Coalface

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February 2017: It’s Question Time in Australia’s Parliament. It’s been a difficult week for the Government: dire polls, grim economics, scandals and policy flip-flops. They need a circuit-breaker. The Treasurer steps up to address the House, in his hand is a lump of coal.

‘This is coal’ he thunders. The House erupts. ‘It won’t hurt you.’ The Speaker is banging his gavel calling for order. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the Treasurer continues waggling the coal at the Opposition Leader. Everyone is standing and waving their papers in the air. His point won, the Treasurer sits and tosses his prop to the Deputy Prime Minister who bobbles it from hand to hand, finally settling it in his lap. For a moment, despite the scandals in his personal life, he looks happy bouncing the lump on his knee. Then the Foreign Minister nudges him for her turn. She lifts coal to her shoulder and pats it gently, not noticing the black smears on her cheek and collar.

As Question Time continues, coal is handed from Minister to Minister: Industry, Environment, Agriculture, everyone gets a go. Then on to the back bench. Some MPs play netball passes, others boot the coal high into the air and now the Opposition want to play and so coal goes round.

Later, as the Prime Minister ends his comments on energy policy, he looks up to find everyone sooty.  What a joke ! Black hands, black suits; coal in hair and smeared on faces; soot over smartphones and briefing papers.

Outraged by this, one of the Independents stands to make a point. But wait, there’s something smouldering in his hair. Next to him the country MP tries to help by fanning his big old Stetson but that only sends a flourish of sparks across the chamber. Soon fires are breaking out all over. Members are running around beating at the lights fizzing up their jackets and skirts. Others try to help but end up catching alight themselves. Too late MPs realise the trouble they’re in: body fat sizzling, the carpet’s ablaze, the flag aflame and the venerable Constitution gone to ash.

‘This is your all your fault,’ the Opposition Leader coughs at the Treasurer. Speechless for once, the Treasurer lowers his blackened face into his pudgy white hands.

The evening news tells the story: the fire chief shaking his head, shots of hoses dripping, blackened dentures, a glass eyeball, a dark slurry running in the gutters.


Image: c/- AAP – Parliament of Australia – fair use. You can see what really happened here and here. On 24 August 2018, Scott Morrison (the former Treasurer) was elected leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party and thus became the 30th Prime Minister of Australia; just saying…

And here’s The Bamboos with I got burned‘ (stupid video though…)

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