…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Luckily, not in this town. The Federal Parliament reconvened in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. As it is commonly known, when the Australian colonies joined in the Federation in 1901, one of the many unresolved issues was the location of the capital. The story is that the Melbournians didn’t want Sydney to became predominant, and vice versa, and that the ultimate location, decided upon seven years later, in so God forsaken place it didn’t even have any pre-1980 Aboriginal sacred places, was a poor compromise. I beg to differ. Our founding fathers knew that sooner or later we would have politicians of such calibre that nobody would want to be seen in the same town as them. Ask the citizens in Peter Slipper‘s, Tony Windsor’s, Oakeshott’s or Craig Thompson’s electorates. Thus Canberra, 660 kilometres from the nearest civilisation. Good, albeit not permanent, riddance.
And since we Australians have a sense of humour, we often tell the foreigners the myth of the origin of the name of our capital. It is derived, believe it or not, from the Aboriginal word nganbirra, a meeting place. I do not believe it. A.W. Read in his, pre-political correctness Aboriginal Words and Place Names (1965) records the conjectures that the name comes from kaamberra, and that this or nganbirra mean a woman’s breast. Well, the image of politicians, public servants and journalists sucking the tit dry seems appropriate.
Other Aboriginal similarly sounding words, such as kambera – father; kandara – blood, resonate. We could also ponder cannibal and beriberi, but enough of this gravitas and turn to the humour, fanfares and sawdust:
Tony Windsor, Julia Bishop, Malcolm Turnbull, Penny Wong, Bob Brown, Kevin Rudd, Lea Rhianon, Julia Gillard, Peter Slipper, Stephen Conroy, Craig Thompson, Anthony Albanese, Bob Katter, Robert Oakeshott … all 226 of them, plus the ever reliable Press Gallery orchestra with its well rehearsed cacophony.
I bet that if you were not the one keeping these clowns in comfort they so quickly became accustomed to, the names alone would split your sides with laughter. And when they get to their acts … you may die of it. In the meantime, the show goes on and if you wonder how a circus comprised entirely of clowns can survive, refer to the tit, i.e. taxpayers’ tit above. You are paying them.
[If you want to cheer up, click on the Australian Debt Clock]