A cruel practical joke last night left Prime Minister Scott Morrison sobbing uncontrollably and talking in tongues in the toilet at the back of the media bus on the penultimate day of Campaign 2019.
Media travelling on the bus got together and devised the prank on Thursday night as they made their way to their overnight accommodation in Townsville via a local pub in the CBD for a knock-off drink or 10.
At an agreed time, they all looked at their phones and tablets and shouted all at once that a number of illegal refugee boats had just been sighted in the Arafura Sea off Darwin.
“Looks like there’s been some deaths from capsised boats,” one of the scribes shouted on cue. “There’s been babies thrown overboard,” called out another. “The images are truly horrific,” said a third.
Mr Morrison, who was standing by the bus driver, reportedly punched a clenched fist in the air, shouted “Yes!”, then opened his fist to hold his palm skyward before closing his eyes and saying “Thanks mate”. He then made his way up the bus slapping backs and shaking hands.
As the scribes climbed out of the bus to enjoy that end-of-day drink or 20, a beaming – some said tearful – Mr Morrison bear-hugged each as they left while his staff tried desperately to contact LNP candidates across the nation to tell them to put their feet up.
It was after all the travelling reporters had departed for the hotel bar that they texted the PM’s senior media adviser to alert him that the whole charade had been a hastily devised practical joke.
ABC tyro Matt Doran, who had misplaced his wallet and all means of identification and who had been forced to return to the bus after being refused entry to the hotel, witnessed the unintentional results of the media pack prank.
During a hastily arranged live-to-air report from the scene (main picture), Master Doran broke the news that the PM had locked himself in the bus toilet.
“Mr Morrison’s wailing at times can only be described as pitiful,” Doran told ABC TV viewers.
“I don’t speak tongues but he’s sounding very, very angry at times.
“It sounds like he is feeling very sorry for himself and is really quite angry with his own particular god for letting him and Australia down at their time of need.”