With the plight of our Julian Assange on all tenderised Australian minds as his extradition trial begins, I continue (by popular request) my occasional series on the big questions the media ought to be asking the Prime Minister.
My theme, echoing James Boyce's noble pieces in The Monthly, is that until and unless we understand our pious Prime Minister's Pentecostal arousals and drives, we will never know who and what he is.
Once again the setting for my Big Questions fantasy is the National Press Club.
Imagine this. The PM has just finished his vacuous but nationally broadcast address. It is time for journalists' questions. The hacks set aside their usual preoccupations with wriggly little trivia. Instead they go looking for what it is that makes Scomo pentecostally tick.
One of the press gallery's grown-ups leads the charge.
"Prime Minister," she probes, "you project yourself as a man of faith with a sincere belief that the Bible is the word of God."
"How is it then that, given Jesus' command in Matthew 25 that believers must visit those in prison, you have never been to visit and give comfort to Australia's Julian Assange as he languishes in London's grim Belmarsh gaol? If you do have plans to visit him to shore him up, why not go right now, tomorrow? His extradition trial ordeals are about to begin.
"But if you're never going to visit him in prison, WHY aren't you? Are you that worst kind of Christian hypocrite, cherry-picking which of Our Redeemer's commands and examples to obey and which to conveniently ignore?"
In the suspenseful silence the PM's usually ruddy cheek blanches. Bear-like, he shuffles to the lectern, even at this last split second still not sure whether to (for once) answer from the Christian heart or to, as usual, sing from his same old secular Machiavellian hymn book. The nation holds its breath.
Still on the theme of questions and answers, I confess that at home alone with my desktop computer with the whole debauched Web of Sin of the internet beckoning, your columnist sometimes finds himself in the early afternoons of some weekdays giving in to the most depraved of temptations.
Yes, furtively, haggard of face and worrying that my wife will come in and catch me engaging in this filthy practice, I find myself watching the parliament porn of Question Time in the House of Representatives.
For me the irresistibility of Question Time is a symptom of a larger problem I have (retired journalists are especially vulnerable to this affliction) with trying to resist news and current affairs. I am in therapy.
Last Monday afternoon, despising myself, I found myself again getting down into Question Time's gutter.
Question Time demeans the nation. All is chortling, roaring, scoffing, point-scoring party-political depravity. There is never ever a question asked in pure altruistic pursuit of information. There is never an answer given in the pure altruistic spirit of information-giving.
Q: Why (to paraphrase the famous joke about lawyers) do we elect politicians, not rats, to federal parliament?
A: Because there are some things, including and especially asking Dorothy Dix questions (fake ''questions'' that toady backbenchers recite to enable a minister to brag about government achievements and to mock an Opposition) that rats won't do.
Men and women of Australia, what are we going to do about Question Time? Its present porno nastiness matters because, it being the only part of parliamentary proceedings that ever makes the news and that the impressionable people see and hear, it makes powerful contributions to the people's growing alienation (shown in every poll that measures it) from politicians and from our whole, dear political system.
But watching degrading Question Time this week I somehow rose above my self-loathing to wonder if it might make pragmatic, vote-winning, voter-beguiling sense for Albo and Labor to DO something. They could declare, acting at once on the promise, that they for their part will "clean-up" Question Time so that it no longer shames the nation.
Albo and Labor (they will need expert help with this) might make it a work-in-progress to see that their side of things cuts out all QT roaring and whinnying, never responding to their opponents' taunts, being as maturely conversational as average Australians are when they discuss things.
The people, impressed, would love this and would credit Labor. The people would notice (in the few months until government members, worried what the people must think of them, corked up their savagery and followed suit) one side of the QT House (Labor's) looking and sounding decent and civilly dinky-di. They'd see the coalition by contrast carrying on in the same old shameful way, looking and sounding like wild-eyed childish cannibal zombies from Hell.
I look to Canberra Labor federal MP Andrew Leigh, an ideas man and a devoted reader of this column, to take my reforming vision to his leader. Readers, watch this space and better still watch and listen to Question Time to find if magic happens.