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Alphonse de Ponce looks forward to another 10 years of John Howard
Malcolm B Duncan is a regular contributor to Webdiary. His most recent satirical excursions have had to do with one Yorrick, full of important and exclusive insights into early Australian history, and other matters. Today Malcolm gets back to Alphonse the astrologer. Readers may wish to review The view on the looming 'orizon and Old Alphonse's Almanack 2006 for background on this most prescient character.
by Malcolm B Duncan
I recognized the bird which was now, clearly, on its last mission in this world. With a well-practised movement, I deftly kicked the cat in the mandibular joint forcing it to drop the creature and removed the message. What does one do with a dying pigeon? To the disgust of Claude, now in homicidally playful mood, I wrung the poor creature’s neck. With a brief sniff at the corpse, the cat repaired to some place of somnolence with an injured air and a murderous glare – obviously, I could look forward to tears before bedtime, and I knew they would be mine.
I wrapped the corpse in a discarded sporting section of the Herald (the sporting section is always discarded in our household) with a story about Ian Thorpe, the Commonwealth Games and Bird Flu and opened the scrolled document.
Alphonse had finally managed to get a message out of his gated community. I hadn’t seen him since Clover Moore closed Bourke Street and had been increasingly concerned about him as the only way in now seems to be by parachute.
Apart from the usual pleasantries, the note enclosed Alphonse’s tribute to John Howard’s ten years in power and predictions for the next ten. I thought they should be shared.
Things are tough at the moment. The pigeon has been very sick (been mixing with the chicken Mrs Tran next door brought back in her handbag from Thailand) and this might be its last trip. Clover has sent the bobcats in and I don’t know whether we will be able to get out at all by tomorrow. Any chance you could ask your friend Morris for food drops? We’re on the wrong side of the road for the Matthew Talbot and, as you know SCEGGS has closed the boarding school so St Vincent’s Hospital is the nearest public kitchen.
I was so happy this week that John Howard managed to clock up the ten years that I did a little horoscope and you’ll be amazed at what it showed. He’ll make Menzies look like a stop-gap leader (which I suppose he was in a way between Artie Fadden and Holt).
Mardi Gras was a complete bugger – the Little Britain float was a total washout. Clover’s eyes were just looking straight ahead – Gerald the mobile body-piercer was saying he thinks she’s had something done to them – they just don’t move from side to side any more. I don’t mind piercings but spare me the knife.
Anyway, if you could, could you get some food in and we’re running low on water – the bobcat cut the mains this morning and the Water Board can’t get through the street closures.
Love to Claude,
JOHN WINSTON HOWARD, Kirribilli House, Neutral Bay, Sydney, community worker and Prime Minister.
LEO. The Lion can be a cute little cub or sly and cunning. Sometimes a slow developer (and, if not leader of the pride, often a late developer sexually) he may take time to show his true colours. The lion likes to lie, sometimes in the full glare of the sun, sometimes in shade, saving his energy for short bursts of savagery and can often be malicious. Once he attains the leadership, all notions of loyalty are completely forgotten and his main purpose in life is to stay on top. Part of this is his aggressive sexual attitude to females. He is a rapacious hunter and will often invade the territory of others. His roar is the final roar until he is deposed by a younger challenger but that rival must be prepared to cope with the older lion’s years of skill, cunning and rule by dominance and treachery. Any lion has the potential to be a natural leader.
John Howard is a lion in every sense of the word. His achievements are legion: the virtual eradication of unemployment by redefining it out of existence; the reconstitution of Ministerial responsibility under the Axminster system; the invasion of just about anywhere his friends want to go; the cementing of the alliance with the US under the “hey boy come hyeah” (HBCH) doctrine; his close friendship with very short leaders around the world; his careful policy positioning ensuring the Government is never more than half a step behind an opinion poll; his fondness for children (at least those who are shorter than he); his compassion for Australian citizens overseas many of whom have had their death sentences reduced to mere life imprisonment; his unfailing charity to nature’s victims in South East Asia, the sub-continent, Darling Point, Mosman and Toorak; tax reform including the eradication of the black economy and so on – the list is practically endless. His greatest capacity and the mark of a true leader, is his ability not to be weighted down by detail: he knows what he knows and he only knows what he only knows.
The stars for this colossus of democracy are even brighter for the next ten years. Here is what they show:
August. Treasurer announces the 11th Howard Budget delivering tax cuts to all: tax free threshold raised $10 and top marginal rate reduced to 5% for incomes over a backbencher’s base salary. Childcare subsidy introduced for parents with children still living at home after 30.
October. Snap election delivers landslide win for John Howard.
December. Special advisers deployed to Iran.
February. Peter Costello resigns “for health reasons” allowing John Howard to reshuffle Cabinet. Jacki Kelly appointed Treasurer and it’s steady as she goes until the end of the year.
October. Lucrative wheat deal signed with Somalia. Somali Government pays Australia to stockpile wheat in return for “management fees” negotiated by a staffer in Alexander Downer’s Office.
