The Thing About Kevin & The Shitsville Express

The last few months have been a hellish roller coaster ride, writes Assistant Managing Editor Timothy W. Humphries

Funnily enough, I remember during the 1980s a particularly colourful roller coaster ride at Dreamworld. Its gone now. However It used to slide in and out of view as our family barreled down the Pacific Highway to visit relatives on the Gold Coast.

I would argue we have entered a Dreamworld type era of twists and turns in Australian politics. Both sides of politics are setting themselves up as the answer in a political climate best described as 'disillusioned'. 

While I cannot vote Labor, I struggle to find justification to vote Liberal. Even against my own loyalty and trust, Tony Abbott agrees with Climate Alarmism and wants a direct action plan that will plunder the taxpayer "a bit less" then the other mob. This "a bit less then the other mob" paradigm has dominated every policy response.

Meanwhile Kevin Rudd in his newly incarnated form wants to punch forward with a dubious NBN, Health Reforms and a band-aid Asylum Seeker policy that doesn't account for long term requirements.  

In a politically unstable environment, there is no clarion call to achievable freedom and small government. It remains incredible to me that a man derided and replaced by a marxist radical can be reinstalled and yet still find favour with the Australian electorate.

If the narrative is correct and Kevin Rudd's leaking against Julia Gillard is the primary reason for his return to the leadership, there is something seriously wrong with how political narrative is communicated in this country.

The obsession seems to extend to the occasional nattering of the media class about whether or not Malcolm Turnbull would be an appropriate replacement for the Leader of the Opposition, in the obvious unfortunate circumstance that he loses the next election.This media dynamic is crazy!

Malcolm Turnbull, if the media's dreams are realised essentially sits in the same position that Kevin Rudd sits regarding climate change and many other issues. The sort of differentiation that is equal to naught.

One only has to mention the words "market mechanism" and somehow sliding from a disagreeable Carbon Tax to a disagreeable Emissions Trading Scam Scheme is bipartisan.

So here we are again. Lurching from one perceptual crisis to another, all the while assaulted by the visage of litugical charlatanism.

In such a parlous state the mind wanders to the future and who might be around the corner on Australia's political landscape.  

Whilst there are a mixture of views on Joe Hilderbrand and his brand of "journalism", his recent ABC program the "Shitsville Express" is a remarkably informative take on the supposed leaders of tommorow.

I do have allot of respect for what Mr Hilderbrand is trying to achieve with this program. Clearly the premise points to the future of the country through Gen Y and Millenial eyes. I liked this element.

However what our "future leaders" fail to realise is the nuance and guile required to achieve real reform. The sort of March of the Patriots reform that has been lacking in the polity since the end of the Hawke-Keating, Howard-Costello era. 

We have entered a Dreamworld scenario, where revolving door leadership and zany 24 hour news cycle explosions have replaced the considered creation and management of political narrative, that is comprehensible to those of us outside the beltway.

I remember being asked to jump on the old Dreamworld roller coaster by someone who had pumped themselves up on hot dogs, lemonade and fairy floss. After successfully declining, I watched their demeanour change after the ride ended.

Unfortunately Australian Politics and the Shitsville Express appear to be mirroring each other in that they reflect a process whereby politics itself is turning into a metaphorical disembarkation and search for a brown paper bag.

Timothy W Humphries is Assistant Managing Editor of Menzies House

The Silly Putty Polly


Kevin Rudd thinks that he can recreate himself simply by supposing it to be so.

It is the same as sitting in a garage and whispering, “I’m an Alfa Romeo, I’m an Alfa Romeo, I’m an Alfa Romeo, Brmmm, Brmmm, BRMMM!”

Julia Gillard is similar. She morphs from time to time into new personas, the last two changes made with the aid of very simple props – specs.

In New Julia with Specs #1 she was the steely eyed, jaw jutting defiant Julia, Destiny’s Mistress and re-incarnation of Catherine the Great.

In New Julia with Specs#2 she was the soft Julia. Granny Julia in a comfy chintzy chair bathed in subdued lighting with Vaseline smeared over the lens; peacefully knitting with that sleepy happy look that is only seen on the face of one who has downed a couple of Mandies with a full bottle of Chivas Regal.

Rudd probably taught her this Jedi mind trick.

When Rudd did his first Dance of the Seven Veils he displayed himself as, in his words, an “old-fashioned Christian Socialist.”

