Environment Minister Greg Hunt often wears about him the haunted look of a boy who might have been bullied at school. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Greg Hunt, the minister responsible for carbon emissions, often wears about him the haunted look of a boy who might have been bullied at school and is over keen to take it out on a cruel world.
Whatever it is, he's overdoing it.
"We don't care whether we sit Christmas Day, Boxing Day [or] New Year's Day," he declared on Tuesday.
Mr Hunt, of course, so regularly taunted himself by unfeeling opposition MPs, was trying to turn the tables, accusing them of being unwilling to face up to the business of debating and repealing their carbon tax.
"The opposition of Australia now has a policy of go slow, go home and watch the cricket," he jeered on Tuesday.
"The Australian people expect the Senate to turn up to work."
On Christmas Day?
Mr Hunt might be advised to meditate on the knowledge that the last time a Westminster-style parliament sat on Christmas Day was in 1656. It didn't end well.
Oliver Cromwell - the thin-lipped Puritan who had very likely been bullied at school himself before assuming the grand title of First Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland - demanded that his Protectorate Parliament spend Christmas Day 1656 discussing a bill to outlaw Christmas Day celebrations.
Cromwell wasn't forgiven. After being buried in 1658, Cromwell's corpse was dug up, hung in chains and had its head removed.
Hunt might well risk something similar from the families of his colleagues if the Parliament were, indeed, to be forced to sit through Christmas.
Good lord. All those beach houses and flights and Christmas hampers already booked!
He is, of course, deluding himself. The Senate not only has the numbers to continue frustrating his desire to repeal the carbon tax, but to vote down any attempt to harness them to their chamber during Christmas.
Delusion is going around.
The Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, offered a soaring example of bidding adieu to reality when she said on Monday she hoped childcare operators would "do the right thing" and hand back to the government $62.5 million they had been given under legal contract to improve the wages of their workers.
The childcare operators to date have been polite enough not to respond that some parliamentarians - including Ms Ley's own Prime Minister - haven't felt it was the right thing to pay back "entitlements" used to attend such events as weddings and iron man competitions.
Ms Ley was quite outdone, however, by the acting Prime Minister, Warren Truss, when he wrote to Holden demanding that it declare "its future intentions and explain what its plans are for its Australian manufacturing operations".
Hang on. Isn't the government running a Productivity Commission inquiry into the entire car manufacturing industry to determine its own attitude to the business, upon which Holden's future might rest? And didn't Holden chief Mike Devereux tell the commission on Tuesday the company had made no decision on its future in Australia and that it had put its business case to the government?
When there is such a determined cry from parliamentarians for the suspension of disbelief, surely a Christmas holiday can't come fast enough.
* Some readers of the Sketch have communicated alarm that Prime Minister Tony Abbott's chief of staff, Peta Credlin, appeared to be sitting in the parliamentarians' benches in pictures published on Tuesday. It was an optical illusion. She was safely inhabiting the advisers' box.