mandela.’ Nooman said it was ‘a bolt from the blue, and I disagree with it.’ Andrew Laming, a Liberal, said, he disagreed with it, but he disagreed with the monarchy also, ‘so don’t get me started’. Turnbull, tempted, waited in silence for the moment, if it came, to kill, not wound, and seize the crown.

David Lipsom of Skynews said there were no plans to immediately overthrow Abbott, just a feeling of ‘total despair’. Peter Reith said he always knew Abbott’s dumb-ass knighthoods would do him serious damage eventually, ‘but not as soon as this’. He chuckled ruefully, remembering when he was Deputy Leader, and a potential Prime Minister. Then he remembered Children Overboard, and his enemy Angus Houston, now, dad-blast him, knighted also, who had brazenly contradicted his fool story and sped him out of politics, and fell grumpily silent thereafter. Why didn’t he have a knighthood? he wanted to know.

Breaching caretaker convention, Tim Nicholls lined up for immediate sale to foreign corporations entities round Cairns that employed thousands of locals. Nooman kept saying, ‘You vote for me, or you don’t get any money.’ Both of these actions were against the law, but, hey, this was Queensland, and they do things differently there.

Peter ‘Malvolio’ Hartcher, back in yellow stockings on Agenda, was asked by Speers who, ‘if Tony Abbott fell under a bus’, would replace him. Quivering with lust, he fell to singing ‘O Mistress Mine’ and when told to stop said, ‘Julie Bishop, light of my life and fire of my loins. Who else?’

Leigh Sales asked Chris Uhlman, a Liberal voter, how long Abbott had before he was rolled. He said about nine months. The answer, of course, was nine days.

And so it went.

A Hundred Australians More Worthy Of A Knighthood Than Phillip Guelph-Battenberg-Windsor

Noel Pearson. Barry Jones. Lowitja O’Donoghue. Kim Beazley. Fred Chaney. Anna Bligh. Caroline Jones. Margaret Throsby. Robin Williams. George Negus. Bob Brown. Natasha Stott-Despoja. Jeff Kennett. Dick Smith. Jack Thompson. Les Murray. John Williamson. Ray Martin. Roy Masters. Geoff Gallop. Bob Carr. Peter Beattie. Tim Costello. John Bell. John Gaden. Russell Crowe. Hugo Weaving. Jackie Weaver. Peter Carey. Andrew Refshauge. Kerry O’Brien. Phillip Adams. Mike Carlton. Peter Fitzsimons. Anthony Albanese. Tanya Plibersek. Nicola Roxon. Nicole Kidman. Robyn Nevin. Robyn Archer. Noni Hazlehurst. Joanna Murray-Smith. Geraldine Doogue. Eric Bogle.

Mike Walsh. David Hill. Mark Ella. Ricky Ponting. Shane Warne. Steve Waugh. Mark Waugh. Baz Luhrmann. Bruce Beresford. Barry Humphries. Barry Crocker. David Williamson. Steven Sewell. Ernie Dingo. Maxine McKew. Clive James. Germaine Greer. Ken Horler. John Romeril. Janis Balodis. Bryan Brown. Rachel Ward. Cate Blanchett. Andrew Knight. Bob Katter. Clive Palmer. Peter Weir. Fred Schepisi. Mungo MacCallum. Laurie Oakes. Wayne Blair. Jack Hibberd. Richard Glover. Graham Freudenberg. Don Watson.

Posthumously: Fred Hollows. Victor Chang. Jim Cairns. Jim Killen. Rupert Hamer. Tom Uren. Slim Dusty. Huw Evans. Bryce Courtney. Bob Maza. Robert Hughes. Keith Miller. Clive Churchill. Arthur Morris. Neil Harvey. Fred Daley. Don Chipp. Don Dunstan. John Button. John Cargher.

I invite additional names to this list.

…P.S. Additional names that have come in, both living and posthumous, include:

Michael Kirby. Judy Davis. Margaret Olley. John Olsen. Fred Williams. Wendy Sharpe. Guy Grey Smith. Tori Johnson. Katrina Dawson. Kevin Gilberr. Gough Whitlam. Bob Ellis. Yothu Yindi. Tim Minchin, Richard Tognetti. David Campbell. Paul Kelly. Austen Tayshus. Mr Yunupingu. Alice Krongaard. Cathy Freeman. Eddie Mabo. Julian Burnside. Shaun Micalleff. Tom Keneally. Tim Winton. Richard Flanagan. Barry Oakley. Peter Cundall. Brendan Cowell. Bob Carr. Teddy Tahu Rhodes. Julia Gillard. Susan Garland. Christine Nixon. David Gulpilil. Cadell Evans. Evonne Goolagong. Dawn Fraser.

The Twenty-Seven Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (179)

In line with his ‘all girl’ policy of awards this year, Abbott was going to give a knighthood to Sarah Palin but was persuaded to give it instead to the Danish-Greek-German-Scots nonagenarian Phillip who, at 93, he said, had ‘waited long enough’. No-one had waited that long for a royal exhaltation, he added, since Khufu, Pharoah of Egypt, in BC 1862.

It was pointed out that an Australia Day award should go to an Australian citizen and Abbott said ‘Nonsense. He’s no less Australian than I am,’ referring to his own British citizenship, as yet unrevoked, which put a legal cloud, it was argued, over his Prime Ministership. Some commentators thought this belated Royalist manouevre was to ‘get up Shorten’s nose’ after that worthy’s fine speech, ‘Obama standard,’ some said, in favour of a Republic. Abbott, it was remembered, had written a book on the Monarchy, which was launched by his coreligionist Les Murray and remaindered in 1994.

Rupert Murdoch, who hated the royal family, and had famously tried to put Prince Charles in the madhouse, was appalled at the news, and quickly determined to rid himself of ‘this itching hair-shirt, Abbott’ as soon as he could find a compliant, republican successor.

Nooman continued saying that ‘Queenslanders, wherever I go’ were telling him Palaszczuk was a bikie’s moll but would not say which Queenslanders. ‘That’s for me to know,’ he crowed, ‘and you to find out.’ Brandis continued to threaten Matthew Gardiner with life imprisonment for ‘doing what no Australian ever does, that is, fight on the right side.’

Syriza, running on an ‘anything but Hockeynomics’ policy, won power in Greece. Hockeynomics, its leader Tsipras argued, had caused 25 percent unemployment, 50 percent youth unemployment, and the eviction, starvation and financial ruin of thousands of old people and small businesspersons, and any continuance of ‘the Australian way’, he feared, would make things even worse.

The swing was 16 percent, similar to that which now seemed likely in Queensland, where ‘the little Colonel’, Nooman, had wrought such widespread devastation with his bizarre, sadistic austerities. ‘He even sacked midwives,’ appalled Queenslanders wept. ‘Has there been a tyrant like this since Cleomenes?’

Australia’s Governor-General, ‘Sir’ Peter Cosgrove, a Liberal voter, boycotted Australia Day and flew out of the country to attend, with bowed head, the obsequies of the late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, head of a state that has no women drivers or film industry and beheads, now and then, adulterous princesses in the public square and cuts, every day, the hands off pickpockets, and to emphasise the fellow-feeling he had, as another head of state, with this arousing barbarity.’The regime I represent, and rule,’ he is said to have said to the assembled funeral, ‘has lately ennobled Phillip Guelph-Battenburg-Schleswig-Holstein-Furtwangler-Windsor, a direct descendant of those Plantagenet fratricides who routinely murdered their relatives, one with a red-hot poker up the arse, but usually by your milder method, beheading. May our many punitive likenesses continue.’

Adam Giles, a Liberal voter, called Phillip’s knighthood an ‘April Fool’s Day joke’ and Abbott a ‘tosser’. Peter Van Onselen, a Liberal voter, called it a ‘bizarre distraction’. Paul Cameron, a Liberal voter, put gaffer tape over his mouth. Campbell Newman, a Liberal voter, refused to talk about it. Unnamed Liberal backbenchers called it ‘stupid’, ‘gobsmacking’, ‘dunderheaded’, ‘a political misjudgment’ and Abbott ‘evidently suicidal’. Shorten said he’d thought it first a hoax. Paul Murray asked why it had not been bestowed on any of the thirty living Australians of the Year. Bob Ellis published a hundred more deserving names: Barry Jones, Barry Humphries, Noni Hazlehust, Fred Chaney, Clive James, Tim Fischer, Margaret Throsby, and so on. Fifty more were added by his respondents: Michael Kirby, Shaun Micalleff, Dawn Fraser.

It was thought the Prime Minister had taken leave of his senses; or, perhaps, as a former boxer, he had become, like Muhammad Ali, in his middle fifties, demented, and must surely soon be made to shuffle off into decorous retirement in the front bar of the Steyne. It did not look good for him. The very survival of the Liberal Party seemed now at stake.

PVO, despairing, said Palazsczuk might win. Clive Palmer said Nooman might sell off the electricity to the Chinese, who would greedily, then, put power bills up, as they had in South Australia. Nooman said he would only talk about ‘creating jobs’. Palaszczuk said he had sacked twenty-four thousand people, midwives, fieries, lifesavers, nurses, doctors and thereby ruined or disrupted or interrupted or distorted a hundred thousand lives, in a state with only 1.2 million voters. This was 8 percent of them, and they had as many sympathetic neighbours.

Bookies had Labor ahead in thirty-eight seats, competititive in ten, and needing only forty-five to form government unassisted; Nooman in his seat, probably, though not certainly, gone.

The times they were a-changin’.

And so it went.

The Return Of The Age Of Entitlement: A Question

I ask respondents for a view of the Australian knighthood for the Danish-Greek-German-English adopted royal, Phillip Battenberg-Guelph-Windsor, aged 93, in the year of our lord 2015.

The Seventeen Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (178)

Campbell Newman called Annastacia Palaszczuk ‘a bikie’s moll’ and she in a gentle response said, ‘He needs help.’ He claimed it was ‘for the Queensland people to judge’ if he was right, he had no obligation to supply any evidence. ‘You are either with me or you are with the bikies!’ He shouted unwinningly as his minders hustled him out of the room. David Stratton remarked on his resemblance to Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now saying, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ and not flinching when a bomb fell hearby. Asked what symptoms of what illness he was displaying, medical experts said, ‘Lunacy.’

Baird proposed a kind of radar to protect Sydney from sharks, and then bagged Abbott for taking 343 million from pensioners, which he swore he would resupply. These cuts were ‘harsh’, he said, astonished at what his fellow dry, warm Christian was doing to his voter base, to wit, starving them to death.

Miranda Devine, a Liberal voter, called ‘hogwash’ the recent proclaimed redemption of David Hicks, saying ‘his name will never be cleared’ and thus ensured she could be sued, or Col Allen could, for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars tomorrow, plus half a million in court costs. She called him a ‘traitor’, and had a stiff gin. She then praised, in her adjacent column, ‘the noble art of sniping’. ‘Without snipers,’ she said, ‘we would have no rights and freedoms at all.’ Asked what rights and freedoms those sniped had, in particular those children sniped by the hero of Clint’s recent film, she rose from her barstool with nostrils flaring and said magnificently, ‘Go bag your head.’

Abbott announced no Australia Day knighthoods, astounding and enraging as many as twenty-two people, some of them in their nineties. ‘I pick only two a year,’ he is said to have explained, ‘and this year they will be two appointments to the House of Lords, of me and Joe after caucus votes us into oblivion on February 2. It is for this reason I have never renounced my British nationality. I now expect I will be, by this year’s equinox, going home.’

Brandis said he would ‘wait on America, as usual, before we apologise to David Hicks for his unjust torture and the ruin of his life. We follow America in these things. We followed them into a war based on a farcical mistake. We followed them into the baseless, heinous crimes they committed on the encarcerated Hicks, and we’ll follow them in saying sorry. And if they give him seven million dollars…oops.’

ISIL killed one Japanese, but offered a prisoner swap for the other. Abbott might easily have done the same thing, exchanging, say, five young fishermen serving ten years here for their ignorant participation in people smuggling in return for Chan and Sukumaran, but it didn’t occur to him; or Bishop; or Morrison. Their incompetence in foreign affairs was now ‘legendary in the region,’ certain Asian diplomats jovially noted; and Abbott’s lecture to the world leaders at APEC had them ‘holding their sides with laughter’. He was known it was revealed, in the world’s embassies as ‘Mr People Skills’.

Certain bikies began, mischievously, to donate money to the Newman campaign. Since no amount under 12,800 dollars had to be declared under Nooman’s corrupt new laws, he could not for the life of him discover who the fuck was donating to him, and he went into a hydrophobic swither demanding, in shouts down the phone, that this be found out. More and more money came in, in sums as large as ten dollars, and he did not know who it was from.

The bookies’ odds on him losing came down from seven dollars to five. They would come down further, Centrebet said, in the night.

Abbott said we must do everything we can to degrade and destroy the ‘death cult’ Islamic State. Within hours it was announced that a man who was doing this would be arrested and put in gaol for the rest of his life, if, after he obeyed the Prime Minister’s injunction and went to Kurdistan and fought there, he dared to come home to his wife and children.

‘If you are in the army or air force and in that capacity fighting this death cult,’ Brandis explained, after clearing his throat, ‘you will be welcomed home as a hero. If you were in the past in the army and you do the same thing you will be incarcerated as a traitor, and punished for twenty or thirty years, perhaps forty, with the full severity of the law. I mean, what do you want, you people? Consistency?’

And so it went.

Newman’s Chances

(First published by Independent Australia)

Only Sarah Palin has run a campaign as crazy as Campbell Newman’s. It may well be that Murdoch will save him. Certainly the ‘undecided’ People’s Forum voters were a help. But, after yesterday, when he told Toowoombans vote for me or else, the democracy is up for sale, his task is harder now. Is there a Queenslander left who admires him? I doubt it.

Most startling is the lead over him Palaszczuk has in the latest Newspoll as preferred Premier, 46 to 36. This, for a female Opposition Leader, has only one precedent in world history, that of Aung San Suu Kyi. It derives from Newman’s ‘little sarmajor’ personality: shout, shout, and keep shouting, and the cowed, shuffling conscripts will do what you say.

It is likely that he lost this election, as Bligh did hers, within weeks of his victory. The first thing he did was abolish the Premier’s Literary Awards, thus saving each taxpayer one cent a week. Arnie Schwarzenegger abolishing the Oscars would have shown similar cunning. The awards cost about four hundred thousand dollars. The tourism generated by them in that weekend would have covered it. If it didn’t, the remaining half cent a week per taxpayer was not too big a cost.

This was at the start of his administration. And now, at the end of it, we have what must be called The Toowoomba Declaration. It’s up to Paluszczuk, not me, he said, to prove she’s not a bikie’s moll, and if you want any money spent here, vote for me.

It was corruption writ plain and large: this democracy is for sale, and any big lie will do.

But it is probable he lost the election -– if he did –- a good deal before that. It was when he sacked the first midwife. Better some babies die than we squander this money on these interfering harridans, he was saying. Better some babies are never born.

Ellis’s Third Law, ‘The first sign of incompetence is charisma’, is worth remembering here. The charismatic man does not listen, and consequently never learns. Newman in the Forum talked three-quarters of the time, nearly always boastfully, sometimes charmingly. But he ended up, after all that blather, in an excruciating capitulation to principles enunciated by Tony Fitzgerald he had earlier denounced. He denounced them because he did not, earlier on, read and consider them. He was too busy talking, laying down the law.

It is a little hard to predict, with ease or accuracy, what exactly will happen on Saturday. Thirty-six seats are a lot to win, and the last pro-Newman commercials may have some effect.

But it is not as if he, like Howard, had twenty years of ministerial and shadow ministerial experience at his back when he was first uplifted. It is not as if the LNP is an old party. It is a new party, which has lost at least 10 percent since its huge landslide, with many, many broken promises, and a hundred thousand disrupted lives, to defend or ignore.

It is not as if they did well. Unemployment is up, many prices are up, the doctors, nurses, police and legal officials are in uproar, and an adjacent Abbott government is threatening old people — and there are a lot of old people in Queensland — with various gradations of impoverishment.

And Newman, yesterday, said vote for me or else. One is reminded of Woody Allen saying, in Sleepers, ‘Give us what we want or the nose gets it.’

He may get there. But no-one will vote for him gladly, or trustingly. The bookies have him losing his seat, and it takes a special kind of politician, like Howard, to do that.

One who is out of touch, and proud of it.

And we will see what we shall see.

That You Have But Slumbered Here: Lapine, Sondheim And Marshall’s Into The Woods

There is no film like Into The Woods, and only one play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it resembles. What Rob Marshall and Dion Beebe, the Australian cameraman, and Dennis Gassner the designer have done with it compare, I suppose, with some smouldering fragments of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and Jean Cocteau’s Beauty And The Beast, and Plautus, and Aesop, and Chaucer, and Boccaccio. But, as far as any confection of other materials can be said to be original, it stands alone.

