Canberra Diary, Wednesday

11.50 am

Viv is busy, and I wait half an hour for Tom and his luscious tall non-smoking girlfriend Claire to come down and sign me in.

I immediately see Larry Hand smoking in the courtyard. He sees me, and flinches out of sight.

I go to Aussie’s and Larry, who has been somehow by a process I cannot readily comprehend teleported, is in the queue and buys me coffee, refusing emolument, and sits somewhere else, avoiding my eye. Perhaps he has lost my book while drinking heavily, or read some of it and been repulsed by its Keynesian fervour. It is a mystery. Windsor is there, and I give him the book which he demands I inscribe. The ink runs.

Craig Thomson has come in, seems pleased I have met his parents and seems not, as I have heard, suicidal. He needs a compere for his benefit, whose date has moved, and I suggest Muldoon, Littlemore, Biggins or Mike Carlton. It will be interesting to see what their view of him is. We agree, as well, on some students polling 800 locals before there is a Labor candidate. I must work on this.

3.40 pm

An enflamed Question Time, with Pyne attempting to interrogate a Labor backbencher under an obscure, ill-tested House rule and Albo saying it was unconstitutional, and Gillard, looking terrific, with lively argumentativeness jeering at Abbott’s crude, raucous levity about ‘national security’ and his ‘ripping money away’ from Westie schoolkids to pay 75,000 dollars to rich, pregnant Lindfield wives. Behind him, it is dawning on his loyal troops, at last, at last, that they could lose.

Afterwards, an astonishing trio of speeches. Martin Ferguson, foreboding the end of his years in parliament, proud of his part in the seismic shift of the Hawke-Keating-Kelty years of the social wage and the expanded economy, sorry for the good men and women put of work in the industries that were thus made redundant, and grateful to his parents Jack and Laura who were here in parliament when he was first sworn in, and had now ‘passed on’, read a good speech very, very well. Then Gillard, off the cuff, gave a great parliamentary speech of thanks for his career though it included an attempt to assassinate her.

Then Abbott, amazingly, topped both of them, evoking his deep respect for ‘Labor traditions’, and the great heart of a good party, saying sorry for decrying, in the past, his place in ‘Labor royalty’, and going near tears at the loss of him.

Overtired; yes. Distracted; yes. False; no. It was one of what I call his ‘truth burps’, which he cannot, sometimes, contain. He breaks through the cellophane and says what he feels. It is why I liked him so much for a couple of years: a Scott Fitzgerald ‘romantic readiness’ to spill over into self-destruction. He did it, I think, out of hatred for the dishonest game he was in. He is (I think) a true DLP man still, and hates the sneering jackal he has become.

6.10 pm

Viv rings and wants me to come to Aussie’s and comfort her. Her father-in-law is dying, her husband Peter distraught, her own father’s octogenarian companion stricken with cancer, and she asks how you deal with death, Ellis, what do you do.

Sleep, I say. Put, with sleep, three thicknesses of glass between you and the dread moment when you heard the news. Forgive yourself for neglecting them in their last years. We all do that- write something down and read it to them, whether they can hear you or not. Say it to them. Think of them after the funeral as being ‘unavailable for interview’, no more than that.

6.30 pm

I get an email saying Don’ O Kim is dead, and in a phone call hear Tom Manefield, knocked down by a truck in the rain at eighty-seven, is too. Kim’s funeral is tomorrow at 9 am in Kings Cross and I can’t be there; Penne Hackforth-Jones’s in Melbourne on Friday, when I am filming in Leichhardt. And so it goes.

Tony Abbott runs by in his tracksuit. I almost hail him and thank him for his words, and his tears.

But you do not do that.

He is the enemy, now.

Leave a comment ?


  1. It has to be Mike Carlton. He would go and do it for the free grog.

  2. Abbott’s tears on Ferguson.
    Someone (Orwell?) once remarked on the fascist’s tendency to sentimentality. Grieving over a dog with an injured paw while signing the papers for murdering millions.

    • Orwell(someone) was right, but I have also noticed that Liberals started loving Keating and Rudd only after they lost, and Ferguson and others become wonderful when they leave politics…

      Abbott makes me nostalgic for Howard :neutral:

      • Liberals love Keating? None that I know!

        They seem nostalgic over Hawke and even over Rudd, but I suspect they are crocodile tears.

        • Keating scored a few more painfully-remembered blows, not only in debate, than Ferguson or even Rudd (though of course the latter is merely used as a weapon to hit Gillard with)

      • So the Black Death would perhaps make one nostalgic for the old days of watching one’s starving children crying for food — something like that?

  3. Abbott was merely sentimental about the disappearance from public life of one of the last of “Old (and successful) Labor”.

    The new ALP husk has/had no room for persons like him.

    • M Ryutin, Liberals are crying from joy when a good Labor politician leave office…one less to worry about.

      • This was far more than the usual civilised behaviour at the end of a parliament just prior to an election. Everybody knows that.

        And you might have (or might NOT have, more likely) noticed that nothing at all was said about some others recently.

        And, you wait for it, Abbot and some others will express similar sentiments like todays when Bob McLelland is farewelled. That one, the last of a true-blue legendary Labor family in the parliament will hit the same notes.

        They are the end of an era which will never be repeated. It’s a new creature now, this ALP.

        • M Ryutin as usual, you are so full of shit. Abbott knows full well why Ferguson is pulling the pin, he knows Ferguson and Gillard cannot work together.

          Abbotts performance in the house was pure Shakespeare, almost Machiavellian. I nearly burst into tears listening to the crock of shit. Yea sure I did.

          You are easier to read than a cheap paper back novel Ryutin. A first year psychology student would have you sussed out in two minutes.

          Why don’t you just admit it? You are not a free thinker, a libertarian or any other fucking thing else remotely like it.

          You are conservative swill, a rancid right wing waffler. You may have some on this ere blog fooled, but I’m on to you.

          • Phill, you are an admitted Green, a former Boss and, still, seemingly, addicted to sloganeering and abuse instead of answers.

            • An admitted Green! So fucking what? At least that’s the truth. Unlike you, who just won’t admit you’re a right wing stooge.

              Again I repeat you are full of it. As for my answers!!! You’ve got to be kidding?

              You haven’t given an answer/fact since you fell on to this blog. Just a load of opinionated rancid right wing waffle.

              Then to add fucking insult to injury, you try and make the waffle legitimate/reasonable, by linking the bullshit to some right wing think tank, or, well known rancid right wing journalists. The Australian taking pride of place in your research.

              The very fact you can’t work out the faux sincerity level of Tony Abbott speaks volumes.

              Fuck Off you dumb cunt.

        • McClelland is my local Member and I assure you he won’t be missed.

          • he reminds me of one of those grey patches where they deleted someone from a snap of Stalin’s birthday party

  4. Gillard has been a bastion and a marvel in Parliament. What vile, grubby right wing propaganda and forces seek to bring down this good government-Murdoch, Bolt and Jones, and the silly Canberra gallery follows like lemmings.

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