Our Weekend with Tony Abbott
“So, we’re aiming for that happy medium between cheap and drinkable,” we told the man in the bottle shop.
“What are you drinking?”
“There were discussions of rum, but I think we’ve settled on whiskey.”
“Scotch or Irish?”
Armed with our bottle of Jameson and our bottle of Teacher’s, our ice, soda, chips and Clare’s lemonade icy pole (which Ben was now eating), the six of us arrived home and switched on the projector just in time for Kevin’s concession speech. Tim and Drew prepared the drinks while Rudd declared defeat like a victory, and we swore at the screen.
“Smarmy fuck,” someone said.
“This is happening,” said Alex.
Our drinks were distributed just as the lost leader started reeling off his thank yous.
I learned that life’s pretty safe inside one’s own little political bubble. Facing into my voting booth earlier that day, in my safe Labor/Greens seat, I spread my senate sheet along the shelf and up the cardboard walls. There had been one nervous looking Liberal handing out fliers outside, among the Animal Liberation Party Members, some Greens, and a few red-shirted Labor supporters. From a large poster in front of one of the classrooms, Julian Assange raised his mug and his thumb at us. He looked like he was getting drunk on eggnog.
In my booth, I had a piece of paper with my senate preferences on it. While I wouldn’t have admitted to it back when I was at uni, this was my first go at voting below the line, and I had learned that minor parties can present a rather harrowing reveal of one’s country’s political landscape.
I had divided my preferences into three groups of ‘ok’, ‘pretty bad’ and ‘sinister nutbags’ and brought the numbered list into the booth with me. After the Greens and maybe one or two others, things became immediately difficult. I agree that there are too many humans in the world, but there’s something a little dark about the Stable Population Party. I’m a strong supporter of public transport, and I agree that homelessness is a big problem, but I’m pretty sure that we shouldn’t be flying refugees back to their own countries for processing like the Independents suggest. I definitely agree with the Liberal Democratic Party’s voluntary euthanasia policy but I’m also certain that guns are best kept safely illegal. And while animals have it pretty hard sometimes, and you can make lots of great things out of marijuana plants, I wasn’t certain what the single-issue parties would do with my vote when the debate wasn’t about weed, animals, sport, smoking or cars. I blinked through my hangover and tried to keep track of the numbers.
We all went quiet when Abbott came on screen. We were half cut already and this was a good thing. The brevity of his speech, its concision, particularly after Rudd’s ramblings – we sat mostly silent.
He said something about honesty and I felt sick. Alex kept making little noises of despair and disbelief.
“In three years’ time,” Abbott said, “the carbon tax will be gone. The boats will be stopped.”
“Tony! Tony! Tony!” came the deep voiced chant of his followers.
We left the house and crossed the road to Mojo’s. The Growl was headlining. The whiskey made me love the crowd and the noise and the faces I knew; it made the claustrophobia cosy and the cigarettes taste nice. Drew and Ben and I danced hard, eyes closed, at the front of the crowd while Alex stood at the side of the stage and watched the band with a smile on his face and his arms crossed. I anchored myself in place with one hand on the foldback speaker.
“I think it’s really important that we go and jump in the ocean now,” I slurred to Drew when it was over. Clare and Cyd had gone home hours ago, Tim and Ben had vanished, but we found Alex and rode our bikes to Leighton, where the streetlights at the foot of the expensive apartments kept the grass green at all hours of the night. Down the path through the dunes, we shed our clothing on the sand as we ran and the whiskey made the cold water feel good even with seaweed swamping our knees and butting against our bare genitals.
“I live in a racist country!” I screamed at the black water and the horizon.
“I am limited in what I do because I have a vagina!”
“My country’s political decisions are soaked in a rich white person’s sense of entitlement!”
“Our new Prime Minister is a cunt!”
All of which made me feel tired and only vaguely empowered but overall much better.