As a show it is without any argument and has been since its first staging in 1986 in San Diego an extraordinary act of imaginative reconfiguring (confabulation the word might be) that melds into one suspenseful, onrushing narrative Cinderella, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood and a new tale of a childless baker and a nasty witch and then to the traditional curtain-lines adds heretical, disturbing, disruptive endings. And it blows to smithereens the notion, which dominated Hollywood thinking for forty years after the Kelly-Streisand Hello, Dolly! failed commercially, that it is no longer acceptable for characters on film to burst into song (though if they play professional performers, as in The Fabulous Baker Boys or Jersey Boys or La Bamba, that’s fine, that’s fine, you can do that, it’s fine, singing is fine, it’s realistic); so much so that when Beresford was asked to make Les Mis, he was told to ‘take out the songs’.

The movie musical, after this, is now back, gangbusters. And it’s worthwhile looking closely into why this one works so well. More to come.

‘The People’s Forum’: A Debriefing

There were no friendly cutaways to audience members while Newman spoke, and no unfriendly cutaways while Palaszczuk spoke, especially among women, and the Newspoll, out an hour later, showing a 16 percent swing in three regional seats — echoing two byelection swings of 17 and 12 percent — to Labor, and a Palaszczuk ‘preferred Premier’ score of 46 to Newman’s 36 and 18 percent ‘uncommitted’ — showed how comprehensively defeated Newman was.

Speers, however, said he won, though his last three minutes was the most disgraceful performance in a Debate since George HW Bush denounced Crocodile Dundee and bayed ‘Not the Simpsons! The Waltons!’ in 1992 while Clinton watched amazed.

And this showed Speers to be a bought man — no big news there — who is in danger of losing his position soon after Murdoch switches, desperately, to Labor — or Turnbull — on February 2nd.

And so it goes.

The Eighteen Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (177)

Daniel Meers urged Liberals not to join the game of ‘pass the parcel’ that had characterised the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and said ‘calm, methodical members of the coalition know Abbott remains the best option’, while his Newscorp colleagues held their sides suppressing laughter.

‘Abbott deserves more time,’ he added. ‘There will be no change to the PM in the foreseeable future’ (including, it would seem, the twenty-third century) and the coalition must ‘end the game and get on with the job.’ Several cartoonists in the building wept with laughter, and refused this dumb-bum’s beer shouts in the pub for days thereafter,

Newspoll showed a 16 percent swing to Labor in Cairns, Ipswich West and Keppel. Repeated across Queensland, it would leave Nooman with thirteen seats, not including his own. The sampling, though, of only two hundred respondents on landlines per seat, was utterly unreliable and might indicate a bigger swing than that.

David Speers meanwhile proclaimed that Nooman had ‘won’ the Debate, in which he failed to explain why he would not reveal who his donors were and refused to sign up to Tony Fitzgerald’s vision of a fair democracy, and why he kept saying, with a snigger, that ‘bikie money’ was funding the ALP. It was remarked what a sad Faust Speers had become after a year of sounding calm and reasonable on Agenda now that it was certain Murdoch would shift his editorial policy to supporting Labor and fire all who had advised against it, with extreme prejudice, on Monday, February 2.

In line with this imminent alteration Dennis Shanahan, a quondam Liberal voter, spoke of that party’s ‘poor salesmanship, prevarication and infighting’; and, as well, ‘that caged panther’, the Billionairesses’ Baby Bonus, ‘lurking in wait for the opportunity for a murderous attack’. He added there was ‘no chance’ of Abbott standing down because ‘there might be a Tampa or a 9/11 coming to rescue him soon’.

He should, however, get rid of Credlin, he advised, ‘and hire some other dominatrix. She has performed the dread role of sadistic Livia to his enfeebled Augustus,’ he added, showing off his erudition, ‘for far too long. She should accompany her lawful wedded husband Loughnane to Canada, and save the party a whole mess of suppurating poison consequent on her round-the-clock attachment to the increasingly haggard Prime Minister.’

Abbott said ‘Australia will soon be a second rate nation, thanks to my efforts’; then, altering his expression, a task widely thought more difficult since the maladministered Botox in his forehead leaked poison into his brain, claimed this to be ‘Shorten’s fault’. Nooman wholeheartedly agreed. ‘He shouldn’t be in Queensland,’ he squawked, attractively. ‘He should be back in Canberra, surrendering to Tony’s demands. And apologising, while he’s up, for spending all that money on Australians which could have gone in billions to our traditional beheaders, the Japanese.’

Asked if he agreed that penalty rates should go, he said, ‘Yes, a job is more important than what you are paid for it. A job for a penny a day is better, much better, than no job at all. And a penny a day in some professions is far, far too much.’ He then threatened that local communities who didn’t vote for his local member would not get the benefits he promised them, they could ‘go to buggery’. His minders hurried him out of town, to the next motor-mouth disaster. Sick of him like everyone else, the latest Skynews blonde reported that Palazczuk was ‘way ahead as preferred Premier, by 46 to 36, a margin that, for a female Opposition Leader, was unprecedented in all human history, except for, recently, Aung San Suu Kyi.’

Abbott rang up every backbencher he could think of, begging for another chance. ‘Changing leaders never works,’ he pleaded. ‘Look at Rudd and Gillard.’ He was told it worked fine when Hawke replaced Hayden, when Keating displaced Hawke, when Olsen displaced Brown, when Bracks displaced Brumby, when Rudd displaced Beazley, when Barnett displaced Buswell, when Weatherill displaced Rann, when Bligh succeeded Beattie, when Baird displaced O’Farrell, and…well…Abbott undermined and harried and successfully knifed and usurped, by one vote, his leader Malcolm Turnbull; it worked well then, didn’t it? Abbott was aghast, hung up the phone, and went to the toilet for a while, to think about things.

And so it went.

The ‘People’s Forum’: A Preview

Lying, Galaxy has chosen a hundred ‘undecided voters’ for the ‘People’s Forum’ tonight.  Since there is no-one undecided about Campbell Newman, they will just have to settle for a hundred who like him.

As always with these exercises, David Speers will stop Palazsczuk from talking directly to Newman, asking him why he tells all these lies, declaring this intervention to be ‘out of order’. The cameras will show Newman big in the frame, Palaszczuk smaller, and the sound from his microphone more audible than hers. When she speaks at any length, we will see not her but a cutaway of forty-two ugly audience members chewing gum and looking malignant, for thirty or forty seconds, and thus lose attention, as we are meant to.

These were the methods by which Murdoch cut down Gordon Brown in the second UK Debate (the only one Skynews was allowed to stage, direct and edit) in 2010; and later disadvantaged Gillard in Rooty Hill.

It is why Liberal leaders will appear in no other forum, and accept no other interlocutor. It is called Murdoch Cheating, and it has a long history of contemptible success.

And…we will see what we shall see.

The Fifteen Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (176)

Campbell Newman sued Alan Jones for calling him a liar. Speaking faster than an Irishman, Jones with asperity explained it was because Nooman had sworn to him, ‘face to face, face to face, in my own house’, that he wouldn’t gut and eviscerate his Acland heartland, then did. Nooman said he was ‘spreading Labor lies’, and denied the taxpayer was funding his lawyers. He was amazed the press kept wanting to talk about it.

The US declared David Hicks innocent of all charges. He had now, after suffering three years in solitary, several months of torture, and five years of cowering in a blazing bright, freezing cold prison cell, harassed by loud music and fearing for his life, the clear option of suing Downer, Howard, Akerman, Andrews, Henderson, Bolt, Devine and Ruddock for libel, and requiring an apology from Abbott on the floor of the House. Howard, hearing of this, said he was ‘well, yes, embarrassed, but he’ll never get a penny out of me.’ Gerard Henderson, who had called him ‘a trained heathen killer’, was quaking in his boots.

An inquiry ordered by Abbott proposed the end of the minimum wage, and lower pay on Sundays. These measures resembled WorkChoices, the ‘dead, buried, and cremated’ political calamity that had cost Howard government, and his seat. Abetz said it might never happen, but ‘if it does, it will be after we run with it, at the next election. And win,’ he added, sweating. ‘And win.’

Laurie Oakes, a Liberal voter, boasted of truncating the Whitlam golden age ‘by at least five years, ho ho,’ and wrecking Gillard’s chances of majority government by publishing leaks from Rudd and others of things she said in the privacy of Cabinet. ‘You can’t consider the consequences of your actions,’ he said, ‘you’re a journalist, for fuck’s sake, and your first obligation is to…not the truth, but the deadline, and the headline. And the sensation, ho ho. And the money. Ho ho.’ It was widely thought he had ruined the nation, and was for some reason proud of it.

Abbott begged Widodo not to shoot two Australian drug dealers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. He did not threaten to withdraw our ambassador. If he had, it is likely Widido might have expelled from his shores, in a number of gunboats, all asylum seekers wanting to come to Australia, and invited our navy to fire on this approaching armada near Christmas Island. But Abbott, as he usually is these days, was quaking in his boots, and frightened of any macho posturing whatever.

Baird then surprised the nation by beseeching Abbott to be fairer to boat people and to take more of them in. This was partly due, some observers reckoned, to his vulgar post-Canadian Christianity, partly to his father Bruce’s advocacy of this line through the Howard years, which cost him Cabinet office. Abbott, abashed, replied that he would take none of them in, as Morrison had advised him they were heathens, beyond even Bambi’s missionary zeal. Baird, as he was wont to, burst into tears.

He sniffled in explanation that he was worried about ‘unsettling reports’ in the media about the events in the Lindt Cafe. A number of scarred survivors were being paid, for competing narratives, loads of money to reveal what actually happened, exaggerating if need be. It seemed the police had shot six of them, but only one fatally. Strategically placed Murdochists were decrying them for ‘profiting from another’s misfortune’, thus repudiating a century of Murdoch warfront correspondents and two thousand five hundred years of reportage beginning with The Peloponnesian Wars and including Fitz’s books on Gallipoli and Kokoda, and demanding they either breach their contracts with the broadcast channels, or give the money to charity.

Cheating, Galaxy chose for the People’s Forum eighty-two Newman voters and twelve Palaszczuk voters, called them ‘undecided’, broadcast a Debate in which Nooman, rabbiting on till even Speers could stand him no longer, lost comprehensively, and three ‘objective commentators’ from The Courier Mail declared that he had ‘clearly won’ and Speers, ruefully, fearing unemployment, allowed that he had, though thirty-four of his supporters, disgusted by Nooman’s hydrophobic mendacity, voted against him or claimed in misery they were still ‘undecided’, resulting in a score of 48-26-26. A mutinous Newspoll out an hour later had Labor on 56 in three seats, currently held by the LNP, in regional Queensland, presaging a Nooman loss of fifty seats including his own, and Seeney’s.

And so it went.

Soldier From The Wars Returning

(From Dali)

“War Story”, directed by Mark Jackson, is a moody powerful film in which we witness a woman struggling to emerge from a psychological ditch into which life has brutally hurled her. The story is quietly and powerfully unwrapped, and shows an impressive confidence in the ability to tell a story largely without words. It would be wrong to steal the facts from you before you get the chance to see them as the director intended.

From the first time I saw Catherine Keener’s face on the screen (in, of all things, The 40 Year-Old Virgin), she reminded me a lot of the great Anna Magnani, a face which reflected both the weary weight of the world and the weightlessness of a wise soul, a divine comedy of a face in which heaven purgatory and hell took their turns.

Here, Lee is (we eventually find out) a war photographer who retreats into the cave of her hotel room in Sicily (Caltanisetta, from the brief scenes we see) to lick her wounds following the death of a colleague in war torn Libya. As Lee, Keener gives a flawless, understated, psychologically acute performance of someone at the end of their tether, undefeated but wondering what worlds remain to return to.

And for much of “War Story,” we are only given fleeting glimpses of those worlds, phone calls from concerned friends and colleagues that implore her to return to New York, and banale exchanges with hotel staff. The room becomes a kind of isolation booth where Lee can decompress at her own instinctive pace, with Keener able to express more in a few unassuming gestures than many actors can in pages of dialogue.

When Lee does venture out into the streets, she casually chats with a Tunisian rug seller, takes some clandestine snapshots of the detainees at a refugee camp (which are promptly confiscated by the police), and begins to follow a pregnant young Arab woman who reminds her of a girl she photographed years earlier in war-torn Libya. To give more detail would interfere with your experience of the patient progress of the story, but nothing about what happens is predictible or ordinary.

“War Story” so rarely puts a foot wrong that, when it does, it’s pretty annoying. That’s mostly the case with the wordy encounter toward the end between Lee and another photographer from her past, played by Ben Kingsley. In a movie that elegantly makes its points by showing rather than telling, I was unsure why this character was brought in. Perhaps the director lost faith in Keener’s ability to portray the story impressionalistically, and introduced this jarring waterfall of script to articulate themes which he should have left to be expressed rather than explained, and to be experienced rather than be expressed.

Nothing could spoil Keener’s finest performance so far in her career, but for taking the spotlight off Keener’s wordless soliloquies, and her shadow dances with her young libyan refugee, the director stands condemned. Slightly.

Abbott In Crisis (1)

The talkback exchange on the Neil Mitchell show yesterday was remarkable radio; and television too. The Prime Minister, on camera, heard himself called ‘the world’s worst salesman’ and answered politely, thanking the caller, whose anger may have been fabricated, for his ‘lifelong support’. Within an hour Abetz claimed his leader was doing a ‘magnificent job’, something no living human believes, and the crisis deepened.

Simultaneous with this was Newman being called by both the police and Alan Jones a shameless liar, and 7.30 revealing the secret corruption, if that’s what it is, of his arrangements with his million-dollar donors. And this on the eve of his debate , on Friday, with a woman. Whatever happens that night will lose him women’s votes, and it’s not very likely he’ll be gallant, or tactful., or disarming. The bookies are moving, and it’s more likely now that Labor will win with a clear majority in Queensland, picking up thirty-five or forty seats.

Part of the reason for this reversal of fortune in both Queensland and Canberra is easy to state. There is no Borbidge nostalgia. There is no Howard nostalgia. There is little Joh nostalgia. There is no Liberal ‘golden age’, as there was in Menzies’ time, for wavering voters to yearn for,

And the LNP is a new party. It did not exist before 2010. And its metropolitan half and its regional half do not cohere. Newman building a big Brisbane headquarters gets up the nose of flood-ruined farmers, and bushfire-obliterated country town grocers. It was never going to work, and Palmer’s arrival sped its disintegration, which resembles that of the UAP in 1943.

We are, in short, on the brink of the demolition of the LNP, and probably the Liberal Party as well. It is now fairly certain Foley will prevail in NSW, where ten Liberal MPs have been disendorsed after ICAC tainted them with corruption, and a former President, Sinodinos, resigned from Cabinet when the same foul whiff overcame him.

We looking, probably, at the end of the Liberal Party. In South Australia, where its former leader joined the Labor cabinet, this is easy to imagine. In Tasmania, where Labor is already on 60 percent because of the betrayal of the trees, it is probably accomplished. And the latest cries for Abbott to go, support it.

Turnbull might be the answer were he leader, but it is unlikely he will be tapped. His party, who think him ‘half-Labor’, mistrust his principles. Julie Bishop, aka ‘Princess Mesothelioma’, will not have the numbers in a caucus that loathes women and fears asbestosis. It is probable Dutton, Hunt or Frydenberg may provide a ‘fresh face’ of younger leadership soon, or Andrew Robb ‘a steady pair of hands’ despite his history of suicidal depression.

A change is coming anyway.


The Twenty-Nine Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (175)

Campbell Newman accused the ALP of paying Alan Jones, no less, to ‘smear and innuendo me’. And, when the Police Union’s Ian Leavers said, ‘Campbell Newman looked me in the eye and he lied to me’, Nooman called this ‘a misunderstanding’.

Jones called him a liar each morning on Brisbane radio and Leavers when questioned did this too, repeatedly. ‘I’m a serving police officer,’ he said. ‘If you’re going to lie to a police officer, you’ll lie to anyone.’

David Speers, worried, said Nooman was ‘certain to win the election, but with a reduced majority, perhaps.’ A statewide Skynews search for someone who liked him had, he said, been, ‘sadly, thus far unavailing’. Sensing crisis, Michael Kroger, aka ‘Dangerman’, sought the Presidency of the Liberal Party in Victoria and was awarded this crown of thorns unopposed. It was thought the LNP, a branch office of that party, would be obliterated on January 31st, and a ‘Southern Risorgimento’ was needed if the party was to win again government anywhere before 2050. ‘By 2050,’ Kroger promised, ‘I will be ninety-three, and ready for office, and raring to go.’

