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Open Features: We Need A Plan

...Kevin put his head on the desk, one arm draped over the dog.

‘We need a plan.’

Sam laughed nervously. ‘Maybe we should invade somewhere. You know, external threat, unite the voters, wave the flag. Wartime leader, that sort of thing.’...

Ian Arkill's tasty tale will leave you half-believing that this really is what goes on in the Prime Minister's offiuce.

This is Ian's first story for Open Writing. We hope to bring you more of his work.

‘Harry, PM’s office, five minutes.’

Harry pointed to a desktop covered in newspapers. ‘Sam, I got all this…’

‘Kev wants us there, now.’ Sam enjoyed referring to the boss that way. Sometimes Kevin, rarely Prime Minister.

‘Problems?’

‘Policy review, I think he called it’.

Five minutes later they watched as Kevin paced the floor, kicking a stuffed dog and swearing into a mobile phone. Harry raised his eyebrows, nodded towards the dog. Sam shrugged.

A final stream of invective as the PM threw down the phone.
‘Ok, what’s happening?’

Sam cleared his throat. ‘About…?’

Kevin rolled his eyes. ‘Oh, I don’t know. Who’s going to win the footy, maybe why petrol goes up at weekends? Tell you what Sam, why don’t we talk about the polls and how you guys are going to be out on your arse election night? Want to start with that?’

‘Well, Prime Minister’, said Sam, realising this wasn’t a “Kev” moment, ‘… the polls are bad, but as you’ve said, people are flaky. This business is cyclical. One day, we’re the best thing since sliced bread, next day we’re bastards. That’s politics, boss.’

Kevin trod on the dog’s tail. ‘No, mate. Politics is about getting re-elected. And the rate we’re going that’s looking doubtful. How come we’re in this mess anyway?’

‘Well, the tax hasn’t helped. We thought…’

The PM nodded. ‘That should have been a goer. But the damned thing’s come back to bite us on the bum’. He shook his head. ‘Old days the unions would’ve backed us to the hilt. So what do we do? Harry, you’re sitting there like a stunned mullet.’

Harry swallowed. ‘Well, everyone hates us now, so maybe we take a hit, compromise and turn it into a “how we listened to the electorate” statement. Otherwise…’

The PM toyed with the dog for a moment. ‘Could work. Put something down on paper for me. OK, the insulation thing. Where are we on that?’

Sam chipped in, wanting to get back on a “Kev” basis real soon. ‘Well we’ve checked out most of the places that were affected and…’

‘Most? How many is most?’

‘There’s about 60,000 homes outstanding.’

‘That’s a lot of outstanding.'

‘Well, they’re mainly in non-Labor electorates.’

Kevin nodded. ‘Yeah, well they can wait. What’s the damage?’

Sam glanced at Harry. ‘Well as you know there were fatalities, over a hundred houses with faulty insulation caught fire and…’

Kevin rolled his eyes again. ‘Focus, Sam. Big picture stuff that might hurt us on Election Day. These, other things …’ he waved his hands in the air, ‘…we can deal with. Send a photo, tell them our thoughts and prayers are with them. OK? What else?’

Sam paused then said, ‘Guess the Schools thing is the main problem. They’re saying we should have thought it through a bit more, spoken with a few people,'

‘People…?’

Sam shifted in his seat. ‘Well, parents, principals, locals.’

Kevin kicked the dog a couple of times. ‘And how long would that have taken? We had to act decisively to save the country. That, in case you guys have forgotten, is what impetus spending is about. And what’s this Widgerie thing?’

Widgerie, small town in the western New South Wales. Marginal seat. The Federal Government recently announced a six million dollar science block, undercover parking for three hundred cars.

‘Um, well on reflection, Widgerie was a bad choice.’

‘How?’ Kevin picked up the dog, started twisting its ears.

‘Might be interpreted as overkill.’

“How big is the school?’

‘Six pupils. Two more enrolled for 2011.’

Kevin put his head on the desk, one arm draped over the dog.

‘We need a plan.’

Sam laughed nervously. ‘Maybe we should invade somewhere. You know, external threat, unite the voters, wave the flag. Wartime leader, that sort of thing.’

The PM sat up, adjusted his tie. ‘Yeah? Anywhere in mind?’

‘Ah, I was…just joking, PM.’

The PM was silent for a few moments as he stroked the dog. ‘Could work. Of course, we’d need to get ASIO involved. Identify terrorist threats; maybe expel somebody from an embassy or something. Yeah, I like it. OK. Something on paper, my desk, close of business’.

Sam and Harry looked at each other. Sam said, ‘With the greatest respect PM, perhaps we need to think this through a bit. Can’t afford to be seen as impulsive or precipitous. And well, invading another sovereign state is very…’

Kevin looked at his watch, nodding agreement. ‘Of course. Need to take our time with this one, get it right. Yeah, tomorrow’s fine.’

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