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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.
WEDNESDAY 23/03/11

9:00am

Going to be great day! Very excited about No Carbon Tax demonstration; the last time I attended a rally was 1975 to celebrate dismissal. Dreamt last night that today’s rally so big, Governor-General dismissed Gillard!

Staff have been up all night making placards! Some beauties:
GIVE CO2 A CHANCE
I DON’T LIKE MY GRANDCHILDREN ANYWAY

10:30am

Run into Turnbull in corridor. Ask if he is going to demonstration.

Turnbull says, unfortunately, he is double-booked - has set aside two hours to re-read One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

11:00am

Abbott’s office brimming with pre-demonstration excitement.

Abbott asks Press Secretary (APS) to clarify what current line is on climate science. APS explains that we certainly accept the science on climate change, and that mankind might well influence global warming, but that we are adamant that a tax won’t save the day, what with China burning coal and Australia being so small - particularly in light of the science being so uncertain.

Tell APS I feel line still lacks clarity.

APS thanks me for my “opinion” but research shows line receives a positive response from 95% of focus group participants. Science on line is settled.

Abbott fine as long as experts are happy.

11:30am

Bernardi, Mirabella, and Abetz arrive with placards and costumes!

Bernardi wearing winter clothes and balaclava. Wants to highlight that planet is in fact cooling, and also draw attention to how oppressive Burqa is! APS says Bernardi should change outfit, first, because it is quite hot, and secondly, because it will probably scare the protesters.

Mirabella has constructed effigy of Gillard with broomstick.

Ask Mirabella why she has dressed Gillard in middle-eastern clothes.

Mirabella says it is a “Gillard the wicked”/”Colonel Gaddafi-esque” witch from the Middle-east. It’s a double metaphor. Has brought monopoly money to burn with effigy.

Abbott worried burning effigy does not send good message about being carbon conscious. Also, though he hates regulation, pretty sure you need permit to burn stuff near Parliament.

Bernardi worried burning an effigy might be one of the pillars of Islam and thus ‘halal’. Also thinks it’s a shame to waste a good effigy, can reuse later. Abbott proud to see team recycling, thinks it’ll help green credentials.

12:30pm

Wander down to rally. 1500 - 2000 people. Great atmosphere.

Elderly gentlemen comes up to me. Needs to find his grandson, but needs someone to mind his placard. Agree to hold placard for moment. Would not want young child to be wandering Parliament lawns on own; could be picked up by Green.

12:35pm

Stood right behind Abbott for great speech. Real buzz!

12:40pm

Elderly man returns with grandson, who appears to be in mid 30s. Hand back placard.

5:00pm

Wife calls. Has seen nightly news bulletin and is extremely angry.

Asks me why I was holding placard calling PM a “bitch”?

Oh dear.

Wife says she just had great chat with daughters or the “little bitches” about how daddy is a stupid bastard who got misled by hanging with wrong crowd, something they should be wary of. Wife and her book club are organising a petition condemning me which she will be sending to her local member (me) to table in Parliament. Hopes I will do the right thing.

5:15pm

Watch news bulletin. Oh dear indeed. Have been ‘placarded’ into corner.

Secretary says APS is coming over with “scientific proof” that I’m a massive idiot.

Tell secretary to lock door, turn off all lights, computers. Hide under desk.

Secretary asks why.

I’m embracing energy, and self, preservation.

Toby Halligan and Mathew Kenneally are both appearing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Details for their respective shows can be found at http://tobyhalligan.com/ and http://kenneally.com.au/
SUNDAY 20/03/2011

11:00am

Rudd summons me to his office on a Sunday. Needs an invite to Prince William’s cocktail party tonight. Also wants an update on the Libyan bombing campaign. Given his advocacy of no-fly zone he's unclear why NATO haven't called him for advice on bombing targets. Rudd believes he should have direct role in negotiating with Gaddafi as he has direct experience of working with a mad man, having served under Mark Latham.

11:30am

Call British embassy. British Government thanks me for interest, but says they have war covered.

I suggest to Rudd he needn’t worry about no-fly zone anymore.

Rudd says Libyan conflict is greatest moral challenge of this month; needs to make sure NATO properly implements his plan. Says he will call Obama later tonight.

