The beagle decides:

  Dogged by controversy. Meanwhile, Crikey understands that two of the Turnbull dogs, Jojo and Mellie…  

  are taking a break from the campaign trail. They are living in an apartment building in Potts Point, allegedly without body corporate permission and much to the chagrin of the building manager, supposedly a former Liberal voter.    Howard’s history revisionism. Speaking with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell this morning, Prime Minister John Howard reassured voters about the transition from him to Peter Costello, saying he’d been upfront about it, just like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (listen here)… Um, really? 1 April 2006: ” Guess what? Blair has given Brown another date for his departure“; 6 September 2006: ” Blair’s offer: I will go in a year. Brown: that’s not good enough“; 10 September 2006: ” Blair Warns Against Infighting, but Feud Persists“. Actually that sounds a pretty accurate description.

Use the force: Hugh Atkin’s latest YouTube treat channels the dark side…  

  Lest We Forget: During the final week of the election campaign, North Melbourne residents have been puzzled by the sudden appearance of a statue of PM John Howard bedecked in army uniform:   

Located in Anderson Street, the PM stands guard outside the Celephonia Club, stoically observing the goings and comings at adjacent brothel, Images. Perhaps the effigy pays homage to this under siege political street fighter, seemingly mortally wounded by ‘friendly fire’ from his own troops in recent days? Will the statue be consigned to the scrap heap or will it still stand triumphant next week? An apt last campaign day call to arms could be “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the right”. — Neil Walker

Tactical voting? A Country Liberal Party How to Vote card for the Senate doing the rounds of the Northern Territory tells voters to put a number one in box B on the ballot – the Labor Party box.

Soundtrack for Saturday night. The genius behind Keating The Musical , Casey Bennetto, has weighed into the final week of the campaign, offering an anthem for election night. Called Saturday Night, it’s a disco ride through Howard defeat, Howard victory, Howard defeat, Howard victory … And here’s another on Tony Abbott’s famous one-word one-liner uttered at the National Press Club debate between he and ALP health spokesperson Nicola Roxon – it called Bullsh-t. Thanks to Melbourne’s Triple R FM for hosting them.

Reader Greg Alford writes an election primer for Potter fans: I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but John Howard has a reflexive habit of flicking his tongue quickly into the bottom left corner of his mouth when speaking. Having recently watched the fourth Harry Potter movie (The Goblet of Fire), it struck me that one of the characters, Mad Eye Moody, has exactly the same habit. Only [warning: spoiler coming for those few who’ve not seen it]…

… by the end it’s revealed that it’s not the good wizard Mad Eye Moody at all, but an evil emissary of the dark lord Voldemort in disguise – the tongue-flicking is a visual hint that he’s not what he seems and is affiliated with the snake-loving Voldemort. This naturally led me to speculate on who could play the various roles in the next Harry Potter film if some hapless director was forced to choose solely from Australian politicians:

Harry Potter – I’m not the first to nominate Kevin Rudd for this role: a seeming goody-two shoes in specs, but with dark secrets lurking in his past. Perhaps too good to be true … If he wins on Saturday, he’ll credited with wizarding away 11 years of Coalition/deatheater dominance.

Ron Weasley – OK, this is gender-bending, but it has to be Julia Gillard. The popular, fiery, reliable but tough one. And they’ve both got red hair!

Hermione Granger – Nicola Roxon, attractive in a nerdy and clever kind of way, she certainly made Crabbe/Abbott look like a fool.

Malfoy senior – Thin-lipped and sneering, a fervent disciple of the dark lord, but who goes to water when confronting him: a natural role for Peter Costello (just add long blonde wig).

Malfoy junior – Christopher Pyne, the Costello-like junior Slytherin.

Crabbe and Goyle – Malfoy junior’s thick and buffoonish hangers-on, perfect for Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.

Rita Skeeter – Flirtatious, manipulative, self-obsessed journalist from the Daily Prophet (which thinks it’s a quality paper, but is really just a scandal rag), who can take the merest whiff of a story and blow it up into front-page news: a natural fit for The Australian ‘s Caroline Overington.

Nearly Headless Nick – Was once a champion for the forces of good, but now is a mere ghost of himself, reduced to floating around the halls of Hogwarts saying ‘good morning’ to anyone who’ll listen: a natural fit for Peter Garrett.

The Dursleys – Take your pick from Family First, Fred Nile’s group, the Exclusive Brethren, Danny Nalliah’s Catch the Fire ministries: plenty of potential bit-part players, eager to play themselves in the roles of racist, snobby, fanatical ignoramuses, who bang on all the time about family and Christian values but act in precisely the opposite manner.

Snape – Clever but sarcastic, a hard task-master, with extensive experience of the real world outside politics/Hogwarts. Seems to be a disciple of the Dark Lord/Liberal Party but secretly appears to work for the forces of goodness, like a republic and stronger action on climate change. Sounds like a job for Malcolm Turnbull!

Voldemort – OK, of course this should really be John Howard, but physically he just doesn’t cut it. In ghoulish demeanour and frightening deadness of speech, this can only be Philip Ruddock. Perhaps they can dub Howard’s words (‘we don’t want mudbloods like this in our country’) onto Ruddock’s persona?

Dumbledore – There has only ever been one possibility for this role: Bob Brown! Endless patience and the wisdom of ages behind those crinkly eyes, with a personality almost impossibly honest and straightforward (for a politician anyway). Start growing that long white beard now, Bob. About the only difference is that Bob has been openly gay for ages.

Peeves – An annoying ghost from the past, wanders around Hogwarts causing minor mishaps, breaking things and generally being a damned nuisance: it can only be Paul Keating.

The Fat Lady – At last, a role for Alexander Downer! He doesn’t mind a bit of drag, and this role seems to be mostly brought into the story for a bit of minor comic relief.

The Bloody Baron – House ghost of nasty Slytherin, a horrible bloodstained ghoul: sounds perfect for Bill Heffernan.

The constantly shifting stairs – Coalition policy on … well, anything really, WorkChoices, climate change, Aborigines, so long as there’s a potential vote in it. (Expect similar continual erratic mutations under Labor.)

Dementors – Terrifying, soul-destroying creatures who fill you with despair and suck the very life-force out of everything they touch, impervious to all but the strongest magic (eg, proper democratic process): sounds like the board of Gunns Ltd (they wouldn’t even have to act).

Moaning Myrtle – Seems nice enough, even a bit flirty, but (like her party) a mere ghost of her former self. A victim (like her party) of an unfortunate incident years ago which have reduced her to insignificance. Will probably be written out of the story at this election: the Democrats’ Lyn Allison.

Peter Fray

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