ALP-Bitter-TonicMy – an old-fashioned Christian Socialist!

This was the stuff to give the troops, a phrase to unite the Party. Translated, they heard, “I am a true socialist, awful smart, but humbled and softened by Christian teachings, you know, dignity of the individual, sanctity of life, and stuff, and all that. I am Socialism with a kindly, blokey face.”

In those old days he did TV interviews just leaving church after morning service, he was the Ruddeemer.

But that was when he was relatively unknown. He had not become leader of the Labor Party and, more particularly he had not led Labor to electoral victory. 

After that event, he very quickly distanced himself from the “socialist” part of Christian socialism. Socialism, he said soon after the election, is an out-dated 19th century policy that has no value in today’s world.

What? That fast???

Well, now that Socialism’s gone, what about the Christian bit?

Well, just two months ago while quoting Hamlet to show the depth of his sincerity (to thine own self be true) he suddenly announced that he was all in favour of Gay Marriage.

Gay Marriage is hardly one of the pedestals of Christianity, particularly the flavour he likes – the “old fashioned” one. So one must wait to see how he reconciles it. So far he has gone the secular route – if two men love one another blah blah.

During the Kevin 07 campaign he dropped socialism altogether. No, now he was an “economic conservative”. He was the scourge of “neo-liberals”, Howard was “mean” and all Rudd’s speeches were larded with words like “kind” and “compassionate” and “warm” and “open hearted”.

A bit like the speech he made in parliament after the lynching of Julia Gillard, when he urged politicians to be nice to each other.

What he was doing then he is doing still. He is sitting in Julia’s old-fashioned chair humming to himself, “I am an kindly intellectual, I am an kindly intellectual,” then announcing publicly that if the voters elect him they virtually will get a much kinder version of Tony Abbott. One who listens, one who cares? So there is no need to vote for Abbott – vote for Kev and get prosperity with decency.

And government by kind hearted union bosses?

But there is hope. A strait jacket costs less than a hundred bucks.

Jim McCrudden is a retired lawyer, an avid admirer of Dickens, Shakespeare and many others. He lives on the NSW South Coast, has a keen interest in politics and sits on local government.

Pity poor Reuben

by Wallace Grimsbury, political analyst.

It is entirely possible that as Julia and Tim pack up and leave The Lodge, our former PM could well be reflecting on US President Harry Truman’s observation that if you wanted a friend in Washington, you got a dog.

When it comes down to the dog eat dog world of politics, the latest leadership blood bath inside the ALP shows that they could teach our canine chums a thing or three about how to become leader of the pack.

In all of this, I am most concerned about Reuben – the sadly former First Dog.

He’s been happily living at The Lodge since November 2011 when he was given to Julia by Tim as a 50th birthday present. Dog owners know that their pets can be quite distressed and disorientated by a sudden upset in their domestic circumstances and, after all, Reuben has done no wrong at all. In fact, he was probably Julia most devoted and unquestionably loyal supporter.

Victorian Liberal Premier Denis Napthine even jokingly suggested early in June that Reuben would make a better ALP leader and Prime Minister than his owner.  

It was Reuben who went along with Julia for the famous staged five-hour photo shoot of his leader knitting away for the Australian Women’s Weekly and, reviewing those snaps in the light of subsequent developments, I am sure I can detect in Reuben a look of resignation, of despair and of sheer bloody exhaustion.

He has been ruthlessly exploited by Julia and, frankly, in the aftermath of her demise if he runs away and joins the Young Liberals, she only has herself to blame. She should remember that US President Lyndon Johnson got himself into more hot water when he held his dog up by its ears than when he carpet bombed large chunks of Asia.

On the eve of the first State of Origin test, Julia tweeted that there was division in the Prime Ministerial household – Tim was for the Maroons, Reuben was for the Blues. We were treated to a lovely photo of Reuben resplendent in a blue beanie and scarf and looking particularly pleased with himself. 

Well, his instincts proved to be right that time. No doubt his loyalty to the Blues was maintained for the second State of Origin – we will never know because his leader was otherwise occupied – so that fateful night was a double disappointment for him. 

While others pretend they are interested in whom PM Rudd appoints as Ministers, my interest is in how Abby, the born-again PM’s faithful family mutt will take to living at The Lodge again. Back in May 2010, Rudd’s wife Therese Rein told Dog’s Life magazine that Abby – their golden retriever – was “in heaven” living at The Lodge “chasing birds and rabbits”.

