Month: September 2014

Morrison stitches up deal with Cambodia in bizarre rewrite of Australia’s obligations to refugees.

A move within the Abbott cabinet to establish a homeland security super-ministry drawing together several major departments and functions looks to have been scuttled because senior figures viewed it as an attempt by backers of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to elevate him to future leader status.

The Age 1.10.2014 MARK KENNY AND JAMES MASSOLA

MORRISON: That you, Tony? Morrison here. Best on ground. Your star performer. Rising star. Team captain before too long. And on dancing with the stars. On hundred dollar bills soon.

ABBOTT: Scotty. Maaaate. [aside. God give me strength. The clowns I have to deal with. Some think they’re God Almighty. Or comedians. Or both.]

MORRISON: Are you free to talk, mate? Not got you at a bad time? Need a quick dicky. A quick word.

ABBOTT: Never a good time, Scotty. Not since opposition. Remember the days? Bag the shit out of Gillard all day and all night you could. Never had to do anything else.  Apart from sloganeer. And have Alan Jones blow smoke up my arse.

Ahhh … the slogans. You know tell I love them still. Axe the tax. Turn back the boats. Turn back the boats. Still good. Wake up at night. Find myself shouting it. And punching the bedroom wall.

And we did it. You did it. Always time for you Morrison, old cock. Time for you, Scotty. Time for you. Time for you. Time for you. You.

MORRISON: God Almighty! What the hell is that echo?

ABBOTT: Peta on conference phone. Credlin. The Boss. Oh and  ASIO, ASIS and the FBI. Of course.  Peta’s gotta to be working for them all I reckon. Smart girl that one. And the best arse in parliament.

CREDLIN: [aside: hold it right there, Abbott. Keep your hands in the open. Where I can see them.]

Scott Morrison! How the f**k are you. Back already? You lucky bastard! Didn’t step on a landmine, then. Kept out of bar doorways. No grenade in the kisser? Clap missed you, too I guess.  How was your trip?

ABBOTT: Near the doorway? Clear of doorways? Clap?

CREDLIN: Doors of bars in Shinaoukville. Rival owners on scooters. Ride up. Toss in grenades. Ride off.  Nobble the opposition. Disrupts trade. Smart tactic, though. Go well in Canberra. Not on Shorten, though. Be wasted. The bastard would fall on it like a giant wet weetbix. Smother the blast. Spoil the fun.

MORRISON: Place is f****d. Filthy. Stinks. Trash everywhere. Sewer stinks. Sex industry worse. Prostitutes everywhere. Ugly older men and young girls. Sleazy Europeans fondle teenage girls on their laps. Crawling with sex tourists and touts for child prostitutes. Children come up, begging or trying to get hold of groceries, snatching food out of your bag. Homeless kids live on the street. Crawling with children everywhere. Cambodian population mostly school kids. It’s what it looks like. Bird flu epidemic. Corrupt. Most corrupt country in the world. Or among them. Rampant corruption among judges, prosecutors and court officials. Slavery and child sexual abuse. Dangerous. You can get away with murder. And torture. You can die from just drinking the water. No-one in his right mind would want to go there. Live there. [laughs] Perfect place for asylum seekers.

CREDLIN: Spare us the travelogue, Scott. We didn’t send you over to dip your wick. Cut to the chase. Did you get us a deal or not? Where the bloody hell are you?

MORRISON: The Deal? Yes. Got good news and bad news, PM.

ABBOTT: Let me guess. The telegram that said your mother had died?  Turned out to be your mother- In- law? You drop 40 million at the casino. Turns out to be someone else’s money? And your boss gives you a pay rise?

CREDLIN: Keep it brief guys. Tony, you and I have a briefing soon. No time to listen to a couple of galahs rabbiting on.

MORRISON: Briefing? Course you do, Peta. What on? How to tell Obama’s arse from his elbow? Hope he’s in on it. Someone needs to tell him! Seriously. Where the border between Syria and Iraq is? Jesus! Better let the Syrians and Iraqis into that. Or how we wasted all those years and all those billions training up an Iraqi army who can’t fight its way out of brown paper bag. Whose battle plan is to drop their weapons and run away? We’d all love to know the answer to that.