December. Neon Santa illuminated above Kiribilli House.
Australia Day 26 January John Howard commemorates 200th Anniversary of the triumph of free trade in Australia.
February. Back to work for an invigorated John Howard.
April. Coalition disintegrates with resignation of remaining two Nationals “for health reasons”. In a diplomatic coup, John Howard appoints Mark Vaile Ambassador to Iraq and Barnaby Joyce special envoy to Somalia.
June. Alexander Downer retires and is appointed Ambassador to Patagonia. “Where?” he says.
September. Melanie Howard has first child. Happy grandfather announces Kirribilli House will now be needed to send his granddaughter to Shore in order not to interrupt her education.
November. Education Minister Philip Ruddock announces special Commonwealth grants for GPS schools to take one female student each – “It’s an equity issue” he says.
December. Telstra declares dividend. John Howard announces that business is going so well, all employees will be “re-deployed” although share price is not yet high enough to sell the Government’s remaining share.
January. Telstra share price soars.
February. John Howard announces that the Government will sell off its remaining share in Telstra.
March. Liberal Party re-named John Howard Party.
April. John Howard gives eulogy at Bob Brown’s funeral following tragic greenhouse gas explosion.
July. John Howard wins historic 6th election. Giant thanksgiving service celebrated by Hillsong Church at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
August. John Howard announces Australian Defence Force will be privatised “When the time is right.” Nick Minchin appointed Defence Minister. Brendan Nelson moves to DFAT.
August. Budget allocates interest free development grants for Pentecostal churches. Cardinal Pell announces Catholic Pentecostal Movement in seven languages.
September. John Howard unveils John Howard statue at Bradman museum at Bowral.
November. Parliamentary Labor [sic] Party crosses floor – permanently. Kim Beazley appointed Assistant Defence Minister. John Howard appoints Julia Gillard resident chef at ABC.
It’s steady as she goes. Unemployed eliminated. DSS sold to Salvation Army. Brett Whiteley appointed Health Minister posthumously. In a dramatic announcement, John Howard gives heroin retailing licence to Uniting Church. “The level playing field has finally been achieved,” he says.
January. ABC sold by tender to Bananas in Pyjamas Media Enterprises Inc. Gillard loses cooking show.
12 April. John Howard passes Menzies record as longest-serving Prime Minister. “Ah, but that was only his second go” he says at celebration in the Great Hall at Parliament House attended by Queen Elizabeth II. In welcoming Her Majesty, John Howard says “Ma’am we will decide who comes to this country and when.”
May. Tony Abbott resigns and is appointed Ambassador to the Holy See. “No-one could be better qualified,” says John Howard “he’s been working for them for years.” Privately, Abbott confides in an old friend (he has no current ones) “I’m Jack of this – the bastard will never go.”
June. John Howard wins astonishing 7th election. Constitutional Referendum abolishes Senate.
July. John Howard unveils John Howard statue at Kirribilli House.
November. John Howard announces CSIRO will concentrate on experiments with cats after dramatic research showing that cat hair may be a cure for cancer. In a very minor Cabinet reshuffle, John Howard appoints Malcolm Turnbull Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Minister for Science on the CSIRO. Philip Ruddock appointed to new position as Parliamentary Lickspittle.
John Howard celebrates the international year of the deaf bastard.
It’s steady as she goes. CSIRO discovers cure for amnesia. CSIRO sold to Alan Bond (Online Gambling) UK PLC. John Howard says: “The public sector has no business running research and development – it’s not deductible.”
Approval given for Medicare to merge with Foxtel.
John Howard invited to be best man at Rupert Murdoch’s wedding.
Queen Elizabeth II opens Commonwealth Games in North Sydney.
Redistribution abolishes electorates of Wentworth, Higgins, Hindmarsh and Brand. New Western Suburbs electorates of Downer created in all capital cities. Fishermen flock to electorate of Downer in Perth.
12 August. John Howard overtakes Menzies overall record to become longest serving Prime Minister ever.
Australian War Graves Commission sold to Moran Group for redevelopment.
Department of Veterans Affairs given responsibility for administering politicians’ superannuation.
March. John Howard wins 8th consecutive election. Constitutional Referendum abolishes High Court.
25 April. Grateful populace erect John Howard statues throughout the country. John Howard Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Gallipoli. “My grandfather was here” says Howard in a moving speech, “but the parking is much better now.”
June. Sir John Howard gives principal eulogy at funeral of Prince Charles following unfortunate car accident in Paris.
July-November. Sir John Howard personally supervises renovations to Kirribilli House “For Melanie’s growing family.”
February. Sir John Howard says he will stay in the position “As long as the John Howard Party want me to continue.”
March. Sir John Howard gives eulogy at funeral of former Sydney Morning Herald journalist Alan Ramsey. “We might have had our differences over the years,” he says, “but now he’s dead.”