1:00pm

Call Queensland Premier's office: Anna Bligh is attending the cocktail party and feels that she can handle Prince’s visit on own.

Rudd furious - not for himself, but for Queensland media who will all be expecting him at event. Does not want to disappoint.

Demands to speak with Bligh. Get her on speaker phone:

Rudd: Hi Anna.
Bligh: Hi Kevin.
Rudd: Anna I appear to have misplaced my invitation to this evening’s cocktail party.
Bligh: Kevin, it’s just a state event.
Rudd: I am a Queensland politician.
Bligh: Yes but it’s a charity fundraiser so we cannot just give tickets away to every politician.

[SILENCE]

Rudd: I’m the Foreign Minister of Aus...
Bligh: Kevin this is not about you, it’s about flood victims.
Rudd: I am a flood victim.
Bligh: No you are not.
Rudd: I still have pain in my right foot from the infection I incurred while fighting the floods in my electorate. Every time I put weight on it I feel Queensland’s pain.
Bligh: Maybe you need a quiet night in then.

Bligh hangs up.

Rudd refuses to give in - demands I call Prince William.

3:00pm

Call Prince William's personal assistant (PA).

Ask PA if he can squeeze Rudd into cocktail party. Say it would mean a lot to Rudd. PA is sympathetic but says that would involve bumping someone off the list, like a schoolgirl who has been looking forward to the event all week. PA asks if the Foreign Minister would be comfortable with that.

Declare I am 100 per cent sure Foreign Minister would be comfortable with that.

Awkward silence. I think it was a rhetorical question.

3:30pm

Rudd disappointed, but doesn't look like he's given up yet. Sends me home.

MONDAY 21/03/2011

9:00am

Rudd bouyant.

Spent whole night on phone with Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy planning NATO’s next move. Rudd says he is starting to feel like an important part of NATO.

Remind him that Australia is not part of NATO - we are nowhere near the North Atlantic.

Rudd scoffs. Feels that he is sort of an honourary member. Is fairly sure he makes bigger contribution to NATO than Holland, Belgium, and Germany combined.

Ask Rudd if he got in to cocktail party?

Rudd dismissive. Says he is not interested in cocktail parties. Prefers flood events where he can get his hands or feet dirty. Cocktail party is just a chance to awkwardly talk to people in areas unaffected by flood. Not really a Rudd thing. Rudd would rather be in Libya.

15 minutes later

Prince William’s PA calls. Says Rudd is welcome to attend event in Victoria.

Rudd grabs his pre-packed William bag and heads out door, excited not to be disappointing Victorian media. Says if Gaddafi calls, take a message.

This entry also published at theage.com.au.

Toby and Mathew are both performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival throughout April. Details here.
FRIDAY 11/03/11

9:00am

Lucas (Mini-Rudd) and I in office.

Ask Mini-Rudd what he is doing on weekend.

Mini-Rudd is spending Saturday morning planting trees for carbon abatement scheme, will work on masters in afternoon, and plans to relax in evening by re-watching An Inconvenient Truth. Asks what I’m doing.

Tell him I have a date with Johnny Walker.

Mini-Rudd asks which Ministerial office Johnny Walker works in.

Reply: “Almost all of them - he gets around”

2:00pm

Rudd and George (National Security Adviser) back from Middle East trip. Believe no-fly zone is only solution to Gaddafi’s brutality. Inform Rudd that Gillard wants UN approval for any military action.

Rudd is sure the UN will set up a terrific war crimes tribunal and superb latrines in refugee camps, but what is needed now is action.

George shakes head, does not believe UN has “war-zone standard”.

George has reached his contacts in Libya using new age technology "Facebook Chat", says they would want no-fly zone, but the USA are wimping out.

Rudd slams his desk and yells that Australia will lead the world down the no-fly zone path. Gillard and Swan got in his way on climate change, they won’t stop him on Libya-change. Besides, if Australia leads it’ll shame the rest of the world to take action, if only to rescue our troops.

Rudd asks me to set up meeting with Stephen Smith. As Defence Minister we will probably need to involve him at some point.

SATURDAY 12/03/11

9:00am

Meet with Smith. Offer Smith a drink. Smith uncertain whether he wants milk or diet coke. Deliberates for several minutes. Wind up giving him both. Smith sips from one then the other.