Abby, it seems, has a marvellous physic connection to Kevin which is more than most members of the Parliamentary ALP had at least until just recently. “Abby is very knowing – she knows when Kevin is coming home. “Ten minutes before the phone rings to signal he’s on his way, she will go and wait at the front door for him,” said Ms Rein.

It was Kevin who with actor Rhys Muldoon co-wrote a children’s book “Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle” in which the Prime Ministerial cat Jasper (now sadly gone to his maker) and Abby see off a “scruffy little dog Chewy” who was causing mayhem at a function at The Lodge. I was surprised they didn’t call this irresponsible and scruffy interloper Tony.

It would not surprise me one bit if it is Kevin’s most popular book.

US President George Bush Senior’s wife Barbara wrote a book, “Millie’s book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush” which described a day in the life of the President through the eyes of his spaniel Millie. He must have been chagrined when that book outsold his own autobiography but, after all, Millie was a good deal more attractive and probably brighter to.

The acknowledged master at the political dark arts, US President Richard Nixon saved his own political career in 1952 when he was campaigning as Vice Presidential candidate under Dwight D Eisenhower and was accused of having a secret slush fund.

He played the dog card so effectively that his televised speech became known as the Checkers speech – after his cocker spaniel. He flatly denied he had any slush fund but conceded, with appropriate emotion, that he had received one gift – Checkers – and “that I’m not giving back.” It saved his career.

And as Reuben departs for a new home and as Abby prepares to go back to where she had such a happy hunting ground, perhaps we should be thinking more about a cute little doggie by the name of Maisie and how she will take to living at The Lodge.

Yes, Maisie is Tony Abbott’s pooch.  







The viper’s nest

Wonderful work ethics, trust and mutual respect.

Wednesday, hours before the ballot.

Senior Labor MPs confirmed they have signed a petition that calls for the spill of Gillard and ministers via a ballot expected to be held on Wednesday.

''The petition is getting a good head of steam up," a Rudd supporter said.

Hours after the ballot.

Gillard: "As you've been reporting, and others are reporting, there is apparently a petition circulating within the Labor Party to call for a leadership ballot," she told Sky News.

Those who backed the leadership challenge, when asked, conceded they had never seen the document, let alone signed it.


When in doubt, knit

by Perkin-Warbeck

Now, ask yourself who is this famous knitter.

She “was imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred of class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress. She was absolutely without pity. If she had ever had the virtue in her, it had quite gone out of her.”

If you guessed our multi-talented PM you would be dead wrong – although you can be forgiven.

In fact, Charles Dickens was describing the infamous Madam Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities and one of the great female literary characters of all time. She was truly a monster – both smart and ruthless – and whose non-stop knitting became a record of all of those who went to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

Readers of the July edition of Australian Women’s Weekly are being treated to an interview with PM Julia Gillard with accompanying pictures which show her busily knitting away surrounded by needles and bits of wool and a lovely little fluffy doggy. It is a scene of wonderful domestic bliss – a woman who is at peace with the world and who knows her place.

Our PM, that well-known republican, reveals that she is knitting a toy kangaroo for the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and adds, disarmingly, “I just thought it would be a cute project to work on.”

The article notes that, “The request to be shown knitting came from the Prime Minister’s office” and Julia’s chief PR man, John McTernan, has openly boasted about how simply clever he was to come up with the idea. “It was a no-brainer,” he said.   

These happy snaps were taken in a studio and the wool, the needles and everything else including the dog were props. A real“no-brainer” indeed.

The Australian Women’s Weekly, founded in 1933, boasts on its website that, “It entertains, it informs, it is contemporary and relevant to Australian women today with experts in every field (fashion/beauty/health/home/craft/gardening/cooking).”

I may be wrong but that list of experts doesn’t seem to me to actually cover all the interests of the modern Australian woman. Frankly, I can only wonder what the official Labor sisterhood, Emily’s List, think of their pin-up star member engaging in this sort of nonsense. You can bet there were feminist groans around the country.

You could name your odds if you wanted to bet that Emily’s List ever includes a link to the Weekly.

Just imagine – horror of horrors – if Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop indulged in something similar – knitting for a Royal baby, or giving cooking tips or fashion advice for busy mums. There would be a chorus of condemnation from so-called progressive women and, probably, allegations that she had been put up to it by men in blue ties.

