• Feed RSS
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.
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.
SATURDAY 14/08/10

Morning

Wake dripping with sweat. Been having recurring nightmare of arriving at Labor launch naked. Everyone is wearing Latham masks and Kristina Keneally is in my seat. Weird.

Midday

Feeling awful at event. Drink three cups of coffee. Does not help.

Media talking to guy in Elephant suit, again. God damn it! Why do we waste all our time putting these stupid events on when all it takes is a dick-bird in an animal suit to get a headline?

Afternoon

Rudd calls. Give phone to Work Experience Kid (Kid) and put it on speaker.

Rudd: Hello young fella.

Kid: Hello Mr Rudd.

Rudd: I was wondering if Julia would like to launch my daughter's book on Tuesday? I thought it might help send the message there's no hard feelings.

Begin banging head on desk

Kid: Is that her book about a prime minister being rolled by his female deputy?

Rudd: That's the one! What's that noise?

Pick up phone

Kid: I think we will need to call you back.

Hurl phone at wall.

Ask Kid to get me my backup Blackberry.

Late Afternoon

Keating calls. Doesn't want his seat at launch to be near Hawke. Remind Keating he is not coming to launch. Keating says: 'You're an incompetent stooge among incompetent stooges. Of course I'm aware I'm not coming, I still deserve a reserved seat and I don't want that seat within country mile of Hawke."

Honoured to be insulted by Keating.

Evening

Hawke calls. Blanche wants to read a sonnet about Hawke at the launch and, while it isn't really his thing, she had her heart set on it. Tell Hawke that I would love to hear sonnet and party would love to hear sonnet, but if I agree Keating is likely to go 'Latham' on us.

SUNDAY 15/08/10

Early morning

Another nightmare. Dream that Rudd was chasing me in elephant suit around an empty playground.

Must stop drinking coffee before bed.

Morning

Anna Bligh calls. Thinks there's been a mistake with seating plan at launch. Her seat is in back corner, behind bollard, with Norfolk Island branch of Labor party.

Check who was responsible for seating arrangements. Was Kid! Kid is awesome.

Placate her by promising to put her seat next to Keating's seat.

Afternoon

Call Rudd back. Rudd surprised to hear from me, thought I only talked behind his back.

Tell Rudd, Gillard can launch book, in November. Rudd says publishers forced daughters hand, in same way Sunday Night program insisted on showing Rudd interview tonight.

Throw phone into Brisbane River. Damn! Needed sim card.

Evening

Watch Rudd interview.

Holy hell, it's about organ donation.

5 minutes later

Holy crap, he just made joke about how life can end at any point, just like Prime Ministership.

Holy s**t, he just suggested Cabinet didn't support organ donation policies, WHILE TWIRLING A 4 YEAR OLD BENEFICIARY OF AN ORGAN TRANSPLANT AROUND A PLAYGROUND MAKING AEROPLANE NOISES.

Am looking forward to nightmares. Drink coffee.

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

Morning

Abbott in Sydney.

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) says we need to get to broadband announcement.

Abbott has changed mind. Wants to join Morrison in post-Nauru press conference. APS shocked - says broadband issue important. Abbott disagrees, says number one issue is boats. Broadband is wayyyyy down list, after economy, taxes, waste, parental leave and abortion.

APS glares at Abbott.

Abbott says he was joking. Bringing back Workchoices comes before abortion!

11:00am

In car, between events. APS tries to give Abbott broadband briefing paper.

Minchin throws briefing out window. Minchin thinks every word Abbott reads about broadband policy makes him less fair dinkum.

APS says internet is area where knowledge of detail essential.

Minchin disagrees - points to Christopher Pyne as example. Pyne has lots and lots of detail. Does APS want Abbott to be more like Christopher Pyne?

Abbott shudders.

APS annoyed - says Abbott needs specifics for 7:30 Report interview.

Abbott says policy specifics irrelevant, government is incompetent. Common sense and Rhodes Scholarship will get him through interview.

1:00pm

Abbott's daughters call using 'Skype'. Abbott asks who this 'Skype' is and why he let all three of them use his phone?

Daughters want to upgrade home modem.

