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Speaker quits as parliamentary year ends

Today is the last parliamentary day of the year, but there's a chance it could drag on until tomorrow.

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The mystery of what Anthony Albanese was doing off camera throughout the infamous Rats in the Ranks documentary was finally solved yesterday.

''Albo'' was thought in the Bob Connolly documentary to be mired unpromisingly in the dark arts of Labor politics at the Leichhardt Council.

But we were all wrong. Albanese was rehearsing in the wings for his calling later in life: to be a one-man morale machine for the Labor Party.

Some days this vocation - cleaning up the missteps of others - is hard slog. Some days, like yesterday, the requirement to sustain looks like pure joy.

With Tony Abbott choosing to end question time after just 26 minutes to probe, variously, why the Greens were driving the government to ''a crisis mini-budget'' and why Bob Brown wanted a ''dirty deal in the dead of night'' on the mining tax, and other pleasingly alliterative conundrums, Albo shuffled his papers and waited for his moment.

The backbench colleagues were prone to cacophonous hysterics, bleary eyed from the long internment of the night before.

But something portentous in the Albanese body language prompted them to scuttle back into the chamber, daring to hope.

Kevin Rudd nabbed the TV camera spot directly behind and sat up attentively - a blinking meerkat in a purple tie.

Having branded those opposite the ''Noalition'', Albo ranged wide, the rebuttal of Abbott's censure building its own swingeing momentum.

Had Abbott, who'd hosted Christmas drinks earlier in the evening, actually nodded off last night? Could this explain his otherwise inexplicable silence throughout the mining tax debate? (Quelle horreur, perish the thought that a precipitous forward slump post-midnight denoted an Abbott booze snooze.)

''This is a person who was saying no in his sleep,'' Albanese smirked. ''We know that is the case because we saw it last night. There he was asleep on the frontbench. He only woke up to say 'no, no'. It was unbelievable but that is what we saw last night for 2½⁄ hours. This is someone who thinks that he will sleepwalk into office.''

And as Parliament lurches towards what Canberra hopes will be a summer of restorative torpor, Albanese offered this parting thought. ''He is hoping that Santa brings him a policy,'' he thundered across the dispatch box.

Abbott flashed just the ghost of a smile.

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