Chamber of horrors
Undoubtedly the most poignant announcement during our recent political turmoil came from Madame Tussauds, the famous waxworks company. Though used to heads falling into baskets – Marie Tussaud was kept very busy turning guillotined noggins into waxen death masks during the French Revolution – the local branch complained about Malcolm’s decapitation. In a surly tone they said they’d stopped work on the Turnbull effigy and would no longer attempt to add Australian PMs to their collection. They weren’t around long enough to justify the effort.
Needless to say I emailed urgently, begging Tussauds not to melt our Malcolm. Hasn’t he suffered enough? Please don’t recycle him into a rock star! Let us instead have a joint venture. A Parliament House of Wax! And not just for the PMs toppled from their pedestals by plotters. We could boost tourism with a Chamber of Horrors starring the likes of Roberts, Bernardi, Leyonhjelm and Hanson. But Tussauds couldn’t be tempted.
As things are, it must be difficult to keep up with the official portraits of PMs (they must have painters working round the clock) or to find the space to hang them. Add to the RIP rate for PMs the bewildering turnover in ministers, senators and MPs and it’s clearly time for new thinking. In the past many a redundant, second-hand, slightly used politician has been sent to an embassy – Kim Beazley to Washington; Sir Les Patterson, Alex “Fishnets” Downer and George “Bookcase” Brandis to London. The odd leftover can be made Governor-General – a tradition pioneered by Menzies, who imprisoned rival Lord Casey at Yarralumla. Labor did it with a surplus-torequirement Bill Hayden and there’s scuttlebutt that Julie Bishop will soon be measuring the curtains. But headlines thundering DEAD MAN WALKING made me think that perhaps we should put ex-PMs out of their misery, and ours, by means of involuntary euthanasia. Then their cadavers could be put to practical purposes. Why shouldn’t we, the voters, get our money’s worth? Instead of letting them sneak off on generous pensions? Body parts provided for transplants, or sold on eBay or Gumtree. Or the entire politician freeze-dried in dynamic poses for Tussaudstyle display at the National Portrait Gallery. Freeze-drying is far cheaper than taxidermy; apparently the technology is quite reliable and the end result looks more lifelike.
(I’d like to freeze a few others for a quite different reason. Cryonic preservation of, for example, Barnaby Joyce. Not because he’d be any more use in the future than he is now – but simply to have global warming thaw him in a few years. To show him the criminal idiocy of his climate change denialism.)
There’s a touring exhibition of pickled corpses doing the rounds. Mildly controversial given concerns about their origins. Let us replace it with pickled pollies, corpses that people vaguely remember and recognise. “Look kiddies! That’s…” Or we could have tombs for the high and mighty, like Lenin’s in Red Square, Ho’s in Hanoi or Mao’s in Tiananmen. All draw huge crowds. Great for tourism and patriotism.
What about an Unknown Politician, like the Unknown Soldier? Perhaps lots of Unknown Politicians in serried ranks, like the Entombed Warriors. (Most backbenchers remain unknown throughout their careers.) Then there are the Very Known pollies. I bet Hawkie would like a spectacular mausoleum so he could outdo Keating for eternity. Although Bob might demand a Great Pyramid. Dunno about you, but I’d queue for hours to see an embalmed Abbott.