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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.
понедельник 17/11/2014

Dear Tony

Thank you for lovely stay. I very much enjoyed time with Koala. Great to meet pre-sedated animail. In Russia we have to sedate animails before posing with them.

Many apologies for my sudden departure from the G20 summit, like my country I have considerable energy reserves but they must be replenished. I wanted to thank you for our sparring matches. I very much enjoyed them.

I find these summits very dull, being forced to spend time with people I do not know or respect, it's like a family reunion, but with less influential people. And ever since Berlusconi stopped attending I do not have anyone to share stories with!

When I first heard the Australian Prime Minister was going to Shirt-front me I asked my advisor to get me a dictionary and an Atlas. After I learned you had threatened to hit me with an Australian football move of questionable legality, I sent my staff to bring my thinking vodka. I was not afraid, because you are puny country, but I was impressed. I knew you were worthy adversary.

Last week I brought two war ships to International waters, you met them with four. Bravo. Many leaders have ignored my warships, but you Mr. Abbott did not. I hope you appreciate – I only bring warships to international conference when I respect leader. It was my way of saying: “Tony Abbott is tough enough that I need to have military on stand by just in case he has shirt-front”.

We have much in common. Both of us understand how to utilize power even if we use it in different ways that may be hard for the other to understand. You must understand why it was important for me to retake our treasured Crimea, just like I am trying to understand why you declared yourself Minister for Women.

I did want to take this opportunity to give you some advice to help you with your politics. First, never make threat you cannot follow through. This is Barack’s problem. He keeps calling me, Crimea this, sanction that, won’t let you do this. He is weakling. I now have my voice double take his calls.

Allow me to give you advice, you must stand up to your enemies and Obama is clearly yours. Would friend have made you look like fool in your own country? No. If he had started talking about climate change at my summit, I would have turned off mic and instructed interpreter to translate badly.

Second, I understand Australian people are making it very difficult for you to cut useless programs like University and Doctor visits. In my country voters are also very difficult. I tried to abolish election program, but people got so angry, so I had to tinker round edges.

I see great potential in you Tony. Call me on red-phone anytime. It saddens me that you are desperately unpopular and must go to election. I feel to be good leader you need at least 8 years as President, than 4 years as Prime Minister. Only then are you ready for world affairs.

I like you Tony and while we cannot be allies now, I hope one day we can be friends, and go hunting and horse riding together. Or perhaps I can take you on a ride in our submarines, I believe your country has these things but they do not, what is the word? "Work"? Haha - funny joke - I believe I just give you what your people call "spray" you.

Perhaps when you come to Russia next we have a mutual shirt front at my personal dojo?"

Yours in Masculinity
Vladimir Putin

Also published here: http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/the-side-project/private-correspondence-from-putin-to-abbott

Enjoying delightful mid-winter break. Very quiet in electoral office.

Never thought I’d say this but looking forward to getting back to Canberra. Got Centrelink reform to work on. 



Arrive in Canberra, picked up by regular com-car driver Gaylen. He’s a real character. Classic scot, always joking around.

Ask Gaylen how he’s going.

Gaylen says he’s utterly terrified. Has no idea what he’s doing. After all, as a poor fella, he doesn’t get to use one of these horseless carriage things at home.

Ask Gaylen this is about Hockey isn’t it?

Gaylen dinnae ken what I’m talking about. Asks me what the big circular thing in front of him is for.

Tell Gaylen the Treasurer chose his words poorly…

Gaylen looks down at his feet, tells me he thinks one of the pedals makes it go forward and one of them makes it fly, but he’s not sure.

Gaylen bunny hops the car out of Canberra airport.


15 minute drive takes 2 hours. Dropped off at bottom of hill, have to walk rest of way to office.


Hockey in. Is entirely unapologetic. Says his comments are backed by facts and he’s not afraid to tell harsh truths. Age of entitlement is over, and that includes entitlement to not hear things you don’t want to hear.   

Point out that there’s no proof that the poor actually drive shorter distances.

Hockey not worried, has Treasury guys working on that one. Those stat guys can prove anything with stats.

Concerned Hockey has misunderstood purpose of both Treasury and stats.


Credlin explodes into office. Asks if Hockey’s still being an idiot.

Explain our conversation. Credlin: “Damn it!”

