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Comedians Toby Halligan and Mathew Kenneally reveal the internal workings of Federal Parliament with their exclusive access to diary entries from within the halls of power.
MONDAY 13/12/10

6:00am

Arrive in office. Ask mini-Rudd if he's prepared the morning news summary. Mini-Rudd says he'd really prefer I called him Lucas. Tell mini-Rudd I’d really prefer it if he were older than 22, because I find it really awkward having to push around my chief of staff.

Mini-Rudd says as chief of staff he should not have to do news summary. Demand mini-Rudd get me coffee before he finishes news summary. Mini-Rudd grumbles something about going to the union.

7:00am

Meeting with Rudd.

Rudd asks for Wikileaks damage assessment.

George (National Security Adviser) says all damage sustained exclusively by Labor Party. Fitzgibbon and Arbib main victims.

Rudd asks if Australian life has been put at risk by leaks.

George worried about lives of any Australian named Assange, or anyone with a name that is kind of French with an A in it. Americans are terrible at picking right target.

9:30am

Arbib in. Rudd asks me to sit in, always need a witness present during meetings with Arbib.

Arbib asks Rudd to stop stating that Assange has not broken any Australian law. Rudd is undermining PM’s strong anti-Assange stance.

Rudd says its not his fault that Gillard accused Assange of doing something “illegal and dangerous”. Rudd asks Arbib, how did PM came up with that line, a focus group?

Arbib silent.

Arbib says “it tested really well” and demands Rudd get behind the “illegal and dangerous” line.

Rudd has a better idea. Opens briefcase – pulls out American football (I am always amazed at how well prepared Rudd is). Throws ball out door. Asks Arbib to chase ball, like a good Sports Minister.

Arbib accuses Rudd of selfishly sabotaging Gillard Government.

Rudd pauses. Thinks Arbib makes a fair point.

Arbib says he’s relieved Rudd has seen sense.

Rudd says Arbib has convinced him that he’s not only not a good Foreign Minister but that he isn’t cut out for politics at all. He promises to resign as the member for Griffith tomorrow. Rudd is sure Arbib will locate a fine candidate for the by-election who’ll romp it in.

Arbib fetches ball.

10:00am

Mini-Rudd says Assange needs a laptop, with internet.

Rudd wants mini-Rudd to get him two!

Mini-Rudd says he is on to it.

Rudd tells mini-Rudd “that’s why you’re my chief of staff”.

Meeting ends – I order 8 coffees from mini-Rudd.

10:15am

Mini-Rudd returns. I pour coffees down sink. Lesson for mini-Rudd about disappointment and failure in politics, despite best efforts.

12:30pm

Rudd storms into my office. Says he just saw news. Asks if I knew Oprah was in Sydney tomorrow.

Nod.

Rudd asks why it was not in his news brief.

Thought now that Rudd was not PM we did not need to summarise celebrity gossip.

Rudd says he needs to know EVERYTHING.

Point to the five TVs in my office. Oprah is on 7, 9, 10 and ABC. SBS has Croatian news, but the top 3 headlines are Oprah related.

Rudd sees Gillard in shot with Oprah. Rudd says if Gillard’s been with Oprah, he needs to be with Oprah.

Ask Rudd if he really wants to lower himself to that level.

Rudd nods vigorously.

3:00pm

Just spent two hours on phone with Oprah’s representatives. Most important person I have spoken to is Oprah’s third personal assistant. He’s responsible for carrying the bags of shoes.

Ask mini-Rudd how he is going with laptop. Says he has convinced Ambassador to give Assange a mouse. Is working on keyboard and USB stick. If Assange is all he’s cracked up to be he should be able to build a computer himself.

4:00pm

Speaking to the chef to Oprah’s personal chef.

5:00pm

Finally speak to top Personal Assistant. Says she is equivalent of Oprah’s Chief of Staff. Says Oprah deals exclusively with Prime Ministers, patients with rare terminal diseases, and people with inspiring personal stories.

Pass information on to Rudd. Rudd says he and mini-Rudd will start working on story.

8:00pm

About to go home. Rudd catches me. Says I need to go to meeting about Wikileaks on his behalf.

8:30pm

Arrive at meeting with Swan and McClelland. Swan delighted to see me! Always prefers me to Rudd - says I use the C word far less.

9:00pm

McClelland reports that his department could find no source of law to charge Assange. Advice is that Assange has done nothing illegal. BUT department does think he’s done something dangerous.

Swan delighted that we get to keep half of line! Now only need a word to replace
“illegal”. McClelland one step ahead of Swan, has asked department to put together list of words. His favourites are immoral, terroristic, and, unlegal.

Swan asks what unlegal means. McClelland says it means it’s legal but we wish it wasn’t.

Ask whether government will respond to American suggestions that Assange be assassinated. McClelland didn’t realise he was expected to investigate that as well.

Suggest new approach to managing Wikileaksgate, as Swan calls it. “We shut the fuck up”.

Silence.

McClelland says he will run it past department. Swan agrees with plan but is worried Rudd is rubbing off on me.

Swan gives me and McClelland high fives. Says he thinks he could really do this Prime Minister thing for real. Swan is cute.

TUESDAY 14/12/10

6:00am

Arrive in office. Rudd and mini-Rudd show me 40 minute audition tape for Oprah.

6:40am

Mini-Rudd is weeping. Says tape is as sad as Four Weddings and a Funeral, as inspiring as Erin Brocovich, and has the deep meaning of Eat, Pray, Love.

Tell Rudd film is great – just not sure Oprah’s audience is going to relate to genius-diplomat who overcomes the hardship of losing the Prime Ministership, to become Foreign Minister for “the sake of the whole world”.

George worried at damage that could be done if audition tape were leaked. Audition tape more embarrassing than World Cup bid.

Rudd agrees not to submit tape.

8:30am

Rudd calls Oprah personally. Speaks to Executive Producer. Equivalent to Foreign Minister of Oprah. Rudd explains his efforts to help protect Julian Assange from assassination and to provide him with a prison laptop, in the face of fierce opposition from the evil Mark Arbib.

Foreign Minister of Oprah sympathetic but declares it’s imperative for Oprah to retain good relations with the USA. She can however offer a trip to Kiribati. Rudd really disappointed, would have loved Volkswagon.

9:00am

Swan calls. Says he has been speaking to Oprah. Has heard that Rudd is planning to help Assange.

Swan says he is sending over McClelland to negotiate with Rudd. Rudd is furious Swan is sending McClelland. McClelland is the only member of Gillard’s front bench he feels guilty yelling at.

9:15am

McClelland arrives. Declares that Rudd has violated several treaties. Rudd asks McClelland how he knows. McClelland says Rudd has been leaked against by Oprah. Rudd says he thought that leaking was “dangerous and illegal”. McClelland corrects Rudd, “unlegal” is proper term. Rudd points out that McClelland is himself leaking by leaking the leak to Rudd. Demands to know why McClelland is conducting himself in a dangerous and unlegal fashion.

McClelland says he needs a dark, quiet room to think this through.

5:00pm

George submits latest Wikileaks damage assessment. No change - all criticism continues to be towards Labor Party, none towards Rudd.

The rise of Rudd the Maverick rolls on. Will continue to take notes from Turnbull’s twitter feed.

This entry also published at The Punch.

