"Because the prime minister is the prime minister and he is an Australian citizen and that is a far as the conversation is going!" Doth the lady protest too much?

When Tony Magrathea called the office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet last week to ask why he had received no reply to his correspondence regarding the PM's potential dual citizenship, the response was quite extraordinary. Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones reports.

IRONY is a funny thing — unless you have no sense of humour.

Tony Abbott’s various attempts at stand-up comedy have gone viral for all the wrong reasons. He might have been funny when he was whipping right-wing university students into a self-righteous frenzy, teasing girls by punching the wall next to their head, but he’s lost the spark. Now he’s all dull, dull, dull.

But, just when it seemed all was lost, Tony pulls out the irony card from his sleeve.

Voila! (Cue white dove.)

"We’ll deport dual nationals who act against the interests of this country!"

Canned applause.

It gets better.

Cut to the office of Prime Minister and Cabinet, 13 February 2015.

The phone rings.

Good morning, Prime Minister’s office, Diana speaking.

Hi Diana, my name is Tony Magrathea. I make a phone call every day trying to find out what’s happened to the letters I’ve sent and letter that Terri Butler sent….

And what are the letters in regards to, sir?

Mr Abbott’s renunciation of British citizenship papers.

I’m not, I’m not going to transfer you to the department but I will advise you the request that you are asking is ludicrous and we will not be answering.

Why is it ludicrous?

Because the prime pinister is the prime pinister and he is an Australian citizen and that is a far as the conversation is going.

I am recording this for the Senate enquiry, just to let you know.

You have already had a response, sir.

I’ve had an FOI saying...

You have been provided with a response from the department, I am not going to get into a discussion…..This is a ludicrous question, this is a ludicrous question Sir and I am not going to have this discussion with you.

This will be published.

Publish whatever you would like Sir, thank you

Two words stand out in this conversation. The use of the term "sir" – a horrible word given it’s usual context of oppression, made worse because Diana knew Tony’s name – and "ludicrous" — a word seldom heard in mainstream Australia.

Ridiculous, maybe; absurd, possibly, but think back to when you last heard ludicrous in general usage. I have a friend, an Engishman, who uses it, but that’s about it.

Receptionist Diana used it three times.

The PM’s office is an incoming call centre. Like all incoming call centres the operators have scripts.

Once upon a time it was easy to be brushed off by Abbott’s assurances. When the dual citizenship story first started most people, reasonably enough, thought it was a desperate and underhanded attempt to hop on the birther bandwagon and take a cheap shot at the PM. Driven by sore losers.

But it’s got so bad the PM’s call centre now has a script to deal with enquiries. Ludicrous.

Make life much easier for Diana if Tony would just show his Form RN.

Listen to the full recorded exchange between Tony Magrathea and feisty prime ministerial receiptionist Diana, below:

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