Credlin needs me to talk to Hockey. Tell Hockey if we only voiced opinion backed by facts we'd be voted out immediately! Joe doesn't get to pick and choose which of his comments are backed by facts. What about his comments that the Australian economy is nearing collapse? Or claims carbon tax would destroy small business? Lots of things he's said have been fact free and good for government. No reason to reverse policy on facts now.

Ask Credlin why I have to fix it. Credlin says “You touch it you keep it.”


Trying to read massive Centrelink report before I meet Hockey. It’s scattered all over the office.

Maurice Newman, Chair of Business Advisory Council, comes in with a staffer…

Thank Maurice for his time but insist I’m busy. Newman insists I sit down; needs to talk to me about future building issue: global cooling.

Remind Newman we have already abolished carbon tax.

Newman says he is concerned about Government inaction on global cooling. Clicks his finger. Newman’s assistant carries in large fan. Says he will demonstrate using the power of science. Points it at me. Newman puts in earplugs. Turns fan on. Fan blows everything off my desk. Ask him what he’s doing.

Newman asks me if I am “feeling cooler”. According to Newman “if this little fan could make me cooler what could thousands of giant wind farms do to the planet”. Since his granddaughter showed him how The Google works he's been doing some research. Newman insists his crusade against windfarms is not about him, it’s about stopping an ice age. Wants funding to do a report – needs me to take it to Abbott.

Ask Newman why he wears ear plugs. Says he has read research on The Google that windfarms cause cancer.

Tell Newman that we cannot afford this distraction right now. Promise to think about it provided he does not go to media. Newman says we’re talking about another ice age; he won’t bargain with me. Says he’s going to leave the fan to help me think about it. Tapes buttons so I can’t turn it off.


Finally meet with Hockey. Hockey arguing that he was right. Just because he’s wealthy and likes cigars doesn’t mean people get to push him around.


Hockey still won’t apologise. Trying to argue on technicalities… Hockey’s never good on technicalities.


Hockey now coming up with ideas that’ll make it worse, like expressing regret that people misinterpreted his statement. God this is bad.

Decide there’s only one way to change his mind.

Call Gaylen.


Sitting with Hockey at Civic Bus interchange waiting for night bus. Hockey crying. Cannot believe that Gaylen would call him “a self-entitled, evil, fat cat”. Hockey will apologise tomorrow. If Gaylen’s typical, he’s in real trouble.



Hockey apologises, tells people he is not evil. But doesn’t cry. All in all, a win.

Have cleaners disassemble fan. 


Take Gaylen to lunch to repay him for help with Hockey. Abbott on radio declaring that the Scottish independence movement are against freedom and democracy. Gaylen slowly turns to me…

Aye, so I’m an enemy of freedom am I?

Phone rings… Credlin needs me to talk to Abbott.

Tell Gaylen I may need him to take us for another drive…

Published at The Monthly:

MONDAY 26 MAY 2014


Back in Canberra for post-budget sitting week – morale is very low. We are really struggling to sell budget. I have not been able to sell it to my own mother. She is very concerned about co-payment, particularly for seriously ill cousin Billy.


Party room meeting: Abbott emphasises discipline and staying on message.

Bernardi yells “Why does the ABC still exist”. Abbott thanks Bernardi for excellent example of what not to do.

Hockey demands we all be across the detail.

Abbott approaches me, wants me to come to budget emergency strategy meeting in Parliamentary basement.


Arrive at meeting room. As I enter am hit by wave of smoke. Cormann and Hockey are puffing away on cigars. Abbott is there wearing oxygen mask. Cormann tells me to close the door or I’ll set off the sprinklers.

Hockey explains they cannot be seen smoking Cubans outside. Abbott explains he cannot afford to inhale smoke. Will not allow being PM to compromise his cycling times.

Hockey and Abbott want me to lead negotiations with Senate. Say I have two advantages: (a) Cross-bench Senators do not hate me; (b) Palmer does not know who I am.


As I leave I set off the fire-alarm. Cormann and Hockey leg it. I’m left to take responsibility for all the Cubans. Security Guard’s eyes widen when I explain I had smoked 28 Cubans. Says he hasn’t seen someone this hardcore since Hawkie.


Open budget papers; study time.


Mum calls; asks if I have an answer for cousin Billy.


Finish studying. Don’t want to disappoint Hockey.



