MINISTER 1: No I did not!
PM: Atta boy, but there’s room for improvement. Let’s try again.
Do you do it?
MINISTER 1: I definitely did not.
PM: Only definitely? Can’t you do better than that?
MINISTER [taking a deep breath]: I absolutely, categorically deny I had anything to do with it.
PM: That’s more like it! Take a break and we’ll polish it later.
MINISTER 1: Um, sorry PM, what was I denying?
PM: Come on, I explained it all in Cabinet! I want blanket denials from every minister. We’re bound to need them so I’m stockpiling.
MINISTER [smiles broadly]: You’re a thinker Scotty. That’s why we made you PM.
PM: Send in the next one, will you?
MINSTER 1: Sure thing.
PM: Right. Did you do it?
MINISTER 2: I am offended to the core that you could even ask that question. Never in a month of Sundays would I ever contemplate action so vile in spirit and horrendous in application that it would leave decent people everywhere shuddering with revulsion. If you persist with that malicious line of enquiry I will not hesitate to be very upset to the point that I might cry.
PM [laughs]: You’ve been practicing! Great work, though you might need to look at the word count. A bit long for a 30 second grab.
Send in the next one will you?
MINISTER 2: You got it, El Scotto Supremo.
PM: Okay, you know the drill. I explained it before.
MINISTER 3: Did you now?
PM: Yes, I did. Oh, bugger, you got me. I answered in the affirmative.
MINISTER 3: I didn’t mean to embarrass you PM, just to show that we can all slip up.
PM: I know, I know, a good lesson too. Forgot my own rule: always deny until it’s certain the media are all at the pub.
MINISTER 3: Or move to hypotheticals. “You have just asked me if I assaulted that woman. I have never responded to hypotheticals and don’t intend to start now.”
PM: Yeah, that’s a great line. We can thank Christian for that one. He’s the gold standard.
MINISTER 3: Just one thing though. What will we do about Julie Bishop?
PM: That flirtatious sow. You saw what she said? That we should actually know the substance of allegations before we deny them. Outrageous, pedantic nonsense. It’ll undermine our whole system of open government.
MINISTER 3: That’s what happens when you get the wrong lawyers in Parliament.
PM: Or the wrong women.