Abbott will not upgrade unless he sees clear business case. Will not waste money so kids can spend study time on facebook.

Minchin says he's impressed to see Abbott living 'real action' mantra.

3:00pm

Meet Hockey and Minchin to discuss costings.

Hockey feels really stretched getting policies ready for costing on Friday.

Minchin and I aghast. Ask why Hockey would put policies for costing?

Hockey wants to set new standard of honesty. Also, would really like someone to check his working.

Minchin explains to Hockey that "costing is death".

Hockey thought needed costing to deliver promises?

Minchin tells Hockey not to worry. When we get into Government we will discover that nation's finances are in catastrophic state, much worse than we ever imagined, and have to cut in order to save nation from disaster.

Hockey feels we should tell people about perilous state of finances. Asks "don't people deserve to know?"

Minchin says if we announce it, we can't discover it, which means we can't make promises that we can't pay for.

Hockey incredibly confused.

8:00pm

In car post 7:30 Report interview. Awkward silence.

Phone rings. Campaign Manager (CM).

CM is at trivia night. Has really tough question. Asks if I can name the election where the opposition won despite their main line of attack being "I don't f*#king understand my own f**king policy because I'm not a f**king Techhead".

Concur with CM, interview went badly - promise to get Abbott's daughters to brief him on internet.

8:30pm

Back at hotel.

Abbott jogs outside to take call from family.

10 minutes later

Abbott says we have problem. Daughters are really angry that Abbott doesn't care about fast internet. Are threatening to boycott campaign events. Abbott hates internet.

APS says we must respond to crisis. Abbott must upgrade home modem immediately.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
MONDAY 09/08/10

Fly to Perth. Airline food is fantastic.

Spend day meeting kids.

Evening

Just got off flight to Adelaide - turn phone on. 59 missed calls from Swan.

Call Swan. Swan has found "rabbit in the hat" that could derail Libs. Cannot discuss on phone, will discuss tomorrow.

TUESDAY 10/08/10

Morning

Fly to Canberra to meet Conroy. Feast once again on Qantas muffins. Must organise all flights for meal times. Can see why people live like this.

Swan meets me at Canberra airport. Swan hands me suitcase. Walk with Swan to car. Swan tells me to open case.

Case contains 8 page document by Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb costing Labor's promises. Swan has been up all night "destroying Andrew Robb's career".

Has identified typographical, grammatical, AND stylistic errors. Headers and footers are inconsistent and he has discovered something: Robb does not know how to use semi-colons.

Swan will unveil in press conference.

Convince Swan to only focus on typographic errors. Concerned that Swan's bookish image will become terminal if he shows powerpoint slide of headers and footers.

Swan is terrier like; effective, but slightly over-enthusiastic.

Late morning

Drop in to Conroy's office to see how he's going prepping for debate with Shadow Communication Minister Tony Smith.

Conroy standing on desk wearing bandana. Staffer shouting technical questions about broadband policies.

Conroy taking debate very seriously.

Ask Conroy what Liberal's policy on broadband is. Conroy shows me Youtube video of Moose taking a dump. Conroy says that's the Liberal's policy.

Conroy says he doesn't need help prepping: "I have spent the last year fighting Google, Yahoo, and the US State Department. I. WILL. BE. FINE."

WEDNESDAY 11/08/10

Morning

Back with team in Melbourne. Policy meeting in morning. Need something other than "stopping the boats" for people of Rooty Hill or tonight will be awkward.

Call Bob Carr. Carr tells us to build rail line... AND cut immigration. Ask Carr why he didn't build rail line. Carr hangs up.

Line up press conference. Work experience kid (Kid) asks if he should invite Kristina Keneally.

Grab Kid by collar. Tell Kid I would prefer he ran through press conference naked than invite any member of New South Wales Government. NSW Labor's record on transport is on par with Robert Mugabe's record on inflation.

Kid acts surprised at comparison.

Think about it.

Tell Kid that on reflection, no, NSW Labor's record much worse. NSW Labor so unpopular they could not even rig upcoming state election.

Afternoon

Keneally shows up at press conference.

Ask Keneally how she found out about event.

Keneally follows Latika Bourke on twitter. F&#k twitter.

