“Time and chance happeneth to them all.”
(Ecclesiastes 9:11 – King James Version)
August 8, 2012
From: Prime Minister Julia Gillard
To: Cabinet Colleagues
Date: early Tuesday morning
I am sure you are all as dismayed as I am at the fact that our Australian Olympic team is currently mired in 19th place, well behind even New Zealand. When that buffoon Rob Oakeshott blathered on about ‘new paradigms’ in his interminable press conference after the last election I don’t think it crossed any of our minds that that would best describe our 2012 Olympic gold medal performance.
In fact, the way things are going on the gold medal tally front, Australia’s 2012 Olympic ranking will be so low it will rival how our economy is doing on the productivity growth front, where the figures are sinking faster than one of our male swimmers near the finish line.
As you know, Australian voters like seeing their country get its arse kicked at the Olympics about as much as they like, well, being lied to by politicians. So this is the last thing we all needed. Our sporting Green and Golds could prove to be nearly as toxic to this Labor government as Bob Brown’s Greens and the mining magnates’ Gold.
Still, all is not lost (at least outside the sporting realm). We still have one secret weapon up our sleeves. I refer to this government’s unsurpassed ability to spin, spin, spin in a way that would make a gold medal figure skater green with envy.
So I want you all to ponder our options. Of course we could go down the old 2020 Summit route, where we handpick a hundred odd supposed ‘community leaders’ who just happen overwhelmingly to hold all the views we want them to hold. Sure, we might have overdone it last time when North Korean-style 99 percent of them said they favoured a republic, but maybe we could rework that old shtick again. Call it the 2016 Buenos Aires Summit, a big gabfest about sporting excellence and the like.
But perhaps that reeks too much of a Kevin initiative. Instead we could try my favourite sort of spin device. This is where we appoint an ‘independent’ review. That’s ‘independent’ as in three people with clear Labor ties to review the Fair Work Act regime.
Or who remembers when we picked a panel to ponder the possibility of a national bill of rights and wouldn’t you know it, we picked not a single, solitary person on that panel who was a known bill of rights sceptic, while the chairman we picked had previously gone on the record before being appointed as wanting a statutory bill of rights.
That’s my kind of independent. Nice, sincere, well-meaning people whom we just happen to know, before we appoint them, are overwhelmingly likely to think along the same lines as we do. That’s why we appoint them, right?
How else could we get a Finkelstein report and all that bumpf suggesting we set up some Media Council overseers appointed mostly by, what was it, a bunch of unheard of, left-leaning journalism professors? Still, that was a bit much even for me.
And maybe I shouldn’t have had Mr. Henry come work for me in my office as a sort of personal economic and social advisor. Ah well.
My point, though, is this. I can see the way forward for us. We need to appoint 3 or 4 people to an ‘Olympics Review Committee’, people whose views we already know will no doubt lead them to say our funding of Olympic sports has been more than adequate and that the lack of compulsory sports in our new national school curriculum is no big deal and that no blame attaches to this government at all. You know. Like we expect from that Panel we appointed to look into our failed (oops, I mean wholly adequate) border control law changes.
Give me some possible names people. And soon. And let’s pray we overtake New Zealand in the gold medal tally. If we don’t get this one right we could all be Gonski.
J.G., P.M. (Ms.)
Note: This memo was leaked to James Allan by a government minister who thinks those disqualified badminton players may have had the right idea after all.
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray