George Brandis

An open letter to Senators Brandis and Abetz
A heartfelt plea from two political comedians

To the Honourable George Brandis and Eric Abetz,

It’s been a rough week for both of you. Eric, you fell into that classic trap of suggesting abortion and breast cancer are connected. We've all been there. George, you had some trouble dealing with one of those “tech-heads”, David Speers, and now you've gone “viral”. No, George, the fact that you feel fine does not mean you haven't gone “viral” on the internet.

It was surprising to see ministers of the Crown perform so poorly. Generally, most MasterChef contestants seem better prepared for interviews than either of you. However, do not blame yourselves. Your many years outwitting other Liberals have not prepared you for the real world.

As political comedians, while we personally very much enjoyed your performances, we're concerned that you're making us obsolete. So for our sake and yours we have taken it upon ourselves to make the following suggestions.

First, George:

If you do not know anything about a thing do not do an interview about that thing.

If short on time, read the Wikipedia page about that thing (or at least text Malcolm Turnbull).

Analogies can be useful to explain things. But they can also make you seem as if you don't know which century you're in. For instance: using letters and envelopes to explain metadata is a bit like trying to explain the Joint Strike Fighter through references to chariots.

If you ever again get caught in an interview where the journalist knows about a thing and you do not know about that thing, ABORT. Pretend to faint or start singing showtunes. A nervous breakdown is less damaging than ignorance.

Finally, as you may be called upon to do another interview on metadata let us explain how metadata works, through the example of your interview on Sky News. Using your surveillance techniques we would know you went to Sky News headquarters (the metadata) but would not know what you said in the interview (the content). Despite this, we could surmise a lot about the interview (the trainwreck) by further analysis of more metadata, such as: the number of unanswered phone calls from Tony Abbott's office to your mobile both during and after the interview; the subsequent switching off of your mobile; and that most of your staff immediately logged on to the internet website <>.

And Eric:

If you want to attend “medical” conferences dedicated to the link between gay marriage and leprosy that's great. We like playing Dungeons and Dragons too. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of fantasy on the weekend. However, when you come back to work do not talk about it like it is real.

If you do insist on doing an interview about your “lifestyle choices”, practise beforehand in front a mirror saying the phrase “No, I do not agree abortion is linked to breast cancer”. Get it down to seven seconds, that way you can never be cut off.

Remember, you’re a senator. From Tasmania. Flying under the radar is your natural state. There’s an old saying: “If a Tasmanian Senator attends a pro-family conference on the weekend and no normal people see it, did it really happen?”

We would hate for either of you to take this personally. You are by no means underperforming by the standards of this government. But please heed our advice, if not for yourselves then for the comics of Australia. We should be better at making fun of you than you are of yourselves but, lately, you’re winning.


Toby Halligan and Mat Keneally