Tell Keneally she had her chance to build rail link. Tell Keneally big kids are having go now. Tell Keneally not to let door hit her on way out.

Keneally refuses - tired of being ordered around by hacks - is taking a stand. Says she runs New South Wales. She's turning out just like Nathan Rees.

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

Evening

Abbott Press Secretary (APS) tells me to go to airport, can't tell me where I'm going but says I might want earplugs for plane. Ask why all the secrecy? APS doesn't want anything leaked to Bishop.

Call wife. Tell her am going to Nauru. Wife surprised at coincidence, wife's bookclub just finished reading book about Afghan refugees, 'Kite Runner'.

MONDAY 09/08/10

7:00am

Awful flight with Scott Morrison - should have taken up offer of earplugs. Morrison began flight loudly singing "Real Action" jingle. Presently snoring and leaning heavily on my shoulder.

Greeted on tarmac by man with "Scott Morrison" sign. Is President of Nauru. Thank President for taking time out of busy schedule to greet us. President doesn't mind, will finish chess game with Treasurer later.

8:00am

President drives us to Parliament. Parade in our honor. Meet Minister for Detention. Minister introduces his four teenage daughters, Toni, Tonette, Tonina, and Abbey, all named after Abbott. Ask why? Explains that he renamed children when he heard Abbott was re-opening centre.

9:00am

Meeting to discuss cost. Morrison says Abbott has authorised him to spend $2 billion. File Hockey gave me says we have $2 million to spend.

Minister for Detention thinks half a billion should cut it. Minister for Refugees not sure, thinks $3 billion safer bet. Minister for Australia Relations thinks $100 million. Other Ministers shush him.

Call Robb. Robb has allocated $8 billion for Nauru. What? Robb apologises, he accidentally added a few zeros, figure is $80 million.

Nauruans disappointed, but understand.

9:30am

Wife calls. Has been speaking to book club about Nauru, has list of questions for me to ask. Will call back for answers.

11:30am

Tour detention centre. Shockingly dilapidated.

Group of children in detention centre? Minister explains this is Nauru High, or soon to be renamed Morrison High!

12:30am

Arrive at actual detention centre. Ask wife's questions:

Where will the children be kept?

Minister says children kept in main dorm. Morrison interrupts and says I should not worry - refugee kids are tough, already absorbed maximum amount of trauma in Afghanistan. Nauru is like holiday park to kids. Besides, still better than drowning at sea.

Ask about the 40 people that became suicidal and had to be airlifted out of Nauru during Pacific Solution. Minister interjects; says that there were no suicide attempts during Pacific Solution, though there were a significant number of arts and craft injuries, according to Australian Department of Immigration. Morrison adds that as bad as attempting arts and crafts in Nauru may be it is still better than drowning at sea.

Evening

Wife calls. Give wife answers. Wife unsatisfied.

Put wife onto Morrison. Morrison uses arts and crafts line. Begins apologising almost immediately. Morrison gives phone back to me, thoroughly chastened. Wife thinks entire Shadow Cabinet should read 'Kite Runner'. Assure wife will raise with Abbott. Hate being wedged between party and wife.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
SATURDAY 07/08/10

Early morning

Wake up in cold sweat, craving pistachios.

Need new education policy for Monday. Phone conference with Crean and Swan.

Crean wants funding for improving schools. Swan in generous mood, offers $2 billion in 2015. Crean uncertain he'll be in politics in 2015.

Swan says Crean has to adopt post-GFC thinking.

Crean will do best.

Morning

Accompany Gillard to meeting with Rudd.

Gillard asks what she needs to say? Tell Gillard just need images of her and Rudd beaming down the camera. Gillard asks if beaming means smiling. Smiling preferable, but not mandatory.

Gillard and Rudd greet each other. Do not shake hands or make eye contact.

Silence.

DAMN! MUST FIND CONVERSATION PIECE.

Race down corridor. Tear map of Queensland off wall. Run back. Tell them I have map they asked for. Rudd and Gillard bewildered. Penny drops. Both intently examine map.

Gillard: Is Port Douglas on the map?

Rudd: Port Douglas is in Queensland.

Gillard: There it is. I went on holiday there.

