Right now the nation’s brightest political minds are trapped in the recycled air of Budget lock up, sniffing out black holes and poring over numbers. Shuffling papers and press releases and pinning down wonks.
As they drift past the tables of quartered chicken sandwiches and party pies to congregate at the figurative water cooler, do you think they’re avidly discussing the ramifications of the wafer-thin surplus? Do you think the drip filter coffee-fed excitement is centred around cuts to foreign aid?
There’s a fair to middling chance that it’s not. While there is a rumour doing the rounds that there will indeed be something big in today’s Budget papers that wasn’t already detailed, the chances are that people are still chinwagging about the Craig Thomson affair.
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The party’s over and the place is a mess. A sober Mario Monti will be putting the house back into order, clearing the bottles away and scrubbing the carpet.
Over the next few weeks he’ll probably still be finding knickers down the back of the couch and noticing disturbing stains on the ceiling.
Italy’s financial crisis forced Prime Minister Silvio “Bunga Bunga” Berlusconi to step down - to save the country by delivering it into the safer hands of the credible economist “Super Mario” Monti, whom people have quickly dubbed the “anti-Berlusconi”.
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I grew up idolising the greatest politician the world has ever seen.
As a boy, I would sit, clutching sugary treats, as he performed all manner of administrative miracles.
He was the one who taught me about terrorism, the perils of cloning, the dangers of space travel and that CIA-style pencil-pushing can lead to muscular atrophy.
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They called it Tangentopoli. ‘Tangenti’ is one of the Italian words for ‘bribes’, and Tangentopoli summed up the idea that Italian politics had become a game of Monopoly fuelled by kickbacks.
I spent a lot of time in Italy in the 90s, starting with a story for ‘Foreign Correspondent’ in April 1993. Tangentopoli had convulsed the country, with magistrates uncovering vast swathes of corruption involving most of the leading political figures of the previous three decades.
My first encounter with the new reality came in a town in Abruzzo called Chieti. It was a sort of magnified microcosm of Italy, because almost every councillor on the local government had been arrested for corruption.
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Just how stupid are those Italians? I mean, not only are they gullible – they’re really, really dumb.
I mean, take a politician like Silvio Berlusconi, who all us foreign journalists know to be sleazy and dishonest… And what do millions of voters do? They elect him. Not just once, mind you. Three times.
You heard me. In three elections Italians have voted for a prime minister who’s a charlatan or – even worse – a 21st Century incarnation of Benito Mussolini. In 2008 he even won an absolute majority in both houses of parliament.
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Italy seems as though it is in a perpetual state of political meltdown. Casually taking in news the average Australian, and indeed much of the Anglo world, is generally of the impression that Italy is a basketcase, but a friendly, charming and good looking basketcase nonetheless.
The miraculous Italy with its ability to survive and even thrive in this chaos is, after all, still one of the world’s largest eight economies, albeit strugling.
Now Italy is looking at the possibility of its President Silvio Berlusconi being ousted from office for the third time following a ruling by the high court that he could not be protected from prosecution.
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TWO years ago, Veronica Lario did something extraordinary.
After marrying the now Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 1990, the former actress had maintained a low profile; rarely seen in public and avoiding the sort of official functions wives of national leaders do.
But on January 31, 2007 that changed when she bizarrely wrote a letter to the editor calling on her husband to apologise.
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Following this week’s bizarre events involving fake emails, conspiracies, counter-conspiracies and dead cats I began to ask the question: at what point do we turn into Italy?
After question time today I am of the firm belief we have a long way to go before coming near the Silvio Berlusconi gold standard of political scandal.
The last question time of this crazy sitting threatened to further turn the screws of torture on Malcolm Turnbull with reports that he had seen the fugazi days earlier and was encouraging Godwin Grech to peddle it on the market.
Then, only half and hour before question time another story emerges that Rudd had accepted $32,000 from John “The Don” Grant for legal fees.
Now we’re talking. This could go anywhere, we can only hope to hookers, drugs and the Mafia.
Question time begins, and Tony “no nose” Abbott asks the question: “So why’d he give you the moolah Kevin?”
Kevin: “Well you see old chap it was money from a fund raising dinner to raise cash for an anti-aircraft noise campaign.”
What kind of lame corruption is that?
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