In a shiny new occasional New Matilda series, woman about town Monty Fish brings you an inside look at how Scott Morrison’s plans to win the next election. Or not.
A room full of serious suited men. ScoMo stands awkwardly at the front. Twiddles his thumbs. Looks at the portrait of John Howard on the wall. His white tufts glowing proud. Eyebrows extending out of frame. ScoMo frowns.
P-Dutty sits in the front row with legs spread (maximum ball space) and a steely stare. Little potato legs sprout from holes in his suit pants. ScoMo catches his eye and gulps. Points to the whiteboard behind him which reads ‘Election Brainstorm’.
ScoMo tries to sound official.
ScoMo: I’m sure you all know why I’ve called this emergency meeting.
P-Dutty: To brainstorm for the election?
ScoMo flies into a defensive hysteria.
ScoMo: I’M RUNNING THIS MEETING AND THIS PARTY, THANK YOU!!
ScoMo smooths his single tuft of hair and smiles nervously. His hair remains static. He’s sweating. P-Dutty smirks.
ScoMo: (speaking too loud) Yes! We have a problem. Looks like Mr Brenton Tarrant managed to plagiarise almost 90% of our election platform in ‘his’ manifesto. Former child angel, my arse! So we’re going to have to come up with some new material.
ScoMo nods to a geeky boy in a t-shirt that says ‘Not here by choice #ProLife’, holding an iPad. He’s the Pollster. He stumbles to the front. His voice is still breaking.
Pollster: Our polls are indicating that people are angry. Mostly at us. Even though we are 98% certain we didn’t order anyone outside the military to massacre Muslim civilians.
P-Dutty: Who gives a damn what these raving lefties say? Our voters only have the memory of one news cycle. This’ll blow over in a week.
Pollster: Actually tests are showing this may be an exception.
The Pollster dims the lights with his iPad. Plays a video projected onto the whiteboard. They all watch. The top of the video is titled ‘Voter Memory Test’. A white guy in his 60s sits across from an interviewer. The interviewer speaks patiently as though to a child.
Interviewer: The following is a simple passage. Please provide a single word answer to the questions.
White Guy: Righto.
Interviewer: “For 60 000 years people called Aborigines lived in Terra Nullius. Then a man named Cook arrived in shiny black boots and planted a flag. Cook was a brave man who risked his life to discover wonderful places to dump Irish prisoners. If only we could dump as many prisoners offshore as he did, we’d fulfil our destiny.”
White Guy: Righto.
Interviewer: Now, can you tell me, what colour boots was Cook wearing?
White Guy: Black.
Interviewer: Very good. And what was the name of the first person on Terra Nullius?
White Guy: Cook.
Interviewer: Very good. And just one last question, what is Christchurch famous for?
White Guy: Nazis.
The Interviewer stands up and beats the man over the head with his clipboard.
Interviewer: EARTHQUAKES! YOU IMBECILE!
The video is turned off. The lights come up. Everyone looks disappointed.
Pollster: And that was after six hours of Christchurch Earthquake footage on loop in the waiting room.
Murmurs of dismay among the group. ScoMo tries to restore order.
ScoMo: Men! Calm yourselves. This is no Kevin07-level crisis. How many times have the ALP stole our policy points, eh? We always find a way to outdo them!… Latham excepted.
CUT TO: Mark Latham is in a black leather gimp suit on all fours. A spotlight is shined in his face. A nasally woman’s voice speaks from the shadows.
Woman: So you wanna play with the Big Bad Bitch, do ya lovie?
Gagged, Mark nods fervently. A slight whimper.
Woman: You’re not the first abandoned little runt to come sniffing. But Mummy can’t afford to lose another one of her TRAITOROUS LITTLE BITCHES!
The light swings up onto the face of Pauline Hanson. Flaming red hair spiked into a mohawk and wearing an Aussie flag-painted strap on.
Pauline: Consider this your membership dues, baby! Don’t be a tight arse!
She thrusts her hips forward, MJ-style. Mark’s gagged squeal of delight is heard from the shadows.
CUT BACK TO: The Minister sitting next to P-Dutty swivels in his chair. When he spins around, he turns into a woman. She spins again, turning into a beer-gutted senior. This is Revolving Minister.
Revolving Minister: How we gunna outdo a Nazi terrorist? That bastard doesn’t have to abide a bloody Race Discrimination Act.
The room buzzes with agreement. P-Dutty stands among the ruckus. All attention on him. A true leader.
P-Dutty: Make an example of him! String him up! Anyone who takes our policies into their own hands will be killed… for plagiarism!
The room cheers, holding their lighters and lunch forks in the air. An angry mob.
