“How does one keep discipline and focus in your team,” I asked, “when there is little chance of being held to account on the floor of Parliament?”
His reply, I grant you, was not one to frame, but it does bespeak one who knows how cold and howling the wilderness is, and is determined not to go back there.
“Experiencing eight and a half years of opposition and two election losses,” he insists, “is a great motivator to stay disciplined , focused and grounded. Accountability mechanisms are there in Parliament and across the public sector with the next election also providing the opportunity for the people to have their say.”
And what of the significance of his win, for the Morrison government, come the next federal election? I asked, but he would not be drawn.
Drawing a blank on Brennan
Vale, John Brennan, Australia’s most influential radio man behind the scenes who was the force behind building 2UE into the one-time iconic talkback force that it was – through his stewardship of stable of stars that included John Laws, Stan Zemanek, Alan Jones, Mike Carlton and Ray Hadley. He died last weekend. I met him several times over the years, the last occasion of which bears repeating. It was at the late Mike Gibson’s 60th birthday BBQ in Kirribilli and knowing my interest in talkback radio, Brennan took me aside to give me the most brilliant definition I had ever heard of what talkback was all about, and how to succeed in it. I was stunned by its genius and clarity. I got it!
So what did he say? I can’t remember. Not working in talkback at that time, I didn’t write it down, and all these years on, all that is left is my impression of its sheer genius, and not the words themselves.
In sum, I may be like the nurse on duty the day that Albert Einstein emerged from a coma at Princeton Hospital in 1955 to say a few words, before dying. Sadly, he said them in German, a language she did not speak!
How to solve an image problem
It’s all right Shane Stone, I have got this. Back in 2001 you all might recall, the then Liberal Party president sent a memo to Prime Minister John Howard saying they were perceived as “mean and tricky”, which was leaked to the press and there was hell to pay. But do we even need a leak this time? Who can doubt that the Morrison government is perceived in much the same way now, to which you could add “misogynistic”.
Oh, do settle down.
It is not whether you agree or disagree, in politics perception is all, and not even the government’s greatest defenders could doubt this is an issue, particularly lately.
And though there is no quick fix, might I suggest one particular, easy thing it could do that would show empathy, care, generosity and decency? And best of all, it would in part be seen through the prism of two young girls just like the Prime Minister’s own two fine daughters that he famously often gets his bearings from.
I speak of Priya and Nades Murugappan, two Tamil refugees who came here separately from war-torn Sri Lanka nigh on a decade ago, seeking asylum. Granted bridging visas they landed together in the tight-knit community of Biloela in central Queensland, worked hard, paid their taxes, and had two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa. They embraced the community, who embraced them back, until . . .
Until the very morning after Priya’s visa expired in 2018, Australian Border Force accompanied by police and security guards raided their home at 5am, and flew them into immigration detention in Melbourne. The little girls were nine months and two years old at the time, and have been in detention with their parents ever since. Biloela, wonderfully, has agitated to have them back ever since. And the family wants to go back to Biloela.
How hard is this?
How ’bout it Prime Minister? What would Jesus do? What would Jen say? What if they were your daughters?
A single move to get them back to Biloela would warm the heart of the nation, just when we need it most.
Joke of the Week
Book Blurbs translated. “Enchanting” = there’s a dog in it. “Heart-rending” = dog dies. “Thoughtful” = mind-numblingly tedious. “Haunting” = set in the past. “Exotic” = set abroad. “Provocative” = infuriating. “Epic” = editor cowed by author’s reputation. “Audacious” = set in the future. “Disturbing” = author bonkers. “Classic” = author hanging in there.
Tweet of the Week
“How good is Australia! You can get raped in parliament but you are unlikely to get shot protesting about it #EnoughIsEnough #MarchForJustice.” – Jane Caro @JaneCaro
Quotes of the Week
“That experience is rather like having your throat cut, quietly, courteously and swiftly. One moment you are cheerfully chatting away in the witness box. The next moment your head is rolling down the courtroom aisle. Your throat has been cut from ear to ear.” – Barrister Peter Clyne, describing the “doubtful pleasure” of being cross-examined by Chester Porter QC, who died this week aged 95.
“Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker.” – Prime Minister Scott Morrison, commenting on the March4Justice rallies that took place around the country on Monday, including outside Parliament House, which he declined to attend.
“Not so much a tin ear as a wall of concrete.” – Anthony Albanese in reply to the PM’s comments on how lucky Australian women are not to be shot, as they protest.
“In light of what’s happening, not only in Parliament but other major institutions, when our very own representatives don’t want to hear our voice, what does that say about how they really think about women? It’s saying we don’t matter, and they don’t want to hear our voices and that’s not OK.” – Women March 4 Justice organiser Janine Hendry about early reports that Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay would snub the march. McKay later attended the Sydney event.
“I am very familiar with navigating these online systems through years of trying to get Bruce Springsteen tickets through Ticketmaster. I thought I could put my Springsteen skills to work to help others get appointments.” – Jason Haber, who sells real estate in New York by day, but in his spare time moonlights as a pro bono vaccine broker, helping less tech savvy New Yorkers secure a cherished online COVID-19 vaccination slot.
“Bradfield was a renowned engineer who designed and oversaw the construction of both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney’s original railway network. The name Bradfield is synonymous with delivering game-changing infrastructure and it sets the right tone for the area we have referred to as the ‘Aerotropolis Core’ until now.” – Gladys Berejiklian announcing that the new city around Sydney’s second airport will be named after the engineer John Bradfield.
“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.” – From a formal response by the Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to a question about whether Catholic clergy have the authority to bless same-sex unions. The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative”.
Peter FitzSimons is a journalist and columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald.