Life of Riley: Little John


John Winston Howard, MHR (Lib) Bennelong: Get a load of that deficit! Phew! What a big 'un! You could have knocked me over with a feather. I said to my offsider — didn't I, Pete? — I said, "What we have here is a failure of big government". And then I said to him — and I'll say it to you all — "We will now begin to construct the new order". Just like that! Talk about inspired. The muse was upon me.

From here on in, the sky's the limit for the little bloke. No sweat. We're taking big government off your backs. [Rapturous applause.]

Please, let me finish. Under my government, everything is up for grabs. I'll be sitting down with the states and offering them first bite of the cake. We will be open to any offers. Let's see them print their own money or raise their own army if they want to. I've an open mind about this. Why not? Or, better still, let the towns and municipalities do it. I tell you, small is beautiful. Let's hear it for smallness. [Cheers and chanting: "Small! Small! Small!]

Just call me Little John — 'cause I'm big on being little.

[INTERJECTION: "And a little goes a long way!"]

The Honourable Member has said it. And while we are on a roll, before you can say Robert Gordon Menzies, we'll be shutting down Canberra. Even as I speak we are negotiating to sell it.

Once we've divested ourselves of the public sector, what use have we for this place? Converted to a family entertainment centre, Disney enterprises are keen to realise its potential for big grosses.

Because, as you know, the institution of the family is sacred to us all. It is the key to our success. The little people of Australia — they don't want big government breathing down their necks telling them what to do and what they can and cannot earn. No. They want to get up each morning knowing that mum and dad are still number one. They want to know that the traditions we hold dear : the Christian — eh, Jewish — eh, Moslem — eh, Scientology — ethic of hard work and forbearance are back in place where they should be: in the hearts and minds of the littlest people of all — our children.

[INTERJECTION: "No more lazy, good-for-nothing bums!"]

Once again, the Honourable Member has said it much better than I. My government — the Howard government — will represent all Australians. Mine will be a government that dares to believe in the potential of all the little people out there — all the battlers who've had it so hard these last 13 long years — to stand on their own two mini-feet and make their own small way in the world without fear or favour.

That's my promise. That's the new order I'm on about. But to get there — to convert the Australian emu of big government into a bantam heralding with its crow a new dawn — won't come easily. But bear with me. We have begun this great task with confidence and with our enemies in disarray.

So if you consult the auction catalogues you have before you, we can start the bidding with Lot 274 — Telstra telecommunications carrier, heavily capitalised, with strong growth potential. A truly excellent investment opportunity for some lucky entrepreneur. What do I hear?

Dave Riley