ABBOTT: Enough of that, smartarse. Deep briefing from top brass on keeping our boots off the ground.

CREDLIN: While we fight the mother of all battles. Aleppo. Baghdad.  Armageddon.

MORRISON: Not another oil war in the Middle East. You know they are unwinnable. Got your head up your arse again, Tony. First we arm and train ISIL against Syria. Now we turn them into Anti-Christ. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper just to take more Timor oil? I know some good lawyers.

ABBOTT: [changing subject] How’d the bubbly go? You really know how to seal a deal, Morrison. But if you want Moet, by Christ, we’ll give you Moet. But we do expect you to turn up on time. And not to spill their drinks.

CREDLIN: Yes. We heard you turned up half an hour late. Crashed a tray of Cambodian glasses and then pretended to toast the deal for the camera. Poor bastards didn’t even have empty glasses to raise for the photo-opp.

MORRISON: It’s not all bad. Good news is the Cambodians agreed to take a few. From Nauru. Now that we’ve redefined our refugee obligations. So that we don’t have any part in looking after their welfare.

CREDLIN: In legal terms, the deal represents an abrogation of Australia’s responsibility to refugees who have been found to legitimately need our protection. Moving refugees somewhere else does not absolve Australia of its legal obligations. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, describes it as “a worrying departure from international norms”.

ABBOTT: [ignoring Credlin] A few hundred? Morrison, you are a legend. A few hundred, you say?

MORRISON: Not that many.

ABBOTT: A hundred now. Five hundred next year?

MORRISON: No. Two or three at this stage. They will see how they go.

CREDLIN: See how you go, you mean! You gave them 40 mill? The 40 million we gave you to sweeten the deal. $40 million over four years. No strings attached. No questions asked. And they are taking just two asylum seekers?

MORRISON: Two or three. It was news to me too. They call it a pilot programme. But just wait. There’s a bit you haven’t heard yet. They keep the bastards in Phnom Penh a year. After that they are relocated.

ABBOTT: Jesus. Your  Cambodian officials will all be down the casino now. Just imagine it. $40 million. Pissed up against the wall. Then it’s return to sender? God almighty!

MORRISON: No. They send them home.

CREDLIN: And where would that be?

MORRISON: Where they bloody came from. And don’t you worry about the 40 million being spent by officials. Any spend’s a good spend. It’s bound to trickle down. Create opportunities.

ABBOTT: So what’s the bad news Scott?

MORRISON: We still have to pay them.

CREDLIN: Pay them?

MORRISON: Yes. Everything you do in Cambodia costs money. Haven’t worked out how much yet. Under wraps. Christ, they know how to haggle. Basically, Australia agrees to pay the board and lodging. And …

CREDLIN: And?

MORRISON: Agrees to let Cambodia set the fee.

CREDLIN: Which is likely to be how much?

MORRISON: Billions.

ABBOTT: Mary, mother of God! Tell me again. Why did we send you Morrison? What in God’s name possessed us?

MORRISON: I’m the Immigration Minister. I am the star of Sovereign Borders. Soon I will be the head of Homeland Security.

ABBOTT: And?

MORRISON: And I’m way out in front in the opinion polls. You’re in negative territory. Going backwards. I can do what I like. Get away with anything. The country thinks your government is shite. Your budget stinks. Your terror diversion isn’t working. Your Royal Commission is a waste of money. You couldn’t lie straight in bed. No wonder Australians don’t trust you. But they know where they are with me.  Gotta go now, Peta and Tony. Mission accomplished. Leave you two to sort out the invoices.

Teen shot dead in knife attack; police and nation critically wounded.

No words can ever tell what led him to attack Police with a knife in the first hour of darkness on that fateful September evening. Strike at them not once but many times. Again and again in a mad frenzy. He wanted to settle things, perhaps. Unsettle everything, certainly. To settle nothing in the end. No words can ever let us into the deep, overwhelming darkness of his fury; the blind, frenzied lashing out, of his final, fatal acts.

No words can ever mend what has been done. And undone. No words can tell of his victims’ pain and shock and terror. Nor how their lives will never be the same. And those who know them. Belong to them. Love them. No words can tell, either how any of us will ever be the same. Bystanders, onlookers, outsiders every one of us, we can only re-trace some steps in his descent into madness.

