Deck the halls
One of the ports of call yesterday morning for Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Richard Di Natale was to visit Parliament House’s Kmart Wishing Tree. Who knows what wishes they made given how swiftly the day turned to custard? (For more custard, see the Sketch on page six.) Coalition MP Sussan Ley tried to keep things on a festive footing by donning a pair of Santa faces in the House of Representatives. Given the place’s freshly explored dresscode issues, it was reassuring to read the official guidelines: “Members were permitted to wear hats in the Chamber but not while entering or leaving or while speaking.” (Some other rulings from that section: “A member may keep his hands in his pockets while speaking; the beating of hands on or kicking of chamber desks is disorderly; a member may not distribute apples to other members.”)
Someone getting in a Christmas wish was Alan Jones, who opened his conversation with ScoMo on 2GB thus: “Prime Minister, I hope it’s the last time I have to mention two words to you. One is Malcolm, the other is Turnbull.” For what it’s worth, the PM’s official transcript of the interview ends with a touchingly festive typo: “Thanks very much Alana and Merry Christmas to all of your listeners as well.” But typo connoisseurs were rewarded again later in the afternoon when, strength of feeling evidently overwhelming precision, Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones hit Twitter with some force: “If these laws were so important why have you shit (sic) Parliament down forbhe (sic) year without finishing the job. Labor is here in the Parliament ready to finalise the job. You’re (the most saddening sic of all) mob have gone home.” Put that on a souvenir tea towel.
A possible contender for early Christmas miracle came when Speaker Tony Smith recounted the moment this week when Christopher Pyne paused during a bit of question time exuberance to say sorry. As Smith recounted yesterday, “It’s the only time I’ve been momentarily stunned.”
A little festive punch
Amid all this, we of course had the gift of John Howard this week, reminding everyone of that quaint time when PMs served for years. As this cheered many, let us revisit a Strewth snippet from 2011: “One political figure who was able to attend the Margaret Olley memorial service was John Howard, who arrived sporting a black eye — though as it’s a petite dark stripe, perhaps we should refer to it as a black eyeband. Concerned, we rang Howard’s office. ‘I’ve been waiting for a question on this,’ answered a very lovely woman, before adding cheerily, ‘I punched him!’ After a suitable pause, she continued, ‘No, it was nothing sexy. He just had some cataract surgery.’ As a happy spin-off, Howard no longer has to wear glasses.” As a small postscript, when your Strewth scribe mentioned this incident to Howard years later, he let out a mighty bark of laughter.
So this is Christmas and what have you done, another year over, a new one (nearly) begun