Call Hockey, give details of Cousin Billy’s chronic illnesses. Hockey assures me once cousin Billy is on a healthcare plan he will be fine.


Call Mum, assure her cousin Billy has nothing to worry about.


Abbott Press Secretary (APS) suggests I start with Motoring Enthusiast/Palmer United’s Ricky Muir.


Call Ricky. Strange conversation. He answered as Ricky, then, when I said I was calling on behalf of government, he claimed he was in fact Mickey Muir, Ricky’ cousin. Then he said Ricky was working at the sawmill. When I asked why, Mickey got irate and told me “Look mate, I’ve got a family to feed, and so does Mickey - we’ve both got families to feed and only one job between us” before hanging up.

Told APS Ricky Muir could not speak because of work. APS smiled, looking forward to leaking to media!


Call Sawmill. Sawmill bloke laughs, says Ricky is not rostered on. His father Micky called in earlier today to say he was sick.


Mum calls. Has been working on figures with Knitting Circle. Knitting Circle is unanimous - Treasurer’s information was inaccurate. They have called the AMA to confirm. The Knitting Circle would like clarification from Hockey or may be forced to put out a press release.


Call Hockey’s office. Explain Knitting Circle’s findings. Hockey’s Chief of Staff laughs, says he’s pretty sure Treasury is across something so important but he’ll check.


Hockey’s Chief of Staff calls. Has identified a gaping hole in policy. Needs to know cousin Billy’s age, income, relationship status, his assets, whether he is the beneficiary of any private trusts, and Medicare Number.


Hockey calls back. They are going to need faxed copy of Medicare card.


Receive four page memorandum from Hockey’s Chief of Staff. Includes bar graph. He is happy to take cousin Billy’s call.

Executive summary: “the visits are free for any conditions directly or partially related to your chronic health conditions as detailed in your healthcare plan. For conditions unrelated to your chronic conditions they will not be exempt. For further clarification please seek legal advice”


E-mail memo to APS. APS shares my concerns about lack of clarity. APS says “this is our birthday cake moment.” Agree with APS but say this is worse. You can live without birthday cake, not Doctor.



APS has sent out strongly worded e-mail prohibiting any MPs from answering any questions regarding co-payment. APS has told MPs “We need to give voters time to digest policy before we start explaining it”.


Mum calls, wants answers. Explain to mum that due to media’s misinformation campaign I am not allowed to discuss policy. Mum explains the only reason media has been spreading misinformation is because they have been quoting the Treasurer.


Try to call Muir again. Muir’s phone re-directs to Palmer. Ask Palmer if I can arrange meeting.

Palmer says he cannot meet until we apologise to Ricky Muir for leaking that
he told the PM he was at work. Palmer explains Muir had told sawmill he was meeting
with PM. Palmer says all negotiations off until apology. Informs me he already raised his concerns with Malcolm Turnbull at dinner that night.

Point out that Turnbull is part of Abbott government. Palmer laughs and says “No he’s not!”


Meet with Greens. Sarah Hanson-Young in attendance unexpectedly. Hate it when that happens. SMS staffer to send earplugs.

Sarah Hansen-Young is wearing a “Fuck Tony Abbott” T-shirt. Ask her whether that’s productive. Hansen-Young asks me whether torturing refugees on Manus Island is productive.

Explain that I am not here to discuss migration policy, but budget proposals the Greens are willing to support.

Greens will support fuel excise. Will not support anything else until Coalition promises to keep carbon tax.

[Long pause]

Milne and Bandt apologise. Hanson-Young just follows them around. They’ll support fuel excise, and while they have nothing against me personally, pretty sure that’s it.


Mum calls. Cousin Billy is very concerned that his university debt will start incurring interest retrospectively. Explain to Mum that is absurd. Mum suggests I check website.


Website does appear to say something that is different to policy.

Call Pyne, Pyne says website is wrong. Ask Pyne if cousin Billy will pay interest. Pyne says he will need to know where cousin Billy studied, when he graduated, his current address, and then be given a week to calculate answer.

Decide to order Billy a cake to make up for all the fuss. Call Mum. Reminds me that Billy’s chronic condition is diabetes. Really need to keep across the detail.

Mathew Kenneally and Toby Halligan are performing this Saturday night at the Melbourne Town Hall!

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