A long night of constipation at the end of which I give birth to a column of cement at 5.30. I am asleep by 6 and at 6.20 drilling begins, and the hellcat sisters on jackhammers, or something near jackhammers, make sure I am thereafter awake and frantic, and defending, for some reason, Eddie McGuire on the blog and cursing Adam Goodes.
I pack, and repack, and lose things, and shower, and lose my car-keys, and pack and check out, avoiding verbal violence, and get in the Volvo, become lost on a freeway and seem to be near Yass when I turn back.
I achieve Parliament House at 9.15, go in the main entrance and am found to be carrying a saw-toothed long knife — which has got through the Reps’ entrance twice — zipped up in my bag. It is confiscated, and I am warned not to kill anybody by other means, and Viv signs me in. In the bookshop is no copy of my book, though Costello’s memoir is prominently placed.
I settle in Aussie’s, eat yoghurt with coca cola, confer with Craig Thomson on a secret matter, write lots of lines.
On the television is the Russian News in Russian, with cyrillic subtitles. I eat a banana, and realise I can change the channel, seize the instrument, and do so.
Gillard is in a school, and looking relaxed and warm and radiant. She has just got the ACT to sign up to Gonski, and speaks of her dead father giving his organs to science.
A headline crawling underneath her says Abbott has gone back on the electoral funding deal.
Soon there is a headline, ‘Abbott’s credibility shredded’, by Mark Kenny in the smh. I read amazed, then offer the following lines on my blog to Glllard, or anyone.
‘There is more and more evidence that the Liberal Party can’t make up its mind. It’s divided on the baby bonus, the pregnancy bonus, Gonski, the fast train, the electoral reforms, Global Warming, the monarchy, the republic, the surplus, the deficit, the national educational standard and the morning-after Pill. They’ve changed their minds on all these things. Who knows on September 14 which half of the schizophrenia you’ll be electing; and how long it’ll last.’
The mood has palpably changed. Is this the tipping point?
McTernan appears in the coffee queue and I walk, or shamble, with him the half mile to the lift. He is what Tynan called an Imposer, one whose disapproval you fear, and I stammer out my proposed ‘schizophrenia’ speech, walking sideways. He gives it some heed, revolves it, then forgets it, probably; and, emphasising there’s more good news coming, signals the conversation is over and walks on.
A ructious Question Time with many throwings-out, Shorten warned and Morrison ejected, bizarrely, in mid-question. Swanny’s earnest righteous defence of good policy and good numbers is more convincing today, and more compelling than ever before. Today it seems more true. The faces behind Abbott are dismal. It is to do, perhaps, with his visible yearning for the old brontosauran union-bullied Labor Party Ferguson mourned and their twitchy Papist leader antiphonally wept for. It showed they were following — and saluting — a stranger, a spy, a secret agent, a puffed-up, strutting cuckoo, a sheep in wolf’s clothing, they knew not where.
He had kept from them, it seemed, the deal he had made — and signed — on electoral money (33 cents per annum per voter to the person you voted for, shock horror) and was threatened by his caucus and, creepily, turned around. And here he is, exposed as a welsher, a shirker, a double-dealer, a forger of a signature that blurred on the page as the ink spread, as it was meant to.
And we will win now. The shadow line has been passed. We have achieved, improbably, lift-off.
I am greeted by Sam Dastiyari, Craig’s betrayer, in the hall, and he smiles at me, and Abbott runs by in his track suit, smaller, head down, diminished, receding down the corridor. Dastiyari asks if he’s allowed to do that. Phillip Coorey says it might be unwise to ask him to stop.
I go to the office and pack my things; and say to anyone who will listen a variant on the following:
‘To win the war you have to win battles. And Abbott has lost eighteen battles on the trot. He lost Broadband. He lost the very fast train. He lost, or drew, round one of Gonski. He lost round two when O’Farrell signed up to it. He lost gay marriage when Spain, France, Britain, New Zealand adopted it. He lost the morning-after-Pill, again, when it suddenly re-emerged. He lost, or drew, the battle of NDIS. He lost when Hockey said the adjective ‘disabled’ might have to be redefined. He lost when the Vic young Turks proposed to privatise the ABC. He lost when he gave up the Baby Bonus. He lost when he said in his Reply that Gonski was gone., and Pyne said it was a con. He lost when the ACT signed up to it. And he lost when he was rolled on the electoral funding (33 cents a year to someone you love, shock horror) . And he lost when he wept for Ferguson and called Labor a ‘great party’.
And somewhere in there he lost the status of a certain winner.
And he shrank and became diminished, and foolish-looking, and creepy, and not a little mad.
And so it goes.’
Tom Cameron walks me all the way down to the carpark, talking affectionately. It is good, but I am hoping yo get to Gatsby in 3D in Goulburn and must rush now.I get lost in Canberra and lose ten more minutes.
What a week. It was the week it all fell down for the Liberals. Turnbull will be moving soon. Gillard has achieved, at long last, after nearly three years, blast-off.
Gatsby is in 2D and so horrible, and ill-cast, and ill-written, and … Bazzy, I leave after twenty minutes. I walk to the Paragon,’which I seem to be have been eating in since before I was born, and have oysters kilpatrick and vegetarian pizza.
I am greeted warmly by Jim, at the accustomed motel, and he listens gravely when I tell him Abbott’s finished. Who are these people I talk of, he wonders, nodding. Why do I care so much?
He gives me a carton of milk, which I spill all over myself on the way to room 2.
I turn on the television, and am soon asleep.