Two men hanged themselves in Nauru after Dutton cyberbullied them, but were cut down alive. Film of their attempt survived, and seemed to suggest Morrison’s policy of ‘life imprisonment for getting on the wrong boat, though your wife and child is in Sydney’ was unpopular with internees. Central to this disgruntlement, it was thought, was the re-employment of Reza Barati’s murderers to ‘settle them down’, and with clubs, pipes, machetes and hypodermics ‘restore order’.

Efforts were made to stop the Lindt Cafe survivors talking about what happened that day and that night on TV. The coroner, Abernathy, a Liberal voter, said ‘they might embellish their accounts, and feel compelled to say what they said on television to the coronial inquiry’; things like, say, how impatient wallopers shot five of them, one fatally. Or they might curse Abbott for not agreeing to talk to the monster, and so save eight of them, eleven of them having elsewhere escaped. Or they might curse Baird for preventing, if he did, the wallopers from going in for nine minutes after the first shot was fired, and thus ‘facilitating two murders’.

Glenn Lazarus, referring to Pyne, denounced the government’s efforts to ‘polish a turd’. Lamenting backbenchers told Fairfax that Abbott had ‘months, not years’ to redeem his many, many mistakes, and the ‘evil stepmother, Credlin’ had to go. Jennifer Hewett said a leadership change was ‘unlikely’, but the very fact of its recent bewhispering was ‘an extraordinary indictment of the government’s unravelling, and the urgency of the need for massive improvement.’

Abbott was asked by Neil Mitchell if he was ‘toxic’ by now and if, given that, he would be leader next year. Abbott said recent events in Victoria and federally showed you must stand behind your leader, however daft, or obliteration follows. A talkback person claiming to be a ‘lifelong Liberal voter’ but sounding a good bit like Troy Bramston called him a ‘useless cunt’ and ‘the worst salesman ever’ after his backdown on the twenty dollar doctor visit fine and urged him to ‘crawl away and die’.

Abbott thanked him for his lifelong support, and beseeched him to use his ‘considerable rhetorical skills, evident from your phone call’, to, as Lazarus put it, ‘polish this turd, if you will, for a little longer.’ The caller told him to go bite his bum, and rang off.

It was revealed that Pyne’s advertisements for his quarter million dollar degrees would cost, now, fifteen million dollars. This was enough to keep three small theatres going for a thousand years on the interest alone, and was thought ‘a bit much’ by Lazarus & Xenophon, the current government undertakers, and ‘really bloody greedy, sunshine’, by Jacqui ‘Tornado’ Lambie, who thinks all uni should be free. They would vote it down, they said, and seemed pretty decided about that.

It was then pointed out that Pyne’s degree cost nothing, and his house eighty thousand, but his kids would pay at least three million, including interest, for these advantages. ‘That’s why we need to spend up big on advertising,’ Pyne chirped, ‘convincing people we are sane. This is a job for Don Draper,’ he beamed, illustrating his sophistication, ‘and Don-baby doesn’t come cheap.’ Reporters covered their eyes and groaned. They wished, they truly wished, he’d go away.

Lying, ReachTEL said Labor would get 48 percent, and the LNP 52 percent, two party preferred, in Queensland. They did this by redistributing Palmer’s votes as they were in 2012, when they favoured the LNP. Redistributing them as they are now, favouring ‘exhaust’ or Labor, would put Labor on 51.25.

It also rang on landlines on Tuesday night people willing to talk to a machine. It was likely they were older, duller, more thwarted people, i.e. Newman supporters. This method when used in 2013 predicted Rudd, Swan, Clare, Burke, Dreyfus and Bowen would lose their seats, incorrectly.

So the likely Labor score was, probably, 52.3. And this was taken before the police called Newman a liar, and Abbott was gravely insulted by a bad actor on talkback, and it seemed he might have to resign.

To determine how crooked it was, one had only to look for a ‘preferred Premier’ poll involving Palaszczuk. It wasn’t there. The only potential Premiers mentioned were Newman, Seeney, Nicholls, Langbroek, Springborg, Emerson and Simpson. Palaszczuk, somehow, didn’t come into it.

…Then Morgan, the accurate poll, came out (sigh), with its assessments, at last, of what would happen in the states, from 4489 Australians contacted by SMS. Labor was way ahead in Victoria and Tasmania (59; 55.5), narrowly ahead in WA and SA (50.5; 52), well behind in NSW (46), and…line ball in Queensland (49.5), though Palaszczuk was preferred Premier (51.5).

In the latter state, Palmer had 4 percent, Katter 3.5 and ‘others’ 6 percent. If one seat went to each group (Peter Wellington sure to survive), there might be a 43-43-3 split (Labor getting Ashgrove, Pumicestone and Mundingburra), and…some negotiation to do.

Word came through that Andrew Chan would be shot, and WorkChoices was coming back.

And it was still only 6 pm.

And…so it went.

The Palaszczuk Prospect: A Prediction

Murdoch, unusually, has published a piece, and an accompanying poll, that shows Labor might win in Queensland.

By Graham Young, of On Line Opinion, it shows the LNP on 42 percent, Labor on 37, Greens on 7, and ‘others’, including Katter and Palmer, on 14 percent.

‘Ninety percent of Green voters,’ he notes, ‘say they will preference Labor, and ten percent say they will exhaust, while of the other minor party voters, thirty percent will favour Labor, twenty-nine percent the LNP, and forty-one percent will exhaust.

‘This would make the election almost exactly 50/50.’

…Adding those figures up, though, gives Labor only 47.5 percent, and the LNP only…46.06, the others having ‘exhausted’.

It gives Labor 1.5 percent more than the LNP, Murdoch for ‘almost exactly 50/50′.

These figures were garnered, however, before the full force of the Alan Jones counterblast, and the full stupidity of the twenty-dollar-fine-for-going-to-the-doctor fiasco registered everywhere, and nearly cost Abbott his job.

It was a poll, moreover, that was taken only on landlines, in the Christmas holidays, among people not out of the house, in their seventies, eighties and nineties, and only 609 of them, an insufficient sample.

If these factors added only one percent to the Labor vote, and 95 not 90 percent of the Green vote went in preferences to Labor and did not ‘exhaust’, and 35 not 30 percent of the ‘others’ vote went to Labor and did not ‘exhaust’, it would bring the Labor vote to…49.5 percent, and the LNP vote to 43.5 percent, and a clear majority for Palaszczuk.

Is this possible? Well…14 percent for others, and 7 percent for Greens, add up to fifth of the electorate; and, as in Hanson’s time, a quarter of the electorate in Queensland can suddenly ‘bolt’, and hobble both ‘major’ parties.

And if, as the poll shows, 43 percent of the ‘others’ do want a hung parliament, and will vote strategically to get it…anything can happen.

One thing, though, that CAN’T happen is a Campbell Newman-LNP victory.

And…I’m calling it. Labor on 49 or 50, and a clear majority for Labor, or an alliance, like Beattie had, of Labor and Peter Wellington.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (174)

Chris Uhlmann, a Liberal voter, in anguish alleged most MPs who had ‘sounded out’ their constituents over the Christmas break now felt Abbott was ‘terminal’ and he would have to go. Baird, shovelling soil beside Abbott at a function, said sorrowfully he wouldn’t ‘need his services’ in the coming New South Wales election.

Alan Jones told Richo, and an abashed and beaming Palaszczuk, that Nooman ‘couldn’t be trusted with the fresh corpse of my grandmother’ and that he had ‘lied to me, lied to me, brazenly, brazenly, shamelessly, shamelessly, in my own house’ about his intentions in the Darling Downs. Nooman lamely called him a ‘bloke from the south’, forgetting Jones grew up in rural Queensland and he, Nooman, in Tasmania.

Polls were taken and withheld by Murdoch. The bookies had not moved, but the ‘no more privatisation’ message was clearly cutting through and the unthinkable was being thought, that Nooman was friendless, mistrusted, resented, loathed and by most sentient humans despised, and his ‘strong, strong, strong’ mantra was pathetic, and he would lose both his seat and his imperium, and old women would spit on him in the street. And he had spent a hundred and twenty million on his electorate, Jones noted, waspishly, ‘a world record amount, worthy of Mugabe’, to no avail.

Dutton told Leigh Sales that the ‘sixty-eight ringleaders’ of ‘non-compliance’ on Manus, lately clubbed, dragged out and hospitalised, had themselves been ‘fashioning weapons’ but couldn’t say what weapons those were. He said they had better get used to life imprisonment for the foul crime of setting out on a journey in July not June, or else fly home to execution in their country of origin.

Asked how many had been ‘resettled’, he couldn’t think of any. These things take time, he pleaded, though on some boats many refugees’ fates were decided in twenty minutes, and anyway eighteen months, the time between Dunkirk and Pearl Harbour, wasn’t very long, not very long at all. He already looked haggard and buggered and burnt out and was talking, as Ruddock once did, of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ (starving oneself to death) which would not achieve an ‘unacceptable outcome’ (seeing one’s wife and children again) because ‘our borders must be protected’ (though from what danger — hard-working farmers and teachers? — he couldn’t say); and burying the better half of himself in evil for his Party’s sake, in order to win and keep the ‘hate vote’, as it was called, on the ‘dark side’, as the Liberal Party was now known.

Obama came out for socialism, calling it ‘middle class economics’, and Hockey put his face in his hands. He then advocated ‘free community colleges’ — the equivalent of free TAFEs — and CHEAPER university degrees, and Pyne began to whinny, and locked himself in the loo.. The Police Union said Nooman, who was running on ‘law and order’, had lied to them too and ‘couldn’t be trusted with a disembowelled pit bull in a fridge in the morgue’ after he promised them danger money he didn’t give them, for risking their lives after midnight; ‘Not a penny,’he shrieked, ‘not a penny. Sucked in!’

Murdoch published a poll and an article suggesting Palaszczuk Labor was on 47.5 percent, two party preferred, the LNP on 46.05 two party preferred and the other votes ‘exhausted’. This made a hung parliament likely, and a Labor victory possible. It was taken on landlines before the full enormity of the Alan Jones counterblast went seismic round the regions and his core constituency, the coppers, called him unambiguously a lying cunt, and was probably therefore understated by 2 or 2.5 percent. One pundit, Bob Ellis, called the election for Palaszczuk. The bookies thought not, but agreed there was no way Nooman would retain his seat.

7.30 revealed the corrupt arrangements of Joh’s Moonlight State were back, and unidentified businessmen could pay a fortune to eat with Nooman, or Seeney, or Springborg, or John Howard and rub their tummies and adjust the government’s policies to their financial advantage. No-one from Nooman’s government commented; and the odds on his party winning began to plummet precipitously.

And so it went.

Lines For Albo (79)

Are the killers of Reza Barati still employed in the facility? Was it they who ‘put down’ the uprising yesterday? How did they do that?

Depardieu’s DSK: Welcome to New York

(From Dali)

I’m quite sure that it would be inaccurate to describe what follows as a review of the 2014 film by Abel Ferrara. In the first place, I believe the profession of film critic requires specific talents and crafts I lack, and secondly I was motivated to put down my observations and reactions for purposes other than evaluating the performances of those involved in its creation. Primarily, those purposes are freedom of expression and the abuse of power.

“Welcome to New York” was co-written and directed by Abel Ferrara, who has often focused on the class divide in contemporary society and the supremacy of the so-called upper classes. This film stars Gérard Depardieu as Devereaux, a powerful and creepy narcissist who handles billions of dollars every day, and who controls the economic fate of nations. It was inspired by the 2011 Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, in which the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund was charged with sexual assault on a hotel employee. From what I know of that much-publicised affair, this is as close to a re-enactment or documentary as you could get. It is clearly libelous, so I presume the producers gambled on the likelihood that Strauss-Kahn would at all costs avoid the publicity of legal proceedings. On that they were right, but there’s always more than one way to skin a cat if you’re a master of the universe.

The film had to be released on the internet as the film was not picked up for theatrical distribution in France. According to Vincent Maraval, one of the producers, the film has been effectively banned because of the self-censorship by the French media, due to pressure being exerted by the powerful personages on whom the film shines its intrusive searchlight. In 2010, Strauss-Kahn was named by The Jerusalem Post as the 6th most influential Jewish person in the world, and many in France regarded him as their President in waiting. So, this film has effectively been silenced, whereas Sony’s “The Interview”, ostensibly a potty mouth piece of undergraduate lampoon, was a cause célèbre in the battle for freedom of speech, and the Paris marches in defence of Charlie Hebdo were fronted by Francois Hollande, who holds the very office Strauss-Kahn coveted.

I think “Welcome to New York” is an important film because of its topic, and it should be seen and shared as widely as possible, in spite of my opinion that it is at times poorly scripted and directed movie.

I have never seen Depardieu so mesmerisingly loathsome as here, portraying a man so self absorbed that no-one else matters, and so filthy rich that the law means literally nothing to him. Depardieu is a creature of puerile depravity, a foul ungoverned satyr, hell-bent on indulging his carnal whims at every turn. There is a considerable amount of nudity and explicit sex, and there is rape. I found it excessive, even though it’s not gratuitous, not because of prudery on my part, but because in its direction frankly it became distracting – you try to focus on the gross animalistic growling of the overweight thrusting rutter, but most of the screen is taken up by the sensual writhing bodies of a duo of the Big Apple’s classiest courtesans. No stern untoned, as they used to say.

A low point in the execution of the movie are what seem to be unscripted high octane arguments between Devereaux and his wife, played by Jacqueline Bisset. Very little is actually revealed that relates to the central topic, and the exchanges seem more like rehearsals in which Bisset at least struggles to express herself.

However, as I’ve said, this movie began as a protest by the director against the fact that Strauss-Kahn, as chief of the IMF, was able to play with the New York Police, and the US Courts as if they were toys; the producers agreed to take huge risks in terms of libel; and yet, it seems Strauss-Kahn has been able to pull other strings to protect himself.

Which of course merely emphasises the whole point of “Welcome to New York”. Equality before the law is a foundation myth in every nation.

The Twenty-Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (173)

Australians were at more risk of being blown up in Iraq than other nations, Fairfax reported, except, perhaps, Iraqis, Abbott having volunteered us further into a war that his hero, Howard, helped start. Howard thought Saddam had atomic bombs he wouldn’t use on us, and we should take them from him. This insight ruined six million lives, and caused him, he said, ‘embarrassment’.

It was an insight no more bizarre, though, than Hockey’s belief that ‘the clock is ticking’ and somebody already born would be bludging off the public purse in 2165 and she’d better be put down to save the nation ‘avoidable expense’ a good bit before that faraway calendar year. Though euthanasia was against his Maronite upbringing, he was ‘coming round to new ways of thinking’, he claimed, and ‘going where the figures take me’.

Other figures, in caucus, led him to think he could be Prime Minister at last, and stay in that office for a hundred years (he is forty-nine) since Abbott was travelling so badly. His likely rival Julie Bishop would not be a problem, he calculated, being ‘so distracted lately, looking for her earring, up and down Martin Place’.

It was this man who was in charge of the nation’s finances, and still yelling for a co-payment from those who would vote him out very soon, in his fifty-second year.

Abbott’s ever-fond blond bromance, Mark Kenny, thought Joe a ‘fucking fool’, and Abbott in these matters a ‘superior mathematician’. ‘Greater life expectancy is unalloyed good news,’ he wrote, ‘and a problem that would only get worse if not confronted.’ There was a case, he is said to have said in the first draft of his piece, for killing nonagenarians. ‘Otherwise we would have to let young Hazaras in, in sufficient numbers to support them, and that would never do.’

Joe denied he wanted compulsory euthanasia at ninety. ‘Ninety-two,’ he is said to have said. ‘I’ve done the calculations. Ninety-two. And we’ll give John Howard a big send-off; in 2031.’

Peter Costello called the $7 co-payment initially ‘worth a try’ but now ‘not worth the pain’. Joe told Neil Mitchell his injured son ‘should have paid more’ for the waterproof cast of his broken foot. ‘The world doesn’t owe him a well-formed foot,’ he said, ‘the little bludger.’

With ‘not many injuries’ the killers of Reza Barati ‘put down’ some protestors on Manus Island (who unforgiveably wanted to see their children again and not live in a pup tent among cannibals for eighty years), and removed them to a hospital with ‘certain calming drugs’ as an ‘ongoing treatment for their non-compliant condition’, as Dutton, the nervous new Minister, put it. Phone cameras which had recorded their brutal beating were confiscated and the slogan ‘Je ne suis pas Charlie’ pasted on them before they were burned on the beach. All men are ‘Charlie’, Dutton emphasised, but some are more ‘Charlie’ than others.

Luke Foley’s plan for a big koala park attracting tourists and providing jobs in the Bush was attacked by Maree McCaskell who spoke movingly of the timber industry, and its ‘dwindling resources’. ‘Every time we look around,’ she said, ‘there are less trees. Less trees for us to cut down. I blame this on Luke Foley.’ She dabbed her eyes. ‘Some of us are down to our last two million. I don’t know what will become of us.’

