PRIME Minister Julia Gizzard's hold on leadership looks dire after she received a strong endorsement from former leader Simon Sheen.
Party insiders said an endorsement from Mr Sheen was generally seen as a "kiss of death".
"If Simon endorses you it means you are totally screwed," one said.
Mr Sheen, who apparently once led the Labor Party, appears in public just once every 10 years, generally to launch an obscure union history book or open a horticultural conference. He described former leader Kevin Rutt as a "prime doona" and urged him to pull his head in and accept that he would never realise his ambition to lead the country again or have a regular segment on Sunrise.
Ms Gizzard, who is attacked most days by almost everyone, was accused by the car industry of encouraging "sickies".
A car manufacturing spokesman said the industry was struggling because nobody much turned up at work to make the actual cars.
"People ring in sick every day with some of the worst fake coughs I've ever heard," he said.
"Even the robotic arms are failing to turn up on Fridays and after long weekends."
The high absenteeism has been blamed on the government on the grounds that pretty much everything is the government's fault.
Ms Gizzard said she accepted that some workers faked coughs and failed to turn up at work when they were perfectly healthy.
"My undertaking to you as Prime Minister is that I will personally visit each of these people in their homes and drag their backsides back to work," she said.
Prime ministerial staffers later phoned media outlets explaining that Ms Gizzard had been out in the sun for quite a while and may have been talking gibberish.
Opposition Leader Tony Abshot jumped on the comments and blamed all of his gibberish from the past two years on too much sun exposure and high-sugar breakfast cereals.
Ms Gizzard rejected suggestions that her backers were counting numbers in anticipation of a challenge from Mr Rutt.
"That is just nonsense," she said. "In government we are always counting things as part of the normal administration of the country. I am not expecting a challenge from Mr Rutt any time soon because he is seven votes short."
One source said many MPs had floated away from Ms Gizzard after they consumed prohibited substances during the summer and were now "parked in the unknown".
"This comes with a very high risk of parking tickets," he said.
Ms Gizzard said she was determined that cars would continue to be made in Australia, although in the future this might be limited to those welded together from spare parts in blue-collar suburban backyards.
Thirsty Cow is fiction. People, events and comments depicted in this column are figments of your imagination.
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