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Sketch: NBN a mistake? Malcolm Turnbull gets no help from his team

"The NBN was a mistake and might never make money," says Malcolm Turnbull, to the shock and surprise of absolutely no-one.

"I told him and told him," says Tony Abbott, rushing in excitable circles within the cage his colleagues finally decided to erect around him after the business with the energy policy.

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"If stone tablets were good enough for Moses, then they ought to be good enough for us. But no, Malcolm had to go and practically invent the internet thing and now look at us."

"You did indeed warn us, Tony," chimes in Eric Abetz. "Bookface, Safe Schools, GetUp!, the ABC. They're all on the interweb, chirping and tweetering or whatever it is, corrupting young minds."

"Don't knock it," offers Peter Dutton.

"With the sort of digital armoury and super-duper spyware my Department of Homeland Security is assembling, not to mention the very useful laws that will go along with it, we'll be able to put our special agents straight through the NBN into the bedrooms of un-Australian types and watch and hear everything they're up to.

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"And if the NBN's a bit slower than Turnbull would like, all to the better. Some of our special agents might be good with the toenail clippers, but they're not blindingly quick in the comprehension department."

"Not so fast, Peter, and enough with the un-Australian stuff," interrupts George Brandis. "I'm in charge of the laws. As I have stated, we must collect nothing beyond basic metadata if we are to protect basic civil rights."

"What's metadata, George?" inquires Dutton, smirking.

"The, well, the web address, the electronic address of the website. What the security agencies want to know, to be retained is the, is the electronic address of the website that the web user is ... "

"Sounds pretty technical, George."

"It's like looking at the address on the envelope but not reading what's inside the envelope," says Brandis in a desperate attempt at recovery.

"You're not talking about French letters, are you, George," giggles Kevin Andrews, blushing.

"Oh, for God's sake," cries Turnbull.

"We've got a perfectly good problem we can blame on the Labor Party and you're muddying the entire field. It was Kevin Rudd who started it, and we have to be of one voice in reminding everyone. The NBN was a mistake. Now, can we just practise it. All together now: It. Was. A. Mistake."

"Stone tablets," yells Abbott. "Un-Australian," roars Dutton. "GetUp. Unclean," screeches Abetz. "French letters," snickers Andrews. "I want to go to London and if not, Paris," wails Brandis.