Life of Riley: It's over and done with

Wednesday, August 14, 1996

Life of Riley

It's over and done with

There's been a change, hasn't there? With the election of the Howard government, the country's political climate has shifted. Would you agree, Mr. Riley?

— Oh, yes, definitely.

I believe I'm right in saying that you yourself referred to this change as "a Howardey-do". Tell me, is this phrase intended for your own private use or can anyone borrow it? Could I use it for instance?

— Sure. Be my guest.

I wonder if you agree with me that what you call Howardey-do politics has taken the electorate back to 1983? It seems to me that the last 13 years of Labor in office are well and truly over and done with. I feel (perhaps you will agree with me) that the whole course of recent Australian history has suffered something of a turnabout.

— Yes, I suppose it has.

So really we cannot call this period — except, perhaps, somewhat sarcastically — "a pretty Howardey-do". I mean, it wouldn't do, would it, Mr Riley, to make light of the changes that now are upon us?

— No, perhaps not.

Dramatic though they may be. But what impresses me the most is how quickly the Australian people have soured. I mean, being cynical about the Labor Party came to be something of a national pastime a while back. Even yourself, on occasion, seemed keen to draw blood from that quarter.

— Yes I did.

Particularly keen, I'd say. While no one is accusing you of bringing down the Labor government singlehandedly, surely you cannot now tell us that this — "Howardey-do" as you called it — is what you wanted. After all, Mr Riley, this is what was waiting in the wings all those years.

— What? Oh, yes. It was always there.

So wouldn't we have been better off to stick with the ALP? Even now some commentators are saying that our main task is to return Labor to office in three years' time. Three years, Mr Riley, think of it.

— I am.

Howard can do a lot of damage in three years.

— He can indeed.

So how does it make you feel knowing that you had a hand in bringing this terrible business about? Surely you must feel guilty?

— I don't.

You don't! I find that very difficult to believe. Not even a teensy weensy bit?

— No.

Mr Riley, you astound me. So how then would you describe yourself?

— Relieved.

Relieved, Mr Riley?

— Voided of excrement, Sir.

Dave Riley