It was revealed that one percent of the world had more money than the other ninety-nine percent put together. ‘This is not good enough!’ cried Joe Hockey. ‘We’ve got to make that ninety-nine point five percent! Oops…’

Nooman ordered his police chief to raise the terror level in his state to steal the day’s headline from the Labor launch by Palaszczuk. Shorten introducing her said that Nooman didn’t dare be seen near Abbott, or perhaps it was the other way round. A commentator said they were like two Ancient Mariners, each with a rotting albatross around his neck, avoiding each other outside the wedding.

Palaszczuk announced a hundred good policies, modestly costed, and Nooman shrieked, ‘But she has no plan!’ and yelped the adjective ‘strong’ repeatedly when describing himself, as a social-climbing eunuch might cry ‘virile’ at the entrance to an orgy. Abbott, asked why he wouldn’t be helping Nooman said, ‘He doesn’t need anyone to hold his hand, he’s strong, strong, strong, strong, and I come to gasping climax nightly, thinking how strong he is. And then I pray for forgiveness.’

Jeff Kennett, looking like a mandrill’s penis, criticised the Lindt Cafe survivors for making money out of their ordeal. The coppers who killed Katrina deserved money too, he shouted, and all they got was overtime. He also feared they would bag Baird and Abbott for prolonging their trauma, and not either shooting the monster early, or talking to him soothingly. If the Liz Hayes program came out before the Queensland, election, Jeff whispered, and after Widodo shot two more Australians and Abbott couldn’t stop him, it might mean, or it might imply, that the Liberals were useless, and couldn’t protect us from anything.

It was revealed that parents, now, spent half a million dollars on a private school education. To this Pyne planned to add a quarter of a million dollars for a university degree. This, plus three million dollars, interest included, for a good house in the Adelaide Hills added up to a life; total cost, per child, 3.7 million. This was thirty times as much, currency adjusted, as Pyne and his parents paid for these, his advantages, and what he paid for his dwelling. Twenty-six times as much; currency adjusted.

‘That’s fair,’ he chirped, pertly. ‘Cheap at twice the price.’

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (172)

Joe Hockey said people will be living to a hundred and fifty soon, and they should be pre-emptively punished for this. Asked if he had ‘blown his stack’ when Abbott, in his absence, tried on his fool idea of a twenty dollar fine for anyone who presumed to go to the doctor and left the surgery nine minutes later, he said he ‘didn’t want to discuss it’. It hadn’t happened, he swore, it was gossip, it hadn’t happened, but if it had — which it certainly hadn’t — he didn’t want to talk about it. All government decisions were ‘unanimous’, he said, and had a pre-breakfast gin, and a soothing Cuban cigar. Shorten called it ‘his Sarah Palin moment: I can see Russia from my house’, but it resembled more closely, some thought, David Johnston’s ‘Hiawatha canoe moment’, which did for him altogether: thus departed David Johnston, in the glory of the sunset, in the purple mists of evening, of the south-west wind, Keewaydon,’ and so on, as the new poem went.

Did Joe have a future? There was growing evidence he didn’t. Every time he came out to bat, as it were, he scored a duck, and groaned aloud as he trudged back to the pavilion. He had as much future as ninety percent of his stomach, now in a fridge labelled ‘surplus to requirements’; a fair description, some said, of Joe, these days, himself.

Julie Bishop, looking a good bit like the late Hatshepshut in recent years — or as if, some said, a vampire had sucked out her Botox — ‘wasn’t ruling out’, she said, ‘recalling our Ambassador to Indonesia’ if Widodo at any time soon put two Australian drug traffickers, chained and gagged, before a firing squad as he planned to. This would leave Widodo, a non-Charlie Muslim, with the vengeful option of arresting and shooting twenty or thirty of Morrison’s scavenging seadogs for having ‘people smuggled’ genuine refugees back into Indonesia by moonlight in orange boats last year without his permission, an act of invasive war in recent centuries, he judged, against which there was no appeal. He meantime shot to death two women, among four men, on the weekend to show he wasn’t kidding.

Seven hundred refugees rioted in Manus, preferring death by bashing now to living in PNG with heathen cannibals hereinafter, and the Acting Prime Minister, Truss, said ‘It’s hard to know what’s going on up there’. Asked why he didn’t let in reporters with videocameras, he said, ‘It’s none of my affair.’ Asked why Reza Barati’s murderers were still ‘administrating the facility’, he said, ‘I don’t know anything about that. Oh dear, I think it’s time I had my afternoon lie-down. Excuse me, won’t you.’ As he snored, a hit squad of Reza Barati’s murderers went in with clubs and chains and ‘resolved the situation’, with a ‘minimum of casualties’.

Murdoch read keenly, and quickly erased all cross-Queensland polling, though local surveys in significant electorates showed numbers flowing, surging, deluging, towards Palaszczuk. Nooman erased the word ‘privatise’ from his jumpy, buoyant, crack-pated speeches. It was a word Queenslanders hated, he had found. Alan Jones attacked him for ‘undermining’, literally, his heartland, west Queensland. He looked more and more, as he strutted and squawked and flapped his short arms, like a character in Chicken Run. David Speers returned in Skynews Agenda despondent at how dire it looked for Abbott of late, and Graham Morris, downcast, said surely, surely, Nooman, the strongman, with his strong policies, and his strong team, wouldn’t lose. He wouldn’t lose, would he? Surely?

And so it went.

Je Suis Reza Barati

(First published by Independent Australia)

On Manus there are a hundred, three hundred, seven hundred men, some of them fathers of children, all of them sons of mothers, thirsting to death. Some have willed their organs to sick Australians, so some part of them will get here though they, while alive, do not. In punishment for this grand gesture Tony Abbott, an English migrant, is thirsting them to death.

Some of them are what we call ‘genuine refugees’. They have a right to be here. We are obliged to take them, under a UN convention we signed sixty years ago. And we are subjecting some of them to capital punishment, for wanting to come here.

Some of them have wives and children already here. And Dutton has told them, you will never get to Australia, get used to it. You will never see your children again. Get used to it. You can have the next fifty years in PNG, never leaving it. Get used to it. If you try to leave PNG, you will be arrested and imprisoned. For trying to see your wife and children. That can never be. Get used to it.

A few questions arise here, apart from the obvious one, how dare we? One is, can their wives and children visit them? Not just in PNG hereafter, but on Manus, now? Can that visit be conjugal? Why not? Can they, as PNG citizens, visit Australia? Why not? Can they overstay? If they do, what happens to them?

Curiously, this coincides with the Je Suis Charlie saga. We are Charlie, but these refugees are not. They cannot be heard. We have freedom of speech, but they do not.

Why, exactly?

They are being locked up, and thirsted to death because they escaped a regime, Iran, or Sri Lanka, where some of them were genuinely persecuted – the ones who are genuine refugees – and they have a right not to go back there. But they do not have a right to come here. Though their wives and children, or some of them, did.

This is a crime against humanity so manifest that Dutton, a former Queensland policeman who will in his time have heard the phrase ‘death in custody’ should be considering his position. If one of these young men dies on his watch, as Reza Barati did on Morrison’s, he should consider his position.

If, however, we no longer believe in the rule of law, and we are in a Mugabe-Zimbabwe kind of nation, of course none of this matters. We can kill whoever we like. We can let them thirst to death. And harvest their organs, the way the Chinese do with their executed criminals, dead of a single bullet to the back of the head.

What are we coming to? Two years ago, with Bob Carr as Foreign Minister, we were admired as a nation, as a liberal, generous people whom the poorer countries looked up to. Now we are refusing to pursue and arrest murderers, Barati’s murderers, and thirsting, in hundreds, or dozens, young men to death.

It may or may not be possible for Premier Palaszczuk’s Attorney-General to report Dutton to the ICC for crimes against humanity, and put him through the difficulty of testing in our High Court the constitutionality of his defiance of the laws of the nations. It may or may not be possible to refuse the donated organs of a genuine refugees with children here.

Into what a cesspool Morrison, Abbott and Bishop – and, yes, Rudd and Burke – have drawn us.

Will we ever be clean again?

I doubt it.

Splendid Misery On The Campaign Trail: Lucas, Dennis, Freeman, Corser And Keddie’s Party Tricks

I had not expected Party Tricks to be as good as this. Fifteen years in political offices, mostly those of Premiers, hearing the way people talk, the bullyings, euphemisms, ironies, gallantries, tediums and flatteries and the sudden shrieks of temper and subsequent apologies, alerted me to the quality of the dialogue, pitch-perfect in every line, not a syllable untuned, as it is in The West Wing, Veep, The Thick Of It, The Ides of March, House of Cards, and (I imagine) Borgen.

David McLeod, like Campbell Newman, and Luke Foley, is made Opposition Leader though not yet possessed of a parliamentary seat. He is a famous TV interviewer/personality like, say, Ray Martin. Kate Ballard, the forty-year-old wife of an older businessman (shades of Margaret Thatcher) is, like Julia Gillard, childless, glamorous and only briefly Premier when pitchforked into her first election as Leader, though she was Deputy Premier previously.

And it transpires the two of them have had an affair. It was intermittent, out of town, initially meaningless, eventually serious, amiably ended, with no blame, and no-one at fault, when his estranged wife got cancer, and he goes back to her, and no-one, no-one, no-one else knows about it, no-one. They meet on neutral ground, and be swears he won’t reveal it, of course he won’t. She believes him; and then, pretty quickly, she doesn’t. And, in a panic, she tells just one person, her tall gay twentysomething speechwriter, Oliver (Charlie Garb), who crafts with cunning a pre-emptive public confession for her, and she considers it, and the effect it will have on her older, sterile husband, Geoff, and the electorate, of course, the electorate. Oliver’s boyfriend Tom (Oliver Ackland), an ambitious but principled reporter (think David Marr), sees him acting secretively, grills him decorously, repeatedly, in bed, at breakfast…He denies everything. But…but…

This is world-class drama, shot like Borgen and Secret State in actual parliamentary locations, and I know nothing of the writer Michael Lucas, or the directors Emma Freeman and Kate Dennis but it rings, in its every text-message and walk-on eccentric, true and clear as a bell. Kaiya Jones is very fine as MacLeod’s sixteen-year-old daughter Matilda, bruised by her mother’s death and her father’s adulteries when she was little. Angus Simpson as the Chief-of-Staff Wayne, full-bearded and red-lipped, has the nervy suspicious gallant confidence of such men world-wide. Adam Zwar as McLeod’s jealous, contemptuous deputy Trevor Bailey, has the sharp fearless nasal cadence of Anthony Albanese and a face like a midwife toad, and almost steals the show.

Asher Keddie, however, a Blanchett-standard performer, is very, very , very fine as Kate, in especially the scenes of tender, letdown, simmering precoital silence, and in the endless joshing matiness of the campaign trail. She conveys exactly, in all she does, Harry S Truman’s superb definition of the American presidency, ‘splendid misery’.

And Rodger Corser, as McLeod, is a revelation. Closely resembling in every head-tilt and half-smirk Michael Kroger, he seems not to be acting at all — except, of course, when his character is lying, which is most of the time. Both amoral and principled, shallow and thoughtful, handsome, earnest and mocking, and never boring, he resembles a few such men I have been close to, and delivers their watchful, amused and changing mind-set precisely.

I won’t tell you what happens, which is very unexpected. I beseech you to rent it, and see it, as I did, in a single day.

A Tale Told By An Idiot, Full Of Sound And Fury: Inarritu’s Birdman, Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance

Birdman is an eventual, tremendous success that is for a long while very irritating. Nine tenths of it appears to be one continuous shot, like Hitchcock’s Rope, and the central character has magical powers — he can hover in the air, he can move nearby objects without touching them — and, worse than that, he’s a rich, whingeing actor in a midlife crisis trying, like Mickey and Judy, to put on a show.

The show is his adaptation of Ray Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, but I don’t want to get into that. It involves the central character, played by Michael Keaton, shooting himself on stage, with a bullet that might be real, but I don’t want to get into that.

Boyhood not Birdman will get the Best Film Oscar but Birdman will get Best Screenplay and Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Male and Female and you can see why, but, secretly, it’s not very good at all. It’s a tremendous success but underneath it, secretly, a smartarse Actors Studio conversation, dramatised.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who seems to be some sort of South American magical realist — he wrote and made Babel — makes it look good because it’s mostly all in the one take, but it’s…I dunno.

It’s like…All That Jazz meets Being John Malkovitch meets A Chorus Line meets Eight and a Half meets Me And Orson Welles; and, because Hollywood has no memory, and has lately discovered, since The Artist, what might be called ‘Hollywood quirky’, it will do I guess very well; make half a billion or so. But it’ll be half a billion made out of people who, like me, don’t like it very much.

All the performances are superb. Keaton and Edward Norton and Emma Stone — or Lindsay Duncan — will get Oscars, and so will the cameraman, Emmanuel Lubezi, and his computerising confederates. And the editing…well, there is no editing.

And it can go fuck itself. Life’s too short.

And so it goes.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (171)

Julie Bishop boycotted Newman’s campaign launch, and it was thought that Hockey, Pyne, Abetz, Andrews and the Queenslanders Dutton and Brandis would not be coming either. A Galaxy poll in selected seats foreboded a wipeout in the north and big trouble in the south-east and a likely hung parliament or a Palaszczuk victory. A baby refused to cuddle Nooman who was bathed in sweat and repetitive and shouting, obscurely, ‘a one and a half billion dollar black hole!’, quoting his Treasurer.

Albo, noting the hottest year since the Ice Age, said the Liberals ‘put ideology before common sense’ and extreme weather events, thanks to Abbott, were increasing exponentially by the week. Abbott continued to be on holiday, after begging Widodo not to shoot two Australians. Many survivors of the Lindt Cafe siege queued up, wondering who should bag Baird first, and/or Abbott, who had refused to help them.

It was felt the Liberals were not good at protecting us from anything. Firing squads, climate change, Egyptian encarceration, Vladimir Putin, murderers on bail were coming for us in great numbers and Abbott was ‘on holiday’ and Bishop feebly defending Israel, our enemy’s enemy, in its fight with the ICC, and simultaneously asking the Muslim world for favours. It was unlikely Hockey would put his head above the parapet again, in any forum including Question Time, and very likely Josh would replace him soon, or Turnbull.

That was if Abbott survived. Several pundits thought that…well…not the twenty dollar fine for going to the doctor, but his panicked cancellation of it under furious backbench pressure, showed a leader in terminal trouble. He proposed to have on Team Australia Day millions of patriots singing in wild chorus ‘Advance Australia Fair’, a widely detested song, and a march-past and fly-over in the Mugabe or Ceaucescu manner and this would rouse the nation behind him.

After only 497 days, it had gone so bad for the Liberals. Behind in every state, and scorned by most of the civilised world, it was clear they didn’t know what they were doing, and Abbott had become, as Costello predicted, ‘a catastrophe as leader’.

Nooman had spent, it was reported, a hundred and twenty million dollars on Ashgrove to no avail. The billion Abbott was giving foreigners to find MH 370, Christ knows why, was bearing no fruit. Nicholls, in cash-strapped Queensland, would spend, if elected Premier, a billion on a new government building.

In New South Wales Garry Edwards, MP, was expelled from the Liberal Party and Bart Bassett, MP, prevented from running for Londonderry after ICAC probes besmirched them, and nine other serving parliamentarians, with varying whiffs and mutters of corruption. It was hoped that ‘Cleanskin’ Bambi Baird, though mired himself in Katrina’s killing and the release of the monster Monis on bail, would somehow stem the swing against the Liberals that had brought Labor, even under Robbo, to the brink of power with 49 percent, in Ipsos’ view. No poll had thankfully come out since Foley’s acclamation, nor would it if Rupert Murdoch, an influential person, had his way.

A baby girl killed by police was mourned and buried. It was noted that NSW cops had killed three times as many innocent humans as ‘terrorism’ in a mere month. No ‘Je Suis Katrina’ march, however, was thus far planned in Martin Place or Macquarie Street.

For the sixth week the prizewinning Liberal voter Kate McClymont refused to investigate the Lindt Cafe. ‘It would serve no useful purpose,’ she is said to have said, ‘to rake over now the old, dead coals of a case that has been, for so long, blessedly, thankfully closed.’ But more would come out, she promised, about that vile misspender of five thousand dollars, Craig Thomson, and the malevolent sexual monster Bob Ellis; watch this space.

Sharks appeared off Manly beach, home ground of the hairy jogging muscular Christians Baird and Abbott, despite their prayers. Refugee insurgents on Manus expelled their prison guards, and in a violent day-long siege attracted world attention to their cause, that of seeing their wives and children once again, something Dutton called ‘a preposterous demand’. PUP launched their campaign, calling in potent commercials Nooman’s plans and record ‘rubbish’. Nooman launched his campaign, the small, ugly smile on his face reminiscent of that of a cult leader two days after the world failing to end. Only Truss was up on stage with him, and behind him fifty faces visibly mortified by his incompetent loss of twenty seats or, maybe, forty.

