A salute to the captain of the good ship Queensland. On visiting Campbell Newman’s sunny state last week, I was asked to be part of an event called The Sincerest Form of Flattery, in which writers mimic the style of a favourite author. I decided to go with A.B. Paterson. When I’ve got a minute I might rework this, keeping to the Banjo’s original metre. But I rather had to knock this piece together on the day, so this is it, as performed at the Brisbane Writers Festival.
Campbell of the Overflow
There were clouds on the horizon – weren’t no earthly signs of fire
But McKellar wasn’t wrong about the floods,
Rain was coming in from north until the state was underwater
And the whole of Brisbane smothered in the mud.
Well, the people there were downing all the beers around, and drowning
All their sorrows deep as Ipswich in the booze,
And along each laneway shivered down a small suburban river
Each delivering a ton of stinking ooze.
But amidst the muck and shambles up there popped a man named Campbell
And he said “I’ll drive the ambulance, m’lud,
For the state is doing poorly, badly thrown like Brett Kimmorley
And New Orleans is in better shape than us.”
So he caught an ebbing tide before the waters had subsided
And his course it was decided hard and true,
And of course he was derided in the coarsest sort of style, but
He was cautiously inspired to see it through.
He was stern as Robbie Deans, he tucked his shirt into his jeans,
He had the waistband hitched up halfway to his throat,
And he fixed us with his eyes – the distant stare of a survivor
Of a dozen Christmas sales at Country Road.
He said “Look, it’s no surprise to find that Anna Bligh’s a liar
Handing assets out to buyers like a king.”
(He was perfectly entitled to be getting high and mighty
Cos the Liberals never privatise a thing.)
Campbell Newman, tough and hardy, tackled all the Labor Party
And you’d understate to call the thing a rout;
Well he chopped them up like Fargo – now they fit in a Tarago
And their arguments’ll barely make a sound.
And the boss takes his position, making tough but fair decisions
Taking money off those lazy writer louts,
Then he saves us all a bother when he gives it to Big Brother
And some other worthy candidates about.
Cos he gets a sense of power watching housemates in the shower
And the hour means it’s late enough to tug –
Well, his wife’s asleep till dawn, although he’s scared to surf a porno
Cos they’re storing all our internet results.
See, it’s guilty masturbation that’s the driver of our nation –
It’s the fire that fuels all angry little men
Who proclaim “The Day of Judgement’s too far off, so bring the bludgers
In before me, and I’ll throw ‘em in the pen.”
“And I’ll throw the book and gavel, and my robes, and an enamel
coffee mug I found out sitting in the hall,
and a pair of fishnet stockings, and this book on Garry Hocking” –
that’s a joke that won’t suit Queenslanders at all.
So our hero, brave and fearless, quite the paradigm of leaders
Forms a double-act to press the crucial truth:
If you’re looking after miners, don’t trust leaders with vaginas –
And remind them when you hit the voting booth.
Yes, he might win an election, but his head sports an erection
Though it’s hard to be a dickhead and a tit,
So if you’re wading through the gloom and wanna feel like a new man…
Maybe stop and reconsider for a bit.