Rudd: That's nice.

Gillard: How are the kids?

Rudd: Marcus is now at boarding school.

Rudd: This is a very big map.

Gillard: It fills the whole desk.

Rudd: A1 pages are like that.

Gillard: I didn't know Mt Isa was that far inland.

Rudd: No, a lot of people are surprised by that.

Rudd: That's a nice jacket you are wearing.

Gillard: Yours is also nice.

Gillard touches Rudd on arm. That's best we're going to get! Call end to meeting.

Congratulate Gillard on physical contact, could turn tide in Peter Dutton's seat.

Afternoon

Attended Brisbane show. Latham appeared. Hasn't changed much. Even his cameraman looked uncomfortable.

SUNDAY 08/08/10

Lunchtime

Watched Liberal Party launch. Really need "Moving Forward" jingle. Wonder if "It's Time" writer is still alive.

MONDAY 09/08/10

Education policy meeting. Crean has post-GFC approach to education funding. Wants to "incentivise" achievement. Has three points:

1. Rank school performance and reward schools that improve results with prize money in 2015 (Crean calls this Most Improved Schools award).

2. Recognise best teachers in country (Brownlow of teaching, Crean calls it the Crean medal).

3. Truants to be banned from sport to encourage participation (calls this the Fevola/Cousins part of scheme).

Gillard loves policy. Bloody Victorians. Swan likes the way Crean has given teachers long-term goal of money in 2015. Swan thinks it will keep teachers hungry.

Like Crean's policy. Is very thoughtfully packaged and neatly wrapped s**t sandwich.

Wonder out aloud if same post-GFC approach could be applied to other under-funded area: mental health? Could rank facilities by clearances of patients, with prize money in 2015. Would give doctors real incentive to achieve. May even help patients. What better way to encourage someone to overcome depression than chance to win Most Improved Patient award?

Room silent.

Everyone shocked at my callous attitude to mentally ill. Swan would never dream of postponing funding to 2015, funding will absolutely come through by 2013, probably.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
FRIDAY 06/08/10

Morning

Wake suddenly with sense of foreboding. Abbott explodes into room, Abbott Press Secretary (APS) in tow. Gillard has offered $1.5 million for celebration of Mary Mackillop's beatification. Abbott says Labor is testing his faith.

Abbott doesn't think it is role of federal government to fund celebration: Federal government should organise celebration. Wants bust of Mary Mackillop in the Senate to keep an eye on the Greens.

APS reminds Abbott of his campaign promise to her "not to mention the Faith". Abbott says Mackillop not religious issue, budgetary issue. APS agrees, will ask Hockey to match Gillard's offer. Abbott grumpy, goes for jog to work off religious fervour.

Evening

Relaxing at dinner. Minchin asks "How about Latham being a reporter for 60 minutes?"

Everyone laughs at ridiculous hypothetical.

Minchin serious. Latham IS working for 60 Minutes!

Abbott looks at sky and mouths "Thank you".

SATURDAY 07/08/10

Morning

Meeting with APS, Minchin, Bishop, Campaign Manager (CM), and some old guy to finalise launch preparations. Turns out old guy is leader of National Party. Wish he had name tag. Had to call him Mr. National for whole meeting.

APS has run Bishop's speech through plagiarism software. Speech is identical to Abbott's speech. Bishop says not her fault, got staffer to write it. CM not worried, always carries back up Bishop speech.

Tuckey drops in to suggest Abbott should open speech with homage to traditional owners of Queensland - the Bjelke-Petersens. Tuckey misses the 70s.

Lunchtime

Abbott in. Asks if we can reschedule launch so he can run City-to-Surf.

APS says not possible.

Abbott says no problem will run extra fast and get chopper from Bondi beach. APS does not want Abbott running through Turnbull electorate - could be seen as provocation by Turnbull camp. Abbott deflated.

Afternoon

Labor called. Desperate for debate, anytime, anyplace.

Everyone brainstorms offer Labor cannot possibly accept. Abbott suggests three way debate with Gillard and Rudd. Minchin proposes Latham as moderator. I suggest town hall meeting instead of debate.