SUNDAY 24/10/10

Morning

Costello dropped in to Melbourne office today. Has copy of Howard memoirs. Says he is checking it for errors, misrepresentation, and slander. Book is dog eared and crammed with post-it notes.

Costello asked if I kept any records during Costello/Howard era.

Tell Costello I kept a diary.

Costello asks if I could check it. He is doing a ring around to get source material. Is thinking of writing a scathing review of Howard’s book for The Monthly.

Evening

Recover my old diaries from lockbox buried under the shed. Spend the night reading through a few of my favourite memories.

11 March, 1996

Settling in to new government backbencher office – think it might be smaller.

Costello in – comments on tiny office. Says when he’s Prime Minister I’ll have a much larger office.

Tell Costello I had no idea John Winston Howard (JWH) was terminally ill?

Costello laughs. Explains that JWH promised to hand over by 2002 at the latest but Costello reckons it’ll be more like 2000 or 2001. Is already building succession plan - most important element of a successful transfer of leadership is a good succession plan.

10 September, 1996

Quiet day in Parliament. Weird red-head giving maiden speech. Didn’t catch much - good crossword in The Age today. Really struggling with six across. 10 letters, starts with X. Clue is “fear of outsiders”. Feel like answer is staring me in the face.

1 October, 1996

Costello in. Asks me to re-draft his anti-Hanson speech. Wants to deliver it as soon as he is PM.

Ask Costello when he thinks that will be?

Costello has feeling it’ll be any day now. Has new numbers man: Christopher Pyne. Pyne is master of detail – knows how every member of party takes coffee. Note to self – avoid Pyne.

12 May, 1997

Six across was “Xenophobia”! Finally, got it while watching documentary on History Channel.

8 March, 1998

JWH asks me to call Kennett to convince him to help break waterfront unions. Says he’s tried talking to him but doesn't speak fluent Victorian. Also Kennett called JWH a c*#@.

Kennett says he’s fighting the Maritime Union of Australia as hard as he can. Is fighting so hard his life is in danger. Has already survived four assassination attempts, this week! But for his military training he’d have died weeks ago. Is pretty sure his security detail is on it. Has noticed that wharfies and police officers have similar builds.

27 May, 2000

Go to Corroboree speech with JWH. Very awkward. By the end I was the only person in audience facing JWH, and neither of us were making eye contact with each other.

28 May, 2000

Costello in. Has apology speech written, wants to test it on me. Ask Costello if JWH had changed position on reconciliation? Thought after Corroboree that JWH would be more likely to demand apology from aborigines.

Costello decides to try speech out in party room this evening.

2 hours later

Speech goes poorly. Majority of party stand and turn backs on Costello. Only people facing forward are Christopher Pyne, me (wanted Costello to have someone other than Pyne to speak to), and Wilson Tuckey (asleep).

10 September, 2001

Pyne in. Has been nagging me to support Costello for months now. Says that the Costello train is leaving the station. Makes sound of train and chugs around office. Asks me if I want to be left alone on the platform? Ask Pyne if I could be left alone on platform with a good book to read?

Pyne chugs out.

12 September, 2001

Pyne pokes head in. Finds me under my desk. Says that train has been delayed for foreseeable future. Ask Pyne what caused delay? Pyne says plan to swap conductors has run into problems. Jokingly suggest that Pyne could surely chug through any obstacle. Pyne says that’s a pre-9/11 joke and I should feel ashamed of myself.

10 October, 2001

Peter Reith in. Needs to discuss children overboard with me in detail. Ask why he wants to discuss with backbencher? Says he can only discuss with someone he can trust, someone who will never be asked questions by media.

Reith explains that he may have gone overboard when he claimed children were being thrown overboard. Tells me whole story.

Tell Reith even though I remember him being voted at 1994 Christmas Party as “Most Likely To Go Down Like Nixon”, I’m freaking amazed at the extent of his Nixon-ness. Suggest Reith is more Nixon than Nixon. Would be even more amazed if he gets away with it.

Reith laughs maniacally. Says it doesn’t matter if he gets caught, he’s on his way out anyway. Says he’s a kamikaze pilot with a clear line of sight for HMAS Beazley.

Really glad that as Defence Minister Reith does not control nuclear weapons.

10 November 2001

Election night. Big win. Everyone very happy.

Tell wife about key role I played in counselling Reith on children overboard. Wife not impressed.

11 November 2001

Slept on couch for first time. Wife says “as mother, she cannot condone the things Party said about other mothers”.

18 November 2001

Have purchased sofa bed. Think I could be here for sometime.

25 December 2001

Wife has removed all pillows and cushions and put bed pan next to sofa bed. Note says she wants to give me experience of living in detention.

22 June 2002

Still on couch. Drinking too much. Wife refusing to accept my apology. Insists JWH has to apologise to mothers from SIEV IV before I can return to bed.

23 June 2002

Speak to JWH about sofa bed situation. JWH has a huge amount of sympathy for my situation and deeply regrets that as an indirect result of government policy I am in the doghouse. However, JWH cannot apologise for actions of previous government. Howard Government of today cannot be held responsible for actions of 1998 – 2001 Howard Government. Things were so different back then.

Call Pyne. Ask when the Costello train is stopping at my station.

15 July 2002

Attend first Costello coup meeting. Me, Pyne, Costello, Georgio, and Troeth.

Georgia asks me what drove me to support Costello. Tell Georgio about my aftermath of children overboard. Georgia puts hand on my shoulder, says he is pleased to meet a brother in arms and by the courage of our convictions we will win through.

Tell him I just want to go back to bed.

1 July 2004

Still on sofa bed. Drinking way too much.

Attend party room meeting JWH says we're in trouble – Latham has cut through. We need a new strategy. Get up, tell everyone I am confident we can win. Question for Australian people is simple: Do you trust Latham enough to be in same room as him for more than five minutes?

Get standing ovation.

2 December 2004

JWH offers me speakership. Will accept position on one condition - JWH must call wife and apologise for children overboard.

JWH is concerned about economic compensation for children overboard if he were to apologise.

Refuse speakership.

4 January 2005

Back in bed! Plight of Asian Tsunami victims has totally distracted wife from plight of refugees.

9 July 2006

Costello and Pyne call meeting. Ask Pyne how numbers are looking. Pyne not worried about numbers, time to focus on transition.

Ask why?

Costello says McLachlan is about to release details of deal JWH made with Costello in 1994 to hand over leadership. Costello knew gentleman’s agreement would work out in the end.

Tell Costello that John Howard is not the kind of man to take responsibility for something John Howard did in 1994.

Costello tells me to trust him. Asks Pyne to run numbers.

3 hours later

Costello and I at bar. Pyne has already gone home – one drink was too much. Suggest Costello think about running for Premier of Victoria. Costello asks if his numbers are that bad. Nod.

MONDAY 25/10/10

Costello calls. Has discovered during call around for ring around that he does not have the numbers to submit review of Howard's memoir to serious publication like The Monthly. However, numbers in Victoria are strong. Will send to The Age instead.

This entry also published at The Punch.
SATURDAY 09/10/10

Morning

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) calls. Wants me to come to meeting at 0900.

Do not like it when Abbott’s staff start using 24 hour time. Usually means Abbott plans to use all 24 hours in day.

0900

Meeting with Abbott.

Abbott hands me envelope – says it contains vital national security briefing. Will read on Monday. Today am meeting wife in Canberra to go to Floriade (Flower and Garden Festival). Wife has spent all week planning flower viewing.

