A shock slump in fortunes for the Morrison government in the latest Newspoll has galvanised the nation’s elite mainstream media political analysts and commentators into revising the effectiveness of their collective songbook and made them realise new material is desperately needed.
Yesterday afternoon they rented a community hall in Newtown with a slightly out-of-tune piano on the stage and The Bug was invited to listen in on some of their discussions as to what is needed to turn the government’s fortunes around.
They warmed up first with some of their existing material and Peter Hartcher clearly had tears in his eyes when they chose Morrison In Winning Position After Moving to the Centre, one he wrote some months back with the funny line that never loses its impact: PM wedges Labor as he tackles climate change head on.
Voices wavered with emotion when the rather spiritual Father of the Nation (Thank You For Saving Us All From COVID-19) was sung with that wonderful line, ScoMo may still be the best wartime leader Australia has ever had, followed by the more upbeat Vaccine Man: Hero to a Nation with that cleverly repeated refrain, A Little Jab Or Two Will Do Ya.
But after the group had warmed up their tonsils, the grim looks on their faces showed they knew that much work still needed to be done and fresh material created, even if talk of an early election this year had faded somewhat.
The Bug recorded some of their conversation.
Paul Kelly: Niki, I could hardly hear you. Sometimes I think your heart’s not in it?
Niki Savva: Well, Morrison’s no Malcolm Turnbull is he?
Kelly: Yes, for fuck’s sake, Niki, get over it! Move on!
Savva: Stop picking on me! You guys haven’t forgiven me since that slip-of-the-tongue on Insiders that the states had done all the hard lifting over COVID-19.
Phillip Coorey: I’ve got a new one I want us to rehearse. Okay, the title ScoMo Doesn’t Have a Misogynistic Bone in his Body needs work but I think it’s rather catchy.
Voices: Looking forward to singing it!
Peter van Onselen: The way things have been going for me lately, I think I’d better just shut up for a while.
Voices: Good idea.
Chris Uhlmann: It’s not completely finished yet but I think you’re all going to like Morrison’s Character and Personal Conduct Leave Albanese For Dead. You know that Angels’ song Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again … well in this one, people chant Any. Day. Of. The. Week. I think it’s going to be very powerful. Also got an idea for another tune When the Wind Doesn’t Blow and the Sun doesn’t Shine. By the way, these rehearsals won’t last too long, will they? I’ve been slotted to ask the final question at a ministerial door stop in the morning so I need to make some phone calls.
Van Onselen: Rort Rort Rort The Vote? Sorry! That was just one of my other personas being silly and unnecessarily provocative. He’s the one I really want and need to have control over.
Savva: The government’s had another shitty week. What if the polls for Morrison keep going down and it’s clear he’s finished. What if Albanese gets elected…
Hartcher: Yes, for goodness sake, Niki, we haven’t even reached the stage where we have to add Better the Devil You Know than the Devil You Don’t to our repertoire.
Uhlmann: Australia can’t afford a return to Labor’s Debt and Deficit Disaster. Only the LNP Can Manage Economies Well.
Kelly: How to Make Gravy? Sorry, just joking. Albanese Is Even More Left Wing Than That Commie Whitlam.
Savva: I guess so but I wish Dennis and Malcolm were still with us. I simply don’t understand what happens to journalists once they leave Newscorp.
The Bug was asked to leave the hall before the crème de la crème of the nation’s mainstream reporters, commentators and analysts on politics began rehearsing their new material with Peter van Onselen on piano.