He warned against a ‘hung parliament of Katter, Palmer and Labor’ whose threat he compared with the present Senate, which had thus far saved us from the co-payment and Pyne’s quarter million dollar university degrees. ‘We can’t have that,’ he said. ‘ We don’t want that. We need a strong government. With a plan.’ He then disgusted his audience by saying, ‘We made the trains run on time!’ Images appeared in the minds of his aghast remaining disciples of Nooman hanging up dead by his heels in chains like his role model, Mussolini.

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (170)

Lying, Newspoll said Newman was ‘neck and neck’ with Kate Jones in Ashgrove, over figures that showed her on 53 percent, after ringing only six hundred landlines on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, not those with mobiles out shopping or swimming or at the pictures, which would make it 54 percent. After this, the ‘margin of error’ of 4 percent might make her score…well…oh dear…58 percent.

On page 2 it was revealed that Jones led Nooman by 52 to 44 as ‘better local member’. And it seemed she would get what she got in 2009 pretty much, 56 percent, and Newman would lose the seat. On page 2 also Sean Parnell, a Liberal voter, said glumly Tim Nicholls might well be Premier in two weeks’ time.

Palaszczuk meanwhile had given a speech, well concealed on the least read page of The Australian, number 2, in which she said she would progressively pay off the debt — twelve billion in the next decade — by not selling anything, nothing at all, and using one third of the income from the entities not sold, 600 million a year, to restore some jobs which Nooman had abolished, to fund the tourist industry, save the Reef, and so on, and two thirds to pay off what was owed. This was massively plausible, and good economics, and therefore concealed in all the Murdoch media.

Experts announced this last year was the hottest since the Ice Age, and so cast doubt on the Prime Minister’s judgment that ‘global warming is a whole lot of crap’. Abbott was elsewhere in trouble with Brough, a Howard high-flyer he had not promoted, over his twenty dollar visiting-the-doctor fine, which Brough said he would denounce were it not cancelled, which it was. Sufficient backbench numbers existed, it seemed now, to sack Abbott or make him stand down; so Brough, perhaps — or Dutton, or Bishop, or Robb, or Ley, or Turnbull, or Josh Frydenberg — might replace him.

This would not occur before January 31, the date of Nooman’s ruin, and the forming of a Nicholls or Palaszczuk government after negotiations with Katter, Palmer, and Pauline Hanson.

Abbott refrained from offering his arse to Widodo, as he had to Windsor, but, near tears, beseeched him to refrain from shooting two Australian drug dealers before the Nooman election lest it cost him whatever shreds he had left of international credibility. ‘I’ve spent a billion not finding MH 370,’ he is said to have moaned, ‘cuddled a koala with the Antichrist, doubled the deficit, disgusted with my impertinent banality the leaders of Europe and enraged every doctor on this continent; and, worse, Mal Brough. Just give me this one, Joko. I’ll make it up to you, I swear. I’ll never send back into your waters a half-drowned refugee again.’ Widodo stared at his skyped image impassively. What a strange little person, he thought.

Galaxy showed Labor winning Queensland. ‘Swings of up to 12 percent in the state’s southwest,’ it was reported by The Brisbane Times, and ‘similar swings’ in those north Queensland seats which had last time voted KAP, meant there would be, probably, 40 or 50 less LNP seats by February 10. Nooman, wiping oodles of sweat from each fraught square inch of his tiny bald head, announced an extra fifty billion for obese children who might like to try cricket, and seemed more strident with reporters than usual. He said it was ‘a choice’ between the ‘chaos and incompetence’ of a Labor government which had delivered nine surpluses, and his ‘strong team’ which would, after sacking twenty-four thousand nurses, midwives, firemen, lifesavers and civil servants, ‘create jobs.’

The Galaxy poll was for Channel 9, and came out at 1.05 am. The Murdoch media made no mention of it; and concealed, probably, in deepest hugger-mugger a similar finding by Newspoll. If true it meant an easy Foley win in New South Wales, and Canberra chaos until Abbott walked, or was overthrown. It might mean the end of the Liberal Party, or its redefinition under Turnbull.

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (169)

The Australian reported that Nicholls, not Newman, would be Premier on February the 2nd. He, too, it was said, would sell off the ports and the electricity for 37 billion, or maybe half that, and get a bonus of 5.5 billion from Abbott for doing so, or maybe half that, and thus reduce by 1.5 billion a year, or maybe half that, the interest paid on ‘Labor’s debt’, though electricity bills would certainly double, and thus get back the triple-A rating lost amid the world recession which Wayne Swan, a local, had shrewdly averted. It was thought the simplicity of this plan would attract voters who had thrown out a previous government for privatising things, in the biggest landslide in our history.

Palaszczuk’s plan to help save the Reef was called by Sarah Elks, a Liberal voter, ‘murderously bureaucratic industry regulation’. It would enrage ‘at least a hundred farmers’ fond of polluting with pesticides this natural wonder, she raged, and ‘attract less than fourteen million overseas tourists’ like the Obamas. ‘This is big-brother, big-stick, government-knows-best regulation,’ she wrote, ‘count us out.’

A man swallowed three razor blades and sewed up his lips because Morrison, then Dutton, wouldn’t let him see his two daughters in Sydney. They and his wife had been allowed to go to Sydney but he himself was doomed, S&M told him, to live his next sixty years in PNG, a violent, sometimes head-hunting country unfond of pale-skinned unemployed Shi-ites. It was thought by local authorities that swallowing razor blades was an ‘immoderate form of protest’ and he shouldn’t do it again. Reza Barati’s several murderers, meanwhile, had retained their paid positions as guards and would ‘keep order’, it was said, next time he tried it on.

Julie Bishop put on a form-fitting ‘Je Suis Charlie’ T-shirt, and was surprised to find Widodo, a Muslim, proposing to shoot two Australians she had begged compassion for, and Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a Muslim, inclined to lock up Greste and throw away the key. ‘What is it with these people?’ she is said to have raged. ‘Do they not know Mohammed is a false prophet, and George Bush the true saviour of mankind?’ It was explained to her what ‘diplomatic’ meant, and she gasped attractively and said, ‘Oh, I do wish somebody had told me.’

Baird amazed the relatives of Katrina Dawson by thanking her killers in a ceremony on the lawn of Parliament House. ‘If it weren’t for your incompetence and murderous delays,’ he is said to have wanted to say, ‘we would not have had a three-day shutdown of our economy at Christmas time nor a bill, in tens of millions, for the Federal Government it can ill afford.’ His minders said he should ‘tone this down a bit’ and he instead praised to the skies their every effort which, despite the wounding of four innocents and the killing of two, he called ‘pure perfection’.

Sussan Ley appalled Abbott by abolishing ‘with extreme prejudice’ his disastrous, beloved twenty-dollar fine for visiting the doctor, and was duly hailed as the ‘new, decisive Acting Female Prime Minister’ by some parts of the media and by other parts of the media ‘Credlin’s usurper’. This cowed Abbott for about ten minutes, till Credlin dragged him out from under the desk and in a skyped call to the champagne-addled Ley asked what the fuck she thought she was doing. Ley had one more drink, got unsteadily to her feet, and woozily announced to the baffled media that the co-payment was back, it might be only five dollars this time, or if it wasn’t she would ‘after consultation’ find some other way to skin fraught, sick old women of their money. She giggled, hiccupped, wriggled her nose, and fell out of frame.

Dutton called ‘non-compliant behaviour’ the sewing of lips, the refusal of food, and, indeed, the swallowing of razor blades and then the sewing of lips of those actual, genuine refugees keen to embrace, again, their wives and loved ones in Australia. ‘You will never get to Australia,’ he warned them sternly, adding this exclamation to the crimes against humanity for which, in due course, the Abbott government would be arraigned and admonished in The Hague, gaoled there, perhaps, for twenty years, and vilified thereafter by world history. The sin of the inmates was to have set out in July, not June, of 2013. Such an offence will not be tolerated, he declared, as the whispers and murmurs of another murderous riot began to be heard on the island.

And so concluded another day of the worst free-elected government since the invention, in 934 AD, of democracy in Iceland.

And so it went.

Medicare? No Problem

If I’ve got this right, and I think I have, Medicare costs each taxpayer, on average, 1461 dollars a year. That’s 28 dollars a week, up from 11 dollars a week, seven years ago.

28 dollars is less than what one pays for three hours in Sydney parking station. It’s not a small amount, but it’s not a big one. It’s less than what you pay for a cinema ticket, 3D glasses and a choc-top.

In 2030, we are told, Medicare will cost us, on average, 2000 dollars a year. That’s 38 dollars a week, the price of a cheap Chinese meal.

In the years between 2007 and now, the price of a Marrickville house has doubled, and some people are paying 982 dollars a week in mortgage interest on a house that cost them, at auction, 1.2 million dollars.

They pay this because a house and a roof is important to them. It’s unreasonable to say good health, at a cost of 38 dollars a week, is less important to them.

And yet we’re told health care is in crisis, and ‘unaffordable’, and can’t go on this way. It might mean going to the movies one time less a month. It might mean reading only The Weekend Australian and giving up, each week, the other five, which cost $12.50. It might mean eating a barbecue steak more often than rare roast rump in a restaurant.

But it’s not a tremendous crisis. It’s not a threat to your existence. It’s not a national calamity.

So what is the problem?

Abbott has ended his Prime Ministership, probably, by treating it as if it is. And Hockey, because of it, is Treasurer in name only.

It’s because it’s an idea the Liberals have always hated. They abolished its predecessor, Medibank. They called it ‘unaffordable Medicare’ so often it became a single word, ‘unaffordablemedicare’ in the mouth of Alan Jones and his disciples. They hate it; and they always have.

And there’s no economic argument for doing what they’re doing.

And there never was.

Howard Observed

Albrechtsen asked Howard many of the right questions and he answered all of them with some fraction of a lie. Yes, he was ‘embarrassed’ when there proved to be no weapons of mass destruction, but no, that war had not caused, or assisted, the rise of Islamic State; that was an import from Syria. Yes, there were no children overboard, but the ‘best advice we had at the time’ was that there were. Yes, his rivalry with Peacock was bad for the party and bitter, but they were ‘friends now’.

Looking a his drab, flushed, watchful, botoxed face and hearing his carefully crafted, always grammatical sentences, one realised he had no core relation to the truth at all. Every word he uttered was a tactic that served, even now, his ambition. And it had been that way all his life.

He was very intelligent; but there were great parts of his humanity missing. It was clear he had never read a novel, or seen a film with subtitles. He would not have seen any documentary film on Afghanistan, or read a book on that subject. His principal reading would been the diaries of politicians or their biographies, but he would not have read a book by, say, Roy Jenkins, or Michael Foot, or William Fullbright, or Obama’s autobiography, or Clinton’s. He would have read three or four books about Thatcher, and eight about Menzies, but none about Reagan; or McCain; or Sarah Palin; or, indeed, John Foster Dulles or Kissinger.

It is worth realising he still uses the word ‘boong’ (he has not denied this) and once said if Obama was elected, ‘al Qaeda will rejoice’.

He is not evil, but relentlessly tactical, and endlessly given, like his role model Nixon, to spin. His carefully fabricated tone of voice, that of the reasonable man with no significant regrets, is magnificently well acted, and, in comparison with Costello or Abbott or Barnaby Joyce or Campbell Newman, a masterpiece of subtlety. As Herndon said of Lincoln, his ambition is ‘a little engine that has no rest.’

He would have been frightening to any who had served him as a Minister. To hear him say why lesbians should be denied IVF, and how it was better that a baby not be born than he have no father; that if ‘these people’ threw their children overboard (all of them? really?), we ‘don’t want them here’; that he met Don Bradman more than once, and found him ‘stimulating company’: this would have unendurably unveiled, every day, what we see in the Albrechtsen interviews, a hollowed-out man with no concern for anything outside his own consuming ambition; no thought for the consequences of any of his deeds: the six million Iraqis murdered, displaced, bankrupted or made mad because of a war he was keen on that had no basis, a war that replaced a cruel but occasionally beneficent regime (good universities, great health services, honourable pensioned jobs in the Civil Service) with a century of corrupt, chaotic civil war, and a middle class he so pampered with unearned welfare we will never balance our Budget again.

What an awful, historic fact he is now. What an awful thing to happen to Australia. Wayne Goss once cursed me for ruining Bronwyn Bishop and causing, thus, the Howard era. Bronwyn would have been easy to beat in 1996, he said, and Beazley would have succeeded Keating in 2000 and Shorten, or Combet, succeeded Beazley in 2010, and there wouldn’t have been much of a Liberal Party now. And it was…fault.

I looked last night on Howard’s enormously effective performance and felt a good deal of tribal guilt. How could these things happen? How could these things happen? How could I have done what I did?

And so it went.

The Three Worst Thing The Liberals Did Yesterday (168)

Saul Eslake said Abbott’s promise of a million new jobs in five years would not be met. ‘The difficulty,’ he is said to have said, ‘is the quarter of a million old jobs abolished by Hockey when he ended auto manufacturing, the thirty thousand abolished by Johnston when he ended submarine building, and the twenty-five thousand nurses, midwives, lifesavers, firefighters and civil servants sacked by Nooman. The Liberals’ view that jobs growth begins with sacking hundreds of thousands doesn’t…add up.’

The price of oil halved. Rents, however, relentlessly went up. You could rent a shoe shop in Avalon for three thousand dollars a week and go broke in six months, or even four. The McLure Review told Morrison you can’t scare the disabled into working, the jobs aren’t there. Three hundred detainees on Manus Island refused to eat. More each day sewed up their lips. Dutton continued sobbing, with his face in his hands, and refused to come out of the bathroom.

The NSW Coroner, Michael Barnes, said an inquest into Katrina’s killing would occur next month, in the lead-up to the NSW election. A Lindt Cafe customer, Marcia Mikhael, wanted ‘a six-figure sum’ to ‘tell; tell all’. She it was who on a Monis video begged Abbott to save them, and was aghast when he wouldn’t. Baird asked Abbott for millions to compensate the ‘Chocolate hostages’, but got no reply.

Abbott attended the Prime Minister’s Eleven cricket match, refused to bat and pretended, with some success, he knew some details of the game. It was thought his new twenty-five dollar fine for going to the doctor would lose Nooman every seat he won in 2012, and Baird every seat O’Farrell won in 2011. ‘Somye old women go three times a week for their prescription,’ experts explained, ‘and will now have to euthanase their Pekingese to afford this. Two thirds of them used to vote Liberal, and they won’t, any more,’

The extinction of the Liberal Party like the UAP, Liberal Reform, the Communists and the Democrats was now a possibility. Baird and Nooman were amazed that ‘Tony hates us so much he sneaked this in, like a Grinch, at Christmas.’

Albrechtsen, breasts heaving, asked Howard how he felt about causing the deaths, displacement, insanity and economic ruin of six million people, and he said, ‘Well, embarrassed. But I do emphasise that Tony, George and I acted, in concert, on advice we then thought reliable, that Saddam would not use his atomic bombs on us, but hide them in the sand.’ Asked why he had lied about the Children Overboard, he said, ‘It wasn’t a lie. I sincerely believed some mothers would feed their suckling children to the sharks. My mother, for instance…’ Then he grew quiet, and changed the subject.

Nooman cursed Abbott openly for the twenty dollar fine he planned to impose on old women going to the doctor. Sussan Ley, back from her holidays, squealed and attacked the furniture and ‘took the whole thing off the table’, she said, thus saving, perhaps, the Liberal Party from immediate extinction and Nooman from electoral wipe-out on the 31st. She said, however, that ‘measures would have to be taken’ to make Medicare ‘affordable and sustainable’. Merely lifting the Medicare levy from 1.5 percent of annual income to 1.75 percent of the income of the ‘poor’ and 2.5 percent of the income of those on 150,000 a year, and 3.5 percent of those on 500,000, did not occur to her. But then, she was new to the job, and a fucking fool.

Murdoch kept on insisting Nooman was ‘gaining ground’ in his flagship The Courier Mail but never said why or how. A page 1 headline yelled, feebly, ‘Business Leaders In No Doubt: Newman On Right Track On Asset Sales’, and had the readers of The Australian, now down to double figures in Queensland, and single figures in Victoria, in a flapping, squawking fury of dissent. Privatisation was hated everywhere in the world, not least because it never worked (train crashes usually followed, or power bills doubling), and the headline persuaded them that this was what he, Nooman, was up to. He said it wasn’t so; it was a ‘ninety-nine year lease’, but it was widely thought he lied.