1700

Phone call from APS – asks where I am?

Really worried I’ve gotten Saturday confused with Friday again.

Tell APS I just finished napping, about to grab dinner.

APS says I don’t have time for dinner, I can eat on the plane. Tells me to get to the airport - my flight is about to leave. Did not know I had flight!

Tell wife I have trip I forgot about. Wife has variety of pre-packed bags for these kinds of occasions. Gives me warm weather bag.

1900

Met by army guys in airport terminal. Get driven on little cart, quite exciting. Ask army guys if they know where I am going. Army guys say for operational reasons cannot discuss exact destination. Phew, knew it wasn’t my fault I forgot!

Ask if they can tell me what state I’m going to. Soldiers tell me that there are no “states” in Afghanistan.

Jump off cart. Roll ankle. Soldiers confused – help me board flight with crutches.

2000

Am on way to Afghanistan.

Ring wife to give bad news.

Wife excited. Already knew – had read briefing papers.

Angry with wife – ask wife why she did not tell me what was in briefing papers.

Wife assumed I had read them seeing as they dealt with national security.

Tell wife first rule with national security issues is to assume nothing!

Wife really proud of me, has been reading Time’s articles on the Taliban. Thinks they’re just dreadful and it’s about time someone did something about what they do to their women. Book club was discussing last night that women in Afghanistan don’t even have books, let alone bookclubs! Wife would really like me to tell story of my trip for book club.

Thank wife for her concern for my safety.

SUNDAY 10/10/10

0700

Arrive at Australian base in Afghanistan. Shadow Defence Minister David Johnson briefs Abbott and I. Has been receiving confidential communications from soldiers informing him that troops are not adequately equipped and that lack of tanks, humvees and condiments is unacceptable.

Abbott asks what he means by condiments. Johnson says lack of sauce has been causing morale problems in several units.

Abbott pleased with Johnson’s work. Asks “If you can’t put tomato sauce on the table, how can you expect to win a war against Islamic extremists?” Johnson doesn’t know either.

0800

Meet commander of Australian base.

Johnson says he’s heard that army needs more tanks.

Commander says operational requirements of mission don’t require tanks.

Abbott tells Commander he understands chain of command, and he respects the Commander too much to ask him to criticize superiors. BUT! If he needs tanks he should wink twice with his left eye. If he needs helicopters he should wink twice with right eye and if he needs both, he should blink once.

Commander does not shut eyes for rest of meeting. Incredible discipline. Glad I’m not Taliban.

Abbott and Johnson agree: Gillard must have threatened Commander when she visited.

1100

Have shower and change clothes. Wife appears to have only packed holiday clothes.

1130

Sit in on mission briefing with troops.

Am only one in hawaiian shirt. Feel self-conscious amongst SAS. Pretty sure if I were actually in army this would lead to hazing of some kind. Troops do great job of withholding laughter. APS tells me to make sure I keep out of photos.

Today's mission is to patrol nearby village to reassure locals. Abbott would like to ride along. Thinks appearance of Australian Prime Minister would be reassuring to Afghan civilians. Remind Abbott that while it was a spiritual victory, technically Gillard is PM.

Commander says it’s not possible. Abbott furious that Gillard’s machiavellian bastardy would extend to preventing him from defending Australia. Commander says that the ‘no civilian policy’ pre-dates Gillard – military’s experience of civilians on missions is that they tend to die. Lack of training is real problem. Abbott asks how long it would take to complete necessary training, points out that his fitness regime is pretty close to meeting SAS entry requirements.

Commander lets Abbott shoot a lot of things instead. Abbott really satisfied.

APS quite happy with photos. Pretty sure it will cement Queensland vote for next election.

1700

At dinner with troops. Johnson disappears to contact his army informer. Said before he left that it he could hear the Mission Impossible music in his head.

1900

Johnson back, has made Facebook contact with informer. Informer confirmed that only reason Abbott wasn’t allowed on mission was high command is trying to conceal need for tanks.

Soldier also pretty sure that nuclear weapons would “freak the crap” out of the Taliban.

Johnson has arranged meeting with source.

1930

Finally get to meeting place. Navigating in base made more difficult by use of compass. Really should have just read signposts or asked someone, but Johnson insisted we had to do it the ‘man’s way’.

Turns out source wants to meet in broom closet, for security. Broom closet not designed to accommodate four men. Decide to let Johnson and Abbott do meeting without me.

2000

Turns out Johnson’s source was kitchen hand who overheard soldiers bitching. Abbott just glad Liberal Party hasn’t made too much of claims. Johnson looks sheepish: “yeah about that…” and explains he may have tweeted a media release on the tanks an hour ago.

Says he was so totally sure about the tanks thing. Says all the veterans he spoke to at his local RSL last week totally agreed, we would have held Singapore if we’d had more tanks!

2100

Abbott farewells Commander. Promises he’ll be back in 3 months time when he’s both PM and ready to take SAS physical.

Johnson high fives soldiers on way out. As I’m leaving soldier calls out that next time I come I should bring my bikini. Abbott laughs.

2200

On plane Johnson and Abbott agree it would be a great inspirational gesture if next Liberal Party conference were held in Afghanistan. Could really show them how democracy is done! After all, they learned war from the Americans!

Pretty sure story for bookclub will need to be fictional.

This entry also published at The Punch.
MONDAY 27/09/10

First time in Parliament House since leadership spill.

Never thought I’d be back here. Had been in Pakistan doing media for an NGO. Was really thriving. My experience of NSW Labor factional warfare was the perfect apprenticeship for navigating Pakistan’s male-dominated, clan based society.

Then about ten days ago, ran into Rudd. He was on marathon tour of the region, trying very hard to write notes, listen, and look concerned simultaneously.

Asked Rudd where his staff were. He’d fired them three camps ago. Offered me a promotion, a pay rise, and the right to swear at him.

I couldn’t refuse.

6:00am

Kid in the office, name tag says “Lucas”. Must be work experience kid. Ask him to get me coffee.

Explains he’s Chief of Staff and tells me to get him a decaf chai latte. Ask how old he is. He’s 22.

Order him to get me coffee.

He refuses. Stand very still and stare at him. He asks how I like my coffee. Tell him to get me one of everything. Need to reinforce lesson.

6:15am

Rudd asks me to be acting Chief of Staff on Fridays. Lucas has Uni that day – he is finishing his Asian Studies honours thesis entitled "Sino-Australian relations February 2007 – July 2010: Speaking Dragon, Listening Kangaroo".

6:30am

Lucas stumbles in with 18 coffees. Is 99% sure he has all possible variations but they didn’t have soy. Really apologetic about the soy. Thank “Mini-Rudd” for his effort. Mini-Rudd honoured by nickname.

9:00am

Mini-Rudd introduces me to Rudd’s national security advisor, George, before a Commonwealth Games security briefing. Says George is an ex-Spy!

George tells Rudd that security situation in India is dire. Americans think risk of attack is 90%, British think it’s 75%, George thinks they’re both bonkers, it’s clearly 83.68%.

Ask how they come up with these numbers. George says intelligence is incredibly complicated and I wouldn’t understand. Rudd asks for some details on the maths. George says he doesn’t need figures to calculate it. His gut does all the arithmetic he needs.

Rudd asks for a time line for attacks. George thinks the attacks will almost certainly happen after/during the opening ceremony and before the closing ceremony. Some events are riskier than others. Rudd asks whether that’s because of crowd dynamics, sniper points, or just enclosed bottle necks?

