This entry also published at thepunch.com.au.
Had to spend weekend in Canberra. Was unclear on how carbon tax fell within ambit of my Future Building and Values portfolio, but then Abbott issued edict that tax on everything touches every portfolio. Says it is a threat to our way of life.
Had to cancel golf game. Who announces a tax on a Sunday?
Met with Abbott and Abbott Press Secretary (APS).
Abbott has me rostered on for first week of “Carbon Tax Crusade”. APS furious – insists we call it “campaign”. “Crusade” is on list of never-ever phrases along with “workchoices", "domestic duties" and "virginity”.
Ask if this campaign can’t wait till election?
Abbott shakes head. Declares we must kill tax before it eviscerates economy. APS says there is serious risk that if people don’t hate the tax now, they may learn to live with it. Consumer confidence could return and THAT would be disastrous.
Abbott says message is simple: prices will rise on everything.
Ask if it includes fuel.
APS says do not sweat the detail, just stay consistently on message: PRICES WILL RISE ON EVERYTHING.
At least I won’t have to think this week.
Booked flight home to Melbourne. Did not off-set carbon emissions. Need to be consistent.
Cannot believe I have to spend whole day campaigning. I ran for safe seat on understanding only had to see constituents once every three years.
Attended community forum. Have never before received multiple standing ovations prior to even making it onto the stage!
Second community forum at Bowls club. They sang “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” as I walked on stage. They did not know my name - still great fun. Sang God Save the Queen. Organiser of forum said club members refuse to adopt “Whitlam’s anthem”.
Delightful day. Have never been hugged by so many pensioners. Reminds me of the Tampa election – so much good will in the community.
Went on shopping centre walk with Abbott.
Found old lady stockpiling canned goods, bottled water and batteries in Aisle 3. Declares she’s terrified of the Carb-pocalypse.
Try to calm her. Abbott stops me. Instructs me to assist her. Abbott explains panic buying is good for economy.
At Frankston shopping mall. Meet young mother in food court. Abbott lets me take lead.
Mother refuses to discuss carbon tax. Caught COMPLETELY off guard – throws me off my rhythm.
Wants to know what we are doing about bullying in schools.
Abbott cuts in. Tells young mother carbon tax is bullying on a grand scale. It’s like the Government taking lunch money from Australia’s 500 best corporations.
Say something about pink batts.
Mother remains unimpressed.
Abbott pats me on the back: “Way to stay on message.”
Arrive home after tough day.
Wife watching SkyNews. Glares at me as I sit on couch. Asks me if intimidating women is an acceptable price to pay to defeat the carbon tax.
Wife explains that Liberal party apparatchik Declan Stephenson harangued and then stalked a Greens supporter after the meeting, only leaving when police were called.
Explain to wife that Stephenson is just emotionally overwhelmed by the threat this tax poses to his way of life.
Wife says people can discuss carbon tax without being anti-social. Says book club will be debating Tim Flannery’s book tomorrow night, politely.
Call APS. Volunteer for community forum on Thursday night. APS agrees – also asks me to deal with this Stephenson prick.
Meet Stephenson. Kept notes of conversation as insurance policy.
Me: Hello Declan.
DS: Hello Shadow Minister.
Me: I’m sorry about the harsh words said about you in the media.
DS: I understand you guys have to say that so I can keep doing my work.
Me: Your work?
DS: I’ve put together a crack team of local Libs to patrol Frankston.
Me: I absolutely do not want you to do that work.
DS: Okay [winks]
Me: Why are you winking?
DS: I’m not winking [winks]
Me: It looks like you are winking.
DS: That’s just what it looks like [winks profusely]
Me: Just so we’re clear you get it, no more stalking Greens
DS: Sure “I get it.”
[DS winks – shows me crossed fingers]
Me: That’s that then… I suppose the meeting’s over.
Me: You can leave my office now.
DS: You leave the office…”
Two hours later
Stephenson still following me while insisting he isn’t following me. Insists he is just making sure I am not a Green spy sent to sabotage his community.
30 minutes later
Escape into mens toilets. Stephenson says he’ll wait outside.
APS says “I don’t know why you’re calling but Joyce is planning to ride a bull through Indooroopilly Westfield, to prove he’s not afraid of a fight. If you’re not calling about an equally calamitous event, please explain. Otherwise, PLEASE GO AWAY.”
Hang up. Call wife.
15 minutes later
Wife picks me up. Wife furious she had to leave book club in the middle of civil and intelligent conversation about the carbon tax. Wife says the men in the Liberal Party could learn a lot from her book club.
Arrive home. As we walk in a plate is thrown against the wall. Screaming emanates from the living room.
Two women are fighting, rest of book club is trying to break them up.
Half an hour later
Wife comes up. Turns out women were mother and daughter. Mother is against carbon tax and thinks Julia Gillard is a liar. Daughter thinks Abbott’s a liar and that carbon tax is vital for future. Mother said she regrets having daughter. Daughter accuses mother of wanting to slowly murder her own grandchildren so she can have another Porsche. Went from there.
Each had mild injuries, nothing requiring more than 12 stitches. Fortunately both are married to doctors.
Wife asks me to go downstairs and speak to them. Refuse. Tell her that mediating carbon tax conflicts poses a threat to my way of life.