Explain plans on Libya. Smith asks what Gillard thinks. Rudd says he’s taking initiative, doesn’t want to put too much pressure on Gillard. She’s had a tough week of elocution boot camp to prepare her accent for the US congress.

Smith not sure where he stands on Libya, thinks Gaddafi is bad, and loss of life is bad. Would really like to avoid both. Looks at us hopefully.

Rudd agrees, thinks Smith is thinking clearly about issue. Asks if he’ll support commitment of Australian fighter jets.

Smith has no idea. Needs time to think about it.

Rudd asks if it would be easier for him if Rudd took lead. Smith needs to think about that too.

Rudd asks if he can take lead while Smith thinks about it.

Smith gives cautious approval. Leaves with milk.

SUNDAY 13/03/11

9:00am

George has spoken to airforce.

Good news: Libyan airforce totally antiquated, mostly Italian hand-me-downs.

Bad news: Australian airforce only marginally better, mainly American hand me downs. Thinks our planes could probably make it to Libya, but not sure they could carry bombs there.

Also uncertain if it would be worth diplomatic disaster of flying military planes through dozens of other sovereign territories.

Rudd says “This isn’t a fucking diplomatic disaster, a diplomatic disaster was going to an international conference on climate change without an ETS, getting rat fucked by the Chinese and letting the Great Barrier Reef die in 20 years. I’m not making that mistake twice. Australia needs to lead and the Party be damned, I will save those Libyans, especially if it means sacrificing this government.”

Rudd thinks it’s time to call Gaddafi out and give him official declaration of war: tells me to find Gaddafi’s twitter account.

6:00pm

American Ambassador calls. Just wanted to check on a crazy rumour that’s been doing the rounds that we’d declared war on Libya. Gave everyone at Pentagon a good laugh. Thought he’d just check in and make sure we knew.

Thank Ambassador for heads up.

Am quite worried this job is going to make me unemployable in rest of western world.

MONDAY 14/03/11

8:00am

Bob Brown calls. Wants to meet with Rudd. Rudd decides I should go to meeting, wants to maintain psychological edge over Brown. Besides, Rudd needs to look at maps of Libya to formulate no-fly zone plans.

10:00am

Brown asks me why Rudd isn’t here.

Indicate to Brown that it is top secret.

Brown wants to know if Rudd will be pushing Japan on whaling in near future. Ask Brown if he’s seen the newspaper. Brown assumes I’m referring to earthquake and he’s glad I raised that. Recent accidents clearly indicate that it’s time for Australia to condemn Japan for use of nuclear power. Wants us to withhold uranium fuel for their own good.

Promise Brown I will arrange for that to happen, if he agrees to be filmed beating a Koala with a didgeridoo. Brown shocked I would make a joke at a time like this. Tell Brown I’m not shocked to see him issue media releases about climate after natural disasters. Browns says he has no choice but to make announcements. He is speaking for the planet and the planet does not care about timing.

Reiterate Koala offer and leave.

4:00pm

In meeting with Rudd, George and mini-Rudd, looking at targets in Libya. I arrive late as George sent me to buy some plastic planes to ensure seriousness of exercise.

Gillard Press Secretary (GPS) storms in. Asks if Rudd is organising coup. Rudd says if she’s referring to Australia, of course not, if she’s talking about Libya, Rudd says that’s classified and he never leaks.

GPS accuses Rudd of coveting leadership of ALP.

Rudd thanks GPS for flattery but says he has less chance of being leader than he does of being captain of the Brisbane Broncos.

GPS warns Rudd not to threaten her, and to stop this no-fly zone nonsense.

Rudd replies “or what!”

GPS says Australia will abandon campaign for security council seat.

Rudd promises to behave. Hands over plastic planes.

GPS leaves.

Mini-Rudd asks how Rudd could abandon Libyan people so quickly.

Rudd says while it would obviously be helpful if we set up a no-fly zone in Libya now, that if Rudd gets to sit on the UN Security Council, he can dedicate his intellect to achieve things for all humankind.

9:00pm

Smith in. Needs more time with no-fly zone question. But definitely thinks milk was the right choice.


See the Diary Leaks authors perform at the Brisbane and Melbourne Comedy Festivals... details here.