Endeavour Hills is no stranger to desperation. Once a shift workers’ dormitory satellite serving Melbourne and Dandenong’s factories, it is today a many-layered place, a migrant melting pot, a terminus and refuge for the marginalised and dispossessed.

There are no hills to speak of.  You do climb a bit on your way through from Frankston to Dandenong. Any further elevation is all in the developer’s copy writer’s imagination. Increasingly those who live here, descend here. The place itself bears witness to much that is in decline.

Fading brick veneer buildings edge narrow streets, stunted drives, guillotined cul-de-sacs and crescents.  The 70s tint de jour was Dulux Mission Brown. Unmistakeable. Nothing like it. Imagine if you mixed every colour you could get together, you would end up with this brown. Perhaps how they made it. It’s a smart way to use up your leftovers, if you are DuPont. If you are just a consumer? You wear it.

Mission Brown will cover anything. Cover a multitude of sins. Here it’s everywhere like a dirty brown canker. Suck the life out of any streetscape. And out of you if you let it. Still keeping on keeping on defying you to rest your eyes on it. Find anything cheerful, anything remotely uplifting in it. Let your imagination run riot, as Barry Humphries might have said. Paint the town brown. Whatever it does for the painter, it’s not uplifting to the human spirit.

Cramped cream brick or tumbled brick veneer cottages have titchy unweeded yards where neglected dogs bark themselves stir-crazy. You get surround sound without having to ask for it. Neighbours can listen to neighbour without having to make up an excuse to pop next door to borrow a cup of flake. Hear their neighbours’ TVs; their domestics; doors slamming; their boy racer tuning his V8 in the drive; feel his sub-woofer shaking the bars of his roll cage.

These homes are too close for comfort. Closer to each other than their inhabitants will ever be in many cases. Their owners who have invested a lot in blinds and curtain netting. And more than the odd Rottweiler, mastiff, Pit bull terrier or mongrel combo with the lot. Estate developers cut costs and corners. Threw them up in a flash. Squeezed as many into the subdivision as they could get away with. Then got out in a flash. Made their fortunes. Made a killing. Put on white shoes and set off to walk arm in arm with another government to plunder the Queensland coast.

Cheaply made and poorly fitted, your average dwelling pinches at the elbows and around the seat, standing the test of time like a cheap 70s suit. After time that you couldn’t build quality if you wanted. Later constructions reflect how the ’80s and ’90s building boom strained building supplies. It shows in cheap and low quality materials.  Creature comforts are basic. Luxury is in low supply.

Not all the houses are tiny. Some are two storeys. Grass castles for stoner kings and queens. But the place feels cramped. Skimped. Confined. Tense. It is not the Australia of House and Garden magazine. You wouldn’t set Ramsay Street here. Domestics are violent.

A man shaved his wife’s head, bound her with duct tape and beat her for twenty minutes with a garden hose in a jealous rage. “If a wife cheats on a husband, she can expect to have this done to her. She made me do it,” her husband said in defence. His three-and-a-half year sentence would be nearly up by now.

Another resident kidnapped a Nepalese student he had befriended online, stealing from her bank accounts and was apprehended when about to push her into a grave he’d dug in the back yard. Her parents would not pay his $20,000 ransom. He said in court it was her idea.

Endeavour Hills bears more than its fair share of domestic conflict, home invasions and random bashings. It gets a bad press in some circles. But then, nothing good ever came out of Bethlehem or so they said. Best thing that comes out Endeavour Hills, wags say, is the road to Dandenong. And Dandenong’s rough.

Disharmony is a design feature in Endeavour Hills. Patterns, colours, textures and materials often argue with each other in the same fascia. Cheaper to get the job finished that way. Under budget. Parsimony knifes the soul. Cut-price suburban neurosis festers. Unwary visitors feel its chill. You could go easily go mad here. Kill yourself. If you weren’t a bit mad to have moved in.  Or desperate to escape another war-zone. Another hell hole. An Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon from the long gone days when Australia accepted refugees.

