A Pleasure To Be Here is a collection of the best Clarke and Dawe interviews from 1989 to 2017. Published posthumously under John Clarke’s name, the anthology includes numerous well-remembered classics, as well as some forgotten gems — this beauty among them. Here, Clarke plays a bellicose Jeff Kennett, then-premier of Victoria, bragging about his legislative machismo and his promise to “fix things” by abolishing education in the garden state.

The Hon. Jeff Kennett

Premier of Victoria

Have you thanked me for coming in yet?

Mr Kennett, thank you for coming in.

Who are you looking at?

I’m looking at you.

You’ll get a bunch of fives up the kisser if you’re not careful.

I’m sorry.

That’s a good response, son. You’re a bit lucky there; you’ve avoided a nasty incident.

I wonder if I could ask you about your vision for Australia.

I’m Jeff Kennett. I’m the premier of Victoria.

Where do you think Australia’s going?

I don’t think it’s going anywhere, is it? Aren’t the other countries coming here? Isn’t that the idea?

The Olympics, you’re talking about?

It’s not just me. Get out there in the streets. Everyone’s talking about them. Have you thanked me for coming in yet?

Yes, I did that.

Oh, we’ve done that, give us a pencil, will you? I’ll tick it off.

You’ve been in office for a while now.

How do you know that?

Mr Kennett, you’ve been in office for a while now.

Are you looking at me, son?

What have you achieved in that time, do you think?

We lead Australia at the moment. There is no doubt about that. Not a doubt in…

Your mind?

…the whole wide world. This is the only state where anything is happening.

What is happening, do you think?

The rest of the country is run by honest plodders who are just scrambling along trying to get the infrastructure to work.

What are you trying to do?

We’re crawling around underneath it with a pocketful of gelignite and a full set of sockets. We’re going to fix things.

What are you going to fix?

Education.

What are you going to do?

We’re going to stop it.

What’s the matter with education?

It’s run by teachers. We’ve got their names. We’ll get them.

Didn’t you get an education?

No, I went to Scotch—but listen, you can’t have an education system based on the needs of a lot of little children. That doesn’t stand to reason.

What does the opposition say about all this? Don’t you have a bit of trouble with them?

Only very occasionally.

There’s been complete uproar recently, hasn’t there?

Yes, this was over the second reading of the ‘My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad’ bill.

Yes and the ‘Nya-Nya-Nya-Nya-Nya’ legislation.

We won that.

How did you win it?

Our argument was persuasive.

How?

Eyebrows stuck a frog down someone’s trousers.

Wasn’t  someone suspended?

Yes, but we’ll cut him down in the morning and his parents want him to come back next term.

So, more of the same?

A lot of people don’t think it’s all that sane but, yes, we’ll be in there, us Christians.

Mr Kennett, thank you.

You are bloody looking at me, aren’t you?

Copyright John Clarke;

This is an edited extract from A Pleasure to be Here, The Best of Clarke & Dawe 1989-2017, Text Publishing, 2017, RRP: $29.99.  

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