Kids, Let's Talk About the Election

With an election looming and previous attempts at explaining politics having failed miserably, it's time to have that talk with the kids. Not the one about the birds and the bees, but the more important discussion about democracy and how they are governed.

Heavy stuff for a two and five year old, you may say. But the boys have each had one Prime Minister for every year they've been alive, give or take. They're getting sick of the instability. Only yesterday T-Bone said to me, "you know what, I reckon we should just see it through and stick with the current mob."

"But, mate," I reply, "one of that mob threatened to give your old man a high five in the face. With a chair. Your dad's pretty tough. He could take the high five. But that poor chair. What did that poor chair ever do? I really like chairs. Especially sitting on them. With my bum."

"I thought we were going to talk about politics, not bums," says T-Bone.

"Well, yes, that's right. Politics. Erm ... did you know daddy was one of the finest schoolboy politicians of his time?"

Turns out, they do not.

"Melbourne High School, December 1997. Students' Representative Council Presidential Elections. Daddy romped home in a landslide. Won all the key battleground year levels – the 10s, the 11s. The 9s I lost, but that's only because I wouldn't adopt the populist free lolly policy of my peers. Conviction schoolboy politician. The punditry said I only won because of the not insignificant Asian vote, but that really discounted the effort I put in to reaching out to Latinos. Though I certainly didn't do well with female voters. It was an all-boys school."

"Uncle Matty [no relation] said he stole ballot papers for you."

"Well, there were certainly some fringe elements of my campaign staff. It was such a long time ago, I don't really recall."

"What sort of President were you, daddy?" asks five-year-old T-Bone. Sea Bass, two, has yet to get a real taste for politics, and continues chucking textas up in the air.

"Under my presidency there was a flourishing of the arts and political activism. Students had felt oppressed for so long. That's why when the 'poo smear' scandal broke, I was actually quite proud."

"Poo smear. What's poo smear?" pipes up the younger one, suddenly interested.

"Yes, one of my chaps smeared the words 'poo smear' on the back of a toilet door. With his own poo."

"Who was it?" they ask in unison.

"Rumours have abounded ever since. Fingers have been pointed, and indeed sniffed at. But the Banksy of Melbourne High has never come forward. In my opinion, it doesn't matter who it was. What matters is the fine spirit that it embodied. But don't you two get any ideas. I want you at least in high school before you start smearing poo."

Again, from T-Bone: "Mummy says you ruled with an iron fist. Didn't you sack your Vice President and a year 12 class representative?"

"Let's be clear: my veep resigned. And as for the unfortunate 'sacking' of the member for 12G, it was a rather bizarre and unfortunate series of events. There was a particularly poorly attended SRC meeting so I sent out a strongly-worded message to all members stating, 'failure to give an adequate reason for non-attendance may result in dismissal from the SRC'.

A couple of clever fellows found the note before him and liquid papered out the words 'may result' and replaced it with 'has resulted'. Nowadays that might be called bullying. But the poor member went ballistic: 'Elvin, he's changed. The power's gone to his head. What an effing C. What an effing C!'"

"What's an 'effing C'?"

"I think he meant ... Fun Character. Yes, I was quite a Fun Character. Held the best parties, but that's for another time."

"Daddy, what can you tell us about the federal election coming up this weekend?"

"The big issue for me is the Turnbull government's attack on the arts. What this government is saying, is that people shouldn't have the freedom to write the words 'poo smear' with their own poo. And that's just not right."

"So you'll vote for the other party?"

"Now, I'm not saying that. You see, voting for the major parties is a lot like choosing between two public toilets. One's got a giant bog in it, and the other has wee all over the seat. At the end of the day, you just choose the lesser of two evils."

"Which toilet were you daddy, when you were running for president? The one with the giant bog or the one with wee all over the seat?"

"You know what, boys. I was more of a urinal. Now you go away and think about that."