Any place at all suits when you’re desperate for shelter. Desperate to settle. Yesterday’s bargain build appeals when your budget is small. Practical necessity wins any arm wrestle over taste or design. No point in champagne taste on a beer budget. You may already know someone here.

And so it is the Hills have filled with migrants over recent decades. And their children. Their children’s children. It’s cheap real estate. Easy to get to. Near work. Handy to schools and other factories. It is an obscure place, unknowable to all but those who must reside here.  Unknowable even to itself. Easy to get lost in. Safely out of the way. Until now.

Today news bolts into our consciousness in an incandescent flash. It flashes, flares and burns like Icarus too close to the sun of everyday necessity. Simple stories are quickly whipped up and served hourly in our living rooms. Our anti-social social media is driven by them. Sick with them. Riven by them. Most are short-lived, self-destructing, fabrications. They burn up as they enter the atmosphere of our contested consciousness. Burn to ash in the short-fuse furnaces of our fractured and attenuated attention spans. How big is JLo’s butt, now? Celebrity obsession and our all-consuming appetite for the novel, superficial and the trivial help fan the flames. Yet others are ground out by big money’s boot heel, threatening law suits or big money calling the shots.

Yet our stories shape us. Define us. However long they may last. Give us a sense of ourselves. Who we are. Who we imagine we are. And who we are not. Stories define the outsider. The other. The threat. The monster. The real and present danger of the terrorist within. The red under the bed. The DIY mechanic boy with a petrol leak from his car yesterday in the parking lot of the Doveton mosque at his teenage friend’s funeral becomes a potential jihadist.

In a flash, a rampaging beast takes off. The demoniser. The hate-maker. It helps us ease our guilt. Cauterise our wounded pride. How could this happen on our watch? Quickly, the hapless man-child is the devil’s servant. A monster. In league with jihadist forces head-quartered in Syria and on Facebook. Gushers of hate-speak spew forth from public orifices to seal the deal. Pure Evil. Under the influence of pure evil, Tony Abbott says, of Jihadist forces abroad. Pure evil.

But wait, there’s more. There may be others like him, waiting to strike.

A heightened sense of alert feels very much like a paranoid panic attack, however, well the PM’s strategic communications unit may package it. Or the PM sells it. It strengthens the arm of central government. It sells newspapers. Boosts Rupert Murdoch’s income. No wire-tapping needed. It boosts ratings. Sets the hounds after the hares. Yet it also tears us apart as a nation. Tears at the very fabric of our social being. Turns us against them.

A young man is killed. Only now, forlornly, belatedly, do some of us seek to know him. Know who he was. What drove him to such desperate behaviour? Seek to find what went wrong. Discover the story. His story. Our story. For the rest, it seems, there is an easier way to deal with the facts.

‘Scum’ is the word many Aussie Bloggers are using in their rush to judgement. Too many.

Such simple-minded but savage attacks feed on ignorance and emotional immaturity but they now receive oxygen from the top. They are nurtured by a dominant public discourse in which we are under attack. Under attack not from our own lack of charity, compassion and concern for others but from the other. Evil is not in all of us. It is disembodied. Out there. In the young jihadist. This shameful, wilful black and white political narrative does none of any good.

It is a dangerous but familiar story which seeks to band us together against an enemy within.

It is the narrative of the witch hunt. We must root out the evil within us and destroy it. It is both infantile and lethal. It does not become as a nation. It does not serve us a people. It is a fiction which story which distorts our social conscience. It wilfully blinds us to the responsibility we must all bear for one of us has been lost. The flames of bigotry are fanned.

Now outbreaks of racist intolerance are reported in some quarters. No real surprise here. A litany of lies and wilful blindness is publicly broadcast. The deceased has become the enemy. Not ourselves.  This boy’s death, we are told in the subtext, is not our loss. He was not one of us in his growing up. We did not take him and give him succour. We did not nourish him, guide him, take care of him in every way we could as he grew into a man.

Instead of showing leadership, The Prime Minister’s spin on the story is to call it ‘a nasty incident in Melbourne’. Absolved, assuaged in this way is the fear-mongering unleashed in a terror alert upgrade. Absolved are those who resort to terms such as ‘pure evil’. Condoned is a primitive blood-lust for revenge and counter-attack.

