Revealed: the next 521 days of the NSW Government
October 2009: Exactly one month after the John Della Bosca sex scandal, the NSW Labor Government is plunged intro fresh crisis with revelations that two members of Parliament’s Economic and Finance Committee have been running a “speak-easy” out of their Macquarie St office.
A gin distillery and $100,000 in illegal casino chips are seized, and a dozen 18-year-old girls, wearing the traditional “flapper” garb of the day, and two elderly black men with a banjo and clarinet are frogmarched into police vans in The Domain. “Look, I’m as disappointed as anyone,” Premier Nathan Rees tells reporters. “But I’ve made it clear to my team that it’s back to work. No more gin stills, no more jug bands. We’ve got a state to run.”
November 2009: Due to a shortfall of personnel former Police Minister Matt Brown - dumped last year for dancing in his green underpants and mounting the chest of a female MP - is recalled to the frontbench in the junior portfolio of Regional Development.
At his swearing in, Brown slowly disrobes and breaks into song - Memory, from the musical Cats - forcing a constitutional crisis where he becomes the first frontbencher to be removed from Cabinet during his actual appointment. “Clearly, I’m as disappointed as anyone,” Rees says.
December 2009: During a torrid final Question Time for the year the Premier falls silent mid-answer, then declares that he has to “nip back to the office to get something.” Is found two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, standing outside a Toongabbie shopping centre dressed as Santa. “I’m not going to pretend I’m not disappointed,” Rees says.
January 2010: Good news. While NSW loses its AAA credit rating, the government is awarded an XXX rating by the Eros Foundation. “It’s a kind of recognition,” Nathan Rees says. “It’s something to build on going forward, it’s put us on the map and I’ve made it clear to my team that it’s back to work, and we’ve got a state to run.”
February 2010: In a first for Newspoll, the 5 per cent margin for error scores a narrow victory over Nathan Rees on 4 per cent as preferred premier. Sample size swells from 1500 to 180,000 as voters ring Newspoll independently to register their fury, prompting complaints from pollsters about fielding calls during dinner. “Yeah, it’s disappointing,” Rees says. “But the message here is, you know, that the run, that the state, that the red hot go, it’s work work work, oh lordy mama, I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live-long day.”
March 2010: Rees vanishes again. Found four days later hiding in Surry Hills bus shelter. Disappointed.
April 2010: After winning his unfair dismissal suit against the Premier, Blacktown MP Tony Stewart - dumped in 2008 after being wrongly accused of grabbing a female staffer on the leg - returns to Cabinet. Governor Marie Bashir seen holding can of capsicum spray at swearing in ceremony. Rival MPs within Right Faction launch class action with Slater and Gordon against Stewart’s return. Rees settles out of court. “These sorts of squabbles are disappointing. No more lawsuits, it’s back to work.”
May 2010: State Budget overshadowed by declaration from Treasurer Eric Roozendaal that he will be known henceforth as Erica.
June 2010: Bitter round of leadership speculation triggered as devastating Newspoll finds NSW Labor now so unpopular it will lose three seats in Queensland. “Disappointing as it is, the only poll that matters is the one on polling day,” Rees says, before curling into a ball and meowing like a pussy cat.
July 2010: Spill called. Four-way contest for the top job. Laughing off questions about whether she’s even an Australian citizen, Houston-born Kristina Kenneally forms “Girl Power” ticket with Carmel Tebbutt as deputy. Ticket fails when Tebbutt found in Cancun, Mexico, with husband Anthony Albanese, insisting she has “no knowledge of the NSW Government, no involvement with the NSW Government”. Despite a spirited address peppered with quotes from Benito Mussolini, Frank Sartor polls no votes after realising that even he hates himself. Rees places second behind No Candidate; the premiership reverts to the incumbent. “It’s back to work,” Rees says. “I’ve been disappointed with these distractions but the party is united behind me and it’s onward and upward, and I’ll be working with Frank, No Candidate and the Texan lady for the people of NSW.”
August 2010: Parliament suspended as Matt Brown straddles the Speaker dressed as Frankenfurter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the words “Working for you in Kiama” painted in lipstick on his behind.
September 2010: John Della Bosca makes spectacular return to the headlines as celebrity gossip site TMZ reveals former Special Minister of State has been partying in LA with Britney Spears, who describes him as a “spunk” with “pretty eyes”. CUB recruits Della for next stage of VB campaign, marching under the “Blokes Punching Above Their Weight” banner. Liam Gallagher announces Della will be joining Oasis on guitar for resumption of European tour.
October 2010: Federal election called. During chance meeting while campaigning in Sydney CBD, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd bumps into Nathan Rees, giving his name only as “Jiang” and claiming to be Mandarin-speaking taxi driver. Rudd’s chief of staff Alister Jordan secures AVO precluding Rees from coming within 2km of PM for remainder of campaign. Rees “disappointed, but philosophical”.
November 2010: Federal Labor returned.
December 2010: Rees gives first in series of “headland” speeches ahead of March 2011 poll where he announces campaign slogan “NSW: Better than Albania”. “You know, there’s always the knockers, the nay-sayers, the sad-sacks who talk the place down, and that’s disappointing, but if you stand back and think about it, you’d have to say that NSW is, on balance, better than Albania.”
January 2011: Rees wins what appears to be major pre-election coup as Julia Gillard arrives unexpectedly in Sydney to announce a one-off $10 billion stimulus package specifically for NSW. Police issue statement later that day saying a man in his early 40s from the state seat of Kiama dressed in a red wig and smart Escada pantsuit has been detained for questioning.
February 2011: Rees vanishes again, spends remainder of campaign hiding in on-site van at Batemans Bay Caravan Park.
March 2011: Rees returned with reduced majority as NSW Liberals lose fifth consecutive election, with conservative strategists again attributing loss to complete absence of a single policy and lack of vision in Barry O’Farrell’s slogan “Barry: He’s not Nathan Rees.” Claiming victory, Rees says: “I have never been so bitterly disappointed in my whole life.”
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