JOANNE McCARTHY: Gillard's bouncing baby

THE scene - a bathroom in Canberra, Wednesday morning.

Australia's first official prime minister without external plumbing was standing in her dressing gown and slippers with an object in her hand, a coy smile on her face.

The first bloke was reading a newspaper in the dining room. He glanced at the last of the nasty letters to the editor featuring slim fingers in doctors' gloves and men with clenched teeth.

"It was just a joke," he howled, then crunched down on his Vegemite toast.

The Prime Minister appeared, her new glasses and tousled hair reminding him disturbingly of Greg Combet after a carbon tax battle with Julie Bishop.

The Prime Minister's coy smile turned up a notch and became a beam.

"What is it, love?" said the first bloke.

"Don't tell me Abbott's sent you more funny cat photos? When will that man realise you'll never agree on pets? Did I get you a cat for your birthday? No. I gave you a dog. Seriously. He just doesn't get women."

The Prime Minister smiled and shook her head.

"It's not about Abbott," she said, and blushed.

She waved a hand in the air and the first bloke saw the little stick with two blue lines. Then he blushed, and beamed.

"No? Really?" he said, and jumped up.

"Yes, Tim. We're having an election, and if my figures are right it will be September 14."

He beamed. She beamed. The dog, Reuben, slobbered a little before wandering to the loungeroom to catch a little David Koch on TV.

The first bloke swept Australia's first official prime minister without external plumbing into his arms, and they danced as he sang Waltzing Matilda.

I imagine it was something like that this week when Julia Gillard set this country on its first official national pregnancy of eight months, headed for a spring baby government.

She looked at the previous day's polls predicting a landslide loss, saw Tony Abbott jump on his bike for a 10,000-kilometre "I love youse all" tour, realised she wasn't getting any younger, and set a date. Then the public announcement.

Journalists at the National Press Club a few hours later were like reluctant relatives at a family gathering. They'd eaten the roast chicken and gravy, laboured their way through the trifle, and now they were nodding off as cousin Julia droned on about her plans for the future.

Then, the bombshell: "Oh, by the way, I'm having an election on September 14."

And just like in families when you know the young couple will eventually have a baby, but the actual announcement sends everyone into a flap, so did Wednesday's announcement turn the rest of us into a chorus of worried aunts.

"An eight-month election campaign? What is she thinking?" came a few screeches.

It would clash with the footy semis; the start of the spring racing carnival; a primary school cake day in Alice Springs; a Dapto Dogs full ticket; just miss Father's Day, and ruin sweet pea planting for the nation's gardeners.

Then there were the portents.

When she was planning a national pregnancy with an eight-month gestation period, did the PM realise September 14 is the Jewish community's most significant day - its Day of Atonement? Did she want to end her national pregnancy under the spectre of needing to atone?

Not to mention the baby's star sign. September 14 gives us a Virgo election - a virgin birth - with the prospect of a "loving, susceptible, sympathetic, sensual, faithful, instinctive, charitable, over-reactive and moody" new government, which won't be compatible with Capricorns.

But that's ages away. In the meantime we have months of a national pregnancy to endure, with all that entails.

Swollen ankles. Nausea. Light-headedness. Dry skin. A craving for stuffed olives, anchovies and beetroot smoothies. Weepiness.

And that's just during the first few days of Tony Abbott's National Tour of Positivity.

Then the real fun starts.

There'll be arguments about what we're going to call the little one. Will it be Julia's pick - "Jobs, Opportunity and Fairness" - or will Uncle Tony's first choice - "Hope, Reward and Opportunity" - rule the day?

We already know there'll be fights about education until September; who's better at paying off the national credit card, and who can stop the relatives up north from turning up uninvited.

And like most pregnancies, after eight months of waiting will we just want the bloody thing over?

A few significant things have happened on September 14. George Handel finished the Messiah in 1741. US President William McKinley died in 1901 of injuries after an assassination attempt a week earlier.

And on September 14, 1959, the Soviet Union's Luna 2 spacecraft became the first man-made object to reach the moon's surface.

It crashed.


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