A reporter calls on a neighbour in Narre Warren last week. A few doors away is the young man’s home. Blinds and curtains darken this house, with its untidy teenager’s room, a room that only yesterday was filled with music, life and laughter, friends and bits of gym equipment. A room whose emptiness is now eternal. No-one will call on him now. The dark angel has flown. Forever.

The neighbour turns the reporter away. He will not give his name.  Mr Go Away does not want to get involved.  None of my business.  Fear is in his voice. And anger.

Leave me alone is the gist of what the neighbour is saying. Just as the boy was left alone. Police covered his body with a tarpaulin. Left him on the road where he fell. Until the next day. The corpse could have been dangerous, they said. Lethal. A risk to our safety and security.

Mr Go Away is but one voice of the ‘community’ which surrounded, supported and educated the young man who has died. But it is not a helpful voice. This is not the voice of neighbourly concern. It is not the voice of any true community. Rather, it is just one representative of what has come to usurp community. A post-modern aggregation of self-absorption, self-interest, irrational fear, mistrust and indifference.

Sadly it is this voice which is privileged. It is this voice that appears to be in the ascendancy, nurtured, called forth by our national terror alert and all its eager handmaidens.

Narre Warren is another Endeavour Hills in the making. A cheap knock-off. Only the buildings are newer. The general idea is the same. Knock them up cheap. Sell them dear. The quality is the same or worse. The dead flat blocks are smaller. There is a sense of a future slum evolving before your eyes. A ghetto. It rises on stony ground: the stinginess and greed of its developers’ and builders’ hearts. Kids’ cars clutter streets and drive ways. Doors slam. Dogs bark all day. You feel instantly that you will be forever on the outer. Unwelcome. Uninvited. Unconnected.

There is no neighbourliness, no community speaking in this man’s voice. It is the voice of denial. Go away. In these words, we deny ourselves, our love for one another. That part of others that makes us whole. Our delight in another’s company. Another’s joy. Grief in another’s sorrow. Our humanity. Go away? We cannot go away. We are not made that way. Not one of us.

Perhaps Mr Go Away senses this. Perhaps he dimly realises that we are all in this together. Perhaps in some way it disturbs him. Traps him. Perhaps even he suspects that there is no easy way out. Senses that we are all involved for better or for worse in the end. All he would say for the record was that of course he knew of his neighbour. He knew of is a form of words you choose when you don’t know a person at all. Knew of is the Judas kiss of death to any real community.

Abdul Numan Haider’s knife attack on two policemen and his subsequent fatal shooting outside Endeavour Hills Police station at 7:45pm, Monday 23 September troubles us for many reasons. What caused this eighteen year old to attack police when they called him in for questioning? He clearly intended to harm them. He took knives. He set it up. He phoned to arrange the meeting outside the station. He reversed his Nissan Pulsar into a park as if making for an easy get away.

He did not get away. Whatever plans he may have had of escape, his actions have unleashed a perfect storm of hatred, recrimination, discrimination and revenge. And evasion.

Who knows what disordered thoughts ran through his teenage mind? Martyrdom? Revenge? Anger? Suicide? We need to ask hard questions of the evidence. We need to look into ourselves, our own hearts. Avoid boarding that juggernaut of popular opinion on its rush to judgement.

Media reports describe Haider as yet another desperate Islamic fanatic, an ISIL extremist obeying instructions to decapitate. A jihadist carrying out a fatwa.  An automaton programmed to destroy and self-destruct. Or a lone wolf. A lone wolf who chooses to carry out the fatwa rantings of a jihadist madman. The two are logically opposed but either fits well within the PM’s national scare strategy. Serves its purpose. Purpose? The euphemism is ‘team-building’.

Other journalists looking for the person discover personal stressors: his relationship breakdown. Some report his anger at having his passport cancelled, his resentment at being visited at home and hassled.  They write of a good kid from a decent family. They report his parents’ grief and disbelief. They write of his becoming a target for investigation of terror suspects. Earlier that day the police called at his home. They searched his bedroom while he was out before issuing their invitation to join them at the station when he returned. His parents tried to prevent him from going to the station.