P-Dutty: We will decide who kills Muslims and in what circumstances they are killed!
The men form a crowd around P-Dutty and lift him into the air like a Footy star. They chant as they toss him up and down.
Men: Manus! Nauru! Afghanistan! Iraq! Syria! Palestine! Myanmar! Woo!
ScoMo quivers with rage. Runs around the group trying to tear their hands away from P-Dutty.
ScoMo: I’M THE PRIME MINISTER! NOT HIM! PUT HIM DOWN! PICK ME UP!
ScoMo tries climbing on the shoulders of the group. They jab their lunch forks into his arse. He falls into a heap as they trample over him. He sobs. P-Dutty laughs wickedly.
The Pollster coughs loudly from the front. They all stop and stare.
Pollster: Ah, perhaps I didn’t explain the brief. Polls indicate that we have to appear more… (he gulps) ‘anti-racist’.
They all freeze. P-Dutty in mid-air. They look down at ScoMo blubbering beneath their feet.
ScoMo wipes the snot from his nose. Stands up. Feigns dignity.
ScoMo: Yeah! Exactly! We need more tolerant- worded policies.
Pollster: And someone “sufficiently mediocre to appear non-threatening”.
ScoMo stands proud with his chest puffed out. The crowd grumbles and returns to their seats.
A pause. ScoMo doesn’t know where from here.
ScoMo: (whispers) So when you say “anti-racist”…?
Pollster: The report says “more concern for the plight of Muslims”.
The Revolving Minister has spun again and emerged wearing an Akubra. A thick QLD accent yells out.
Revolving Minister: We’ll let ‘em keep Halal!
ScoMo writes ‘Keep Halal legal’ on the whiteboard.
ScoMo: Great stuff, Revolving Minister!
Revolving Minister spins around again, returning in the form of Bob Katter.
Revolving Minister: (Bob Katter’s voice) Let there be a thousand Halal Butcher’s bloom as far as I’m concerned… but I ain’t spending any time on it. Because in the meantime, every 3 months, a person gets torn to pieces by a crocodile in North Queensland!
Pollster: How’d he get in here?
A stiff-backed Minister responds from the back.
Minister: He must’ve passed the character test.
Pollster: We have a character test?
Minister: We have to uphold some dignity.
They all turn to look at Revolving Minister. The chair spins. Bob Katter is replaced by an old lady in pearls.
Revolving Minister: (Old Lady’s voice) What? You’ve never seen a pair of clothed tits in a cabinet meeting before? Yeah me either –
She rips off her blouse as she spins into a sleeping fat man. His shirt is torn open, exposing his sagging man boob cleavage. Their heads snap forward to ScoMo in alarm.
ScoMo: No no! Well acquainted with clothed tits in the Cabinet meeting. No sexism here. Any other pro-Muslim suggestions?
P-Dutty: A cushion for their arses on the way out?
A few people snigger. ScoMo glares at them. He turns to face the portrait of John Howard. Mimics his strong posture and defiant face. Suddenly, John Howard grins at him. The portrait is moving! ScoMo looks over his shoulder. Nobody else has noticed. They are bored and talking. John beckons ScoMo closer.
ScoMo: JoHo! It’s you!
John Howard leans out of the picture frame and grabs ScoMo by the nose. He’s a miniature, portrait-sized version. His fingers barely reach around ScoMo’s nose.
John: Don’t call me that! I’m not a gimmick, I’m a former Prime Minister!
ScoMo: (despondently) So am I a month from now. Ow!
John Howard grabs his nose harder. Pulling ScoMo closer. Whispers in his ear.
John: You think I didn’t have a bully like him yapping at my heels? Hanson was a whole lot more yappy in my day. She’s had elocution lessons since then. Or a Nasal spray allowance.
ScoMo turns to look back at P-Dutty. He’s showing off his muscles to Revolving Minister. With each spin, Revolving Minister turns into a different giggling, adoring woman. P-Dutty’s head grows larger each time. Eventually it begins to grow little potato legs. ScoMo sighs.
ScoMo: I can’t win. No matter what I do, he does it meaner. And people love him for it!
John Howard pulls ScoMo’s chin to face him.
John: Look at me! You think I was ever hand-picked to be the strong man? This portrait is life sized!
ScoMo: But they always filmed you in close up. Nobody noticed your bodyguards were pot plants hidden in suit jackets.
John: THEY WERE WATER TANKS IN OVERCOATS! The bodyguards were on strike. We couldn’t afford for word to get out. WorkChoices etc etc.
ScoMo holds up his hands in defence. John Howard takes a deep breath.
