More choice, more flexibility, higher productivity, everyone’s a winner. The week in Canberra was consumed by the government trying to sell this idea to voters and the opposition telling anyone who’d listen not to trust Howard and his mob any further than you could kick them.
By the end of question time on Thursday (Oct 13) the debate seemed to have gone full circle and even Little Johnny, renowned for his stamina, was ready for a break. Time to throw a few harmless insults across the dispatch box.
So the Little One took aim at his rather large opponent opposite and considered the broader meaning of life:
“I have watched him over nine years. He does not have the ticker to articulate an alternative policy to the Australian people. All he ever does is oppose for opposition’s sake.”
If you leave out various ancient election campaigns, it would have been quite an original dig.
But, as I’ve said before, in times of a packed agenda just look to the attorney general, Fabulous Phil Ruddock, if you want to see the real heavy lifting going on in the government.
Fabbo announced the location of his new “family relationship centers” on Thursday morning and that pest, the shadow attorney, Lillian Roxon, wanted to know why seven out of the eight backbenchers on the attorney’s advisory committee each ended up with one of these screaming rooms in their electorate.
“In relation to these matters, the decisions are mine and mine alone. I took advice from my department in relation to demographic matters,” the fabulous one informed the house with all the knitted-brow gravity he could muster.
Only he wasn’t quite finished, thanks to a Dixer about the progress of his broader family law reforms.
Clearly Phil must have worked on this reply for quite some time, given the importance of responding to Lillian’s highly effective Sizzler-campaign (see Polly Peck, passim):
“The salad-bar analogy used recently by the member for Gellibrand poses some very significant questions because, whilst this government is providing ‘healthy’ alternatives to help parents resolve their family relationship issues in a way that does not end up in court, the Labor Party offers little more than salad dressing.”
Ouch! You get the feeling the opposition will be more distressed about Fabbo’s salad dressing label than any lack of “ticker” Johnny’s already put on Big Bad Bomber.
Still, we shouldn’t overlook Phil’s quest to move above politics and build a more inclusive society in the fight against terrorism. Consider the attorney general’s “interview”, if we can call it that, on Monday morning (Oct 10) with Ray (“Slaughterhouse”) Hadley.
Hadley wanted to know if Fabbo was aware of “this fella” Sheik Khalid Yasin, who appeared in a 60 Minutes “home grown” terror feature on July 24.
Affirmative, replied Fabbo. He’d once been in the audience of SBS’s Insight with the sheik (Aug 30, 2005, Extreme measures).
“Well that would illustrate to me that SBS doesn’t bar anyone,” proclaimed Hadley from the high-horse of his own upstanding media outlet, Singo’s lovely 2GB in Sydney.
Of course, being a staunch libertarian the attorney wasn’t buying into Ray’s smearing of the multicultural audience:
“I won’t say too much of the audience, it had a lot of people who were of concern to me.”
Whereupon Slaughterhouse chipped in:
“Well you should have told ASIO, they could have been in the audience and saved themselves a lot of time.”
All Phil would say was that his close personal protection team looked “very closely at some of the folk”. He drew on his experience as immigration minister to inform listeners Yasin had visited Australia eight times, leaving for the last time on September 12.
As usual, he couldn’t talk about ASIO’s ongoing investigations, except to say they were being taken “very seriously”. Fabbo always manages to come up with original lines in his tireless grey flits across the airwaves.
It would be churlish though not to let Ray have the final word, given the special way he wrapped-up the “interview”:
“Even though he can’t reveal to us because of security restrictions, I think we can take it as read that ASIO’s looking at this pelican and he won’t be coming back here. And if he is coming back, we’ll be jumping up and down on the spot because he’s just not welcome.”
Personally, I’m jumping up and down already. I’m just wild about Raymond.