Few trouble to raise some basic questions. A lethal trap sprang shut last Monday. The consequences are tragic. Was it entrapment? Was it a random act of madness? What efforts had police made to assess risk? Could police have not sensed the suspect’s psychological instability? They made many visits to his home. They quizzed him about his contacts his networks. Did they follow these up? They raided his room while he was out. They then requested that he attend the station. Could they not have reasonably foreseen a confrontation brewing? What steps were taken to defuse a volatile and potentially lethal situation?

The tragic events will not, of course, yield to any quick and easy explanation. Their origins are highly complex. Some would have us begin with the story of a migrant boy from Afghanistan and his family. Deep in this story are wounds of the heart and soul. Wounds of loss. Of deprivation. Dispossession. Betrayal. Conflict. Wounds that are slow to heal. If they ever really heal. No outsider can measure the pain and suffering. Embedded in the refugee’s trauma is the damage inflicted by a war torn homeland on all its people and especially those who forced to flee for their lives as refugees.

Others will talk of influences and radicalisation. And it is true, part of his motivation will be found no doubt in the ideologies of hate and killing that ensnared him. But these are catalysts more than causes. To be radicalised, it helps first to be alienated, unwanted, marginalised, dispossessed, and discarded. Cast off to one side. Made to make do with a place on the edge of things. It is not the influence itself so much but everything that has led to his vulnerability to such propaganda that should be our true concern. We do not need to cast him off. We do need to accept what is ours in this. Accept at least some of the responsibility.

The important questions are less easily explored. But they must be explored. Located deep within the fabric of our social being, they involve us all. Who took care of this family? Who took them in? Who made sure they were OK?  Provided for. Taken care of beyond the basic needs.

When a young man begins to act strangely, it is seldom a sudden event. Who was there who was prepared to get alongside this young man when he began to act so bizarrely? Who was there to take him to one side and untangle his snare of unreason? Which one of us made time to listen? To help bind his hurts? To move him out of harm’s way before he attracted the attention of the police? There will be hurts, wounds, hardships and other causes deep within that we need to acknowledge. Investigate. For our own sake. For the sake of the many strangers in our midst. For how we look after those at the margins, those on the edge is in the end the true measure of our humanity.

Abbott’s private terror attacks

“First day back down, Boss”, croaked Team Captain Abbott, opening a frosty Phoenix Migration stout beer with a discarded set of dentures Warren “Tusker”, Truss or some other old NP blowhard had forgotten to take home after drinks. He made a mental note. Return Wozza’s choppers. It was the right thing to do.

They were stained, he noticed as he slipped them into a pocket. And chipped. I’d leave them behind, too. But no-one dared collect forgotten belongings after PM’s drinks and nibbles. They were too afraid to front Credlin. Too afraid to even look at her most of the time. But they loved Tony’s boutique beer. And Peta’s smack-downs. Well, they laughed anyway. Funny that. Especially Pyne.

“Great to get back to the bar fridge. Top end’s great but so dry. Dry as a Rudd tea party.”

Abbott perched on a leather Natuzzi Revive, his favourite new chair in the suite of furniture he had entitled himself to in the July  $50,000 furniture upgrade to the PM’s Parliament House Office. He patted the leather with genuine affection and pleasure.

“Boss” was his pet name for his personal chief of staff Peta Credlin who would soon be over to unlace his shoelaces for him, he thought happily. And his tie. Undo his top button. Adjust his waistband. No wonder Malcolm had raved about her. That girl could handle anything. Looked like it, too.

Credlin reached for her Bollinger. She detested beer and those who drank it. She did her best not to look at Abbott. He let her put her IVF needles in his bar fridge. But had to tell the press about it. He thought it made him look enlightened. Feminist. She thought it was tacky, another cheap and self-defeating lunge at image- boosting. Malcolm “rotary nuts” had not felt the same need. Any moment now he would burp. Or fart. Disgusting little chimp. Had the hide to appoint himself Minister for Women. Most women can’t stand the sight of him. The sound of him. No wonder that they remain another of life’s total mysteries to him.

Peta Credlin, personal assistant and most powerful woman in Australia, rose to adjust the new electronically operated curtains to obscure the ASIO operative disguised as a useful human being pruning the pittosporum outside the window. She was a tall woman. She loved controls. She despised mediocrity. She was offended by incompetence. She hated fraud. What was she doing in Abbott’s employ?

