New arrivals to parliament need to be better taught how to fit in, particularly as regards such issues as personal hygiene and joining the queue, according to Liberal backbencher Teresa Gambaro.
"Some members of the government have a distinct whiff about them, which, to say the least, is not all that pleasant. Take the member for Dobell, for instance. He hasn't been around long enough to learn any common courtesy. He should have left his dirty laundry in the smoky backrooms and bordellos of the HSU rather than dragging it in here to stink the place out."
Ms Gambaro's remarks have caused a storm of outrage within the corridors beneath Capital Hill. Recently promoted Speaker-of-the-House Peter Slipper was one who immediately took umbrage at her insinuation that he had queue-hopped. "I waited very patiently for months on end until such time as Harry Jenkins was finally knifed in the back and bundled onto the back benches. Then of course I was able to hop straight in, roll up my sleeves and get to work," he said, speaking from his new yacht in the Whitsundays. "As for fitting in with my co-workers, I feel perfectly at home sitting down for a long lunch with my new Labor Party colleagues."
Minister for Climate Change and All Sorts of Other Stuff Greg Combet was equally contemptuous of her remarks. “It’s well known that I have been politely waiting in a queue for several years now, without once complaining or ever raising my voice, behind both Kevin and Julia. But I have no doubt that my turn is coming up very soon now.”
However, Ms Gambaro has found some support for her criticisms of personal hygiene from unlikely quarters. Former PM Kevin Rudd was quick to point out that although the Heiner affair had threatened to hang around him like a bad smell for a couple of years he was able to get rid of it by taking a few simple precautionary steps, such as denying any wrong-doing whatsoever and shredding anything that could be construed as an incriminating document. Picking some wax out of his ear and eating it, Rudd went on to say that he saw “nothing wrong at all” with his personal habits.
Elder statesman John Faulkner was quick to offer some timely advice. "Yes, indeed, there is a rather toxic odour wafting around the joint that we have to all face up to. It's not any one individual. Rather, it emanates from the rotting carcass that is today's Labor Party. We need to rebuild it from the ground up. That's the only way to get rid of the stench." Standing behind him with their noses pegged, both Bob Carr and Steve Bracks reminded reporters that the nasty pong had nothing to do with either of them.
Tony Abbott, himself no stranger to the post-workout anti-perspirant, was quick to defend his citizenship spokeswoman’s comments. "Um, ah, different people have different lifestyles, and, ah, um, come from very different cultures. In fact, ah, one of my co-workers, Malcolm, struggles to fit in at all but, um, for some reason we still tolerate having him around." Sitting all alone by himself in the canteen, Malcolm fretfully admitted that deep down he longed to return to his natural birthplace, the left side of the political divide, from whence he’d fled many years earlier. “I’ve had a sniff around but they won’t let me back in,” he lamented.
Speaking from their adjacent New England electorates, former loners and outsiders Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor were unapologetic. "We both found it very easy to fit in, once Julia made it clear we could have as many billions of dollars as we wanted. Nothing smelly about that whatsoever."
Sweating profusely, Chris Bowen was quick to seize on the comments as a personal affront. "The only reason I sweat so much is nothing whatsoever to do with deodorant or a lack thereof," he said, his red face glistening under the harsh light of the TV cameras. "It’s because I feel acutely embarrassed about what a disastrous job we've done." Standing stiffly behind him, Senator Conroy, a British immigrant, admitted that he still had problems adapting to some of the more outlandish Australian cultural norms. “Back in the old country we never bothered with such ridiculous rituals as a cost benefit analysis or a sound business model.”
But Green’s leader Bob Brown was unfazed by the controversy. "Everything around here smells pretty sweet to me. I get my own way on pretty much whatever I want and I only got 11% of the vote."
Julia Gillard was unavailable for comment, although rumours have it that some time in March she'll be taking a bath.