Howard's 'SEDITION!'


(Enter Prime Minister John Howard)

Good evening everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here. I don’t usually come to protest meetings but I thought it would be a shame to miss the last one.

I’d like to congratulate the organisers for having the courage to invite me here tonight, and over the next few days, I’ll be popping round to people’s homes to thank them personally. (Pause) No, I won’t need the addresses.

Max Gillies as John Howard

I know there are many people here tonight who will be very angry with me, but that’s all right. Forthright disagreement with the government has been part of our past, is a part of our present and will be a part of our fondest memories in years to come.

There’s been so much hysteria about the proposed new Liquidation of Unpersons Act, that people aren’t paying enough attention to the new Industrial Relations laws, and so I better begin by outlining

(mobile phone rings)

Hello. Oh really? Ah, well that sounds pretty compelling.

(closes mobile phone)

Look, I have just had word of a new terror threat.

Now this is a threat that’s been assessed as credible by the division of ASIO charged with keeping an eye on extreme Islam and also the Henry George League, and so it will be necessary to add a word or two to a couple of sentences, and a zero or two to a couple of numbers.

If this sort of redrafting goes on, well we’ll be at Kinko’s all night, but I think it’s vital to remember that we are involved in a war here.

This is a real war, not a metaphor, as some of you people seem to think. It’s like the War against Fascism, not the War against Problem Stains, if that needs to be spelt out.

It’s a War against Terror, a war in which we have already been attacked twice “ once in 2002, and again three years later in 2005 “ and so it is vital that we turn the whole country upside down to head off this relentless rain of triennial attacks.

While most Australians seem to understand this, many people here clearly don’t.

I understand this, Peter Beattie understands this, Steve Bracks understands this, Maurice Yae , Maurice Iuam , er, the New South Wales Premier understands this. Even Kim understands this, which is why he has demanded that a tracking-device be anally inserted into everyone with a tan, so that the SAS troops stationed in Seven-Elevens can keep an eye on them. That was his latest idea when I left home to come here, although he may have come up with a couple more since then.

We’ve had to act to prevent the victory of a number of dangerous and possibly deranged men such as, for example, Kim. I don’t know about you but he scares the shit out of me.

Incidentally, this indicates very effectively the difference between our two parties. Whereas Labor will shamelessly use the politics of fear to create a climate of utter hysteria, the Coalition uses it to create an intense and focussed hatred of a racial minority, thus minimising disruption to the vast majority, and that is something that only really comes from long experience.

I hope that’s dealt with the terror laws. Turning now to Industrial

(mobile phone rings)

Ohhhhh. ‘Scuse me. Hello. You’re the what? The Surveillance Unit with oversight of what? The Fabian Society! So why are you up this late?

Uh huh.

Thank you.

(closes mobile phone)

Well ladies and gentlemen, I don’t mean to frighten you but I have been briefed about intelligence relating to al-Qaeda’s development of a semtex-based, tuna-and-pilchards mash which would make a walking bomb out of 90 per cent of household cats, and, following the next Federal Budget, 65 per cent of old-age pension recipients.

It has to be understood that the public is demanding these laws.

We don’t make up scare stories about teenage girls hiding mouth explosives under their hijabs and driving Toyota Hiluxes into the side of Westfield Shoppingtown “ people come to us demanding action once they read newspaper reports of those private briefings ASIO gives me.

We do not overturn 800-year-old legal safeguards lightly, but only after the most exhaustive consultation with the very best focus groups. Let me tell you the market research bill is even bigger than the Industrial Relations bill.

Our first concern is with anything that has even a remote chance of having a major impact on Australian society.

So the arts will be unaffected.

We want to live as a society that is free and vigorous, but which is never far away from its fridge magnet.

We should not let the terrorists win by scaring us away from record-breaking house auctions, or indeed any act of consumption. To do that would be to let the terrorists win. And if we let the terrorists win, then the terrorists have won.

We believe in choice.

Do you choose to be a White Protestant with a million dollar mortgage you and your White Protestant spouse will spend the rest of your lives paying off? Or, would you like to go to Guantánamo Bay, via Baxter? The choice is yours. Don’t say we didn’t offer it.

Last year, we went to the Australian people with a campaign based on trust. Next time, I’m going to pretend to be a six foot Black woman just to see if I can sell that too.

We have been an independent nation for one century, Federated on the principles of peace, mutual respect and the fair-go.

And in this, our second century we’re going to try something else.

This is an edited version of a speech delivered by Max Gillies (as Prime Minister John Howard) at ‘SEDITION!’ at the Sydney Theatre, on 13 November 2005.

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