Hang on, who's the Prime Minister again?
Advertisement

Hang on, who's the Prime Minister again?

Last time the highest office in the land changed with bewildering rapidity, my husband had a neurological incident in the middle of the night, blacking out in the bathroom and giving himself a hefty knock on the head on the way down.

Despite having been a nurse in a previous life, I rang "nurse on call" just to be on the safe side.

Outgoing prime minister Malcolm Turnbull with granddaughter Alice and grandson Jack after speaking to the media.

Outgoing prime minister Malcolm Turnbull with granddaughter Alice and grandson Jack after speaking to the media.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

She took me through the familiar drill. No, I didn’t need to rush him to an emergency department at this point. Yes, I should check him through what was left of the night; take his pulse, shine a light in his eyes to check his pupils were responding appropriately, ask him who the current Prime Minister was.

Really?

Advertisement

It’s one of the questions asked not only of people with head injuries, but as a tool for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. These days, however, it’s not just those with dementia who forget who is at the wheel in this fine nation of ours. Six PMs in nine years has got to be some kind of record, at least among stable democracies.

On Friday, our family WhatsApp was running hot. Our two older offspring were watching the drama unfold, laying bets on who would win. Our oldest, a high school teacher, wrote, "I’m watching it with my year 12 class, riveting!"

Loading

"Julie more popular, smarter, and more likely to have a chance at avoiding complete international ridicule," she continued, to which her brother responded, "She’s also a woman though. And these people are absolute dinosaurs."

Our youngest, who works in a job where you run all day and have less opportunity to tune in to current events, weighed in at this point. "By the way. Wtf? I only just started remembering that Turnbull or whatever was Prime Minister. Do we have a new one?" I’m with her. I’m still stuck in antiquity – whenever I hear the words "Prime Minister Malcolm", I expect them to be followed by the name Fraser.

Late afternoon, my other WhatsApp group, my step-siblings in the UK, woke up and chipped in.

"What’s going on in Aus politics?" was the opening remark, and the final line was, "What can Australia teach us about how to change a government?"

Thanks to Donald Trump, we may avoid being the biggest laughing stock in the democratic world. But it might be a close thing.

Meanwhile, the circus in Canberra continues. And in this country, we really need to devise some new questions to help diagnose brain damage.

Clare Boyd-Macrae is an Age contributor.