Campbell of the Overflow

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.

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6 Responses to Campbell of the Overflow

  1. Nick says:

    As a Queenslander this gives me great satisfaction to read, although I do not mind him “trimming the fat” so to speak, I think he’s in too much of a rush to get back into the black. I saw all his quips and complaints whilst he was in opposition, and I know that his government will have there day. For all his complaining of labours reckless spending he racked up an almighty bill on public infrastructure whilst lord mayor of Brisbane himself. I think we just needed a change (QLD) and lets face it, although labour wasn’t doing great, they were not doing bad either. But having limited choices we vote the other mob in. It was a landslide victory, and now many people are unhappy, which kind of makes me laugh. Did they not think about what a liberal government would do in a depressed economy ?? It’s a lesson for labour, that is not to take the voter for granted for so long, and a lesson for the naive voters out there who voted him in to begin with and are now unhappy ! Seriously what were you guys expecting. I mightn’t find too many in aggreeance here ? But the unions and some of the beaurocracy need a reality check… Money does not grow on trees, not in this country at least. And as sad as it is I suppose certain cutbacks had to happen ! I’ve just been working now for the last month after having 4 months away from work due to a workplace assualt which closely resembled unionised bullying… Get on with your life and get another job. I’ve been at centrelink and seen the ex gov employees sit there complaining of nothing out there for them, yet I’ve been doing anything I can find, manual order picking jobs for major supermarket chains, they’re recruiting big time !! Pays well, they are hiring many people from overseas, so why don’t these ex gov employees consider giving something else a go ??

    • Si sapis says:

      That’s a fascinating viewpoint Nick. As I actually know a fair few public servants who have recently been fired (or chosen to leave according to his Campbellness) I can’t say I share your opinion at all. Would you really approach a highly trained nurse who has spent the last twnety years caring for the sick and tell her “chin up lass, you can get a job pulling orders down at the Coles distribution yard”? How about rounding up some ambos and explaining that while we appreciate them having worked twelve hour shifts cleaning up the worst our society can throw at them maybe it’s time they moved on. After all, maccas is hiring and we needed their salary so that the Ashgrove GPS rugby team could have new changing rooms. I hear the current ones are several years old and that just won’t do.

  2. g says:

    Now ya made me smile.
    Vita brevis, ars longa.

  3. Stand corrected; Newman makes it an easy accomplishment to be a dickhead and a tit…

    A mates a social worker in ol’ Q-L-D, regularly on the phone drunk, teary and disturbed for a good year now at the slicing and dicing and general fuck-upedness of it all, utterly distraught and depressed for the poor souls undermined by Newmans community-destroying ‘slashingness’, and the raging wankers rhetoric…

    I don’t know if you follow that side of communitty services and the underlying NGO’s but they’re the ones who’ve been jerked off all over by this fallacious dickheaded tit…

  4. I think Clive Palmer’s been booted off Campbell’s Mateship too!

  5. inxia says:

    That is stunningly good. I only looked up your blog after reading your Guardian piece about the Channel 9 lack-of-commentary team. Now I find out you were sticking it to FIFO premiers three years ago. Awesome.

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