George says some sports are really gay and terrorist wouldn’t want to attack them. No self respecting suicide bomber wants to go out attacking the synchronised swimming or badminton.

Ask if Commonwealth Games are worth the lives of our athletes?

Rudd says pulling out would be like handing 80 gold medals to terrorists - or worse, Great Britain.

11:00am

Jean bustles in. She can’t find Coalition pair for Rudd’s upcoming trips. Didn't know Jean was here - feels like we're getting the old gang back together!

Rudd not worried – he’s going to be pairing with the only man in Parliament he can trust, Bob Katter.

Point out to Rudd, Katter voted against Gillard Government.

Rudd: “Exactly.”

Jean asks if we could convince Katter to put his guarantee in writing.

Rudd says a handshake between Queenslanders is a bond of honour and that’s all he needs. Katter would rather eat a Pilipino banana split on Oxford Street with Carson Kressley then break his bond. Katter says that in Northern Queensland they have a word for folk whose handshake isn’t worth a damn: Nationals.

2:00pm

Mark Arbib calls. Says he’s coming over and wanted to give me advance notice so he doesn’t get shot coming through the door. Laughs and says he’s just joking.

Thank Mark for advance warning. Tell him we’d prefer a days notice in the future so we can ‘prepare’.

Tell Rudd that Arbib is on way to talk about Commonwealth Games.

Rudd says Mini-Rudd can take meeting. Rudd hasn’t spoken to Arbib since spill.

Tell Rudd he has to take it.

Rudd swears at me.

Tell Rudd to take the f**king meeting.

Rudd agrees, but sulks.

5 minutes later

Arbib arrives. Offers Rudd congratulations on winning Griffith. Rudd offers Arbib commiserations on losing election.

Arbib asks for briefing on Commonwealth Games. Rudd gives Arbib print out of CIA Factbook entry on India, and photocopy of Daily Telegraph Commonwealth Games lift-out.

Arbib says as Sports Minister he needs DFAT briefing to protect Australia’s athletes. Rudd tells Arbib they stopped being his athletes when they left Australian soil.

Arbib wishes Rudd could be mature about this, he’d hate to have to raise this with Gillard.

Rudd agrees that Arbib would hate that. Especially because Rudd’s under so much pressure already to resign from Parliament to take a job at an international body, whether it be the United Nations, WTO, ILO, or the UBLOW.

Arbib thanks Rudd for the Daily Telegraph lift-out. Rudd says page 4 in particular has a lot of nice pictures.

Arbib leaves.

Ask Rudd what is UBLOW. Rudd says it’s his opinion of Arbib.

10:00pm

Rudd calls me in. Says Commonwealth Games facilities are worrying him. Received a tweet from a table tennis athlete who said the water pressure in the shower heads is not up to scratch. They have not had proper shower in 24 hours. Asks me to fix it.

Explain problem to George, ask if I should call Secretary of DFAT? George says matter too trivial for Secretary of DFAT. Says call Head of AusAid.

10:15pm

Head of AusAid sympathises but can’t really help – table tennis players do not fall within definition of needy.

10:30pm

Mini-Rudd asks for report. Inform him that Australia’s table tennis team presently stinks and it is past his bed time, literally and metaphorically.

Mini-Rudd pulls out sleeping back and curls up under desk. Asks to be woken if anything happens.

11:15pm

Rudd gets off phone with friend in UN, has phone number of plumber in New Dehli.

11:30pm

Call plumber. Plumber does not speak English.

Call DFAT. Arrange translator.

12:00am

Translator arrives. Speaks to plumber. Plumber speaks Punjabi. Translator speaks Hindi. Crap.

12:30am

Second translator is successful. Plumber agrees to do job.

Can finally go home. Thank god.

2:00am

George calls. Says there has been terrorist incident at athletes village. Man was found tampering with bathrooms of Australian table tennis team. Man is claiming Australian Government put him up to it. Major diplomatic incident.

3:00am

Arrive in office to find Rudd has assembled Secretary of DFAT, Indian High Commissioner, two translators and the Parliament House plumber.

High Commissioner angry that Rudd intervened in internal affairs of foreign country. Rudd points out that bathrooms of Australian athletes might qualify as Australian territory. Secretary makes offer – we will never mention that a plumber was able to penetrate the security of the athletes village if they will never mention that the plumber was sent by us.

Plumber released and allowed to finish job.

3:45am

Rudd shows pictures of shower on Blackberry to Parliamentary plumber and Indian High Commissioner. Both agree Indian plumber has done excellent work.

Quietly thank Secretary for resolving incident and say if he ever needs anything in the future I’m happy to help.

Secretary says if next time this happens I could baby sit his kids that’d be great.

Tell Secretary I’ll have Mini-Rudd do it.

Mini-Rudd hears name and wakes up. Send him for coffee.

4:00am

Rudd on phone with grateful table tennis team.

Discuss evening's events with Mini-Rudd and George.

Mini-Rudd in awe of Rudd. Says he is going to remember this moment every time he has a shower.

George thinks after this incident chance of terrorist attack in athletes village has dropped to 64%. Thinks Rudd has made significant contribution to athlete’s safety.

Finally head home. Have weird dream that Pakistani floods were caused by table tennis players' shower.

Wonder how long I’ll last this time. My gut calculates there’s a 47% chance I make it past 6 months.

This entry also published at The Punch.

MONDAY 06/09/10

6:00am

Mobile rings. Gravelly voice says “It’s the devil”. Ask Bill Heffernan why he is calling at such an ungodly hour? Bill shocked I guessed it was him. Remind Bill he’s called me before and that picture of the devil comes up when he calls.

Ask Bill why he still does this?

Heffernan says he can’t help being a prankster. AND has had a lot of time on his hands since the Kirby ‘prank’.

Bill has never been funny.

Lunchtime

Joyce charges into office, demands $1billion for veterinary hospital in his electorate. Slams signed declaration on desk that states he will not support Coalition if demand isn’t met. Ask Joyce who he will support.

Joyce picks up declaration, crumples it up and charges out of office.

Afternoon

Meeting with independents, Abbott and Wyatt Roy. Ask Abbott why Roy is in meeting. Abbott says Roy has taken to following him round corridors. Abbott does not have heart to tell him to go away.

Windsor thanks Abbott for meeting. Windsor says he has enormous respect for Abbott.

Abbott perks up.

Windsor also thinks Gillard has excellent policies.

Abbott slumps down.

Windsor says he has been receiving many calls suggesting he support the Coalition.

Abbott perks up.

Windsor says, of course, serious parliamentarians cannot be swayed by a vocal minority.

Abbott slumps down.

Windsor has decided to support a coalition government.

Abbott almost bounces out of chair.

Windsor then laughs quietly and says “Of course, technically, the Greens, Wilkie and Labor are a coalition as well.”

Abbott almost slumps under desk.

Oakeshott gives thirty minute explanation of decisions he has not made without referring to issues he feels he cannot reveal his thinking on, while acknowledging the importance they have to his electorate. Thanks us all. Hugs us all. Begins to weep.

Katter keeps distance from Oakeshott.

Meeting ends. Abbott buoyant; says he has experience negotiating with men with poker faces.

Windsor has poker personality.

Evening

Joyce explodes into office. Asks for my response to his demands. Ask Joyce to remind me what demands were. Joyce storms out, promises to be back with demands written down.