She made a mental note to have the ASIO agent replaced. He looked uppity. Poor disguise, too. He appeared to be looking in. With intent. And he failed to salute her.

She would dismiss him by email later that evening. Or get Tony to tell him on the way out.

Abbott and Credlin met regularly to review the day and to plan strategy. The encounter was typically bruising. No holds barred. Neither of them liked it. He was all “yes Boss” “no Boss”, “you’re the boss, boss” But the next day, give him an open mike on his mate Alan Jones show and he’d come out with his same old shit. Couldn’t stick to a script if it was Araldited to his bum. She was in the mood to let him have both barrels.

“We still suck in the polls”, she glowered.

“You’re kidding! ”

“Not even a dead cat bounce. We stink. Our budget stinks. You rant about terror and opinion drops further. And stop perching like a Cockatoo trying to shit. No point in getting fine furniture if you don’t relax in it.”

Credlin knew Abbott was incapable of relaxing. He lived on stress. If you stripped out his anxiety, you wouldn’t be left with much. Tics. Abbott certainly put the tics into politics! Best to sidestep the bad news in the opinion polls. Still, she felt like slapping him. Jolt him into reality. He wrote about his masturbation in his wank Battlelines but there were times when she thought he was a total wanker. Many times. And so did others. You could tell.

“Terror raids were a shemozzle!”

“I thought they went off rather well.” Abbott hated it when he found himself sounding defensive. Especially with women. Besides when Credlin was in this sort of mood, you couldn’t take a trick. Best not to try.

“No-one’s fooled. Apart from the intellectually challenged, the mentally feeble, the terminally confused and readers of Rupert’s papers. And we’ve already got them onside. They already voted for us. They are our demographic. And the idle rich and would-be rich. The aspirational voters. Wankers the lot of them.

The terror raid was as fake as a three dollar bill. It was contrived. It looked contrived. It was unsuccessful. It didn’t work. And it has created a wave of resentment. We’re getting even more off side.”

“Geez. I know what you mean. Know what you mean. All we could get is one 22 year old lunatic. One 22 year old mental defective. And we put so much work into it. Even had the police doing their own press releases with pictures. And the choppers. No looking real flash is it, Boss.”

Well, I got my point across in the House. Great speech the unit did for me. Statesmanlike.”

“You sounded like a dodgy undertaker reading someone else’s badly-written, lame obsequies. And all that: they-hate-our-freedoms-shit. That was lame in the days of the Korean War. ISIS is tech-savvy. They have billions of dollars. Many of ’em have enjoyed Western freedoms. They have thousands of recruits from other countries who … ”

“Well, at least we’ve got Shorten on the payroll.” Abbott cut Credlin off.

“Don’t get me started,” Credlin snorted and poured herself another flute of champagne. She was glad she included flutes in the refurb. She felt like kicking the little runt in the chair.

“Shorten is a whining, mealy-mouthed moral pigmy. Wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire. No credibility, Bill. Useless as tits on a bull. A total tool. Less horsepower than my kitchen blender. Nothing to look at. Nothing to listen to. He’s redefined the charisma bypass. No integrity. He’s a right wing leftie with the Queen’s representative as his mother in law, for God’s sake. He makes Peter Dutton look credible. All he’s ever been good at is brown nosing. Cultivating the right connections. A Clayton’s. He’s the leader you have when you are not having a leader. Labor put the little whinger in to keep the seat warm for Albo. Just in case we get a crack at two terms. Which right now looks highly unlikely.”

And so it continued. The new anti-terror laws which were not new at all and entirely unnecessary were beginning to look iffy. And they’d prevented police from questioning the handful of suspects they did detain. Pyne had got himself into trouble with his travel bill. And then there was the stinking carcase of the budget so dead and stench-ridden even the blowflies wouldn’t touch it. Then there was the RET. The back bench were getting mouthy.

At this point Abbott drifted off. Thing about Credlin, he thought, apart from her natural cattle-dog authority is that she tells it like it is. Never short of a word. Not much that gets by her. Wonder how she puts up with me. Wonder how I put up with myself at times. Just hope there’s another frostie in the fridge.

