Night of the Black Hands
It was a dark mid-March weekend night in Adelaide. The fine citizens of South Australia’s capital had by now become rather used to darkness. Even indoors. Even at night. A heavy reliance on renewables did not make for a well-functioning grid and consistent energy supplies. But heck, for many (even in the current Team Turnbull government) it was worth it to stop global warming by bringing down what the world’s temperature would otherwise be in the year 2100 AD by some one-hundredth of one degree – a fraction of a fraction, a rounding error. After all, for many (even in Team Turnbull) it was surely the case that all other countries looked on Australia as a moral exemplar, an anti-fossil fuels weathervane as it were. Surely we would not be the only country impoverishing itself by adhering strictly to the non-binding Paris Accords, even if Malcolm did sign us up after everyone knew President Trump had won and that the new President would never allow the US to be a party. For the Donald, coal was bigly great, the greatest ever. So was gas. Solar panels and wind turbines? Not so much. Never mind. It was still the case that for many (even in Team Turnbull) those who downplay the importance of virtue signalling and bumper sticker moralising and want out of the Paris Accords are just bad people. Worse, they’re part of the ‘far right’; they’re ‘out of touch’; they could never #PreenWithUs.
And speaking of Team Turnbull, on this dark night in Adelaide not long after the Ides of March many of its key players were there a-gathering. You see a party had been planned for one of the Team’s key players. It was to be a big celebration. It was to mark a quarter century in politics for the man who was known as ‘The Noodle’, though some across the aisle of Parliament had been unkind enough to describe him as ‘the Rinsing Noodle’. Still, twenty-five years is a long time and if that is not cause for a big shindig what is?
Hence anyone who was anyone in Noodle-world would be there. Watching from across the street from where the party was being held you could see the limousines arriving. Many would tell the drivers to wait for them, on the clock, the taxpayers’ clock. That was the expected norm, that sort of insouciance about what things cost, once you made it to the Big House (actually either House) in Canberra.
One odd thing would strike the keen observer from across the street. Each invitee, as he or she (or ze or ye or you name it, as Jordan Peterson was not invited and this was a politically correct crowd, if it was anything) got out of the limo, reached into an outside pocket and pulled out a black glove. Just one. And put it on. Tonight’s event was themed ‘the Black Hand Gang has won’. So this party was for Black Handers, today’s dominant faction in the Liberal party – if, that is, the Liberal party happened to have factions, which of course we know it does not because Malcolm has told us so.
Inside it was a regular Mardi Gras. Costs be damned, the beer was being pumped uphill only then to cascade down into the glasses of all and sundry – to keep the party’s energy flowing. Then, halfway through the night’s celebrations, what all the guests had been waiting for occurred. The Noodle took to the floor. He walked to the microphone. ‘Thank you all for coming’, he said, ‘Cabinet Ministers, party officials, Mr Textor who is standing over there a centimetre to the right of the Prime Minister and of course the various Get-Up! officials here tonight who’ve helped me in the past. I am honoured you could all be here.’
At this point all the Black Hands raised their gloved fists in tribute to the Man who had helped deliver to them the Liberal party, or at least to help them become its dominant wing (the word ‘faction’ having been banned, like anything the Australian Human Rights Commission considered to be hate speech – which in Bill Leak’s case included unexceptionable political cartoons).
The Noodle continued. ‘I told you we would take over the Party and we have. Anyone who believes the Liberal party room would ever move against Malcolm Turnbull need only look around this room. It won’t happen. We won’t let it. Of course you ask me the highlight of my political career and I’ll be honest – though perhaps we should keep this within the confines of this room. My highlight was helping organise the coup, the defenestration, of Mr Abbott. Of course, I had help. A few of you, like me, stayed in Cabinet while we plotted. A few worked the phones. More again plotted and planned. Then 53 others, with me, voted to get Tony out. We decisively moved the party to the left politically. We’re now a left-leaning party, though I advise you all to use the more obfuscatory term ‘moderate’. The press eats that word up. The ABC loves it.’
‘And if any of you doubt the power of our faction, oops “wing”, of the party just think back to when Mr Abbott recently made his suggestions about the need to reduce immigration. You could be forgiven for thinking that the supposed “conservatives” in Cabinet were really closet Black Handers, so quickly and loudly did they denounce their former PM. Wasn’t that great!’
The room erupted in cheers. ‘And even if we do lose the next election my friends, let’s be clear. We will lose more seats in the outer suburbs, the former Howard Battlers’ turf, than in the enlightened inner-city realms where every $4 million dollar house has solar panels and pays next to nothing for electricity. So after we lose the next election – sorry, if we lose it – what remains will be an even more left-wing remnant. The party room will lean even more left! Tony’s days are finished my black-fisted friends. Angus Taylor’s too. And Andrew Hastie’s. Those raving right-wing nutters have no chance. We Black Hands control the party. My twenty five years have not been wasted.’
With those words the room exploded in repeated chants of ‘Black Hands rule’. The band struck up the Noodle’s favourite song ‘Yellow Submarine’. The candles were lit lest the power go off. It truly was a night to remember.