Make list of venues that would disadvantage Gillard:

  • On a boat at Christmas Island (vetoed by Department of Immigration and Citizenship)
  • Church (vetoed by APS)
  • Abbott's wife's childcare centre (vetoed by Abbott's wife)
  • In outback (vetoed by me, hate camping)
  • Rooty Hill RSL
Issue offer to Gillard: town hall meeting, with Rudd, Latham moderating, at the Rooty Hill RSL.

SUNDAY 08/08/10

Morning

Labor calls back. Happy for Latham to be debate moderator. Labor looking forward to informing media that Abbott is facilitating Latham's stalking of Gillard, thinks it will fit really well in their campaign spot involving Abbott's "No doesn't mean No" quote.

Labor has out manoeuvred us. Agree to Rooty Hill town hall meeting. No Latham or Rudd.

Afternoon

Launch great success, everyone humming jingle.

APS not religious but after great launch, Latham and Rudd joining campaign, even she thinks Mary MacKillop must be watching over Liberal campaign.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
WEDNESDAY 04/08/10

Early morning

In Queensland. Pineapple rings for breakfast.

Morning

Campaigning. People keep looking at Gillard like she stole Christmas.

Pollster has good news, bad news, and disastrous news. Ask for bad news. Gillard in free-fall in Queensland. Ask for disastrous news. Despite Abbott's best efforts, Abbott has higher approval rating amongst women for first time since, well, ever.

Ask for good news. Rudd's numbers have bounced back.

Explain to pollster that voters who like Rudd are like Age readers who love Catherine Deveny - they ain't buying copies of The Age. Pollster has no data on Catherine Deveny, asks which party she represents. Pollster needs girlfriend.

Feel like panicking; look to Faulkner for wise words - guy who can remain calm through election with Latham can handle anything. Faulkner says he feels like panicking but is too exhausted.

Holy Crap!

Midday

Gillard has decided not to ride on bus today. Says media kept asking her about Rudd and "You can only laugh awkwardly for so long".

Evening

Brainstorming ways to win in Queensland.

Faulkner asks how much we have to spend.

Swan asks for definition of "spend". If by "spend" Faulkner means re-announce things, or bring money already spent forward, then funds are bountiful. If by "spend" Faulkner means "spend" then nothing.

Faulkner even more emotionless than usual. Is this angry Faulkner? Hungry?

Gillard proposes solution: campaign really, really hard.

Gillard Press Secretary (GPS) proposes bringing Schappelle home. Pollster thinks that would play well with 'real demographics': Rudd's battlers, netball mums, and drug dealers. Thinks it could really swing some Queensland marginals.

Moral low. Gillard jacket least puffy I've seen all campaign.

Work Experience Kid (Kid) stands up. Kid says "We have to win. If we give up Abbott wins. And Abbott really sucks". Kid sits down.

Silence.

Faulkner nods slowly: "Sam Seaborn is right, Abbott does suck". Think Faulkner just made joke? Feel like I?ve seen blue moon.

Late evening

Listen to Rudd interview. Rudd repeatedly declares the election ain't about him. Unclear what else Rudd discussed.

THURSDAY 05/08/10

Morning

Gillard calls Rudd. Rudd still "punctured", from surgery but ready to lead. Says couldn't stand idly by while Abbott strolls into power. Happy to campaign on his record, not happy to campaign on citizen's assembly.

Gillard's restraint amazing. Kevin suggests he lead in Queensland, NSW. Offers to run campaign there. Gillard tells Rudd he can either run campaign or be Foreign Minister. Rudd wants to be Foreign Minister but wants it in writing. Gillard doesn't mind if Rudd writes it down as many times as he likes. Rudd writes it down and faxes it.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
TUESDAY 03/08/10

Early morning

Woken by Hockey. Hockey has been up all night trying to understand parental leave scheme. Thoroughly befuddled.

Call Abbott Press Secretary (APS). APS bewildered. Call Minchin.

Minchin explains 1.5% levy on big companies, pays for leave scheme. Hockey asks how we pay for 1.5% company tax cut? Minchin says it's covered by levy. Hockey asks how levy pays for both? Minchin says levy is multi-tasking.

Hockey horrified! Realises he's been lying, accidentally.