No doubt Ms Gillard already knows this but – which seems to have everything you ever wanted to know about knitting – has a useful “Fixing mistakes in your knitting” section which advises that should you make a mistake, firstly “don’t panic” and then “ … sit down, take a deep breath and determine the best way to deal with your particular problem.”

Somehow I doubt she has ever done that except, possibly, when knitting toys for Royal kiddies – after all, she told the Weekly, “I’m not a person who agonises.”

Dickens’ classic tale draws to its sad but noble ending with Sydney Carton’s memorable last words, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” 

There is really no risk of our PM channelling Carton and doing the noble, brave thing and surrendering her leadership to try and save some of her colleagues. They can all go to the election guillotine and it won’t be HER fault.

Remember A Tale of Two Cities began, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

Then, as now, it all depends on your perspective. Knit away Julia, knit away. 





Hello! I’m Granny Gillard


Gather round children while Granny Gillard teaches you how to knit a tangled web sock.

Lesson one: Knit one, purl one. Now do that about 300 billion times and that's how much debt I'm going to leave you poor little darlings. You see, Aunty Julia is always thinking of your future, after I've grabbed my chunk.

Lesson two: The one I'm knitting in the picture is is a nose warmer. Remember children, if you tell lots porkies your nose will grow just like Pinocchio's did and you will need a nose warmer for this winter of my discontent.

And, my little do gooders, I have not used any live animals in that picture, the dog is stuffed, exactly the same as the government I lead today – maybe tomorrow – I dunno after that. And that lovely, old chair? Tim found it on the tip – it was free. As you can see children, Granny Gillard is always saving for your future.

And, kiddies, don't worry about me not having a job, I've put away a bloody bundle for me old age. It's been fun, bye for now and jolly good luck. And, don't let mummy or daddy vote for that naughty Mr. Rudd.


Toby’s Sunday light

TobyParliament House Canberra. The sale yards of the nation where there is no auctioneer, just political animals buying and selling each other for the polling booth slaughterhouse.

The atmosphere is electric as the final dice will be rolled this week and those who know what’s going on won’t say and those that don’t know what’s happening are eager to predict. Jockeying for position, betraying faiths, embracing moral bankruptcy, it's par for the course in this political barnyard of revulsion.

Our man Toby Jug is well connected in Canberra and given the confusion and fear about political careers, most of which dangle on fractured limbs like “rock-a-bye-baby-in-the-treetops” waiting for that fabled bough to break, Toby decided to use his connections.

Disguising himself as a zombie he passed unnoticed among the members of the Labor Caucus.

Carrying a hi-resolution spy camera disguised as a bunch of flowers, borrowed from a terrorist organization based in Australia, Toby declared himself as the official parliamentary, Labor appointed photographer for a sort of, end-of-school-year photo. Like they do with kindergarten.

Government spin doctor John McTernan approved Toby’s plan to snap random shots of MPs making vital decisions and steering the country toward prosperity. The masterpiece would be a panorama of Labor ministers in a mournful setting emulating the atmosphere of suspicion reminiscent of The Last Supper.

While the camera in floral disguise of a Banksia had limitations, Toby captured a shot in a way no one else has managed. It was the dead-pan smug superior look of a two-time loser concealing his bitter raging, while catching the frustrated look of a winner who knows that history has judged and pronounced her just a two-timer.

Gilard-and-muppet21Photo courtesy Toby Jug on his pin-hole Daguerrotype glass plate camera using a magnesium flash pod

Always looking for that perfect shot Toby now disguised as a French Sommelier went to the dining room hoping for a candid shot of Peter Slipper pouring anchovy oil into a snifter of Napoleon Cognac but found someone quite different entirely. Still wearing a blue tie.

Howard1Photo courtesy Toby Jug taken on his LPG powered polaroid relic.

While waiting for the main event, ministers dressed in togas sporting sharp knives in their waistbands, somebody spat the dummy and the shoot was cancelled. Apparently, Bob Carr's sandal thongs were too long for his skinny legs. However, an insider said that Bill Shorten, son-in-law of the governor general insisted his place at the table must be as the son-of-god at the right hand of Julia. The Louvre in Paris will have to wait, perhaps until Clive Palmer takes the "pilot" seat.

The following day, back at Menzies House photographic studios under the National Gallery of Australia, technicians discovered a most unusual photograph on Toby's Kodak Box Brownie. Our photo editor believes the the film was defective as the use-by-date was March 21, 1927 and might well have been an old trick of a double exposure.