Abbott addresses his cabinet on terror and tactics prior to Parliament resuming.

8:34 AM

The coalition’s cabinet meeting was opened by Peta ‘Don’t look at me in that tone of voice’ Credlin and Prime Minister for Aboriginal Photo-Opps,Tony Abbott adding that there was a lot on the agenda. A very big agenda. A lot to get through. And if we don’t quite get to everything, today’s edition of the Daily Telegraph will, as always, carry full details of our decisions and resolutions. Abbott winked at Credlin. Credlin stared wordlessly back at Abbott for some time. She went back to sorting through a pile of high-vis vests, assorted sundry hard hats, lycra tights and tie-dyed loin cloths.

It had been an eventful coupla weeks, Emu Dancer Abbott said winking again and jerking his head in his collar like a skittish workhorse bitten by a botfly.

Been a bit on the go. He fiddled with the bottom button of his jacket. But we will get to that shortly. First job is to hand out report cards for those of us who had not yet been in to pick them up. You gutless bastards.

My but they look so big, thought Christopher Pyne who has a trained eye for educational resources. Pyne had missed his performance review when his weekly hairdressing appointment had gone over time because so much work was discovered that needed doing. And then he had been told a long but juicy story about a friend of a former member of Peter Slipper’s office. He just could not get away.

So big! Massive cards. Must have got a job lot off some reality TV, cooking, singing or some such TV show. Nice! He made a mental note to quiz the PM about his new tone of hair colouring. And did he spot some extra thatch? Was Tone intending to go down the Shane Warne path, he wondered. Who said politics was show business for “ugly” people he murmured admiring himself on the new security monitor. Hair today. Gone tomorrow.

Scott Morrison led members in prayer, fell into a trance and began to babble, speaking in tongues.   A quick thinking attendant nearby deftly inverted a nearby wastepaper basket and wedged it tightly over the minister’s head. The meeting resumed accompanied by a seductive low babbling like a neighbour’s radio tuned to the Dapto Dogs or 2GB.

Defence Minister? Peta Rottweiler Credlin scanned the assembled group, holding up an F. Do we have one?, quipped Barnaby Joyce.

“Missing in action”, Pyne chipped in. He couldn’t help himself.

“AWOL, more like it”, he added for good measure.

“Senator the Honourable David Johnston”, Abbott intoned, stepping in before the boys got too raucous.

Just like that prick not to turn up after a coupla weeks’ holiday. Gutless bastard. And I’ve been working my arse off Emu dancing and having my photo taken in the top end. As if I don’t have anything better to do with my time.”

The minister was typically nowhere to be seen.

“Nigel Scullion”

“Who?”

“Keeping a low profile!,”

Warren Truss hoped his witticism would deflect his leader’s wrath. At least he was still awake.

Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Abbott snarled through gritted teeth. He is quite good at it. His father, Dick is a retired dentist. They had wanted to call their son little Dick but agreed that another Dick in the house would be confusing.

“Scullion absent again”, he snarled to Credlin who was keeping a roll call with notes on her Blackberry. Credlin sighed rolled her eyes and arched her long neck and shoulders in withering disdain.

The meeting proceeded as meetings must. It was agreed that the terror threat and the imminence of random execution would eclipse the budget crisis, absolve the government of all sins of omission and commission and distract the nation from attempting to hold the government to account on anything. The “humanitarian war” would take care of the rest. This was met by universal random noises of approval from those present who were still fully conscious. A spontaneous outbreak of over-hearty applause ensued.

Warren Truss woke up with a start and coughed his teeth into Barnaby Joyce’s cup of tea which he was resting on his lap.

I am with you all the way, John!  Truss boomed, his a voice a stock auctioneer’s at the end of a long sale day. Clearly the Deputy PM had slumbered back into the dream time of the last coalition government where he was already banking his superannuation payout and about to embark on free travel for the remainder of his days.

Credlin hissed. Truss pretended he was just testing Siri on his iPad. He lowered his long head until his chin struck the sharp edge of a pin in his lapel causing him to rear up in pain and knock little Julie Bishop out with an elbow blow to her temple. