The Old Lion And The Young Gun


ABBOTT: Thanks for coming, mate.

FRASER: I’m scarcely your "mate", Mr Abbott.

ABBOTT: Look, I know I haven’t been the first one to come round to your place with a plate of bloody lamingtons. And — ah — I know we haven’t been great friends in the past, but can’t we work something out?

FRASER: I presume you’re referring to the damage done to your party by the withdrawal of my support, young man.

ABBOTT: Mal, I just need one of those one-off TV special Woman’s Day political party love-ins, like Labor. You and me and Howard and Peacock, together again, laughing it up like old times?

FRASER: There were no old times, you crawling crypto-fascist. Even if one racks one’s brains, one cannot think of a plausible point of compromise.

ABBOTT: But … can’t we fake some of that Labor Party "comrade" bullshit? (Gently touches FRASER’S hand, in gesture of friendship.)

FRASER: (Removing hand abruptly.) Nothing could be more distasteful. I have a legacy to uphold, which becomes more burnished by the day.

ABBOTT: Bloody hell. Gough and Bob held hands all the time on TV. Public loves that crap. What about some tit for tat, huh?

FRASER: I do not currently possess any "tat" to barter, and I can assure you that I don’t desire any "tit" you may happen to have. No, the Liberal Party has become a withered husk of medievalised morality, apart from that marvellous lone swashbuckler —

(Malcolm TURNBULL interrupts conversation by swinging through the upstairs window on a knotted bed sheet.)

TURNBULL: What, ho! I believe I’ve been mentioned favourably by the right sort of person!

ABBOTT: Oh, Jesus.

TURNBULL: (To ABBOTT.) There must have been some — ahem — "misunderstanding": I have been locked in the Parliament House library since renouncing my decision to quit politics.

ABBOTT: Ah, don’t know quite what happened there.

TURNBULL: Fortunately, I was able to escape by pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. Was forced to eat an entire tin of non-John West tuna to survive. So, a big "hurrah" for my larger-than-life personal initiative!

FRASER: (Impressed.) Well! I didn’t realise a statesman was arriving.

TURNBULL: (Blushing.) Oh, Mal. I didn’t realise that I’d be joining one! (Both laugh.)

ABBOTT: (Impatiently.) Yes, yes — everyone’s a bloody statesman.

TURNBULL: (Touching Fraser’s hand.) Well … not quite everyone, it would seem. (Laughter.)

ABBOTT: That’s enough, Minister for Sweet FA. Where I come from, people who quit, stay quit.

FRASER: Where is that, pray? Inadequatesville?

ABBOTT: Look. I’d like to negotiate with you. You can’t stay outside our tent pissing in. Swivel that grand old todger around, Mal, and help me saturate those Commies. Now — the mining tax.

FRASER: Capital idea. Rapacious criminals stripping our country of its natural wealth for nefarious purposes. Take them to the cleaners —

TURNBULL: — and put the money towards microloans for Mum-and-Dad start-up projects! (Both cheer.)

ABBOTT: Shit. Common ground, common ground… Debt. Surely, Mal, you must be against Labor’s Great Big New —

FRASER: — Opportunity to upgrade Australia’s crumbling infrastructure?

TURNBULL: My thoughts exactly.

FRASER: It is as if we were of … one mind.

TURNBULL: Perhaps we are! How —

FRASER: — grand!

FRASER slips an oversized garment over himself and TURNBULL. Thus joined, they start walking slowly towards ABBOTT in unison. The garment appears to be made entirely of sackcloth.

TURNBULL: It’s itchy.


ABBOTT: (Dazed.) What’s going on?

FRASER: I … am Malcolm the righteous!

TURNBULL: And I … am Malcolm the good!

MALCOLMS: Together, we are Malcolm the perfect!

ABBOTT: Are you … men?

FRASER: We are the two halves of the human soul, neither constrained by base principles of pragmatism!

TURNBULL: I view us as a magnificent two-headed creature, brought upon this earth to wreak justice on those whose souls are too small to cast a shadow over truth’s pure light!

ABBOTT: Is this a dream?

MALCOLMS: Your only "dream" is that of the free market’s infallibility!

ABBOTT casts his eyes towards the ceiling.

ABBOTT: (Praying.) For the good of the party, Lord, I must defeat this two-headed beast from the dark forces of Enlightenment. (To self.) First Copernicus, now this!

DISEMBODIED HEAVENLY VOICE: Dack ’em, Tone! Then wack ’em in the hooters, give ’em bodgie wedgies and kick ’em in the goolies!

ABBOTT: (Tearfully.) I will. Forgive me, God, but your voice sounds … familiar.

ABBOTT grabs the Liberal Party’s Silver Commemorative 2004 Re-election Plate from the Liberal Party Mountain Ash Sideboard, turning its glimmering surface towards the advancing Malcolms.

MALCOLMS: (Paralysed with self-regard.) Hark! We see two men of unassailable integrity!

ABBOTT: (Brandishing drink bottle.) Drink this, monster! The — uh — serum of truth! (Forces Malcolms to drink.)

DISEMBODIED HEAVENLY VOICE: Paint me pink and call me a fruit! What’re you dishin’ to these Devils?

ABBOTT: Gatorade.

MALCOLMS: Ugh! What is this satanic, fleshly, sugary substance? Our holier-than-thou strength is fading —

ABBOTT: It’s jock juice, fellas. Better run.

MALCOLMS: Too late! We’ve drunk the corrupting cordial of athletic achievement! Now we must compete with the usurper on his own terms!

Abbott drinks the rest of the Gatorade. His wiry muscles begin to pop manically. The harrowing sound of rending lycra rings out through the hall.

FRASER: He’s becoming —

ABBOTT: (Macho voice.) That’s right: Tone of Arc!


The conjoined MALCOLMS jump out the window, leaving ABBOTT alone with the DISEMBODIED HEAVENLY VOICE.

ABBOTT: Thank you, Lord. My faith has been vind —

JOYCE: (Stepping out from behind sideboard.) — no wuckin’ forries, ya coot!

ABBOTT: Barnaby?

JOYCE: Maaaate, never believe anythin’ I say in the heat of passion.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.