By Robert Stygall
The Prime Minister had phoned him earlier that week. After the usual pleasantries and a couple of Barnaby jokes, he had been offered the newly created post of Minister for Special Projects. He asked what the portfolio would be responsible for and Scomo had said it would be broad ranging. The initial responsibilities would be managing the response to the Coronavirus outbreak and the recent bushfires.
After he had finished the phone call he started to wonder if accepting the role had been a good career move.
He had not got off to a good start. One of his first actions had been to form a new entity titled Pandemic Authority Australia. In typical Australian tradition he had shortened the name to the acronym PandAA. This had not gone down well with the Chinese government who took it as a not too subtle jibe at both the source of the virus and the Premier himself.
Next was the Bet 365 comment. Bet 365 had started taking bets on how many Coronavirus confirmed infections there would be in Australia each week; they had even changed their tag line to ‘Gamble and Sneeze responsibly’. Some members of the public had questioned him whether this was ethical. He replied that to date they had predicted the level of Coronavirus infections more accurately than the Health Department. Later he regretted the comment and apologised, (on the advice of his political adviser).
Finally, the problem of where to provide additional quarantine facilities. Christmas island was full and so was the remote mining camp.
He decided it needed to be an island that was relatively easy to access. Without consulting the bureaucrats, he decided on Fraser Island. Government scientists subsequently pointed out that dingoes roamed the Island and could easily contract and spread the virus. He was old enough to remember events at Ayers Rock and suddenly he could envisage the headlines again, ‘A Dingo killed my baby’. The Fraser Island proposal was cancelled and when the story was leaked, he blamed it on fake news.
The bushfire inquiry was also proving somewhat problematic. Scomo had issued a number of caveats relating to the process.
- He was to refer to the post bushfire world as the new normal;
- In defining the new normal he was not allowed to use the words human-induced climate change;
- He was not to mention the names of the climate deniers in the government, let alone admit that they existed (much like human-induced climate change).
Next was the decision to have a Royal Commission. He was charged with coming up with the terms of reference. A tricky task that required the illusion of delivering real analysis and action without implicating any previous Government failures or confirming human-induced climate change as a cause.
He really was beginning to regret accepting the role but was determined not to be the bunny. So, in the time-honoured tradition he decided to form an Advisory Committee. He considered himself socially aware and a Woke Bloke, so he let it be known that he would encourage diversity on the Committee. In particular he asked his staff to search for a lesbian, Aboriginal, Muslim to join his Committee. Surprisingly, no candidates came forward.
The final nail in his coffin came with another phone call from Scomo. ‘There are reliable rumours circulating that you are having an affair with a very young intern in your office, given you are married with two children, this is very serious. Is it true?’ The very long silence said it all.
He could envisage the headlines, ‘Bushfire Minister-Smouldering Affair’, ‘Bushfire Minister-Fiery Passion’, ‘Bushfire Minister’s new flame’ …
The next day, after less than two months in the role, he announced his resignation, citing ‘I want to spend more time with my family.’
It wasn’t long before the hashtag #internabuse started to trend like the Coronavirus and went viral.
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