Monday, 11 March 2013

Diary of a government backbencher

Written by

Parliament is an exciting place if you’re on the front benches. But no-one ever considers the plight of the one-term local member, warming a seat up the back. Ben Pobjie provided us with exclusive extract from the diary of a poor, unnoticed parliamentarian. 

Thursday, February 21
Parliament today. BOOORING! I napped through most of it, though at the end I did something very clever. I woke up and Hockey was talking, so I yelled out, “Yeah well you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” It went down great. Not sure what he was talking about, but it seemed to be appropriate. Got a good laugh, although it’s possible they were actually laughing at Kevin, who was doing his elephant impression.

I have to try to get a question in Question Time. Nobody respects you unless you ask questions. I keep going up to Bill S to ask if I can have a question, but he just asks “who are you?” and refuses to believe I’m in the government. Have decided to make a tape of me saying, “Can the minister explain how the government is working to provide opportunities for disadvantaged regional students in order to build the knowledge economy of the Asian century”. I’ll send the tape to the PM’s office to show them my chops.

After parliament went to the cafeteria and had a pie. The Greens were all sitting at the next table and they threw peas at me, but I’ve made up my mind to ignore their immaturity from now on.

Friday, February 22
Due to fly home for the weekend but rang home and pretended to have a sore throat. Wife asked why I couldn’t fly with a sore throat. Said it was a Canberra thing. Wife said she didn’t understand, so I started screaming and pretending that Paul Howes was dragging me away. That should buy me some time.

Saturday, February 23
Oh my head! Out drinking till all hours with the Cross-Party Paliamentary Christian Fellowship. Chris Pyne bet me that I couldn’t drink both of John Madigan’s Doc Martens full of beer in less than thirty seconds, but I DID IT. Afterwards we couldn’t remember what the stakes were, so we agreed that Chris would wash my car for a month. Joke’s on him, I don’t have a car! 

At about 4am we snuck into Tanya Plibersek’s backyard and stole her dog. The dog’s in my bathroom now. No idea what to do.

Sunday, February 24
In a state of wild panic. Plibersek’s dog won’t stop barking. Fed it all the food in my fridge. This just made things worse. Got a phone call from Plibersek asking if I’d seen her dog. Had to pretend the barking in the background was my weird barking kid. Must remember next time we’re at a party function, tell the wife to back me up on us having a kid that barks. Memo to self: make up plausible sounding name for barking disease.

Oh god, it’s stopped barking and now it’s howling. What am I going to DO?

Monday, February 25
Question Time was deadly today. Julie Bishop asked Craig Emerson a question about tariffs, and Emmo accused her of asking him out on a date. The whole thing degenerated really fast and soon we were all throwing punches. After it all got sorted out, Pyne jumped up with a point of order and said that Swanny had stolen his handkerchief. Swanny denied it, but I suspect it might be true. He’s always going on about asymmetrical warfare.

And I STILL didn’t get to ask a question. And what made it even worse was that Rishworth got to ask a question, and she was RUBBISH at it. “Er…er…uh…um…can the prime minister explain…er…the internet?” What kind of question is that? Julia handled it really well though – started out on the NBN and within four minutes she’d called Abbott a misogynist eight times. I thought I’d get in her good books, so I supported her answer by throwing some paper vaginas I’d made at the Opposition front bench. The Speaker asked who did it and I said it was Kevin.

After QT had dinner with Tony Burke. He is a fascinating fellow. He explained to me how the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park works using the salt shaker and a calamari ring. While we were waiting for dessert, he leant in close and asked if I wanted to know a secret. I said I did. He whispered to me that he is actually half-crab. Not sure what to make of this.

Tuesday, February 26
Had a really awkward moment in the corridor with Burke. He put his finger to my lips and said in a low voice, “Keep my secret, babe.” But not sure which secret to keep: the secret that he’s half-crab, or the secret that he’s insane? Or the secret that he calls me “babe”.

Then went to my office and found Bill Heffernan making a fort out of my cushions. Decided to leave him to it. I just don’t have the energy anymore. 

Had a committee meeting in the morning. Nobody on the committee could remember which committee it was, so we adjourned. I’m considering telling them it’s a textiles industry inquiry. I might get to meet Miranda Kerr.

Question Time quite good. Macklin gave an answer on indigenous disadvantage and accidentally said “rivers of cock” instead of “rivers of grog”. Everyone laughed SO MUCH. I don’t like Macklin. Still pretty sure she’s the one who stole my Derwent coloured pencils.

Wednesday, February 27
Heffernan still in my office. Wants me to call him Colonel. It doesn’t do any harm, so I am. He lets me get on with my work as long as I give him bits of ham from time to time. 

Had important meeting with a press gallery journalist. She wanted me to tell her what Rudd is up to. I told her I didn’t know, but I’d seen him lovingly fondling a rifle in the toilets yesterday. That should cause a bit of a ruckus. Said I was speaking off the record, but if she liked she could say I was Amanda Rishworth. She refused. Bugger. Another plan down the drain.

The good part of today was I solved the problem of Plibersek’s dog. Smuggled him into the War Memorial and dropped him inside a tank. Let the RSL deal with him.

Thursday, February 28
I got to ask a question! “Can the minister inform the parliament about how we’re kicking arse and taking names?” Seemed an odd question, but I think Fitzgibbon was a bit under the weather when he gave it to me. He insisted I also take all his loose change and made me promise him I’d never leave him alone. He’s a bit weird, I’m steering clear of him. I’m writing this during Question Time. Don’t want to draw attention to myself, I forgot to wear pants this morning.

Everyone’s talking about the leadership challenge. Powerbrokers keep calling me. I’m perfecting my answering-machine voice. So far I think they’re fooled, but eventually I might have to declare whose side I’m on. It’s difficult: I think Julia makes the better prime minister, but Kevin’s the one who bought me that original-edition Optimus Prime last Christmas. That demands some loyalty surely? 

Almost got painted into a corner earlier when Joe Ludwig came to the office, but Heffernan bit him and he ran away. I gave Bill a Schmacko, he’s proving to be quite useful.

Friday, March 1
It’s all over. Yesterday in Senate Question Time Eric Abetz asked the Minister Representing the Health Minister whether anyone had noticed the dog in my bathroom. Michelle Grattan tipped me off that Plibersek is waiting outside my house with an axe. Going to have to leave the country. 

Hopefully my pension will be secure. Tell my wife I was using her.


Ben  Pobjie

Ben has not one but TWO hilarious books out now. Surveying the Wreckage and Superchef.

Follow him on twitter @benpobjie