Olde Pascoe’s Almanacke – 2018

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I’ve given up, surrendered to The Thing’s inevitability. I’ve tried moving, running, hiding, but still the old ooze-encrusted sea chest finds me on New Year’s eve with all its horror and foreboding.
The moment came when The Thing’s dystopian vision of a future world became interchangeable with a reality where George Christensen has influence, Pauline Hanson the Senate balance of power and Donald Trump the presidency. So, figuring the blood-soaked rantings of a syphilitic pirate’s ghost could be little worse now than another episode of Q&A, I approached the attic before the thumping started, before the screams in the night, thinking that opening the trunk in daylight might be less confronting.
Wrong. The usual spiders and serpents can be brushed aside, dancing skeletons ignored and you can become somewhat used to the stench of decaying flesh and worse, but nothing prepares you for the sight of an infinite number of Malcolm Turnbull apparitions all with that lost fixed smile and intoning “I’m a strong leader”.
My soul damaged afresh, I reached for the book as the pages flew open to 2018. Some say it contains traces of entwined Pauline Hanson and Eric Abetz DNA. Some say it writes Bill Shorten’s zingers. I only know it’s Olde Pascoe’s Almanacke.

January
Malcolm Turnbull presides over Australia Day formalities as Prime Minister. He seems pleasantly surprised. “I just take it one day at a time,” he explains.
Donald Trump presides over several games of golf as President of the United States. “I just take it. Life’s a series of mulligans and gimmes. Grab it by the pussy.”
Australia makes it through January without major blackouts. Energy Minister “Just” Joshing offers to talk to any journalist, TV program or radio show anywhere anytime to decry the failure of the South Australian Labor government.

February
Australia suffers major blackouts after transmission lines throughout the nation, stretched and sagging after a series of 45-degree days, are suddenly loaded with the weight of freezing rain topped by a national snow storm. Herman Kahn’s “hot snow load” proves not to be a warning of bureaucratic stupidity.
“Just” Joshing disappears.
The issue of Chinese influence over Australian politicians continues to linger like the last dim sim of a Sussex Street lunch, but Opposition leader Bill Shorten believes a corner has been turned with former-senator Dastardly accepting the position as Honorary Consul for the Bahamas. “In a tight three-corned contest, no one side can dominate,” says Shorten. “Between Australia, China and the Bahamas, the thinner the Dastard is spread, the better.”
PM Turnbull tends to agree. “It’s pleasing to see Dastardly undertaking community service. The Bahamas’ very fine banking and tax structures are in no conflict with my government. And it is my government – I’m still Prime Minister. Who would have thought it?”

March
The United States’ new Ambassador to Australia, Admiral “Nuke’em” Strangelove, warns that China is determined to stop American carrier groups sailing up to its front door. “We’ll decide whose front door we’ll knock on and with what weapon,” Nuke’em tells Federal Cabinet. “And I want another squadron of your tinnies through the South China Sea to mark Anzac Day next month. I love the way you Aussies embrace failure.”

April
Malcolm “I’m Prime Minister” Turnbull announces a new national energy security program. “It’s important not to rush a power scheme, or several consecutive power schemes. Fortunately, we have developed a system of rolling energy schemes so that new ones are announced before the old ones can be implemented, keeping us ahead of the game and Australians secure in the knowledge that we lead the world when it comes to disruption.”
American friendly fire during South China Sea naval exercises sinks the Royal Australian Navy. “Hey, look on the bright side,” says Nuke’em. “You’ve got another great defeat to celebrate.”

May
Treasurer ScoMo unveils his third consecutive election budget. “Well, you never know – I certainly don’t,” ScoMo tells assembled media. “We know,” reply the media.
Australians can look forward to personal income tax cuts scheduled to be introduced two years after the company tax rate is reduced to 20 per cent. “Treasury modelling shows reducing company to 20 per cent rather than 25 per cent will double economic growth and triple corporate tax collections while quadrupling wage rates,” ScoMo announces with a straight face. “Well, that’s what Gina told me.”
“This is not about trickle-down economics – it’s gush-down economics,” confirms Business Council of Australia spokesperson Judith Sloane.

June
Independent former-Senator Dastardly adds Lichtenstein and Ireland to his stable of honorary consulates. He’s congratulated by PM Turnbull for the excellent role he’s playing in developing Australian accountancy services. “I know better than most how important that is,” the PM says. “And I’m Prime Minister. No, really, I am. And the year’s nearly half over. How about that?”

July
A winter both freezing cold and surprisingly hot drives both air conditioning and heating to new peaks, causing blackouts.
“Just” Joshing, found hiding in a Snowy Mountains tunnel, is dragged out to stand behind PM Turnbull while a new new energy policy is announced.
Nuke’em Strangelove orders the RAAF’s first Joint Strike Fighters to strafe the waters off the Spratly Islands – if they are capable of taking off. They’re not – a possible outbreak of war with China is averted.

August
Suggestions of a possible war send metals prices soaring and the glory days are back for Australian mining. China doubles existing orders for everything that can be shipped in case Australia is unable to protect its vital trade route with China from China.
Drilling rigs are fully booked, the long lunch returns to Perth, penny dreadful marijuana stocks revert to being penny dreadful mining stocks.

September
PM Turnbull marks the third anniversary of his parliamentary coup (“Three years! Amazing! That’s just like a proper parliamentary term!”) by abolishing the seat of Warringah. Former MP and PM Fully-Toned Abbott says the perverted yes-voting heathens of his former electorate didn’t deserve him anyway and he had his plate full with speaking engagements for the Koch brothers, Flat Earth Society, Citizens Against Sin, The Return to Imperial Measurements Association, the Make Queen Elizabeth Dame of Australia Fellowship, the Crusades Re-enactment Movement, Coal Consumption Co-op, Onions Without Peeling, the push to have B. A. Santamaria canonised and as Patron of the Strop Impersonators Union.

October
Totally independent former-Senator Dastardly makes history when he becomes the first non-Swiss citizen to be made an ambassador for Switzerland.
“I’m representing the Australia we want to have – the country with the most successful multi-representational arrangements with tax-efficient bolt holes – and I say that with the full backing of the Prime Minister,” says the Dastard.
“That’s me! The Prime Minister – still!” says the Prime Minister.

November
Absolutely and totally independent former-Senator Dastardly, with the backing of the Swiss government and sundry other tax shelters, buys the other cross benchers to form the Politicians for Plenty Party. “We’re really just building on the One Nation model of politics for fun and profit,” Dastardly explains.
The new improved Summer of 18/19 Energy Plan is revealed by Just Joshing. It features ice block distribution centres in major cities and folding fans for all.

December
The mid-year economic review sees Treasurer ScoMo announce the abolition of company tax in a desperate attempt to stop government debt hitting the $1 trillion mark before the next election.
“It’s the only responsible thing to do,” he says. “If cutting the company tax rate to 20 per cent was going to be better, abolishing it altogether must be best. I’ve ordered the Reserve Bank to open the vault to allow all the money to rush in any minute now. And in the meantime, there will be big wage rises because there’s nothing an Australian CFO likes more than increasing unit labour costs.”
PM Turnbull sends out his traditional Christmas card featuring a photograph of he and wife Lucy standing outside the Lodge, pointing at the front gate with a balloon from his mouth declaring: “That’s our home because I’m still Prime Minister this Christmas – how cool is that? Well, it’s one of our homes anyway.”
And President Xi looks down on Australia and smiles the inscrutable smile of the man playing the very long game amongst boys with attention span deficiencies.

First published Mining Monthly, January 2018

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