I SEE from the photo in the Weekend Australian that the Howards (John and Janette) have been in Java, where they have kissed the feet of the Buddha at Borobudor Temple. For good luck.
Well, that’s a relief then. For one awful moment I was afraid our prime minister might be relying on stuff like information and expertise – that somewhere in Canberra we had offices containing people with Ph Ds in economics or international affairs.
Clearly that’s not the case. The office with the door marked ‘Rabbit Control’ is not where they plan the permanent extermination of the bunny. It’s where highly paid bureaucrats sit in earnest groups with their eyes closed, rubbing rabbits’ feet for good luck.
And concentrating really hard (because everyone knows a wish doesn’t work if you don’t concentrate really hard) as they say to the mysterious forces of fate, “Please don’t let any terrorists strike today. Please let the Australian dollar get stronger against the US dollar. And if it’s not too much trouble could I have a set of golf clubs for my birthday.”
This last would probably count as an abuse of bureaucratic powers but hey, who could resist it?
And if I am reading between the lines correctly our civil servants are not very good at their jobs. Why else would we have to go to Buddha for a bit of luck? If a few thousand white‑collar workers can’t help us by desperately throwing salt over their shoulders, finding bits of wood to touch (so that’s why the government’s gone soft on the logging industry!) and hunting the grounds of Parliament House for four-leafed clovers, then what chance have we got with Buddha?
Especially as Mr Howard’s proposed preamble to our Constitution makes it quite clear that Australia has thrown in its lot with God. How’s God going to feel about us hedging our bets with Buddha?
It is for this reason — the inconsistency of the idea — that I have concluded my comprehension of the photo is wrong. Now I think about it, it’s quite clear that it’s a huge bureaucratic joke.
You’ve heard the stories about people with garden gnomes that go missing from the vegie patch? Pretty soon the owners start receiving photos of the little chap, complete with silly grin and funny hat, from all over the world.
Who said civil servants don’t have a sense of humour? Mark my words, the Borobudur Temple is just the beginning. It’ll be the Eiffel Tower next, then the Kremlin or the Pyramids. They might even give him a little fishing rod to hold.
Of course that could be wrong, too. Reading between the lines could be a waste of time.
Maybe the photo is no more, nor less, than it is. Janette has tripped and John is rushing to her aid. Or she really is kissing the Buddha’s feet and wishing for good luck, not for Australia, but for herself.
And judging from the smile on John’s face, she’s very soon going to get it.