Widodo proposed to shoot two Australians for drug trafficking some years ago. Julie Bishop, who had just praised the magazine Charlie Hebdo for ridiculing the Holy Prophet Mohammed, unaccountably failed to persuade this genial, modernising, tractable Muslim not to do this — in the same way, some thought, as she had lately failed to persuade, after acclaiming the mass murderer Netanyahu for his slaughter of four hundred Gaza children, the Egyptian President Fattah Abdel el-Sisi to release Peter Greste, an Australian who had criticised his regime. A poll showed her lagging behind Malcolm Turnbull as preferred Prime Minister, by 26 percent to his 36; though she was well ahead of Abbott, who was on 14; the lowest score for a sitting Prime Minister in human history.

And so it went.

In Thirty-Five Words

Essential, Ipsos, Morgan, Galaxy and Newspoll all have Labor federally on 54 or 54.5, two party preferred.

This is a higher score than that achieved by any party in any federal election since 1977.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (167)

Janet Albrechtsen, a Liberal voter, stood up for our right to bully nine-year-old Muslim girls as ‘Mohammed’s whores’ in the playground and shove their heads down toilet bowls. ‘This is what Charlie Hebdo means,’ she said, and cited the unjust conviction of Andrew Bolt for saying ‘Some girls just aren’t black enough’ in his influential column in the Herald-Sun as a ‘shame on our nation’.

‘John Howard wants 18C abolished,’ she added, with heaving bosoms, breathlessly, ‘and so do I. Tony Abbott is a lily-livered fraud,’ she went on, flexing lips unaccountably tempting to Rhys Muldoon, ‘for backing down on this issue. A jelly-back! A coward! Are you with me? Are you with me?’ A ‘Je Suis Janet’ march up George Street was planned, and has thus far attracted fourteen enthusiastic disciples.

Her hundred-hour interview with John Howard continued on Skynews, whose viewership during its initial broadcast reached, to Murdoch’s amazement, double figures. Howard said he ‘felt a fool’ for putting on a bullet-proof garment in order to address a crowd of paspalum-chewing Bob Katter lookalikes in Western Queensland in May 1996, but felt he was right not to criticise, ‘even for a minute, even for a sentence’, Pauline Hanson when she first spoke up against the yellow hordes and thus let her gain eleven seats in Queensland, and thus ensure fifteen years of Beattie-Bligh-Labor.

‘It was a wise decision,’ he said, ‘as was, indeed, my enthusiastic determination to wage unflinching war on Iraq and thus cause the murder, displacement, insanity and ruin of six million souls. Six million is a figure that appeals to me.’ Albrechtsen’s parted lips and heaving bosom added interest to a conversation, now in its fiftieth hour, that was elsewhere thought by aghast academics ‘more tedious than the reflections of Charles Pooter in Diary of a Nobody.’

Baird proposed to increase the rate of one-punch murders in Kings Cross by letting violent drunks enter nightclubs after 1.30 am. This was nothing to do, he declared, with the two hundred thousand smackers the Liquor Industries had contributed to his party’s last campaign. ‘It is because a number of bloodhouses have closed,’ he said, ‘and men with tattoos and eye-patches nostalgic for the good old days would like to see them open again, and free-for-alls between transvestite Ice addicts with meat-cleavers resume in that legendary district.’ Told that violence had come down by a third since the early-closing law was enacted, he said, ‘What has that to do with it? We’re talking about gangsters losing money, and having less to advance to the Liberal Party. Oops.’

A million Queenslanders woke up an hour early and blamed Campbell Newman. This was because their mobile phones had switched over to Summertime — a season Queensland does not recognise — and the crazed, punctuality-mad, runty, bald sarmajor had not prevented this. It was all of a piece, some said, with his early surprise election during their holiday hangover, the first in January in Australia since 1913. His rating dropped by two percent, making him the least approved Premier or Prime Minister or President in world history.

Palaszczuk asked who would be Premier if he lost his seat? He refused to say, and, looking haggard and shrivelled, claimed he was only just starting work on a railway line that would open four years after he lost his seat. ‘Trust me,’ he pleaded. ‘Trust me.’

Shorten said he would oppose and overthrow in the Senate the new twenty-dollar co-payment for a doctor’s visit, and Palmer, Lambie and Xenophon said they would too, debating this in the Upper House in early February. This meant voters in Queensland would be talking of nothing else on January 31; and the LNP would on that day be in big, big trouble, and might achieve as many seats as Labor did in 2012.

Three hundred asylum seekers on Manus, where Reza Barati was bashed to death with a rock,went on a hunger strike. Three sewed up their lips, and one swallowed a razor blade. Peter Dutton, lately voted by thousands of doctors ‘the worst Health Minister in the last thirty-eight years’, found himself, to his amazement, Minister for Immigration, and as likely as Morrison to go befôre the International Criminal Court for kidnap, illegal detention, child abuse and piracy. He squared his shoulders, straightened his tie, then put his face in his hands and wept uncontrollably.

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (166)

Andrew Clennell, a Liberal voter, advised Baird to ‘just ignore’ Luke Foley and he would go away; he did this on page 13 of The Daily Telegraph. On page 1, however, there was a headline acclaiming Foley for his aim, if elected, to cut by two thirds all tax on all bets on horses, and, on page 2, praise for his ‘can-do attitude’ by the selfsame self-loathing Andrew Clennell. Rupert Murdoch, an hereditary problem gambler, will have demanded he write this, and change the paper’s vote, mayhap, to Labor. Clennell drank whisky, and hoped it would go away.

NSW police killed three times as many people, in the past month, as terrorists, it was revealed after Bowral coppers tasered to death a recovering drug addict who was making, his brother said, ‘good progress’. Baird begged Abbott for millions to compensate those Lindt Cafe customers his goons had wounded or killed lest he have to do it himself, with money he didn’t have. The Dawson family were planning to sue him for wrongful killing, it was rumoured, and he was frantic.

It was thought some Sydney police were snorting more Ice than was beneficial to them or the larger community. No Royal Commission, though, Baird swore, would investigate why a plan to shoot Monis before he killed anybody was not proceeded with, and a plan they called ‘an eye for an eye’, to shoot him after he killed somebody, was preferred. Or why he had not been sniped by available army experts fifteen hours before. Or ten. Or seven. And why they waited till he was tired and irritable and murderous, and did not send in anybody — an imam, Mamdouh Habib, Tony Abbott — to talk to him.

No ‘Je Suis Katrina’ march against the NSW police has yet been planned. It was suggested to Baird, and it left him sobbing. ‘We will get through this,’ he blubbered over his cornflakes. ‘We will get through this.’

Nick Cater, a Liberal voter, called for the punishment of all Muslims for the events in the Lindt Cafe. Like punishing all Catholics for their co-religionist Hitler’s massacres of tens of millions, and all Jews for their co-religionist Netanyahu’s massacre, last June, of three thousand Gazans, and of all Chinese for their occasional killings, in mere hundreds, of Muslim Uigurs in their various small towns for exercising free speech in the past ten years, his plan had flaws. So did his call for the 18C debate that Brandis had summarily trashed to ‘start afresh’. ‘We all have the right to be bigoted,’ his first draft is said to have said, ‘all, that is, except for the swarthy, hook-nosed Muslim infidel. Oops.’

‘The bracing challenge for the Abbott government this year,’ The Australian editorialist wrote, ‘is to implement remedial action where last year there was discord and failure.’ ‘Kicking the can down the road to our children,’ he forcefully added, was very, very wrong. Better, far better, to charge them a quarter of a million for their degrees rather than, oops, sixty-four thousand for their degrees and the national debt in toto; a quarter that is of what Abbott was charging.

He further called Shorten ‘Chauncey Gardiner’ for suggesting Australia, stimulated, might soon enjoy ‘growth’. He then in gloom admitted there was a lot of growth, dad blast it, after the fall in the dollar and the price of petrol; a lot of growth. This was clear proof, he concluded, that Bill didn’t know what he was talking about. Growth and lower individual expenditure wouldn’t do it. How could they. The figures added up, but Rupert wasn’t interested in figures. ‘All of Thatcher’s figures were wrong,’ the great man tweeted, ‘but what a triumph she was.’

Cheating, Abbott ensured that all who went to the doctor for under ten minutes would pay twenty dollars for it. Under the new sadistic provisions, doctors would not bulk-bill, and could not afford to. This elevation of the threat to old women and cripples from seven dollars to twenty dollars ten cents per visit, costing sixty dollars a week to some old women, meant Newman would lose Queensland, which was full of retired oldies, and Baird nearly all old New South Welshpersons, who were skint.

Both Baird and Newman were foaming with rage.

The AMA voted Dutton ‘the worst Health Minister in Australian history’.

And so it went.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (146)

The technology seems to be erasing some of our responses, mine included.

When Annie and Jack get up in the morning I will ask them to see to it.

And ban, of course, Paul Trover for life.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (145)

Paul Trover, who accused me of publishing many, many ‘beat-ups’ and, when challenged, could not name even one, is banned for life.

I do not publish liars; especially those employed, like him, by Abbott, Morrison, Pyne or Campbell Newman.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (165)

The Daily Telegraph concealed a Galaxy showing Labor ahead in New South Wales. Of 832 voters, it reported, 57 percent said Robbo was right to resign, 23 percent said he was wrong, and 20 percent were uncommitted. No other finding of the poll was published, indicating Foley Labor will win, or come close.

Police admitted to killing Katrina Dawson, and some were angry they did not ‘go in sooner’, and an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ plan had been adopted, of ‘do not kill Monis till he kills one of us’. They waited seven minutes after his first salvo of gunfire for him to do this. They then burst in, killed him, and fired twenty or so more rounds, killing Katrina; and in their initial reports claimed Monis, not they, had killed her.

It was revealed as well they wouldn’t let Muslim leaders talk to him, or Tony Abbott either, thus increasing his frustration on this, the last day of his life, and making him more likely to kill people.

Terrified by Newspoll’s fabricated figures showing his party winning, and him losing his seat on the 31st, Campbell Newman announced 26,000 new apprenticeships, to make up for the 24,000 firemen, midwives, nurses, lifesavers and civil servants he had sacked two years ago. He would pay for these, he said, by privatising the electricity, a policy that loses all governments office wherever it is attempted in the whole wide world but he thought was ‘worth a try’.

Yesterday’s fabricated Newspoll showed Newman, sacker of nurses, ahead, somehow, on ‘Health’, by 41 percent to 36. This was done by adding a category, ‘someone else’, and also ‘uncommitted’, to the mix of parties on that question. The ‘someone else’ was probably a Green, and would add, by the look of it, 8 percent in preferences to Labor, putting them ahead by 3 percent, which is where they would be in an election. ‘We have not BEGUN to cheat,’ chuckled Murdoch in America, before his nightly sedation. ‘You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.’

Bowral police amazed no-one by tasering another drugged young man to death, his capital crime being this time stealing hamburgers, not biscuits. ‘It hadn’t occurred to us that tasering plus Ice kills people,’ one of them said. ‘Well, we know now.’ NSW police this week, it was noted, killed more people than Monis, the other being a little child they ran over in a playground. They then admitted killing Katrina Dawson. No inquiry, Baird insisted, would be called, no way, into why they were so fucking mad or if they took Ice themselves; they were doing ‘a first rate job’, he babbled. He then refused a memorial plaque in Bowral to another slaughtered innocent. ‘We will get through this,’ he added, wet-eyed. ‘We will get through this.’

Truss considered quitting, then glumly filled in for Abbott (who had ‘gone on holiday’, it was laughingly asserted) in Queensland, where he came from, and where Abbott was now ‘toxic’, according to his closest friends. He had thought of ‘Marching for Charlie’ in Paris with other world leaders, but Credlin feared the French would shoot him for having lately beseeched Europe’s leaders to ‘speak from the heart’, something they had not done since early Roman times, and bade him stay home. Book into the Steyne perhaps, reread Brideshead Revisited and eat steak and chips and drink Guinness with Baird in the back bar, and talk of the death of God, till a bushfire arrived they could fight, heroically, side by side.

Morgan showed Labor winning, federally, in Queensland with 54 percent, a swing of 18 percent from the September election last year. They needed only a 10 percent swing to win the state election. This looked pretty likely. It was not thought Newman was more popular than Abbott. He was already losing his own seat, and it was possible Queenslanders hated him even more (though this was a hard ask) than the current Prime Minister. ‘He’s more than toxic,’ said Nooman’s closest friends. ‘Leprosy, herpes, Cory Bernardi and ebola, put together, are more popular these days than the Little Sarmajor. I wish, I wish, he’d go away.’

In the middle distance, he spat on a child. They averted their eyes.

And so it went.

The Second Thousand Years

A line has been crossed, probably, with the big march in Paris of millions who support the right of cartoonists to enrage with their drawings a billion Muslims.

It is as if the Crusades are on again, and Islam is the devil, and agnostic western civilisation the hero.

Or maybe the line was crossed when a Jewish supermarket was attacked. Or when Netanyahu offered French Jews a ‘safe haven’ in Israel, mere weeks before an election there.

It has put Australian Muslims in an impossible position. They must now either support the cartoonists’ insults to the Prophet, or declare themselves the supporters of Islamic State if they do not.

A cartoonist’s right to insult a race or a religion and our anti-vilification laws cannot, after this, be on the same page if they ever were. Do we support Brandis’s ‘right to be a bigot’ declaration in the Senate? This grand march in Paris does. And it’s a worry,

It’s as if a million Muslims marched through London bearing placards that said, ‘Jesus had carnal relations with his mother’, or ‘Jesus and Judas were lovers’, and eighty thousand Anglicans tried to disrupt them. Would that march be thought an affirmation of our freedoms, or, like the freedom to shout ‘fire!’ in a crowded theatre, a liberty taken too far? Or a breach of anti-vilification laws most western countries have now?

These are perilous, perilous waters we are suddenly in. Young jobless ‘radicalised’ fools will attempt more sieges now; and ten-year-old girls will strap on more bombs and go to the supermarket. ISIL drones will blow up Westiminster Abbey, or the National Portrait Gallery, or try to.

We should have been more careful.

The second thousand years of the Crusades begins now.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (164)

Rupert Murdoch, a Liberal voter, said Muslims must take responsibility for the murderous jihadists they had ‘failed to re-educate’. This echoed his previous opinion that the Catholic Church must take responsibility for the Holocaust after a Catholic, Adolf Hitler, had ordered that crusade against ‘the evil Jew’. ‘Hitler was not excommunicated,’ he wrote at the time, ‘and the entire world-wide Catholic Communion was therefore complicit in his genocide.’ He was thought a damn fool then, as now.

Murdoch then commanded his propaganda engines Galaxy and Newspoll to print the opposite of the truth, to wit, that in Queensland Labor was leading with 52 or 53 percent; and lo, it came to pass. Some confusion, however, attended the enactment of this directive. In Newspoll, Katter’s party got 1 percent, in Galaxy 3. In Galaxy, Palmer’s party was on 3, though ReachTEL, on Tuesday, had it on 6. If it were indeed 6 the score overall would be 50-50. If KAP were on 3, it would be 52 Labor’s way. Newspoll’s sampling, moreover, was, at 801, surprisingly low, nay, suspiciously low, and it rang only landlines, though no-one under thirty has one, and everyone under fifty was out of the house, swimming or at the pictures with their children.

And what it was actually flagging by Palaszczuk’s approval, up 4, and her rating as Preferred Premier, up 3 to 38, versus Newman, down 2 to 42, was Labor ahead on 52 or 53. It seemed there were young mutineers in the Murdoch machinery, wanting to get the truth out, or hint at it.

Morgan, the accurate poll, would be out on Monday, probably; showing, probably, Labor, 2PP, on 53 or 54, having rung on mobiles the young voters who detested Newman for sacking twenty thousand midwives, nurses, firemen, lifesavers and young married civil servants. No analysis accompanied Newspoll’s bizarre contradictory figures, only a meek acknowledgement that Newman, of all people, was winning. After bookies agreed he would lose his seat, they kept the reason for this paradox deathly quiet.

Both Murdoch and Fairfax revealed that Katrina Dawson had been killed by a police ricochet. It was likely such ricochets had wounded three other hostages. Why they shot Monis many, many times, ‘twice in the head’, was not explained; nor was a picture of his shattered skull published; nor any account, yet, by surviving eyewitnesses, of what the fuck the rogue policemen thought they were up to in the nine minutes of deathly quiet between Monis’s first shot and his second. Nor what their opinion of Tony Abbott was after he refused to help them, get eight of them out by chatting, harmlessly, to the terrorist on the telephone; nor of Baird when he did not let Monis’s friend Mamdouh Habib in to reason with him, urge him to stop it, let these women go.

Though much was known of the three sieges in France four days ago and two days ago, nothing much was known of Martin Place four weeks ago. This was the Liberal Way: these were ‘on-chocolate matters’ which could not be discussed, for reasons of national security.