Gillrudd1Photo courtesy Toby Jug, taken on his Great Grandfather's KodaK Box Brownie.


After receiving an acid message from the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary and author of “Ridiculous Taxes and How to Sell Them to the Public.” Dennis Diopter, our photo editor ascertained that the above photo is actually a double exposure of perhaps two people. Therefore, the identity of either person is unsure.

UPDATE: Toby has been detained in Canberra by authorities and is now in his 12th day of a hunger and alcohol strike.


Writing memoirs – The “How To” Guide

(Name supplied but withheld by request)

After September 14, it is likely that lots of current Labor high-flyers from Julia Gillard down will have lots of spare time on their hands and may need to top up the superannuation.

Writing your own history is an increasingly popular hobby for ex-politicians although overflowing remainder bins suggest that the reading public is not all that overwhelmed.

While there is always the hope by the author that a political memoir will be a nice little, or even big, earner most are driven by George Orwell’s dictum, He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

So in the interests of helping the fallen mighty, here are a few tips.

Firstly, and most importantly, get in early. Book writing next year is likely to be frenetic.

The higher your profile, the more likely you are to find a publisher and readers. Ex PM John Howard’s memoirs Lazarus Rising (2010) eclipsed sales of ex PM Bob Hawke’s The Hawke Memoirs (1994) by mid 2011 of 75,000 copies with the paperback at that time yet to come.

Naturally, since most politicians are more or less human, they like to cement their place in history and justify their own self-image as a person of principle, integrity, far-sightedness, fairness, decency and all-round niceness.

You want your book to be hailed for its introspective insight, its documentary accuracy, its unsparing honesty and its transparent self-effacement and modesty.

Ex Labor Leader Mark Latham noted in his tome that Parliament House’s culture is full of small talk and smear and then proved it by writing a 400-page book full of small talk and smear. If you want a legacy of ‘statespersonship,’ you must try and rise above that.

Ex PM’s have a natural advantage since they can write stuff like, I told the US President in no uncertain terms that Australia would… and I got no joy from sacking Fred as a Minister but his treachery forced my hand.

If you are a complete nobody who wasn’t even noticed when you were there, don’t think that in retirement anybody will want to read your ramblings unless they are actually interesting and, above all, revealing.

Thus, It was around 3am the next morning that I came across the PM and the Treasurer in the pool at the US Embassy naked and drunk fighting and screaming abuse at each other. I managed to separate them and the PM “thanked” me by throwing up all over me is interesting.

On July 17, I and my school group enjoyed a nice afternoon tea at the Canadian High Commission is not interesting.

Crossing the floor over the rural subsidies issue got me into hot water with the leadership has the potential to be interesting if some lurid detail is added but I was thanked for my 286-page submission on the canola oil industry to the party’s Agriculture Policy sub-committee… is not interesting even if you quote large slabs of it. In fact, it will be even less interesting.

Readers can see straight through whimpering self-justifications so avoid stuff like, Although rebuffed by the party room, I was genuinely touched by the reaction of people in the street who praised me for my courage, bravery and adherence to traditional values… and I am certain that had the party adopted my policy, we would have avoided the crisis only weeks later when… and I was not drunk that evening but had been taking medication and was tired and stressed from overwork…

Be careful about trying to appear central to everything, especially the successes. Avoid writing, The PM, eyes brimming with tears of gratitude, said later that my advice had turned the tide…” and “The National Executive unanimously adopted this proposal which I had floated only days earlier when I…

Don’t try and kid everybody that you disagreed with everything that that later went pear-shaped so avoid—unless you have documentary evidence—self-serving rubbish like, I quietly but firmly let the leadership know that the course they were following was fraught with disaster…” and “It is generally acknowledged now—far too late, I might add—that I had been right when I…

Be careful of the petty such as, Just why he became a Minister ahead of me when everybody knew that he was a lying, lazy shit remains a mystery…

It’s very boring in your memoirs to include stuff like; My great-great-grandfather came to Australia in 1869 seeking a better life. I have always been inspired by his example… but interesting if you can write, In 1992, declassified files proved that my great uncle had been an active Nazi spy but what I can reveal now is that he was actually Jewish…

Oscar Wilde once wrote, I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.  If Oscar wouldn’t like your memoirs, then don’t bother.