EMPTY DESK: Federal Treasurer Josh Freydenberg sits behind a desk with a giant clip lock folder in front of him. H is carefully aligning a row of pencils and pens on the desk.
EMPTY DESK: Federal Treasurer Josh Freydenberg sits behind a desk with a giant clip lock folder in front of him. H is carefully aligning a row of pencils and pens on the desk. Christian Morrow

Boldly doing the job we pay them to do... sort of

LET the word go forth from this day hence that our government has balanced the budget and that there may be a small surplus coming up soon.

Coalition spin doctors have decided that, in line with usual government practice, vast amounts of taxpayers' money will be expended on an advertising campaign to let the Australian people know their government is boldly doing the job we pay them to do in the first place.

In an innovative move, the new awareness campaign will take the form of a tightly scripted, but nevertheless lavish reality TV show, entitled The Bold, the Beautiful and the Balanced, focussed on the day to day achievements of cabinet ministers starring those self same cabinet ministers as themselves.

The Byron Shire News has obtained what we believe may be an early first draft of the script for the opening scene of this ground breaking televisual event that is sure to change forever the way we do government in Straya.

ACT ONE, SCENE ONE: An office. Dressed in a tennis outfit with blue stretch terry-towelling headband Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg sits behind a desk with a giant clip lock folder in front of him. The Treasurer is carefully aligning a row of pencils and pens on the desk. There is a knock at the door.

FRYDENBERG: (jauntily) Entres-vous.

Tim Costello, Australian Baptist minister and the current Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia enters and sits down.

FRYDENBERG: Who are you?

TIM: I'm Tim Costello.

FRYDENBERG: Not Peter Costello? John Howard's Treasurer from 1996 to 2007?

TIM: No I'm his brother, Tim, the baptist minister and social advocate.

FRYDENBERG: (under his breath) Damn.

The Treasurer realises he has invited the wrong Costello over to gloat about the balanced budget with but decides to put on a brave face.

FRYDENBERG: Thank you for coming along this morning to hear the great news that Australia's jobs and growth focussed government has balanced the budget and we can expect to move into surplus in the next quarter.

TIM: (mystified, looking around to see if Frydenberg is reading off a cue card somewhere) Well that's excellent news Treasurer, perhaps we can use that surplus to address some of the urgent social issues facing the Australian people.

FRYDENBERG: (confused) We can do what now?

TIM: You know, fund the NDIS properly, raise Newstart, fully commit to closing the gap, house the homeless, tackle violence against women those kinds of things...address the entrenched inequality within our society.

FRYDENBERG: (getting a bit panicky) I thought you would like to talk about how the numbers all add up... and the tabs stick out in a line like little steps... and the depreciation schedules are colour coded... (trails off)

TIM: (encouraging) No really, that is lovely, Treasurer. Perhaps now we're on a sound financial footing we can address the fact that real wages have been stagnant for the past four years. Also, now we have a bit of breathing space we can develop a strategy for transitioning to a low emissions economy and perhaps even make some meaningful foreign aid contributions to developing nations in our region as a way of countering the growing influence of China.

AWKWARD SILENCE.

FRYDENBERG: (weakly, gesturing to the folder in front of him) My folder is blue...it has Balanced Budget embossed in Helvetica Bold on it...jobs and growth?

Tim stares stony faced at the Treasurer.

FURTHER AWKWARD SILENCE.

Then from outside the sound of an angry crowd swells. There is indistinct chanting, the sound of smashing glass, the whoop of emergency vehicle sirens. The Treasurer goes to the window and peeks through the blinds.

FRYDENBERG: What's that noise?

TIM: That's the people demanding some sort of action or plan (casting around for a way of explaining) a vision of the future if you like, Treasurer.

FRYDENBERG: Are they on drugs? Some of them look foreign to me.

TIM: Well some of them may have substance abuse issues and mental health problems but that can be a product of long term unemploy...

FRYDENBERG: (cuts him off) I'm calling Border Force.

Peter Dutton materialises from nowhere behind Tim Costello giving both Tim and Frydenberg a start.

FRYDENBERG: (admiringly) Whoa P.Dutty I didn't realise you were omnipresent.

DUTTON: I prefer the term omnipotent.

FRYDENBERG: (nodding out the window): Can we do something about the you-know-whos out there?

DUTTON: Robodebt drones have been released and the AFP are raiding the homes of the journalists covering the protest as we speak. They will become Quiet Australians soon.

Camera pans back to Tim Costello sitting with his head in his hands.

Fade to black.



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