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.