John: Look, here’s a tip. If #OzPol taught me anything, it’s that you can never be both the head of the Liberal Party and the Loudest Racist.
ScoMo: (rolling his eyes) Try telling P-Dutty that.
John: Nonsense. There’ll always be some other fringe Independent who’s willing to lose their Fish n Chips shop or Sky News gig to beat you to it. But! You can be the smartest racist.
ScoMo: Ooooooh. I didn’t think of that!
John: (rolling his eyes) Clearly. Look – you can’t say exactly what you mean, otherwise people will think you’ve gone mad. Or joined Bob Katter. You’ve got to find a humane reason for the racist policy.
ScoMo: Stop the Boats 2.0?
John: I was thinking more NT Intervention 2.0.
ScoMo: We had a humane reason for that?
John: The kids were being born on mineral-rich soil! It’s basically child abuse.
ScoMo: That’s right.
John Howard climbs out of the portrait onto ScoMo’s shoulder. He rolls his excess eyebrow hair into a cylinder. Uses it to whisper into ScoMo’s ear.
John: Follow my lead.
ScoMo grins. Turns and faces the room.
ScoMo: Aye boys! Believe it or not, I have an idea!
Everyone stops and listens.
ScoMo: Perhaps we don’t have to change policy. Perhaps… we change the pitch.
He turns to the Pollster. Gives him a nod. The boy nervously types.
ScoMo: Instead of lowering the migration intake… we impose a Muslim ban!
The room cheers. The Pollster frowns.
ScoMo: Hang on! Tuck those Islamopho-boners for a sec, we gotta ice this cake. (He clears his throat, pretends he’s speaking to the media)… “Some people might say it’s racist or Islamophobic, our Muslim ban. But you know what’s racist and Islamophobic? Aussie Nazis! To protect Muslim victims of white terrorism, we have decided to ban them. For their own good. Now the Labor Party might pretend it cares about Muslims and let a few affluent ones in. But who will be responsible when those same people are murdered by our own home-grown white terrorists? Labor will!”
The room is silent. Everyone looks slightly disgusted. The Pollster keeps refreshing his iPad and shaking his head.
P-Dutty stands up in his chair and yells.
P-Dutty: No need to get sentimental, mate. They’re Muslims not Queensland cattle stock. I say we stop prancing on the Greens’ turf and come right out and say it – ‘We want a Muslim ban’.
The room cheers and applauds.
ScoMo: You can’t just steal my policies! That’s, that’s… plagiarism!
P-Dutty: Think about it, kid. What’s the world gonna believe? That you proposed a Muslim ban, or me?
ScoMo: This isn’t fair.
P-Dutty: Neither’s a Muslim ban, you hypocrite.
P-Dutty gets lifted up by the crowd once again. John Howard crawls off ScoMo’s shoulder, disgusted.
John: He’s got my vote in the next spill.
ScoMo: You’re not even in the party room!
John: I have clout, idiot!
ScoMo slumps in disgrace. John Howard’s portrait turns his back to him. He’s alone in the world. ScoMo stands on a chair and screams at the cheering room.
ScoMo: I suppose we’ll have to fight the election on wages!
The room gasps in horror.
Pollster: But that’s Labor’s terrain. We’ll never win. It’s a kamikaze mission!
ScoMo: When you take away racism and refugees, migrants and Muslims, African Gangs and the Blackfellas, and those PhD-yielding Chinese student hubs congesting major cities – you leave me nothing else to work with.
Pollster: Well, there’s still the Union thugs and welfare bludgers and socialist-tight income taxes?
ScoMo: Oh yeah! We can use that!
The Pollster’s iPad starts dinging with notifications. He types hurriedly. Mutters to himself.
ScoMo: What is it? Another shooting? Please be dead, small, white children! Please God!
Pollster: No, it’s much worse.
The Pollster dims the lights and plays a live streaming video on the whiteboard. It’s a press conference. Mark Latham wears a shirt that reads “I like my Eggboys Caged #ImWithFraser”. Pauline Hanson stands beside him. She holds the leash connected to his dog collar.
Mark Latham: Some people might say it’s racist or Islamophobic, our Muslim ban. But you know what’s racist and Islamophobic? The Coalition letting Muslim women suffocate to death in burqas!
Pauline: Speaking as a stunt Muslim myself, I can vouch that it’s scorchin’ hot inside a burqa.
Mark Latham: Every woman in this country deserves to be leered at. Strip off or fuck off, I say!
The press goes wild. The video is paused. The lights come up. The whole room turns to ScoMo. His tuft of hair stands on end. He’s sweating.
ScoMo: Wages? Come on, even the Reserve Bank says they gotta go up!
The End .
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