Diary of a Liberal frontbencher: The indy wars
Thursday, 26 August, 2010
Horrible nightmare. Dreamt election never ended, then suddenly realised I was awake.
Meeting in my office with Abbott, Alby Schultz and Hockey to discuss negotiations with Independents and costings.
Abbott says Treasury cannot be trusted. Just look at lying leakers like Godwin Grech. Point out that Grech leaked to Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott says that’s exactly his point.
Schultz proposes divide-and-conquer approach to Independents. Says it worked with the three musketeers. Unclear whether Schultz took away central message of Three Musketeers.
Abbott likes idea. Schultz will talk to Windsor. Shultz says they share language: Fair-Dinkumese.
Wants me to speak to Oakeshott.
Abbott will talk to Katter.
Lunch with Oakeshott. Oakeshott wants to “move forward with real action”. Laughs at joke and holds up hand. Perplexed at gesture. Oakeshott asks if I’m going to leave him hanging.
Tell Oakeshott I have no idea what is happening.
Oakeshott says that Abbott has nothing to fear from Treasury leaking. Has met several fellas from Treasury and was impressed at their firm handshakes and kind eyes.
Say that while Treasury is controlled by Labor, Abbott would need assurances that costings would be secure.
Oakeshott doesn’t like talk of ‘Labor’ and ‘Liberal’ and words like control. Says that everyone he’s spoken to is tired of ‘old politics’ with people abusing one another needlessly. Oakeshott thinks politics should be less about exclamation marks and more about question marks.
Ask Oakeshott what that means? Oakeshott suggests I tell him. Tell Oakeshott I have no idea. Oakeshott says, that’s his point.
Oakeshott suggests we finish discussions over dinner at his ‘pad’.
I’m too old for this.
Reconvene with negotiating team.
Schultz and Windsor had a quiet beer and talked about the 1984 cattle rustle they both went on.
Ask if that’s all that was discussed. Schultz says conversation may have briefly drifted onto Windsor’s tight-arsed refusal to support the heirs of the election, the coalition.
Arranged to have a further drink.
Abbott says Katter is no nonsense guy. Katter wants incentives for attractive women to move to Mount Isa. Suggests calling it the babe bonus. Abbott agreed to idea in principle but must run policy passed daughters.
Point out to Abbott that his deputy, Julie Bishop, is a woman. Abbott says he told daughters that and all they did was laugh.
Abbott has also agreed to put costings to Treasury. Ask how Katter convinced him. Katter asked Abbott if he would force a man to choose between two cows without telling him the price. Abbott indicated that would indeed be an unreasonable demand to place upon a man so they spat on their hands and shook.
Arrive at Oakeshott’s. Bob Brown is there! Oakeshott says he invited Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet but apparently all had stomach bugs.
Brown great with Oakeshott - like grandfather talking to exuberant child. Wish he was our negotiator.
Oakeshott has drawn up his favourite “fantasy cabinets”. Says we should all do one - it’s a lot of fun. Brown as Environment, Oakeshott as Minister for Parliament, Rudd for Foreign Affairs, John Howard for Sport (to make up for that whole ICC thing).
Brown honored by suggestion but could never sell out environmental movement by joining Cabinet. Says that Cabinet room has panels from endangered redwoods in it. Would be equivalent to working in cemetery.
Oakeshott suggests we watch his new favourite film: “Mr Smith Goes To Washington”. He hadn’t watched it until this week but has been watching it every night! Says it’s best documentary he’s ever seen.
It’s going to be a long week.
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