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Wait a minute, who's the PM again?

The last time the highest office in the land changed with bewildering rapidity, my husband had a neurological incident in the middle of the night; blacking out in the bathroom, giving himself a hefty knock on the head on the way down. To be on the safe side, despite having been a nurse myself in a previous life, I rang ‘nurse on call’.

She took me through the familiar drill. No, I didn’t need to rush him to an emergency department at this point. Yes, I should check him through the night; take his pulse, shine a light in his eyes to check his pupils were responding appropriately, ask him who the Prime Minister was. Really?

It’s one of the questions they ask not only of people with possible concussion, but as a tool for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. These days, however, it’s not just those with dementia who forget who is at the wheel in this fine nation of ours. Six PMs in nine years has got to be some kind of record, at least for stable democracies.

On Friday, the family What’sApp group was running hot. Our two older offspring were watching the whole drama unfold, laying bets for who would win. Our oldest, a high school teacher, wrote, ‘I’m watching it with my year 12 class, riveting!’

‘Julie more popular, smarter, and more likely to have a chance at avoiding complete international ridicule’ she continued, to which her brother responded, ‘She’s also a woman though. And these people are absolute dinosaurs.’

Our youngest, who works in a job where you run all day and have less opportunity to tune in to current events, weighed in at this point. ‘By the way. Wtf? I only just started remembering that Turnbull or whatever was Prime Minister. Do we have a new one?’ I’m with her. I’m still stuck in antiquity – whenever I hear the words, ‘Prime Minister Malcolm,’ I expect them to be followed by the name Fraser.

Late afternoon, my other What’sApp group, my step-siblings in the UK, woke up and chipped in.

‘What’s going on in Aus politics?’ was the opening remark, and the final line was ‘What can Australia teach us about how to change a government?’

I guess, thanks to Donald Trump, we won’t be the biggest laughing stock in the democratic world. But it’s a close thing.

Meanwhile, the circus in Canberra continues. And in this county, we really need to devise some new questions to diagnose brain damage.


This was published in The Melbourne Age on 29 August 2018

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