Monday, 25 March 2013

Diary of a Backbencher: The Spill

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What really happened in Canberra on the day of the spill that wasn’t? The Tribune’s exclusive extract from a Government Backbencher’s diary exposes the truth of that fateful day.


21st March, 2013

9am: Woken up by phone ringing. A voice said, “It’s go time.” I asked the voice what it was talking about, but it just said something about falcons eating snakes at midnight and hung up. Weird.

10.30am: Breakfast with Joel Fitzgibbon. It’s always awkward with him: he keeps saying, “But then, that’s what WHIPS are for!” I think he thinks it’s some kind of pun. It’s embarrassing. He also makes whip-cracking noises for no reason whatsoever. He made one really loud one this morning that made me choke on my hash brown. Also, he’s got a new thing where he is continually winking. Everything he said to me today, he’d wink. “Good morning (wink)”; “Are you having the eggs? (wink)”; So I guess today’s the day we…you know…take out Big Red (wink)”. I had no idea what it was all about. I asked him why he kept winking, but he just started tapping his nose, so I left.

11am: Just got a bizarre text: “Simon: please call me urgently. K”. I don’t know what that’s all about. My name’s not Simon. And surely there should be a question mark at the end, as in, “please call me urgently, ‘K?” Baffling.

11.20am: Something happening in the Great Hall. The PM is apologising to early adopters or something. I don’t know why: the iPhone 5 wasn’t her idea.

11.30am: Chris Bowen just sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, “Are you with us or against us?” Thought he was making a joke that I didn’t get. Made a sort of noncommittal snort. He didn’t seem satisfied. Asked me if he could depend on my vote. I asked him for what. He nodded and said, “Exactly.” Just kept staring straight ahead: the thing with Bowen is not to make eye contact. He started sniffing my jacket a bit, but he went away eventually.

12pm: Now Abbott is apologising too. I had no idea smartphones were such a hot-button issue. 

12.05pm: I don’t think the audience can see, but Abbott is fondling the gun in his pocket while he speaks. Sometimes that guy freaks me out.

12.10pm: Swanny just caught my eye from across the hall. He gave me a thumbs-up. I smiled back. He made a throat-slitting gesture. I did jazz-hands. He threw his calculator at my head. 

12.15pm: Another weird text: “Simon, please reply. What’s going on? Have you changed your number? We need to talk. K”. Again, no question mark. I guess some woman has my number mixed up with her boyfriend’s. Sounds like Simon’s about to get dumped.

12.30pm: Oh great, we’ve pulled the media reform bill. I’ve already ordered the Lenin’s-head wine decanter for Conroy’s birthday. That’s $69.99 down the drain.

12.45pm: Crean has called a press conference. I rang his office to ask if it was about my proposal for an Independent Mural Commissioner, to oversee the creation and maintenance of important murals throughout the country. His receptionist told me to shove it up my dickhole. Does Crean know his staff are treating his colleagues this way? Rang again and did my Keating impression. Made her cry. Awesome.

12.50pm: Fitzgibbon popped in to ask me if I wanted to go for a hot dog (wink wink). I asked if he knew why Crean was calling a press conference. He stared at me for about a minute, threw me a brown paper bag, then ran away. Looked in the bag. It contained an XXXXL “Kevin 07” t-shirt. Also an XS “Vote for Pedro” one. Have concluded that Fitzgibbon has gone insane.

12.55pm: Shorten just came in to ask if I’d seen Fitzgibbon. He was carrying a huge butterfly net.

1pm: Yet another text: “Simon please, don’t do this. I beg you. K”. Should I notify the police?

1.10pm: What the hell is going on?

1.15pm: Another text from the mystery girlfriend: “Simon, what the hell is going on?” Ha, it’s funny how the texts are almost paralleling the political situation. Uncanny.

1.30pm: Bumped into Crean in the toilets. Asked him why he wanted a spill. He launched into a massive speech about the corrupting nature of power and the history of the union movement and his father’s dying wish and how he can’t afford a new Ferrari. Then he just left and now I have his wee all over my shoes.

2.05pm: Bugger. Julia called a ballot. I hate those, I can never remember whether we’re voting someone off the island, or voting to keep them on.

2.50pm: Wow, Question Time was brutal. Hockey spent the whole time with a knife between his teeth. Abbott moved to suspend standing orders and Albo called him a balls-face. I don’t know what a balls-face is, but Abbott went white and demanded Albo withdraw. Albo refused to withdraw and held up a picture he’d drawn of Abbott with balls on his face. Julia stood up and told Abbott she had his suspension of standing orders right here, hand on crotch. Mirabella threw a pencil at Julia. Swanny threw a calculator at Mirabella: how many calculators has that man got? Anna kept yelling “Order!” but it just made everyone on both sides yell “Order! Order!” in really screechy voices. Then we all cracked up laughing. There was a lot of Bundy being passed around by this stage. Pyne rose on a point of order and was immediately buried under a pile of MPs, singing “Ten green dickheads, hanging on the wall”. Windsor got a bit of calm going by firing his revolver in the air, but everyone was still really on edge. I tried to ask my question about whether the minister could inform the house about what we’re doing to fight abalone poachers, but nobody was listening. Just my luck.

As we left the chamber I noticed Katter hanging upside down from the ceiling, asleep.

3.30pm: Rudd just sent me an email. Video of a dog humping a penguin. Pretty funny.

4pm: God this is boring. Everyone keeps ringing me. Crean rang me to ask whether I was willing to “swing”. Told him I don’t think this is the time, but I’d think about it later. Fitzgibbon rang me to say he had a whole box of Vo-vos for one lucky backbencher. Made the whip sound. I hung up. Stephen Smith rang and played the sound of squealing pig down the phone. The Macklin rang and asked if I wanted to buy some hand-decorated tissue boxes for her daughter’s school fund-raiser. I asked her who she was supporting in the spill. She told me spills need to be cleaned up with Chux. I hung up. Michelle Grattan dropped into my office and showed me her calves. Said she would be grateful for a change of leader. “VERY grateful,” she added. She was eating an olive on a toothpick for some reason. I told Heffernan to keep her occupied and went out the window.

4.30pm: Hiding from Grattan in the handicapped toilet. Rudd is right outside. He’s giggling a lot.

4.45pm: Atmosphere very gloomy in the caucus room. Nobody wants to talk. Albo has just started playing his harmonica.

5pm: A lot of press conferences going on. It’s all a bit confusing. I asked Shorten who was prime minister now and he slapped my face. 

5.20pm: I think Julia is still PM. She just made a statement to the press, it just went, “Suck it!” She seems really angry today. Probably not the time to ask about my parking space.

6pm: Everything is really tense. Rumours flying around that Julia has strangled Crean. Swanny denies it, but there’s no smoke without fire.

6.30pm: Received another text: “What the FUCK is wrong with you? K”. Wow, that’s gonna end badly.

7.15pm: Crean speaking to the media now. Claims that Rudd “has a smelly bum”. This isn’t good for party unity, but to be honest, it’s true. In the middle of his presser Swanny jumped up and threw a calculator at him. The AFP led Swanny away.

7.30pm: Crean finished his presser saying he would stay in parliament, but he just whispered to me that he actually plans to quit and work for a wildlife reserve. “Leopards are my real passion,” he said. That explains that g-string he wears. 

7.45pm: Swanny just rang me from his cell. He wants to know if I’d consider challenging for the leadership. Am considering my options. 

7.50pm: Fitzgibbon just asked me out for dinner. “For dessert we’ll have WHIPPED cream!” he shouted. Told him to fuck off.

Ben  Pobjie

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

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