May13

Our budgie deficit

CREATED ON // Tuesday, 13 May 2014 Written by // Phil Scott

Sorry, but ‘PPL’ does not stand for the ‘Paid Poofter Leave’ scheme. So start saving your pennies if we’re to survive this budget emergency, writes Phil Scott.

By the time you read this, Joe Hockey's first budget as Federal Treasurer will have been unleashed on a suspecting public. Not unsuspecting, because the government decided to leak (i.e. release) details of the Commission of Audit's report, with all its recommendations to slash, cut, burn, frazzle, obliterate and generally stomp all over expenditure. The highly suspect Commission of Audit was a group of two businessmen and one Liberal ex-Senator who likes wine and cheese. They acted as economic dementors, working on behalf of Voldemort who unfortunately can't be with us today. Hockey got the Dementors' Kiss last week. We should know by now if he caught anything nasty from it.

I think gay and lesbian programs are usually funded at state level, at the whim of the state government. That is why Newman's Queensland has been nicknamed Azkaban, after the prison run by a bunch of dementors defined as "foul creatures that suck the happiness out of the victim and cause great suffering to those near them".

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Above: Slash and burn … Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey. Photo: Courtesy ABC

But under Hockey's new austerity regime, everyone is fair game. Australia has a triple-A rating. Apparently it stands for Awful, Atrocious & Appalling – because, according to Abbott and Hockey, we have a "budget emergency". Must be one of those emergencies where a speeding fire engine with 20 powerfully built firemen on board races out to rescue a cat stuck up a tree.

One of the leaked budget rumours concerns retirees. The government plans to raise the age you can receive the Aged Pension. Naturally, this made me sit up and take notice! I'm not old, but I'm definitely planning on getting old in the near future. Hockey's plan is this: anyone born after 1965 will not be eligible for a pension until they turn 70. (By the way, Joe Hockey was born in 1965. Lucky bitch. And – I'm not kidding – his old man was born in Bethlehem!)

So everybody will have to keep working until they're 70. If you board a Qantas domestic flight you will notice this policy is already in place. It works quite well, though last time I asked the stewardess for a second glass of wine I got a look that said, "You will regret this, young man!" However, there are some industries where 70-year-old employees may find the job tough going. The Pole Dancing industry, for example. And drag. I foresee doddering drag queens wearing blue-rinse wigs, who have knitted their own outfits and can't lip synch because they're a little hard of hearing. Do we want drag artistes like that? Probably not, but we have no choice, and neither do they. Hockey's new legislation will force them to perform non-stop until their 70th birthday. (I can sort of see it working for Bingay.)

And what about prostitutes? Do you really want to get off with a 70-year-old hooker? I guess if it's dark it's OK, but don't ask, "Is there anything you don't do?"
"Yes, there is. I don't lie on my stomach because of gastric reflux. I don't talk dirty because I don't care for bad language. I want to be home by 10pm, which gives us fifteen minutes. And there was something else... what was it? Oh yes: I'm not interested in sex. Haven't done it for years. Cuppa tea, love?"

Who knows, the rumours might turn out to be nothing. Maybe Abbott and Hockey will be generosity personified. They are hanging on to the PPL, after all. That's the Paid Poofter Leave Scheme, where you can take time off work to do gay stuff and still get half your income supplied by the government. As someone who works in the Arts sector, I'm hoping they will cancel a squillion-dollar fighter plane and put the money into the arts instead. What are the chances? Probably none. Judging from their progress so far, this government is all testosterone and no taste.  

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Phil Scott

Phil Scott

Phil Scott has written four gay novels, but is best known as an actor, pianist, composer and writer for the Sydney Theatre Company's annual Wharf Revue, and as a cabaret performer. Phil was a script writer on Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical. On the side he reviews classical recordings for the ABC magazine Limelight. He is legally bald.

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