Lock door.

30 minutes later

Loud thud on door.

Secretly delighted.

Open door. Joyce unconscious on ground. Revive him with scotch. Joyce just wanted to confirm he would support Coalition.

Wonder whether knock to head fixed Joyce?

Late evening

Oakeshott invites me to his pad for “some bevvys”.

Oakeshott says he is massive Bob Dylan fan. Indecisive about his favourite song. Likes the harmonies of Blowing in the Wind but prefers the lyrics of The Times They Are a-Changin. Oakeshott tries to sing lyrics of The Times They Are a-Changin while playing Blowing in the Wind.

Lengthy and incomprehensible.

Insists we watch Highlander. Says film about lone swordsman fighting in obscure locations inspired him to be independent.

TUESDAY 07/09/10

5:00am

Heffernan calls. Pretends to be Archangel Gabriel. Says he wants to vary it up. Tell Heffernan there are services he can call late at night and the people there will appreciate it much more than me.

8:00am

Meet with Pyne, Abbott and Roy.

Pyne starts meeting with briefing on parliamentary reforms.

9:00am

Pyne still finishing introduction.

Quite worried: have finished counting stripes on everyone’s suits and spots on carpet.

9:30am

Abbott interrupts Pyne. Requests summary. Pyne says this is summary. Pray I am never at wedding where Pyne is best man.

10:00am

Wake up suddenly. Roy giving Pyne standing ovation. Pyne happy to delay rest of briefing until training seminars he’s planning for next weekend (Christ kill me).

Pyne says there will be role-playing to prep for question time. He has bought red-wig and is looking forward to playing Gillard.

2:00pm

Katter backs Coalition.

2:15pm

Katter maybe not be backing Coalition.

2:20pm

Katter pretty sure he is backing Coalition, depending on what independents do.

3:00pm

Watch Windsor/Oakeshott press conference on TV in my office. Pyne, Robb and Hockey watching with me. Roy is here too - Abbott must have given him the slip. Lucky Abbott.

3:05pm

Windsor announces that independents will back Labor. Everyone annoyed.

3:06pm

Oakeshott begins with joke about Highlander. Nobody gets it.

3:07pm

Oakeshott says this is historic day - will be raised at Oakeshott family Christmas parties. Pretty sure Oakeshott will be the one raising it.

So much sympathy for Oakeshott family.

3:10pm

Oakeshott appears unaware that everyone in country already realises he has backed Labor.

3:15pm

Oakeshott still talking. Wonder aloud how many people are watching this? Pyne has done some quick calculations and believes that every minute Oakeshott speaks for costs Australia $789,000 in lost productivity.

Hockey appears to be counting something on his fingers. After several minutes announces he has costed Pyne’s figure and he thinks it’s about right.

So glad we don’t have to send anything to Treasury

3:20pm

Pyne says if ALP have offered Oakeshott speakership he will never raise point of order again. Would take hours for Oakeshott to resolve.

3:23pm

Pyne jokes that if we were playing drinking game where we sculled everytime Oakeshott uses a cliche we’d be very drunk right now. Wonder if Pyne has ever been drunk.

Wish I had scotch right now.

3:25pm

I wonder aloud if somebody should interrupt him before a full term passes and its election time again. Roy pipes up in some strange accent, and says "Imma let you finish Rob, but Windsor gave the best speech ever, the best speech ever".

Rest of room perplexed.

3:26pm

Getting government not worth much more of this.

3:29pm

Oakeshott finally announces he’s supporting Labor. Pretty sure no one has ever used 15 minutes of fame so poorly.

4:00pm

In office. Joyce erupts in. Wants to call Country Women’s Association to see if they can declare Fatwa against independents.

Joyce has recovered from knock to head.

5:00pm

Oakeshott calls. Has constructive criticism for Coalition for “next time around”. Tell Oakeshott I have to go. Have call waiting from Bill Heffernan.

Heffernan introduces himself as Tony Windsor.

Finally happy to receive call from Heffernan.

This entry also published at The Punch.
THURSDAY 26/08/10

7:00am

Horrible nightmare. Dreamt election never ended, then suddenly realised I was awake.

8:00am

Meeting in my office with Abbott, Alby Schultz and Hockey to discuss negotiations with Independents and costings.

Abbott says Treasury cannot be trusted. Just look at lying leakers like Godwin Grech. Point out that Grech leaked to Malcolm Turnbull. Abbott says that's exactly his point.

Schultz proposes divide-and-conquer approach to Independents. Says it worked with the three musketeers. Unclear whether Schultz took away central message of Three Musketeers.

Abbott likes idea. Schultz will talk to Windsor. Shultz says they share language: Fair-Dinkumese.

Wants me to speak to Oakeshott.

Abbott will talk to Katter.

Midday

Lunch with Oakeshott. Oakeshott wants to "move forward with real action". Laughs at joke and holds up hand. Perplexed at gesture. Oakeshott asks if I'm going to leave him hanging.

Tell Oakeshott I have no idea what is happening.

Oakeshott says that Abbott has nothing to fear from Treasury leaking. Has met several fellas from Treasury and was impressed at their firm handshakes and kind eyes.

Say that while Treasury is controlled by Labor, Abbott would need assurances that costings would be secure.

Oakeshott doesn't like talk of 'Labor' and 'Liberal' and words like control. Says that everyone he's spoken to is tired of 'old politics' with people abusing one another needlessly. Oakeshott thinks politics should be less about exclamation marks and more about question marks.

Ask Oakeshott what that means? Oakeshott suggests I tell him. Tell Oakeshott I have no idea. Oakeshott says, that's his point.

Really confused.

Oakeshott suggests we finish discussions over dinner at his 'pad'.

I'm too old for this.

Afternoon

Reconvene with negotiating team.

Schultz and Windsor had a quiet beer and talked about the 1984 cattle rustle they both went on.

Ask if that’s all that was discussed. Schultz says conversation may have briefly drifted onto Windsor's tight-arsed refusal to support the heirs of the election, the coalition.

Arranged to have a further drink.

Abbott says Katter is no nonsense guy. Katter wants incentives for attractive women to move to Mount Isa. Suggests calling it the babe bonus. Abbott agreed to idea in principle but must run policy past daughters.

Point out to Abbott that his deputy, Julie Bishop, is a woman. Abbott says he told daughters that and all they did was laugh.

Abbott has also agreed to put costings to Treasury. Ask how Katter convinced him. Katter asked Abbott if he would force a man to choose between two prostitutes without telling him the price. Abbott indicated that would indeed be an unreasonable demand to place upon a man so they spat on their hands and shook.

Evening

Arrive at Oakeshott's. Bob Brown is there! Oakeshott says he invited Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet but apparently all had stomach bugs.

Brown great with Oakeshott - like grandfather talking to exuberant child. Wish he was our negotiator.

Oakeshott has drawn up his favourite "fantasy cabinets". Says we should all do one - it’s a lot of fun. Brown as Environment, Oakeshott as Minister for Parliament, Rudd for Foreign Affairs, John Howard for Sport (to make up for that whole ICC thing).

Brown honored by suggestion but could never sell out environmental movement by joining Cabinet. Says that Cabinet room has panels from endangered redwoods in it. Would be equivalent to working in cemetery.

Oakeshott suggests we watch his new favourite film: "Mr Smith Goes To Washington". He hadn't watched it until this week but has been watching it every night! Says it's best documentary he's ever seen.

