"Back To the Future III: Return Of The Master"
Was it all a bad dream? How did we fall prey to such an illusion? Has this company finally found its feet after three long years in the wilderness? Today's Question Time saw the return of former matinee idol and teen-hero Kevin Rudd in the role that made him famous. And to the surprise of many he took to the stage with nary a hint that three long years have elapsed since he last trod these hallowed boards.
Even the Sky News commentary team, long soaked in the titanic struggle of the media's sourness over a hung parliament and no familiar script to cling to, were left bemused, befuddled and be-Kevined.
"It's as if no time at all has passed..." they bumbled. "It's uncanny, he's so lifelike!"
Indeed. With the return of Rudd the old song burst forth anew. Prepared, polished, Dorothy Dixers all in a row, the once and future PM strode out in an expectant hush. And they never laid a glove on 'im.
Gillard was a deal maker, Abbott a fighter. And in the drama and horror of the last three years the company lurched from Greek drama to French farce. Castigated as the Wicked Witch, Dame Julia gave an honest, creditable, if at times misapplied performance as the honest broker, the deal maker who could knit up the raveled sleeve of Australian politics. The reviews were appalling. Miscast, perhaps, in a country where testicles are considered vital to the role of tyrant, her Lady Macbeth strove to avoid a bloody end, ultimately to Noah Vail, a small town in a country not unlike our own.
Rudd, meanwhile, had spent three years in a traveling repertory company polishing his Richard III, humped with a massive chip on his be-suited shoulder, embittered, if quietly, but determined to play a combination of Don Quixote and Biggles Flies Below The Radar. Overseas tours as the Knight in The Seventh Seal appears to have done nothing to diminish his ability, nor his ambition. Today he came home to the House.
If Gillard (Oh, how I shall miss her) is a deal maker, and Abbott the pugilist, Rudd is undoubtedly a cosmically inspired blend of Steele Rudd's Best Mate; Arthur, King of All Australia; and Galahad the Pure. This shining mix, all too forgivable for past excesses, is bouyed up by impressive stagecraft.
He's harder to hit than Muhammad Ali in his prime, smoother than the bottom of a Harry Jenkin's pants, more resolutely innocent and well-meaning than ever before, Harry Potter Redux, ready to tackle an Opposition Leader who's recent role as the Smiling Eunuch Who'd Never Tax A Fly is completely out of tune with this new production.
The Opposition, delighted with the fall of Desdemona, seemed stunned, uncertain, lack-lustre in what should have been a concerted statement of intent. In recent weeks the Furies, led by J Bishop in her vintage hair-helmet, had done effective work in both inflating the Coalition's claims to feminist credibility (a hell of a trick in anyone's book) and in providing the teeth in the old dog's bite. But not today. Abbott's questions were limp, uninspired, flatulent.
His cohorts fared no better. Whipped into a tizzy, the Member for Sturt, Carlos the Jackass (C Pyne) wheedled until his outrage became a high-pitched whine, unbearable to the human ear. The Speaker was forced to eject him under rule 97(c)'s 'Get out you annoying little tit' clause.
Only in the minutes before the curtain fell did any blows appear to land. When a question on the "pink batts dead baby affair" leapt onto the stage, swinging an axe. For a moment our hero looked vulnerable. But no. Side stepping easily, pleading a grief for the dead too noble to bear, Kevin ducked, weaved and saw off the only threat in the hour. Two Coalition members choked in apoplectic rage, and were also ejected as much for their sake as anything else.
Act Two "A Matter Of Public Insignificance."
Question time had not gone well. But in calling on a debate on A.M.O.P.I, - the no-confidence vote you have when you're not having a no-confidence vote, Abbott sought to rise from the arena's bloodied sands and carry the fight to his nemesis. But again, his blows were limp-wristed and failed to connect. Desperately, Abbott called on the media to take the attack to Rudd, apparently uncertain of the new script, and out of form in his preferred role of eye-gouging knee biter. Antoninus Severus Pugilator may yet return but so far he's still MIA, Missing, Intellectually Absent.
His attacks appear to cause severe confusion in his own mind, particularly as he's spent so many months playing Cuddly Tony, 'like a big warm hug for the whole electorate'. Stumbling forward like a blind Cyclops he also fell into a trap laid earlier by King Kevin: a challenge, a gauntlet hurled down with force, to debate policy (yes, policy!) at the National Press Club. This bodes, and probably ill.
Meanwhile, King Kevin rolled on without missing a beat, a step, an opportunity to score points in every round. Can he be human? Can he be stopped? Can I stay awake any longer in this Back To The Future III re-run?