The Pez Dispenser

Are we there yet? War with China?

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The interwebz and pundit world were all a-tizz over revelations of the PM’s wandering Pentecostal hands and occasional spasms of Old Testament tourettes this week, après Clotty’s revelation that he likes to sneak up on unsuspecting punters to give them a bit of a magical touch up and some evangelical parsel-tongue – whether or not they asked for it.

But for me, Mike Pezzullo’s all-staff email soliloquy on Anzac Day was waaaaay creepier. The ultimate poobah at Peter Dutton’s old Home Affairs Department occasioned a massively stupid disturbance in the Force, as if suddenly crying out in terror that he might be forgotten by the Spud in his new gig at Defence.

Pezzullo, bureaucratic auteur of Australia’s long-running survival horror franchise for refugees, and lead architect of the 2009 Defence White Paper—the first to call out China as a really excellent reason to blow fifty or sixty billion dollars on lots and lots of submarines—spaffed out one of the more cringe-making examples of Churchillian fanfic it’s ever been my horrified pleasure to read.

Groaning under the load of so many oratorical boss moves—the beating drums of war calling up our warriors who are yet again sent off to fight for precious liberty—the whole thing was best enjoyed the way I prefer to imagine Mike composing it, sitting astride a small boy’s wooden horse, naked save for an extra-large slouch hat, emu feather rampant, while cranking up the volume on Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor and crying out, “Can I get some more sad violin please?”

(Here, just in case you’d like to give it a go.)

It’s hard to believe the DF-41s aren’t raining down on Darwin already, given how much the government seems to stan the idea.

It’s been quite the season for ministers and former ministers performatively tea-bagging the Middle Kingdom, with both Dutton and superannuated vertical corgi Viscount Christophe du Pyne promising to fight them on the artificial beaches of the South China Sea. (Not that Dutts or His Yappiness are promising to, you know, go anywhere or do any actual fighting themselves).

Pyne didn’t sit in the big chair at Defence for very long, but it was long enough to copy all the juiciest contact deets from the departmental rolodex.

The apex opportunivore decided earlier this month that the best thing he could do about Australia’s nose-diving relationship with the People’s Republic was to strap a couple of nitrous tanks under the wings and light those suckers up.

At least Pyne could honestly argue that he was adding value for his new employers at Ernst and Young as the firm “expands its footprint in the defence industry”. There’ll be heaps of spendylicious consultancy work to be done if everything goes sideways and the defence budget suddenly blows out to, say, a trillion dollars?

Pezzullo has no more reason to sound off on grand strategy than any other departmental Secretaries. His minister, Karen Andrews, called it a "very strong opinion piece" and insisted that Mike Pezzullo, public servant, was "absolutely at liberty to prepare such a speech or document and to have that published.”

I’m sure a hundred and fifty thousand plus Commonwealth public servants with their own ‘very strong opinions’ will be delighted to learn that they are at absolute liberty to share them with the rest of us.

But I’m equally sure that only one bobble-headed dispenser of sugary little rhetorical shit bricks is genuinely at liberty to cough them up all over us.

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