• 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.
TUESDAY 22/11/2011

Met with PM, Albanese, and Swan. Have opportunity to secure an extra vote on the floor - cannot afford to pass it up. Peter Slipper has agreed to take speaker’s chair.

PM insists we use code name she came up with: “Operation Make Slipper Speaker”. Really need to work on Gillard’s style.

PM asks how I think it’ll play in the media.

Say it will look dodgy. Everyone agrees. Say it probably is dodgy. Everyone agrees. Say “probably still worth it though”. Everyone agrees.

This is most difficult piece of political theatre I’ve ever had to produce.

Make list of pros and cons.

Cons:
1. Need to convince Jenkins to pretend that he has taken $100,000 pay cut, given up best office in parliament, and surrendered the job he always wanted, because of the "exciting policy opportunities" on the back bench.
2. "Slipper" is dreadful name for a polly. May as well be Mr. “I enjoy misusing the public’s funds”.

Pros:
1. Slipper’s vote a few billion cheaper than Oakeshott and Windsor.
2. Voters don’t know or care who the Speaker is.
3. Christmas is coming - happiness and alcohol will sweep voters memories clean.

WEDNESDAY 23/11/2011

Morning

Meet with Slipper at Parliament. Suggest we walk to nearby cafe to discuss details of swap. Slipper calls a cab.

3 Minutes Later

Arrive at cafe. Slipper is already inside. His cab is waiting at the kerb, engine running. Ask Slipper if he’s in a rush? Slipper says no.

Slipper prefaces meeting by stating he “agrees to all conditions”. Ask Slipper if changing his name by deed poll is an option. Slipper totally agrees. Explain to Slipper I was joking and that it would look incredibly bad if he changed his name. Slipper totally agrees. Wish Labor backbenchers were this easy to deal with.

Walk back to Parliament. Slipper says he’ll see me there tomorrow. Says he’s taking cab to airport. Flying to Sydney to pick up some dinner tonight at his favourite spot.

Evening

Go with Albanese to inform Jenkins that the PM will accept his resignation tomorrow morning.

Jenkins agrees to resign. Is happy to declare he is doing so for good of party and to ensure stability of government.

Thank Jenkins for those “thoughts” but explain we need him to resign for “the love of public policy” and due to his “burning desire to re-engage with the Party”.

Jenkins suggests we be honest because “the people will see right through this”.

Agree with Jenkins, but explain that the most important part of modern politics is knowing that when you have to do something really dirty you should at least have the decency to try to look ashamed about doing that really dirty thing by covering the dirty thing up.

Jenkins doesn’t think anyone will buy it. Quotes Lincoln “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Agree with Jenkins: “Lincoln had some cracker quotes but what he didn’t have is the marginal seat voting data we’ve got. All we need to do is fool some of the people in some of the places at a very specific time.”

Jenkins signs up. Instruct Jenkins that Gillard will expect to be surprised by his resignation at 7:30am. Sharp.

THURSDAY 24/11/2011

What a day. Really proud of party.

Sat in on Gillard and Jenkins meeting. Gillard pulled great surprise face. Jenkins’ performance was a little underwhelming, but his resignation speech was work of art. By the end even I believed he was interested in public policy.

Have a drink with Jenkins at the end of the day. Jenkins confides that he is looking forward to contributing to housing policy.

Tell Jenkins no need to stay in character.