It’s going to be a long week.

This entry also published at The Punch.
MONDAY 23/08/10

6:00am

Security calls. Angry man at gate wants to see me.

It's Tuckey.

Ask him what he's doing here?

Tuckey is here for new Parliament.

Explain that Tuckey lost his seat, and is no longer member of Parliament.

Tuckey accuses Australian people of being traitors. Rushes off.

9:00am

Meet Abbott and Abbott Press Secretary (APS).

Abbott wearing nice suit. Ask why. He wants to look his best for Governor General. Remind Abbott we haven't won yet.

Abbott says he's won primary vote.

APS says primary vote not in constitution. Abbott shocked at founders 'limited vision'. APS says must negotiate to form government.

Abbott confident he can negotiate with Governor General. APS explains must win over independents.

Abbott concedes to APS. Asks me to help him handle negotiations with independents. Calls me his 'Wing Man'.

Afternoon

Joyce in. Demands right, as leaders of Nationals, to lead negotiations.

Explain to him that Warren Truss is Nationals leader.

Joyce insists he is spiritual leader of Nationals, Truss just takes minutes in meetings. Independents will run rings around Abbott with their bush-smarts. Country people have 6th sense for bulls**t - but Joyce knows how to fool 6th sense.

Joyce says we wouldn't even be in this situation if Laurie Oakes hadn't cut him off on election night. He'd almost outwitted Tony Windsor.

Suggest Joyce talk to Abbott.

TUESDAY 24/08/10

Morning

Accompany Abbott to negotiations. Joyce loitering outside, wearing cowboy hat.

Joyce tips hat: "Fancy seeing you blokes here." Says that's country for hello.

Abbott calls Warren Truss to remove Joyce. Joyce begins yelling that Truss "Ain't the boss of me! I don't want to go to the party room!" Truss gets Joyce in headlock and drags him away. Truss learnt trick handling disturbed horses.

Meet with Katter, Oakeshott and Windsor.

Katter holds out two Akubras. Says they're like Indian peace-pipe in bush culture. Mine is too big. Partially covers eyes - unclear how this makes me more trustworthy.

Katter has listed demands in poem form. Man From Snowy River with sugar subsidies and bans on banana imports inserted.

Oakeshott wants ETS.

Katter believes climate change is myth invented by Greenies to hide covert flying fox activities.

Oakeshott wants to rethink approach to asylum seekers and for Parliament to be kinder and gentler.

Katter wants right to carry guns into House of Representatives. Says "That'll show Al-Qaeda we mean business!"

Abbott says he's open to radical reform of question time.

Loud knocking on door. Joyce is back. Katter tells everyone not to move, Joyce can't see you if you don't move.

Windsor leads independents out side door.

Evening

Security calls. Tuckey downstairs. Wants duel with Crooks for seat.

Wyatt Roy appears. Tells Tuckey it's an honour to meet him - says Tuckey inspirational. Promises to continue Tuckey's fight for justice in Parliament. Tuckey says Roy reminds him of grandkid. Reluctant to spill blood in front of grandkid.

Tuckey leaves. Kicks pot-plant on way out.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
MONDAY 23/08/10

9:00am

In Canberra. Eat only things left in room for breakfast. Scotch and sugar lumps.

9:30am

Meeting with Arbib. Cannot understand smear campaign against him and other heroes of Labor party. Has some REALLY good Rudd leaks which will totally convince electorate we were right to knife him.

Doubt fighting leaks with leaks will convince electorate. Worry Rudd might tell media we joked about naming the psychiatric wing of a hospital after Bob Katter. Would make negotiations awkward.

Arbib agrees not to pull leak trigger.

10:30am

Meet with Gillard and Arbib. Arbib tells Gillard he's going on QandA, tells her is good chance to finally put case to electorate as to why party can be trusted.

Gillard insists he not go on QandA.

Arbib thanks Gillard for suggestion, but he's good at this politics thing.

Gillard tells Arbib that when time comes to put face to faceless men, does not need focus group to know it should probably not be Arbib's face. Tells Arbib she is PM and it's her call.

Arbib says now is not time for radical party reform. Gillard tells Arbib that No means No.

Awkward silence.

Arbib worried voters will think he is pussy, wants person to replace him to look like him, suggests David Bradbury - Arbib will give him lines to read before show.

Gillard going to negotiate with independents, wants me to handle Adam Bandt.

Afternoon

Arbib calls. Furious that Iemma attacked party. Wishes he hadn't already rolled him as Premier. Wants to know if Iemma holds any public offices we can remove him from. Joke to Arbib that only thing he hasn't taken from Iemma is superannuation.

Arbib going to start making calls.

Arbib really good at hating.

Note to self, do not rely on state pension in retirement.

Evening

Adam Bandt calls. Has faxed through extensive list of demands. Thank Bandt. Very worthy list. Tell him Prime Minister Gillard is happy to support them if he can get Bob Katter to agree.

20 minutes later

Bandt calls back. Quite angry. Says Katter was racist, sexist, homophobic, all before saying hello. Katter demanded Bandt promise to never visit his electorate, in case his influence rubbed off. Katter only willing to meet Bandt in place with lots of people and where Katter will always have back to wall.

Bandt says Gillard must consider demands.

Welcome Bandt to real world. Tell Bandt price of living in real world is dealing with people who have tenuous grip on reality. Tell Bandt he's lucky Katter didn't think he was a flying fox.

Bandt says if I don't agree to demands he will re-consider his support for Labor government. Tell Bandt if he likes I can transfer him to Abbott right now. Bandt needs to talk to Mr Brown before he can make decision.

Greens are like child who has just found out Santa Claus doesn't exist.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
SATURDAY 21/08/10

Morning

Wake up late. So used to being woken by Abbott alarm.

Dreading campaigning but then remember - it's election day!

Go back to sleep.

3:00pm

Have afternoon tea with wife. Wife jokingly asks who I voted for.

Holy moly! Knew I'd forgotten something! Don't want to make it three elections running. Tired of paying fines.

4:00pm

Arrive at polling station. Massive queue.

Campaign Manager (CM) calls just before I enter polling station. Asks where I am. Am voting. CM tells me not to waste my time. Needs me on Abbott watch.

CM worried about how Abbott will respond to victory/defeat/hung parliament.

6:00pm

Abbott using skipping rope to help him focus on ABC News coverage.

7:00pm

Minchin calls. Says results look extremely good. Ask Minchin what numbers he has. Minchin does not need numbers. Can smell Stephen Smith's fear.

Minchin lives for this.

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) watching Channel 9 coverage. Size of Costello's smirk suggests great results.

Abbott doing push ups now. Wants to look good for victory speech.

8:00pm

CM predicting hung parliament.

8:15pm

Joyce claiming victory on Channel 9.

Ring Joyce. Tell Joyce if he keeps claiming victory he could lose second portfolio. Joyce says hung parliament same as victory. No way independents will work with Labor. Joyce happy to talk them round if necessary.

9:00pm

Abbott jogging in corridors to relieve suspense. Ready to begin negotiations with independents. Happy to go 48 more hours without sleep to deliver government for Australian people. APS says more "real Abbott" would be premature. CM gets me to make calls to keep Abbott happy.

Speak to Tony Windsor. Windsor is only willing to make one commitment - will not work with Joyce under any circumstances.

