Diary of a Liberal Frontbencher: End game
Mobile rings. Gravelly voice says “It’s the devil”. Ask Bill Heffernan why he is calling at such an ungodly hour? Bill shocked I guessed it was him. Remind Bill he’s called me before and that picture of the devil comes up when he calls.
Ask Bill why he still does this?
Heffernan says he can’t help being a prankster. AND has had a lot of time on his hands since the Kirby ‘prank’.
Bill has never been funny.
Joyce charges into office, demands $1 billion for veterinary hospital in his electorate. Slams signed declaration on desk that states he will not support Coalition if demand isn’t met. Ask Joyce who he will support.
Joyce picks up declaration, crumples it up and charges out of office.
Meeting with independents, Abbott and Wyatt Roy. Ask Abbott why Roy is in meeting. Abbott says Roy has taken to following him round corridors. Abbott does not have heart to tell him to go away.
Windsor thanks Abbott for meeting. Windsor says he has enormous respect for Abbott.
Abbott perks up.
Windsor also thinks Gillard has excellent policies.
Abbott slumps down.
Windsor says he has been receiving many calls suggesting he support the Coalition.
Abbott perks up.
Windsor says, of course, serious parliamentarians cannot be swayed by a vocal minority.
Abbott slumps down.
Windsor has decided to support a coalition government.
Abbott almost bounces out of chair.
Windsor then laughs quietly and says “Of course, technically, the Greens, Wilkie and Labor are a coalition as well.”
Abbott almost slumps under desk.
Oakeshott gives thirty minute explanation of decisions he has not made without referring to issues he feels he cannot reveal his thinking on, while acknowledging the importance they have to his electorate. Thanks us all. Hugs us all. Begins to weep.
Katter keeps distance from Oakeshott.
Meeting ends. Abbott buoyant; says he has experience negotiating with men with poker faces.
Windsor has poker personality.
Joyce explodes into office. Asks for my response to his demands. Ask Joyce to remind me what demands were. Joyce storms out, promises to be back with demands written down.
30 minutes later
Loud thud on door.
Open door. Joyce unconscious on ground. Revive him with scotch. Joyce just wanted to confirm he would support Coalition.
Wonder whether knock to head fixed Joyce?
Oakeshott invites me to pad for “some bevvys”.
Oakeshott says he is massive Bob Dylan fan. Indecisive about his favourite song. Likes the harmonies of Blowing in the Wind but prefers the lyrics of The Times They Are a-Changin. Oakeshott tries to sing lyrics of The Times They Are a-Changin while playing Blowing in the Wind.
Lengthy and incomprehensible.
Insists we watch Highlander. Says film about lone swordsman fighting in obscure locations inspired him to be independent.
Heffernan calls. Pretends to be Archangel Gabriel. Says he wants to vary it up. Tell Heffernan there are services he can call late at night and the people there will appreciate it much more than me.
Meet with Pyne, Abbott and Roy.
Pyne starts meeting with briefing on parliamentary reforms.
Pyne still finishing introduction.
Quite worried: have finished counting stripes on everyone’s suits and spots on carpet.
Abbott interrupts Pyne. Requests summary. Pyne says this is summary. Pray I am never at wedding where Pyne is best man.
Wake up suddenly. Roy giving Pyne standing ovation. Pyne happy to delay rest of briefing until training seminars he’s planning for next weekend (Christ kill me).
Pyne says there will be role-playing to prep for question time. He has bought red-wig and is looking forward to playing Gillard.
Katter backs Coalition.
Katter maybe not be backing Coalition.
Katter pretty sure he is backing Coalition, depending on what independents do.
Watch Windsor/Oakeshott press conference on TV in my office. Pyne, Robb and Hockey watching with me. Roy is here too - Abbott must have given him the slip. Lucky Abbott.
Windsor announces that independents will back Labor. Everyone annoyed.
Oakeshott begins with joke about Highlander. Nobody gets it.
Oakeshott says this is historic day - will be raised at Oakeshott family Christmas parties. Pretty sure Oakeshott will be the one raising it.
So much sympathy for Oakeshott family.
Oakeshott appears unaware that everyone in country already realises he has backed Labor.
Oakeshott still talking. Wonder aloud how many people are watching this? Pyne has done some quick calculations and believes that every minute Oakeshott speaks for costs Australia $789,000 in lost productivity.
Hockey appears to be counting something on his fingers. After several minutes announces he has costed Pyne’s figure and he thinks it’s about right.
So glad we don’t have to send anything to Treasury
Pyne says if ALP have offered Oakeshott speakership he will never raise point of order again. Would take hours for Oakeshott to resolve.
Pyne jokes that if we were playing drinking game where we sculled everytime Oakeshott uses a cliche we’d be very drunk right now. Wonder if Pyne has ever been drunk.
Wish I had scotch right now.
I wonder aloud if somebody should interrupt him before a full term passes and its election time again. Roy pipes up in some strange accent, and says “Imma let you finish Rob, but Windsor gave the best speech ever, the best speech ever”.
Rest of room perplexed.
Getting government not worth much more of this.
Oakeshott finally announces he’s supporting Labor. Pretty sure no one has ever used 15 minutes of fame so poorly.
In office. Joyce erupts in. Wants to call Country Women’s Association to see if they can declare Fatwa against independents.
Joyce has recovered from knock to head.
Oakeshott calls. Has constructive criticism for Coalition for “next time around”. Tell Oakeshott I have to go. Have call waiting from Bill Heffernan.
Heffernan introduces himself as Tony Windsor.
Finally happy to receive call from Heffernan.
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