Minchin says: "There's no risk, provided you don't discuss parental leave and company tax cut in same sentence."

Hockey uncertain, wants to see detailed arithmetic. Minchin tells Hockey "Arithmetic? You can't handle the arithmetic."

Abbott bursts in. Back from rock climbing, still wearing harness. Hockey asks Abbott about multi-tasking levy. Abbott says it's fine, don't over-think it. Hockey asks how we'll get budget back into surplus by 2012? Abbott not worried, says he can bring budget to surplus at last minute, with Real Action. Hockey asks for details of Real Action? Abbott says it wouldn't be Real Action if we planned it.

Hockey worried about how he'd defend this to Kerry O'Brien. APS asks Hockey to imagine he has allergy to nuts: O'Brien is equivalent to kilogram of peanut butter, likely to send Hockey's career into anaphylactic shock.

Meeting ends. Hockey still bewildered. Try to cheer Hockey up - tell him I haven't understood an economics policy since Hewson. Hockey points out he's Shadow Treasurer.

Afternoon

Abbott announces parental leave scheme. Makes quip re: Gillard changing her mind about second debate. Something about no meaning yes? Whatever, it sounded great.

Tell journalist I agree that Gillard has been wishy-washy on debate. Journalist asks me who I am.

Think they might have written down line! Exciting!

2:00pm

APS has gone pale white. Says that journalists are accusing Abbott of joking about sexual assault. Abbott shaking. Says he needs exercise, NOW! APS take him to bathroom to do some pull ups.

2:30pm

Abbott back. Enraged. Demands debate with Gillard on gender issues tonight, at a maternity ward. He. Is. Not. Afraid.

APS tells Abbott to calm down. Says this was most anticipated gaffe in political history. Minchin agrees: "Since end of Soviet Union, the Left exists for these moments. Gives them a sense of purpose."

Minchin thinks Left look crazy while distracting from massive budgetary irregularities, so gaffe is win-win. Abbott extremely unconvinced being accused of rape joke is one win, let alone two.

Minchin agrees, probably only one win.

Late evening

Journalist calls back to: "Follow up on my sexist remark".

Ask what he's talking about.

Journalist says calling Gillard wishy-washy suggested that women belong in kitchen.

Ask what he's talking about? I use wishy-washy all the time!

Journalist bursts into tears, says he can't understand parental leave policy even after reading Megalogenis' blog! Has deadline - could I say something sexist?

Say I would love to help, but wife would kill me.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
SUNDAY 01/08/10

Morning

Wake up. Trying to diet. Chew pack of gum for breakfast.

Polls suggest Abbott victory possible. Call crisis meeting.

Pollster's data suggests "move forward" is infuriating electorate. Gillard worried retreat from moving forward would be step backward.

GPS says Gillard doesn't need lines in meetings, should be more real.

Brilliant strategy. Gillard can subtly drop "moving forward" by announcing she is going "real".

Work Experience Kid backs me up: "I think its time we let Gillard be Gillard".

Thank Sam Seaborn for his contribution.

Faulkner asks who Sam Seaborn is. Explain West Wing, and joke to Faulkner. Faulkner unamused (or perhaps smile just frownlike?).

Tell Gillard she will announce tomorrow that "Real Julia" is taking control of campaign. Will send message - Gillard is breaking free of faceless factional bosses.

GPS asks if this means I'm resigning. Laugh at joke. Gillard doesn't laugh. Awkward.

Lunchtime

"Real Julia" brainstorming with image consultants and hairdresser (not Mathieson).

"Real Julia" wants to campaign the same way the Bulldogs play football, attacking, freeflowing and risky."Real Julia's" jackets aren't puffy.

"Real Julia" walks down streets, as well as shopping centres.

"Real Julia" really believes in strong economy.

MONDAY 02/08/10

Afternoon

Great day. Gillard nailed "Real Julia" lines. Media fixated by "Real Julia", completely missed death of "moving forward". Wish I had had genius plan like this to kill climate change.

Evening

Gillard on Today Tonight.

3 minutes later

S*#@. Gillard just took control of campaign and challenged Abbott to debate on economy, next Sunday.