Speak to Bob Katter. Katter only willing to commence negotiations if Joyce is given 50 lashes, by Laurie Oakes, live on Sunday programme.

Laugh at Katter's joke. Katter says Joyce gets cat-of-9-tails or regional Australia gets broadband.

Call Rob Oakeshott. Does not want to give position on Joyce's fate until has caucused with other independents. Oakeshott leaning towards the rack.

10:00pm

Abbott delighted with Wyatt Roy victory - wonders aloud if Roy could actually be his son.

APS warns that "real Abbott" cannot return until negotiations with independents are complete.

Abbott joking. Roy couldn't possibly be related - too weedy.

Speak to Roy, Roy happy with win too. After supporters were caught fighting, parents had grounded him for two weeks. Now only grounded for one!

Midnight

Travel with Abbott and CM to final party. CM tells Abbott he can claim to have defeated Gillard but cannot claim victory. Do not want to inflame independents anymore or may demand Warren Truss be burned at stake with Joyce.

Minchin tells me tonight is most satisfying moment of career. Says he is like old Cherokee warrior, who has given life to tribe. Has smeared the blood of his foe upon his face and now must leave the tribe to walk the woods alone. Tribe has a new warrior now - Wyatt Roy.

Wonder if real world is ready for Minchin?

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
SATURDAY 21/08/10

10:00am

Breakfast with campaign team - yum Cha. Exchange jokes about Rudd.

Work Experiece Kid (Kid) has best one. What's the difference between Rudd and a Rat? You can trust a Rat and no one enjoys f**king them.

6:00pm

Campaign headquarters, Melbourne. Show exit polls to Gillard Press Secretary (GPS). Labor's popularity in Western Sydney on par with asylum seekers.

7:00pm

Call Arbib. Arbib cracking under pressure on Channel 9. Tell him whatever happens he cannot cry. Arbib asks for good news. Tell Arbib good news is he hasn't cried yet.

Put Kid on phone to give Arbib pep talk. Kid begins singing "Always look on the bright side of life".

8:00pm

Watch Rudd press conference.

Kid says Rudd seems incredibly jubilant.

Bastard.

10:00pm

Arbib calls Kid. Demands to speak to someone who's older than Wyatt bloody Roy!

Kid upset. Take phone.

Ask Arbib what he wants? Tell him I wish I could replace the voters of Queensland, but founders didn't have that kind of foresight.

11:00pm

Gillard addresses crowd. Herd young apparatchiks towards stage and tell them to cheer like their careers depends on the decibel level.

Need cattle prod for next campaign.

11:30pm

Situation is dire. Hung Parliament. Call Bob Brown.

Me: Will you support us over Abbott?
BB: Tonight we have proven in Melbourne that Green values are mainstream values.
Me: Will you support us?
BB: This Greenslide sent a clear message!
Me: WILL YOU SUPPORT US?
BB: While I wish such conversations did not need to happen, I acknowledge that in this system choices such as these...
Me: DO YOU HATE ABBOTT OR NOT?
BB: Yes.
Me: WELL THAT'S IT THEN ISN'T IT??? PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN TO YOU IF YOU MADE IT A LITTLE EASIER!!!
BB: I saw Kevin's press conference. Must be terrible to have ex-leaders.

Hang up.

12:15am

Most supporters have left.

Find Kid in corner with bottle of scotch, surrounded by half-empty boxes of Chinese food. Kid feels like country has rat f**ked party, that Rudd has rat f**ked party and party has rat f**ked him.

Put arm around kids shoulder, take bottle of scotch and tell him about the two real parties in Australian politics: mine and Faulkner's.

Tell Kid, if he gets bitter he'll end up like me, especially if he has a second helping of Chinese every night.

Tell Kid if he keeps the faith he could end up like Faulkner. And when Faulkner sleeps he dreams about Ben Chifley, John Curtin, Bob Hawke, and Paul Keating sharing a glass of red in a lighthouse on a hill looking out over the whole country.

Tell Kid the party needs both kinds of people, and he should take some time off to decide which kind he is.

Kid agrees. But asks, "do both kinds get to f**k Rudd?"

Tell Kid that when election is all finished up, every single person in Labor will take turns f**king Rudd.

Kid asks: "Like a rat?"

Tell Kid: "If he's lucky Kid, if he's lucky."

Hug Kid.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
THURSDAY 19/08/10

Early morning

Wake up. Try to recall motivation to enter politics. Go back to sleep.

Morning

Meeting. Abbott wants to campaign for 36 hours straight.

Express strong objection to "no-sleeping strategy". Ask if we really want to win votes of people awake at 2am. Abbott believes 2am-6am voters could swing balance.

Minchin loves idea. Thinks 36 hour marathon will highlight that Abbott can stop boats any time, any place.

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) worried at impact of chronic exhaustion. Too much "real action" could lead to real emergency of "real Abbott".

Tell story of how I went without sleep for thirty six hours when I last flew to London. Needed flight attendants help to unlock toilet door.

Abbott will sleep in car between events. Abbott says Thatcher only needed 4 hours per night - plans to channel iron spirit.

Minchin informs Abbott that Thatcher is still alive. Abbott elated by good news.

Need to fill up hip flask.

10:00am

In Brisbane.

Teenager approaches me and Minchin in campaign headquarters. Salutes us and declares "Stop the boats. End the Waste". Describes himself as corporal in Abbott's army. Ask teenager to get me coffee. Teenager says he is Wyatt Roy, candidate for Longman, and his campaign manager/mum said candidates don't have to get coffee.

Minchin holds finger to lips and makes quiet noise at Roy. Tells Roy if he gets sandwiches and coffees we might let him listen to our conversation.

Roy leaves.

10:30pm

Horrific day. Hate Abbott. Hate voters. Hate shaking hands. Hate smiling. In Sydney, I think.

11:00pm

In car. Abbott is resting legs on my legs while doing sit ups.

FRIDAY 20/08/10

12:15am

At Police station.

Abbott excited - being policeman was childhood dream. Closely behind being PM, and being first Archbishop of Sydney to win middle-weight boxing title.

Talk to journalist from The Australian. Journalist asks if I have drink. Share hip flask. Journalist says this is inhuman.

2:00am

Street walk in Kings Cross. Abbott in police uniform. APS reminds Abbott not to intervene in any conflicts. Abbott asks if he can carry gun. APS says Abbott absolutely not to carry gun.

Talk to drunk voter, really angry at Liberal's pro-bouncer policy. Accuses me of looking at him funny. Give drunk voter sip of hip flask. Voter promises to only vote for Liberals. Wish I'd hit on this technique earlier.

3:00am

Wyatt Roy calls. Says he just got punched by angry voter. Ask how he met voter. Says he was door knocking. Tell Roy if he's going to door knock at 3 AM he really needs to pick his doors carefully and carry hip flask to mollify enraged constituents.

4:00am

Abbott does 8th radio interview today/yesterday/tomorrow? Several garden related queries.

Abbott admits he's not a petunia head.

5:00am

Am in building. Think it's a radio station. Don't care. Nap on someone's desk.

30 minutes later

Wake up with post it note stuck to face.

Have been left behind.

So happy.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
TUESDAY 17/08/10

6:00am

In Canberra. Sigh. Only saving grace of election campaign is less time in freezing round-about land.

8:00am

Meeting before Abbott's Press Club appearance.

