HE WAS looking glum at an outdoor restaurant. "What's up?”
"My boss just took on the worst job in the world - marketing federal Labor.”
He took a pull on his Havana and exhaled smoke into the fug coming from the traffic jam next to us as I sank into the empty chair.
"But I heard about some crims who sold Sydney Harbour Bridge to someone overseas and I felt better.
Only con artists that good would be able to get Bill Shorten into government.
"It's been said many times that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them.
"The next Federal Election pits unelectable Turnbull against unsellable Shorten and I have to promote an Opposition that's losing an election that should be theirs in a walkover.”
He blew more smoke. Or was it steam?
"Let's look at the governing party. First, they aren't governing. They can't get most of their agenda passed because it's unwelcome in much of the electorate and in large chunks of parliament. Second, they aren't a party but a bunch of factions, each essentially a minor party.”
Now I was confused. "Are you talking about the Coalition or Labor?”
"Indeed, I have trouble telling which is doing a worse job of it. It was different under Labor. Better with Gillard because she could at least get co-operation from non-Labor members. But with Rudd before her and after her, it was difficult to get cooperation within the party, let alone outside it. When Abbott finally rid us of Rudd, we again had a PM who was not willing to negotiate. And neither he nor Turnbull can get cooperation within the party.
"Turnbull has made millions from greasing the deals of big business, so the Coalition ought to be moving forward. But Turnbull can't manage his factions, can't make a decision and tries to bully his way through crossbench opposition.
"Ironically, he has more success with Labor - thus falling into the old pattern of keeping the two-party system going, even as it crumbles and parts flake off. I wish I could I say 'as its flakes depart', but they don't.
"So I contacted the masterminds who sold the Harbour Bridge and told them my dilemma. They were happy with the terms, several million in union contributions paid direct in bitcoin and I arranged a meeting here with their leader - he came masked like The Phantom.
"But then it all fell apart. They thought I wanted Shorten sold. Really sold. Like the Harbour Bridge. Gone forever.
"Not a bad idea. But someone might find him and bring him back. And the buyer might want their money back.
"When I said I wanted them to convince the people to vote for Shorten, he got indecisive and started hedging and trying to get me to pay more. Just before you arrived I pulled the plug. No money changed hands.
"It was only after I saw him get into the limo that I realised who he sounded like. Turnbull. And he got into the PM's Comcar. If there's a deal that involves money, he's into it. If it involves delivering anything, forget it.
"So I'm stuck with Shorten. Anyone need a sock puppet?”
Pollie Tickled is a satirical column.
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