3 minutes later

Call GPS. GPS can't believe Gillard's "Gone Real" - is both extremely anxious and slightly awe-struck.

GPS not sure how she'll take control of campaign while also campaigning. Seems like at least two person job. Ask GPS, WTF is with second debate?!?! GPS surprised too, worries that PM challenging opposition leader on Today Tonight while being interviewed by former sports-caster not best way to inspire confidence in government. I certainly didn't see it coming - especially from Matthew White - if that man were any blander he would be a brand of tofu. GPS does, however, think it could give Abbott a false sense of security - usually only Prime Ministers get to refuse debates.

Later

Meeting with Gillard - explain that I feel "Real Julia" campaign is out of control.

Gillard disagrees - thinks challenging Abbott looks brave. Gillard says she has strategy for tomorrow - wants whole team to ride in media bus.

Ask Gillard how she thought of idea. Gillard names someone I have never heard of. GPS says it is Sam Seaborn. Damn Work Experience Kid.

Tell Gillard riding with journalists is too risky.

GPS says she has to spend enough time with journalists, time in cars between events is valuable b*tching time. (Liking GPS more).

Gillard puts foot down - we all ride the bus. Says she has to take control of campaign otherwise today's message would be nothing but spin.

Jesus, we're actually out of control.

This entry originally published at BigPond News as part of their Federal Election 2010 coverage.
MONDAY 02/08/10

Early morning

Woken by Abbott bursting through door wearing nothing but towel. Polls at 50-50, Abbott says some call that a dead heat, but he's a poll half full kinda guy!

Abbott begins shadow boxing in mirror. Really want more sleep.

30 minutes later

Abbott goes for post-bike ride warm down jog. Nick Minchin, Abbott Press Secretary (APS), and Peter Dutton watching Gillard press conference.

10 minutes later

Gillard says she is going to show people "real Julia" and is taking control of campaign. Following discussion occurred:

Me: Why would she want to do that?
Minchin: The left is always trying to centralise power.
APS: It's a trap!
Peter Dutton: I hate the left.
Minchin: They're hopeless.
APS: I think it's a trap.
Dutton: Long winded joke about real Julia being communist, something about the colour red (lost focus).
APS: IT. IS. A. TRAP. Trap to awaken Tony's "real" side!

Abbott bursts through door. Says he's got to respond to Gillard's 'real' gauntlet. Has had an idea: wants to fly an F-16.

Campaign Manager (CM) rings. Says "You know this is a trap right? You have to make it clear to Abbott that his real and Gillard's real are on different planes of reality." Not sure I'll put it like that.

Back in meeting, APS in favour of keeping it normal. Abbott wants to take control of campaign. APS thinks Abbott would be as good at running own campaign as ironing his own shirts. Abbott concedes APS may have point.

Minchin thinks there's blood in the water. Thinks Labor is like wounded whale but warns: wounded whales are most dangerous whale to hunt.

Forgot how weird Minchin is.

Lunchtime

Go to Cairns.

Afternoon

Tour cruise ship with Abbott. Dutton makes awkward joke about leaky boats. Didn't really understand.

30 minutes later

Dutton calls. We left him behind, in toilet. Asks us to come back for him. APS explains we're already on road, will call nearest party branch to pick him up.

Call branch. Turns out they're Nationals. Tell Dutton. Dutton irate. Tell Dutton I'm sure he'll be fine, Nationals and Liberals are same party in Queensland.

Evening

In Qantas club watching TV. Gillard just challenged Abbott to debate! On Today Tonight? Debate over response to debate invitation begins.

APS against. Me against. Mainly due to Canberra being cold. Do not raise this point.

Suggest refusing offer will infuriate Labor. Abbott should respond: "No more time for talk - time for real action."

Abbott asks if this means no debate. Tell Abbott we are just rejecting the first offer, playing hard to get. Abbott and Minchin like idea of mind games.

Dutton calls. Angry at Nationals. Branch president picked him up in ute but refused to allow him to sit in cab, said his dog got priority over Liberal. Miss my dog.

Text CM. Say traps avoided, he can rely on Shadow Minister for Future Building and Values. CM sends text back: "Who is this?"

Sigh.

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