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) outlines debate position. Have offered half hour economy debate tonight. That way Abbott can get out of 7:30 Report interview. Dodge two birds with one stone.

Abbott does not fear O'Brien!

APS grabs laptop and offers to play O'Brien's greatest hits. Asks Abbott whether he'd prefer to watch old stuff, where he admitted to not always telling truth, or new stuff, episode where he revealed complete ignorance of internet.

Abbott says "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me".

APS reveals little known third part of saying: "Fool me repeatedly, I don't get to move into the lodge".

Abbott doesn't want to move into the Lodge, wants to live among the ordinary folk of North Sydney.

10:00am

ALP Campaign Manager Karl Bitar rings. Wants 45 minute debate tomorrow in Queensland.

Come up with two unreasonable counter-offers:

  -  Two hour debate on boats with panel of Chris Uhlmann, Kerry O'Brien, and Annabel Crabb;
  or
  -  15 minute speed debate on everything, hosted by Andrew O'Keefe.

Call Bitar: says I'm being ridiculous. Agree with Bitar, but point out he is also being ridiculous.

Bitar concedes point.

Midday

Head to Press Club. Meet up with journalist from The Australian beforehand. Australian Journalist is not sure which question to get Abbott not to answer today. Is bored of campaign - says last night he dreamt of 8 hours sleep, long breakfast, and conversation about ancient history.

Tell journalist not to dwell on it, will make it harder to endure last six days.

Evening

APS frantically prepping Abbott for 7:30 Report.

Minchin tells APS to stop cramming Abbott's mind. Needs to be clear headed before battle with O'Brien. Quotes Chiang Kai-shek's autobiography to highlight importance of focus when fighting Maoists.

Post 7:30 Report

Abbott won debate with O'Brien in debate about whether to debate, debate.

Ride on press bus back to hotel to avoid Minchin's lectures on Clausewitz's theories on the influence of the Fog of War and how they apply to marginal seats.

Journalists keep asking me about whether debate is happening or not. How can they possibly still care?

Respond to debate question by asking if journalists have seen Waiting for Godot? Young journalist says she read review on Twitter. Totally agrees with playwright Samuel Beckett that homelessness is bad.

Australian journalist has non-Gen Y education. Explains that play is actually about futility of waiting for something that will probably never happen and if does will not bring salvation, or to put it in terms young journos can understand, debate will not be game changer.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
MONDAY 16/08/10

6:00am

Woken by phone call. Is Wyatt Roy, 20 year old LNP candidate for Longman in Queensland. Wyatt wants to lodge complaint about conduct of Labor campaigners, who swore at him and blew some cigarette smoke in his direction. Believes this teasing has escalated to bullying and wants me to punish them.

Ask Wyatt if he can hear that sound. Say it's the sound of his mummy calling him to go to school. Tell him to call back when he hits puberty.

7:00am

Meeting at Convention Centre to finalise launch.

Main discussion about whether Gillard should have notes or not. Say is extremely important Gillard doesn't have notes: will provide key point of difference with Abbott.

Faulkner disagrees. Labor leader hasn't conducted launch without notes since Doc Evatt. Explains lack of notes key reason 1950s was bad time for Labor - gesticulation no compensation for knowing lines.

Gillard suggests she'll have notes but won't rely on them.

Accept compromise: Gillard will have notes but we will tell media that the only prompts she needs are in her heart.

7:30am

Have meeting about Rudd with Faulkner. Faulkner agrees to play role of usher. Will make sure Rudd does not come into contact with enemies. Not sure how he'll provide buffer between Rudd and 90% of room.

Call Ministers to ensure Rudd gets standing ovation.

Lindsay Tanner very happy to stand up for PM, not so sure about Gillard though.

9:00am

Wyatt Roy calls back. Does not want this to become "a thing". Why am I being such a jerk about it?

Ask Wyatt to excuse me while I locate the appropriate person to talk to him - my assistant's assistant.

9:05am

Blanche D'Alpuget approaches me and asks if she can go on stage with Bob Hawke. Feels Labor campaign is missing romantic subplot. Agree with Blanche, ask if she could call Hazel Hawke for me? Blanche outraged. Says I'll be hearing about this in her next book.

11:00am

Launch goes great. Gillard speech excellent. Even I thought it was off-the-cuff.

12:30pm

Work Experience Kid (Kid) reports that media is running story that PM used notes, and have picture of notes to back up story. GPS thinks we should stop telling media PM was speaking from heart.

Tell GPS that only way to counteract evidence that is contrary to line, is to reiterate harder and louder - learnt that from Keating.

Afternoon

Check phone. Wyatt Roy still on line. Extremely upset at my intimidatory tactics. Find Kid - ask him to get his assistant to take call. Kid doesn't have assistant. Tell Kid to find youngest member of Labor Party in room.

Kid comes back with 16 year old. Give 16 year old phone, tell him to tell Wyatt Roy who they are, their age and to b#!gger off.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
SUNDAY 15/08/10

Morning

Team glum about polls.

APS says we need rabbit to pull out of hat.

Minchin nods. Says there is more than one way to skin rabbit - if he learned anything in his youth it was that.

Minchin so incredibly weird.

APS asks Minchin how 'Plan A' is proceeding. Minchin reveals he has been going undercover to bring boats back to front page. Has been using fake Facebook account to organise a leftie rally to celebrate the arrival of the 5000th boat to Australia.

Everyone excited.

Minchin says not to get too excited, lefties have proven much more difficult to organise than he first supposed. While many appear to be supportive of idea of holding a rally, major disagreements about which state to hold the rally in, when to hold the rally, whether food at the rally should be vegan or Halal, and whether to merge with gay marriage rally. Minchin says even with his help lefties appear incapable of being effectual.

Thinks we need Plan B.

Afternoon

Meeting with Morrison to brainstorm Plan B. Morrison says he has legal advice and there are no good conventions left to breach. Can probably swing a couple of procedural changes that will upset UN but won't resonate with public. Says his standing in electorate has never been higher, has even been getting high fives from braboys on Cronulla beach.

No one sure how to be tougher. After twenty minutes Abbott gets impatient and slams table. Abbott asks Morrison how we're going to turn back boats. Morrison says Navy will do it. Abbott says why doesn't he commit to personally turning back each boat. Abbott thinks Australians like deciders. Morrison likes idea, thinks there should be specific phone for boats, that travels with Abbott so people always know they're safe, like nuclear codes for US Presidents.

Thinks it should be green and gold phone too, would be extra inspiring!

Abbott really excited.

Have extremely bad feeling about idea.

Evening

Final meeting to lock in boatphone plan.

Minchin against idea. Says impossible for Abbott to make judgements about seaworthiness of vessels while not on vessels.

Abbott's eyes light up. Abbott wants goggles that let him see what Navy personnel would be seeing, in real time. APS says would require extremely fast internet, probably close to 100 megabytes a second. Abbott says that sounds about right. Asks how many more bytes he would need to pay to get surround sound and 3D vision? APS has briefing paper on internet policy. Abbott doesn't understand what that has to do with boats.

Suggest to Abbott we should not announce goggles yet.

APS puts out press release.

Midnight

Woken by Campaign Manager (CM). CM extremely angry at boatphone policy. Says Telegraph is calling Abbott 'Boatman'. Gayest national security announcement ever.

Really confused. Tell CM we were trying to pull rabbit out of hat. CM says well you've thoroughly f**ked that rabbit up haven't you?

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.