Some refugees Morrison had locked up for five years were released by Dutton: they were not, after all, a threat to anyone, ASIO backtracking decided, and they were free to go. They could sue Morrison for millions now. Forty more were in Villawood, two of them women, awaiting a similar ‘recall to life’, and court cases that would enrich them also, after libel actions against S&M, who had implied they were terrorists, in interview after interview, after praying for their souls.

Pyne spent eight million dollars, enough to keep two small theatres going for a thousand years on the interest alone, touting his proposed impoverishment of university students. He got his own degree free, and his house for eighty thousand. His view was they should spend two million dollars more on these advantages, and he thought he could persuade them, with advertising money, in millions, of the wisdom of this unappealing sacrifice of the next forty years of their lives.

Baird proposed a ‘permanent monument’ in Martin Place to Katrina Dawson, whose death he had done a good deal to cause. His minders boggled at his blithering stupidity, then had a hot chocolate, laced with whisky, at the Lindt.

And so it went.

Killing Katrina

‘Multiple police sources’ told Fairfax Katrina Dawson died from a police bullet, possibly a ricochet, on the morning of Tuesday, December 16. This meant Mike (‘we will get through this’) Baird had covered up, and also exploited, a young mother’s death, while stifling eyewitness accounts of a world event, in order to protect manslaughterers from public opprobrium.

It meant, in turn, that the police who tasered the bare-chested biscuit thief Roberto Curti repeatedly until he was dead, and the police who ran down a little girl in a children’s play area and so killed her, and the police who fired sixty rounds in the Lindt after their target was dead, were all of a piece and their culture should be investigated by a Royal Commission and some of them imprisoned.

It meant, too, that Abbott, who could have secured her release by taking a call from the terrorist, is implicated in her death.

Worse, though, probably, is Mike Baird, who sought to bury beneath a hectare of fresh flowers his startling administrative incompetence in a siege situation. He censored Monis’s demands, saying no-one could publish them. He refused Mamdouh Habib’s offer to negotiate with his friend Monis and get the hostages out, if he could. He refused the army’s offer to snipe him through the window. He let the police wait nine minutes after the first shot was fired, and only after Tory was killed, go in.

And he, amazingly, arranged a memorial service only twelve hours later, in a church neither corpse had gone to, without those corpses’ relatives in attendance. He was clearly in a panic, and, hanging round the field of flowers saying, ‘We will get through this; we will get through this’, and hoping it would all go away, in a state of what would have been called, in another era, ‘nervous breakdown’.

He will face, now, probably, demands from Tory’s family, and Katrina’s family, for money, in hundreds of thousands or millions, as recompense for the many mistakes he, the police and Abbott made in a situation that has many, many precedents, and is as old and familiar as the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon.

He will then have to face an election, apologising frantically, which he may not survive.

In Sixteen Words

One Cairns mother has killed more Australians on our soil than ‘terrorists’ in a hundred years.

Queensland: Another Prediction

(From Nat Bromhead)

23 days out, this is how it will roll: Newman will lose Ashgrove, without a doubt. The LNP will win government by 4 to 6 seats.

In other Nostradamus-like news, the LNP’s Jason Costigan will retain Whitsunday (and go on to become Minister for Sport). Labor’s Bronwyn Taha & surprise outsider Cap’n Dan Van Blarcom (the colourful, self-styled progressive conservative liberal democrat) will be sailing closely behind. Ahoy me hearties.

David Kempton, current Member for Cook, will pass the baton to Labor’s Billy Gordon, the future Minister for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs. Labor’s Jim Pearce will manage Mirani and independent BJ Davison will blow into Burdekin.

Mulherin would have quadrupled his 500 vote or so hold on Mackay, had he not decided to retire. As Tim’s 20-years of selfless service is simmered to nought but a sign on a stadium, Julianne Gilbert, local teacher, education advocate and patient sideliner, will secure the seat in a comfortable 1000 vote victory.

In a particularly satisfying outcome, at dawn on February 1 Chris Foley will be waiting outside his old Lennox St office. Anne Maddern, the particularly bitter temporary Member for Maryborough, will morph back to that town’s Meals on Wheels and, hey hey chicken dinner, everyone’s a winner.

Kerry Millard, LNP seat warmer of Sandgate, gets to reacquaint with her pet interests of ‘animals & photography’ as former & future minister Stirling Hinchliffe, who made the seaside switch from Stafford, awakens from his sabbatical. With a 17 per cent by-election swing in neighbouring Redcliffe, Stirling’s achievement could soon be safely celebrated.

Numerous other seats will be swapped and some results, unlike Ashgrove, will be drawn out for days. The first George Street sitting will be like day 1 at a new school in a far-distant town of another state.

An ugly ‘OK, so who’s gonna be Premier’ battle will ensue, with Seeney, Springborg & Nicholls nutting it out. Springborg will probably get the gig (as per Bob Ellis’s #1 law – power flows to the most boring man in the room).

Despite three fantastically formative years and a magnificent fightback, Palaszczuk’s position will be up for grabs. The victor, Jackie Trad, will lead a robust, reinvigorated opposition and one by one, as they do, members of government will fall.

Within a year some of the 3 independents along with a Katter, John Bjelke-Palmer and sole Greens MP (Omar Ameer, proud Member for Mt Coot-tha), will form an unlikely alliance.

This will pivot upon a deal between said Green and Shadow Environment Minister Kate Jones deciding to harmoniously work for the betterment of the Reef, at the most crucial time since settlement.

Just a term and a bit after the party could share-ride a maxi-taxi with a stranger, Labor, again, will govern.

After Two Polls, A Queensland Prediction

(1) Wednesday’s ReachTEL poll, properly deciphered, shows Labor easily winning Queensland on January 31.

Its published result is 50-50, but it is based on the 2012 distribution of Palmer, Green and ‘other’ preferences, which favoured Newman more than they would now. Labor on 38.1 plus Green on 7.6 plus Palmer on 6.3 plus ‘other’ on 7.7 would add up, probably, to Labor on 52.5 two party preferred, LNP on 47.5 and a comfortable Palaszczuk majority.

And it could be more than that. Only landlines were rung, and only those respondents willing to talk, on Tuesday night, to a machine. A similar methodology in 2013 had Rudd, Swan, Clare, Burke, Bowen and Dreyfus losing their seats. Add in even a 1 percent sampling error to this, and the Labor vote is on 53.5, two party preferred.

To the question, ‘Do you think the LNP has done enough to deserve re-election?’, 33.2 percent of 18-34 year olds answer yes, 34 percent of 35-50 year olds, 39.6 percent of 51-65 year olds, and only 54.8 of over 65 year olds; 38.3 percent of men, and 33.5 percent of women.

More importantly, only 34.3 percent of regional people think it does, and 52.2 percent think not. This means, pretty much, that the LNP ‘heartland’ is gone, voting, possibly, Palmer, or Hanson, or Katter. These three parties command between them 14 percent, and the Greens 7.6 percent. On ReachTEL, which so comprehensively underestimated the anti-LNP vote in 2013..

Which points to Labor on 53.

(2) Today’s Galaxy is, I suspect, a not unusual instance of Murdoch fraud. It shows a 1 percent vote for Palmer, a hundred and fifty thousand less votes, that is, than his party got on ReachTEL on Tuesday; and a paradoxical gain for Palaszczuk as preferred Premier, up 6 percent to 38, with Newman on only 42, a figure no leader has won with in a century.

Deciphered, this probably means, distributing Palmer preferences more to Labor than they were in 2013 federally, 51.5 percent to Labor two party preferred, and a narrow Labor win. As usual, the respondents were on landlines, octogenarians at home on cheap movie night and on midsummer nights when the young and the middle-aged were still at the beach. The ‘mobile phone factor’ then brings Labor’s vote up to 53 , and a clear win on the 31st.

If, of course, the ‘Queensland factor’ is not also in play, This won Hanson eleven seats, defying all the polls, in 1997, and 25 percent of the vote. It could perform a similar trick this time for Palmer; or Katter; or (even) Hanson. The present 13 percent for ‘others’ shows a good deal of this (they can’t be all Cunningham nostalgics), as do the 5 percent ‘uncommitted’, a hundred thousand people.

Galaxy has a good record of accuracy on election day; but, before then, plays funny-buggers in a famous, practised Murdoch way, as the Fox News polling did in 2012, showing Romney ahead, or competitive, in the USA.

It’s important Labor people don’t take his latest fraud seriously. If Palaszczuk is now 3 percent up on where she was last time, when Labor’s vote was 50, then it’s likely her party is too.

That’s 53 percent. And my call for election day.

If Morgan shows otherwise, I will reconsider,

And we will see what we shall see.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (163)

Lying, The Daily Telegraph editorial said ‘Dark Horse Foley Faces Uphill Battle’ though it had printed on an earlier page a Galaxy showing Labor, on 46, two percent away from government, in a poll that called the landlines only (and no-one under thirty has one) of those not out swimming or shopping or cinema-going last Tuesday and Wednesday night — a difference, probably, of 2 percent, and enough for Foley to win government by.

Sri Lanka overthrew its tyrant and thus made it likely that Abbott, Bishop and Morrison would be implicated in his war crimes against Tamils, some of whom S&M had sent back to be tortured or killed after their kidnapping by his pirates, and a rapid assessment of their suitability as refugee immigrants that lasted, sometimes, only minutes. He, and they, would be called before the ICC soon, it was now likely, and condemned by that world body.

Newman begged Abbott to stay out of Queensland, and it seemed he might not turn up for the funeral of eight murdered children in Cairns to speak of the hope this tragedy brought to all Australians, the way he does. A fabricated Galaxy poll showed Newman gaining  3 percent but losing, curiously, 3 percent to Palaszczuk as preferred Premier, and Palmer getting only 1 percent though ReachTEL showed him on 6.5, and the LNP losing its regional heartland to Labor, and Newman losing his seat, like Howard, after only two and three quarter years in parliament. It gave some Liberals hope that Murdoch would stick with them till January 31st; but, after that, if Newman lost, along with the LNP, all bets were off.

Gerard Henderson, a Liberal voter, said there was ‘no causal relationship’ between the unemployment, in France, of youth with Arab surnames and their propensity to terrorism; that terrorism, he said, was because, and only because, ‘the jihadists all hate freedom of expression, the heathen swine’. Gerard, who hates the freedom of expression of those who mock his deity Jesus, whom he eats on Sundays after drinking his blood, seemed a little flummoxed when defending Le Pen and her anti-Semitism, saying she was not like her father and hated Jews ‘only slightly’. He said jihadists proposed to establish an Islamist state in Australia, and we should be ‘very vigilant’. ‘Poor soul,’ his hospice nurse whispered. ‘I fear he’s not long for this world.’ She crossed herself and removed his bedpan, sighing.

Janet Albrechtsen, a Liberal voter, said after many, many days of interviewing her wizened, compassionate, magnanimous, short-arse hero, ‘John Howard does not dwell on the past, he concentrates on the future.’ This may have been because he helped cause, in the past, an unjust war that killed or displaced six million people — and is killing fifty a week even now — on the basis of some forged, enfeebled evidence of atomic bombs that Saddam Hussein, he thought, was concealing in the sand and not using on his enemies. In the past too he lost, somehow, his own safe seat, and he didn’t like to think of that. He favoured the Birthday Ballot too, the abolition of Medicare, the sacking of Utzon, and boycotting the Olympics because they were in Moscow. He didn’t like to think of any of that.

‘Howard’s legacy only grows stronger,’ the silly woman said. She did not mention what that legacy was. Denying IVF to lesbians? Giving Doug Moran the mortgages of the houses of the demented? Killing all seven Bakhtiyaris? Saying there would ‘never, ever’ be a GST, then claiming a ‘mandate’ for it with a vote of 48 percent? The choice was very large. It was wondered if this long-necked, beautiful woman believed a word of what she was writing. This mattered very little to Rhys Muldoon. He was keen to fuck her still, poor man; poor man.

Malcolm Mackerras, an enduring fool, who has been wrong in ninety-two percent of his election predictions, published a Queensland ‘Pendulum’, and predicted Labor, on 46 percent, would win twenty-nine seats, and the LNP, on 54 percent, fifty-five seats, that Newman would lose his seat, and Springborg be Premier by February 3.

He made one pundit, Bob Ellis, tremendously certain Labor would win easily.

And so it went.

Rod Taylor

It is worth noting that Rod Taylor had Bryan Brown’s voice, and a hint of his jawline, and a birthplace, Lidcombe, not far from Panania. His role as Scobie Malone, the outback tough cop, in The High Commissioner, was a Brownish one, and his Young Cassidy, based on the brawling Irish playwright Sean O’Casey.

Elsewhere he was an always terrific actor. One sees him with surprise in Gore Vidal’s A Catered Affair, as Debbie Reynold’s fiance; as Doris Day’s unwittingly bigamous husband in The Glass Bottomed Boat, a rapid remake of the movie Marilyn Monroe died on; and, co-starring with Burton and Taylor (whom he reputedly fucked) in The VIPs as the beleaguered and baffled Australian businessman beloved by his secretary, Maggie Smith, who asks Burton, a total stranger, for a million pounds to save him, and gets it. One remembers him in The Time Machine, a role tailor-made for David Niven, but not how good he was; and, in Sunday In New York, in a role fit for Cary Grant, outclassing his co-stars, Jane Fonda and Cliff Robertson.

He played, persuasively, Jackie Kennedy’s alcoholic father Jack Bouvier, too drunk on her wedding day to turn up at the church and give her away, and, less so, Winston Churchill in Inglorious Basterds. He did not manage, like Doris, Rock, Tony Randall, George Segal, a television show of his own, though he appeared in some episodes of, notably, Murder, She Wrote. He, maybe, maybe, drank too much. It’s possible.

He had that rare quality, male grace, which he shared with Finch, Caine, Kline, Kostner, Sheen. He came back to Australia only twice, for The Picture Show Man, which had to be hastily rewritten because he had lost his Australian accent and couldn’t easily find it again, and the entirely detestable Welcome to Woop Woop, by Stephan Elliott.

Like Finch, McKern and Crowe, he was too long gone from our shores.

And it’s a pity.

Certain Housekeeping Matters (142)

I am chastened by, in particular, Helvi.

Heather and Dr Liz can come back.

I ask them to see The Water Diviner before they talk about it, or Crowe, or war trauma again.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (162)

Abbott made no comment when Palestine joined the ICC, thus offending all Muslim nations. Two of these, Egypt and Indonesia, held Australian prisoners Abbott wanted pardoned. He bucketed Indonesia’s legal system, then gulped and said he hadn’t. Bishop had previously bucketed Egypt’s, thus ensuring Peter Greste would get, maybe, seven years in gaol, then beseeched the good judge to change his mind, while bucketing Palestine also.

Palmer said Newman called the election to avoid being rolled by his party on Monday. Foley was preselected unopposed. For the twenty-fifth day, no eyewitness accounts of the Lindt Cafe siege were published or broadcast, though thousands were of the Paris Cartoonists Massacre. This was like there being no accounts of 9/11 till 9/30.

It was thought we had to stand up for ‘freedom of speech’ everywhere, though three thousand Gazans killed for their dissident opinions (Israel should not exist) in June had not been, thus far, among that universal freedom’s beneficiaries. Nor were any ‘firebrand’ mullahs in Bankstown or teenage friends of ISIL in Lakemba. ‘All men are born equal,’ George Orwell might have written with south-west Sydney in mind, ‘but some are more equal, in freedoms, than others.’

Candles were lit for the dead cartoonists, and that murderer of cartoonists, Assad, aggressively supported by American drones and area bombers although he had killed two hundred thousand of ‘his own people’ for holding opinions, in a wave of history once called ‘the Arab Spring’, other than his own. Policemen turned their backs on a New York mayor who had said shooting unarmed teenagers was unfair and it was thought they would shoot him also soon. Freedom of speech was being tested for sure, and it was not winning.

Abbott attacked Gillian Triggs for her humanist opinions, and for enacting with her judgment UN law. ‘The UN can go to buggery,’ he is said to have said. ‘Here in Australia we live by the edicts of our Obergruppenfuhrer, Scott Morrison, pirate, abuser of children and avid threatener of pregnant women. We bow our heads to his wisdom, and Ban Ki-Moon can go hang.’

Andrew Robb came out for the GST. Campbell Newman said, ‘Elect me now because, I assure you, the economy will turn round in August. Would I lie to you?’ It was remembered he had when he said no-one would lose their jobs before sacking twenty thousand midwives, nurses, firemen and civil servants and his plea seemed not a little strange. Queensland waited, not too breathlessly, for Glen Lazarus to release his report, A Comprehensive Compendium Of Campbell’s Contemptible Criminality, to the chuckling assembled Senate a few weeks earlier than previously planned, and fling the shrieking culprit in the cells below, in the Queensland manner, on election eve.

