The four days of "aftermath" since the Australian Federal Election would have to be at least four times as interesting as the campaign itself. Possible five. Six might be going too far. But you get the idea: it's still enough to drive you a little bit batshit insane; but not as much as seeing Julia and/or Tony doing another meet & greet/bus ride/factory opening/interview with Kerry O'Brien.
We find ourselves with no clear winner, no "mandate", no "womandate", no "date" in fact at all, save the one with destiny that has plopped into the lap of a few blokes who now find themselves more powerful than Gandalf the Grey PLUS Gandalf the White.
I was having a little trouble trying to work out who's who in this new political arrangement we find ourselves in. But I think I may have made it a bit easier. Imagine, if you will, a typical 'Strayan barbeque: various parts of pig and cow sizzling away on an industrial-sized Weber; somebody's spilled a bottle of Pasito on the trestle table; and a couple of kids are whimpering after an unfortunate groinal encounter with the springs of a backyard trampoline.
Using this context, let's explore the characters:
Tony "Gramps" Windsor (Independent, New England)
Rod "Friendly Neighbour" Oakeshott (Independent, Lyne)
Nine parts enthusiasm to one part eagerness, Oakesy is the Ned Flanders of Australian politics. One of the few Gen Xers who somehow missed the whole pessimism and ennui thing, he's looking for real progress and change, and actually believes it can happen. He's the one playing Superman with the kids, then talking up a street fair to raise money for the terminally crippled (aka parliament). Despite your own cynicism, you just want to give him a shot. An Oakeshott. "Oakesely, dokesely!"
Bob "Crazy Uncle" Katter (Independent, Kennedy)
Uncle Bob's been shooting off at the mouth - as well as at wild pigs, rogue camels and bloody flying foxes - for years now. He's been somewhat tolerated as an amusing oddity - until he struck gold in them thar hills with a casting vote. Now the rest of the family is lining up to kow-tow to him, but they're going to have to work for his affection: laughing at his jokes and nodding in concern at his various consipiracy theories and plans to save the world (aka north-west Queensland). You win points if you've ever a) gone to Brazil to see ethanol production and/or b) de-balled a calf in mustering season.
Adam "Idealistic Cousin" Brandt (Greens, Melbourne)
To be honest, he's still a bit surprised he's even at the barbie. Sure, his latte-loving, inner-city friends all like him, but he's always been a bit awkward around family. They never understood why he chose to study gender issues at university, and think "Global Warming" is a charity rock concert organised by Al Gore, Al Qaeda and "Weird" Al Yankovic. He's testing the waters carefully, preferring meaningful short chats over organic tofu-dogs to downing 17 cans of Toohey's New and brawling in the driveway. He wants to change the family's perceptions regarding gay marriage, but will settle in the short-term for Uncle Bob to stop ranting about the "pooftas and lezzos".
Andrew "Mysterious Gate-Crasher" Wilkie (Independent, Dennison)
He's turned up with some cleanskin wines and a tub of potato salad, hoping to slide into the BBQ dynamic relatively unnoticed. He's keeping his thoughts to himself for the time being; as he realises he may have gotten the address wrong completely, and might very well have to bugger off again in about five minutes.
So, with these patrons in play - what will happen with the Great Aussie Election Barbeque, 2010?