Lord Downer has once again intervened in the controversy over the lack of female representation among federal Liberal Party MPs.
His Lordship’s action follows reports that 22 women have been chosen so far as Liberal candidates to contest seats in the 150-member House of Representatives at the expected May election compared with 102 men confirmed as candidates.
Lord Downer summoned media representatives to his summer residence Sook House in the Adelaide Hills yesterday where, before being admitted, they were required to strip bare and cleanse themselves in bowls of rose water before re-dressing.
Younger, fitter males among the media throng were not required to re-dress, on strict instructions from His Lordship himself, but were rubbed by household staff with a selection of aromatic oils and directed to stand naked, close to Lord Downer once he entered the Sook House ballroom.
Lord Downer arrived to the sound of his personal fanfarade Oh Fayre Boy Whose Loins Doth Glow played by eight Sook House trumpeters.
“Their horns please me so,” His Lordship playfully remarked to nobody in particular at the end of their playing before taking his seat (main picture).
He then cleared his throat, sniffed a nosegay, tucked it into his laced cuff, and began: “I address my remarks today to the lower classes in estates across our wide brown land.
“Though you are ignorant, wanton, and unwashed tenants and peasants, you rightly or wrongly have the ability to exercise what is referred to as your ‘vote’ at elections general and otherwise.
“Granting you this privilege was a mistake, but we must live with its consequences.
“Peasants, you appear to clamour for more representation by the fairer and weaker sex in Her Majesty’s government, otherwise known as the Liberal Party of Australia.
“The parliamentary rump that is our official and permanent opposition, the Lab…… the La……”
At this point Lord Downer stood, closed his eyes, and swayed slightly while putting a laced cuff to his, by now, sweat-beaded brow.
His Lordship opened one eye, spied a strapping young Sook House under-footman nearby and fell in his direction.
The young man, sporting a red, brass-buttoned jacket and taut, thinly woven see-through cotton breeches, caught His Lordship and he him.
It was several minutes before Lord Downer felt recovered enough to leave the young man’s arms and be seated to resume his address.
“The rump opposition, the Labor Party,” he declared, “claims it has more women in its ranks than the government of our nation and its dominions.
“I have known for some time that a small number of women had somehow infiltrated our Federal Parliament. But this I rightly ignored, having held the mistaken belief that they were admitted for decorative purposes and could not exercise a vote or have a voice in the decision-making of our nation.
“This I find is not true, so we must address this problem forthwith.”
Lord Downer then embarked on a dissertation on the qualities of his lovely daughter, the Countess Lady Georgina Downer of Mayo (pictured with His Lordship), and her suitability to attend the Federal Parliament.
Finishing that portion of his remarks after some two hours, he said it would be simple for the government to lift its female representation.
His Lordship explained: “At the stroke of a quill they can simply appoint my darling to the House of Representatives and give her, say, 25 votes to exercise. That would help even up the ledger in a thrice.”
When advised by a reporter that no such appointment was possible under the Australian Constitution and all MPs exercised just one vote, Lord Downer again stood, swooned, looked around for the under-footman, and again fell into his arms, sliding down his body in a deep faint until his head rested against the front of the lad’s see-through breeches.
It was some moments before His Lordship could be disentangled from the young man and carried by him and other household staff from the ballroom.