Abbott noted there were eight dead children in Cairns, and determined to go there, and seem a good fellow by attending the funeral and explaining, no doubt, to their surviving extended family why these children were presently burning in Hell. It was part, some said, of what was lately becoming known as his ‘Death Cult Politics’: learning where fresh corpses were, and mourning along with adjacent communities a terrible, multiple bereavement. In some cases he spent millions of dollars bringing corpses home, or, in the case of MH 370, nearly a billion dollars finding not a skerrick of any corpses in three oceans.

He was becoming, some pundits said, ‘very creepy, like a nineteenth century grave-robber who sells cadavers to medical schools, or to mad experimenting professors like Dr Frankenstein’. He did not murder any of his own children, they emphasised, but he had, amazingl, sent what he believed was his only begotten son into exile in Perth, far from his weeping mother’s caresses. And this, perhaps, was part of why he was in Cairns. It was nothing to do, he emphasised, with the Queensland election, which Newman wanted him nowhere near. They would pose together over eight small coffins; but after that, hopefully, he would never see him again.

And so it went.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (161)

Terrorists killed some cartoonists, journalists, editors and police in Paris and drove away shouting ‘God is great!’ in a stolen car. Within minutes, there were eyewitness statements on television. In Sydney, by contrast, a terrorist had killed a hostage and fell in gunfire that killed another hostage after a day-and-night-long siege and international attention, but there were no eyewitness statements for three and a half weeks.

On orders from some government agency, the dramatic events of sixteen hours were being suppressed, it seemed, in all media. It was wondered why this was. That the PM had refused to talk to the terrorist, though begged to by two female hostages? That the terrorist’s wife was with him, and had got away? That a sniper had a clear shot at him, and Baird forbade it? That the terrorist, guilty of several crimes, in Iran and Australia, had been for fifteen years on an ASIO retainer? That Katrina Dawson’s family was waiting for a money settlement, from the government whose dumb-arse people had killed her? It was hard to say. Only one thing was certain: Kate McClymont would not be looking into it. She was a Liberal voter.

Abbott was in the Middle East, but refused to go Egypt to plead for Peter Greste. He flew instead to the Adelaide Hills, and talked there not about the bushfires, and how his climate change stance in the light of them was ludicrous, but of the events in Paris, which he said ‘could happen in Australia’; and would happen, he hoped, very soon. He then advised the public to forget he had said that, and ‘carry on as usual’, and ‘not encourage the terrorists’; the way he does.

The bookies had Campbell Newman losing his seat, despite the three thousand dollars per constituent he had spent on it, using taxpayers’ money. And it was wondered by the voters who the fuck they were voting for. Murdoch columnists were quiet; and only Gary Johns, once a Labor MP, dared a prediction.

Newman would lose his seat, he said, and the leaderless LNP win government. This was because a swing more than ten percent was ‘unthinkable’. There had, though, been a seventeen percent swing in two byelections. ‘Unthinkable,’ he repeated, counting his Judas money, which he has for a decade now.

It was pretty clear Murdoch would switch soon. In The Daily Telegraph, there was praise for both Baird and Foley — ‘the next generation’, they were called by Christopher Brown — lest Rupert morph overnight into a born-again Foleyite, and famed heads roll.

Abbott fled the Adelaide bushfires and within three hours ‘turned up’ in the SCG commentary box overlooking the final Test. He was a better sledger than batsman, he matily admitted, and said he became a ‘cricket captain and social secretary’ when he was ‘up at Oxford’ because it meant he could drink beer in the pavilion when other Poms (and he remains a Pom) couldn’t do so in the local pubs. ‘The safest place for a glass of beer,’ he said, ‘was behind the stumps when I was bowling.’ The ABC bade him please go away, and he obediently, snickering, heh heh, did so. They with difficulty contained their revulsion, and returned their attention to the game, which India immediately began to win.

Abbott said those who had lost everything in bushfires could have, with no strings attached, a thousand dollars. With this they might, say, buy George Brandis a meal with expensive wine, and, after talking to him for an hour or two about the brave new Australia where billions more would be spent by him on ‘anti-terrorist vigilance’ and none on bushfire prevention, go back to the motel and shoot themselves.

And so it went.

Australia Will Be There: Rusty’s War

Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner is remarkable on many levels, Conradian, Koestlerian, Tolstoyan, and he seems as a director already as good as Polanski, Wajda, Kurosawa, Peckinpah, Spielberg, Eastwood, Sims. But this is not all one should say about it.

Crowe’s own presence in it, his broad, bearded, fiftyish face already as mythic, in Australia, as John Wayne’s in America, his tranquil baritone reading The Arabian Nights to sons already dead as deep and centred as Tony Barry’s or Bob Brown’s, adds volumes to a story of already Aeschylean force. You can hear him thinking, responding. You feel what he’s feeling. Like Tommy Lee Jones in In The Valley Of Elah, he is on a Quest beyond his dead sons’ cadavers and their memory, and you go with him on that journey. He is a water-diviner; he is telepathic; he can sense where some things are. He knows what happened under his feet. ‘They’re here,’ he says. ‘They’re here.’

More men died on Gallipoli in 1915 than in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden put together. As a human calamity it ranks with the tsunami, with Leningrad, almost with Ruanda. Weir and Williamson’s Gallipoli gave us no great sense of this. It was more like a Boy’s Own adventure, set for a while, for some reason, in the comical Australian desert; and it feels, now, to some of us, thirty years on, as fallacious and vapid as the Cenotaph rhetoric of John Howard: ‘If we don’t stop them there, they’ll soon be here’; ‘Race you to the pyramids’. Jeremy Hartley Sims’ Beneath Hill 60, by contrast, from another theatre of war, is a worthy impelling rival; still, I think, Australia’s best film, but, after this, only narrowly.

And yet…and yet…despite brief battle scenes as good as the opening minutes of Spielberg’s Lincoln; despite landscapes as vast and haunting as John Ford’s; despite fast-dissolving montages as accomplished as Dede Allen’s; despite characters as depressed and complex as Kieslowski’s; and despite a central performance that ranks with the best of Depardieu, Smoktunovsky, Brando, Seymour Hoffman, the film falters now and then, pulling back from the edge of conclusive greatness where it hovers for most of its length; and it’s a pity.

Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight wrote the script, and it’s possible one or other of them proposed the ‘Hollywood’ elements in it; more likely, I think, that Rusty did. There’s an absurdly beautiful Turkish widow in it, Ayshe, beautiful as a catwalk model in Milan, or (what she is), a James Bond girl. Olga Kurylenko in this role — widowed; Europeanised; defiantly convinced her Turkish husband, killed by Australians, is not dead; assuring her little son he will be back; beset by a violent brother-in-law who wants her as his ‘second wife’ — is unsettlingly modern, glamorous, out of style, anachronistic even, like Sophia Loren in a fifties romantic comedy. And one fidgets when she is on the screen.

Another worry is…well, I shouldn’t spoil it for you. But the last twenty minutes are more like Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid than they really ought to be. They grip and convince all the way to the end but leave you in retrospect, in the foyer afterwards, a little, just a little, resentful.

Yilmaz Erdogan, as Major Hasan, the Turkish commander, now a War Graves bureaucrat who might have killed Rusty’s sons, has the dignity, probity and battle-seared calm that, say, Anthony Quinn might have had in the same role. Jai Courtney, as Cyril Hughes, the Australian survivor, now a curator — ‘I can’t forgive any of us’ — has magnetic, soul-burnt authority beyond his years. And there are other male roles, James Fraser’s especially, Daniel Herriman’s, Dan Wyllie’s, played equally well. I imagine they were in ‘Boot Camp’ with Rusty for a while. That would have been interesting.

How many of those hundred and thirty thousand died in vain? Well, the seventy thousand Turks didn’t. They saved their country from the infidel invader. They made prominent their country’s eventual messiah, Ataturk, who modernised it, secularised it, brought the beginnings of democracy to it. But the sixty thousand British, Aussies, Kiwis, Indians, Tongans, Fijians? No. They died in vain. They gained as much ground as there is between Wynyard and Circular Quay and then lost it. And they slunk away on Christmas Eve in boats in falling snow in the silent dark, ordered out by Whitehall eight months, and fifty thousand lives, too late.

They left behind them their Dempsey, Gershwin, Babe Ruth, Hemingway, Durante, Bing Crosby, Picasso. Their civilisations never recovered. It was a terrible, terrible fuck-up; nearly abandoned three times and then persisted with. The wrong beach; the failure to link up with the Poms the following day; the telegram from Churchill, calling it off, misunderstood by a boy on a ship and swiftly discarded. And so it went.

Rusty brings all that back as no-one thus far ever has. Like a War Crimes Trial, he tells us all that we do not want to hear; or see. Its equivalent, I suppose, is Clint Eastwood’s Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima, a great battle told from both sides.

And it must, it must, be seen.

The Three Worst Things The Liberals Did Yesterday (160)

Abbott said we would fight in Iraq to stop ISIL coming to Australia. Bishop said she didn’t know what he was talking about; ‘no request has been received,’ she said, pissed off. It was noted that Abbott was keener for others to fight in the Middle East than he himself was in Martin Place, where a chat with a ‘terrorist’ might have saved lives. An ISIL terrorist. A chat. With him. Tony Abbott.

Newman told him to stay the fuck out of Queensland, where his campaign was already in trouble. Since he himself would lose his seat, he was asked by the media, who would be Premier? Palaszczuk, he said, since I will have lost my seat and therefore the election. No, no, they said, you lose in a five percent swing, she wins in in a ten percent swing, can’t you add? He angrily refused to answer this question. Springborg’s Ghost loomed behind his shoulder, like Banquo in Act IV.

Abbott stayed in the Middle East, fearing Australia, where bushfires were singeing his credibility, and so was the news of the world’s hottest year, 2014; and so was the memory, in Brisbane, of Obama praising the Barrier Reef, which Newman was proposing to destroy; ‘an impertinence’, Abbott’s people said.

In the Middle East, things were simpler. The price of oil was plummeting, for a start. This meant Australians had more money to spend, and the Hockey budget was even more unjustified. It meant country people with cars could drive to shops, and spend money there. What a pity there were not more jobs in country towns, Hockey having abolished most local industries. Just when the dollar was down to 80 cents, and that sector might have flourished.

Abbott seemed not to notice that news could not be hidden any more. The social media were revealing, for instance, that Katrina Dawson was, probably, killed by fool policemen Baird could have handled better, or replaced with army snipers. This cock-up could not be stifled any more. It was a new age.

Lying, the Financial Review editorialist said, ‘Mike Baird…will go to the polls in NSW with his popularity undimmed by his party’s heavy casualties at the hands of the ICAC’ — a tremendous untruth. For the IPSOS poll showed in December the Baird Coalition scoring just 51 percent against Robbo Labor, two party preferred, an 11 percent swing against his government, and enough to lose him power, Carr having won it with 48 percent against a Liberal Party whose vote was crammed into a few rich northern suburbs.

Now Robbo was gone; and it was not known yet what Foley’s arrival would do, or his opposition to the sale of the poles and wires, in a state that has been, for decades, against privatisations of any sort and inclined to throw out any government that enacts them; or Foley’s record as a Left-faction ‘cleanskin’ in a party stained by Right ministerial crookedness; but not as stained as Baird’s, which had lost to bribe allegations ten MPs and a party president, $inodino$, and a former Premier, O’Farrell, a Turramurra householder more ignorant of wine than almost any other — suddenly, to much amazement, last April. But the Morgan poll, the accurate one, would come in soon, and we would see what we would see.

Ian McDonald, an LNP Senator, said his gang had won a ‘mandate’ in 1998 to bring in a ‘broad-based GST’ of ten percent on everything. In that year, however, Howard had actually lost the numerical vote, scoring 400,000 less votes than Beazley, and thus got no mandate, no mandate at all; for anything. Abbott, cringeing, said it was all right to talk about it, but it wouldn’t happen in this term, and it anyway couldn’t happen ‘unless all of the states and territories, including the Labor states and territories, agree.’

This of course was a lie. The GST was a federal government act, and could be amended at any time by a subsequent act of that government, or any other, consulting no adjacent body, and requiring no agreement from anyone except, perhaps, Clive Palmer.

Lies upon lies upon lies.

And so it went.

Campbell’s Gamble

(First published by Independent Australia)

Newman’s move is a tremendous cheat, of course – many, many people, in particular students, will not get on to the electoral rolls by Saturday; a goodly number are not even in Australia – and it may well keep his party in power. But it’s possible it won’t, and it’s worthwhile reasoning why.

The LNP is a new party, and this is only its second outing. There was a fourteen percent swing to it, three years ago, and there’s a thirteen percent swing away from it now, according to Galaxy, a Murdoch poll. But it’s likely the swing is greater than that. A Bjelke-Petersen is the figurehead of another cashed-up conservative party. A Katter is running elsewhere, and Pauline Hanson herself, and the federal Senate is investigating Newman’s criminality. It’s unlikely those Senate findings will go unleaked.

There is also the matter of the people Newman sacked – nurses, firemen, public servants – after saying he wasn’t going to. Given the million voters that Abbott lost by a similar turnaround swearing jobs would be safe, and savaging the ABC, SBS, the universities and the submarine factories – it may well go harder with Newman, who has an uglier personality.

It is certain, pretty much, that Newman will lose his seat. And this poses a difficulty: Who, then, are the voters electing? Springborg, maybe. Seeney. Who knows?

It is Labor’s habit to imagine they ‘won’t quite make it’, in an election that, properly managed, could be a shoo-in. ‘Too many seats to win’ sounds like a convincing assessment, but only for a while, until you realise Palmer can win ten seats, Katter eight, Hanson two, and this leaves Labor only…seventeen to win if they are to form, in an uneasy coalition, a government that may last a year or so. Seventeen is not that hard. Twenty-five is not that hard.

We will know more when the Morgan Poll comes in. It is accurate; and it has lately shown Labor, federally, to be on 54.5, two party preferred, in Queensland. Though ‘two party preferred’ is next to meaningless in a state with five parties as plausible contenders, it is an indication.

It is an indication of how unpopular the tory parties are, especially after the world’s hottest year, and a ‘climate change is bullshit’ Prime Minister upbraiding Obama, of all people, for bringing the subject up.

And it is hard to see how Campbell Newman is more popular than Abbott. Which means, under normal conditions, 53 or 54 percent, two party preferred, for Labor on January 31.

Let us hope, sincerely hope, enough Labor voters get on to the rolls by Saturday.

At The Year’s Turning

(First published by Independent Australia)

Abbott found himself more welcome in Baghdad than the Adelaide Hills last weekend, and nervously promised them money he was taking away from soldiers’ orphans, the disabled, and the old in his adopted country, Australia, a stupid thing to do.

Is there a pattern to his incompetence, or is he merely splashing around in a whirlpool of 2010 hyperbole that is slowly sucking him down?

‘Trawling for corpses’ is one of his themes. In the Indian Ocean, in the Ukraine, in the waters off Tasmania, he is spending a billion dollars in quests for the dead that might have been spent on the living, much like the relics of the saints his Church paid big money for in the Middle Ages, sacred objects in body-bags, coming home, coming home.

‘Punishing the sick’ is another. His refusal to send in willing doctors to battle Ebola in Africa; his redefinition of ‘disabled’; his insistence on old women paying seven, or twenty-one, dollars a week to see a doctor their taxes funded for the last thirty years; his lifting of the pension age, and his cuts to hospital funding in tens of billions, indicate a healthy, muscular, sadistic male who jogs every morning, and rides most days, does push-ups, works barbells, disdaining those with less healthy lifestyles and putting the boot into them.

‘Last Post politics’ seems to be another. If there’s a war on anywhere he wants to be in it. If there’s an anniversary of some tragedy he wants to speak at it. If there’s a Cathedral sermon for crash victims he wants to be its compere. Walking behind coffins, proclaiming that death brings us together, and God knows what he’s doing, and it all has a purpose, suits his mindset, formed as it was in a crucifictive death cult, Christianity, whose slaughtered Messiah brings comfort, somehow, to the relatives of the recently dead; no longer alleges they will see them again, but merely that we will remember them.

He has stubbed his toe, however, on a recent opportunity, in the Lindt Cafe, to save some lives. The ‘terrorist’ asked to speak to him on the telephone and he would not take the call, and two people died subsequently. The survivors’ dismay has been stifled by police requests, but the story will come out, sooner or later, of how aggravated they were that he made no attempt to save them, or let Mamdouh Habib save them either, lest a Muslim that day be a hero.

Luke Foley is Leader in New South Wales today, and Jay Weatherill a calming hero of a terrible fire-season in another state, and it is clear as never before that Labor can win in both New South Wales and Queensland, and Hockey is a dud, and Morrison a monster, and Andrews a joke, and Pyne a spent skyrocket, and Abbott…a very puzzling figure, very like the classic ‘loser’ in classic American films, Fast Eddie, a man with talent but no character.

He is facing the new year now, and he will not, I think, survive it as Prime Minister.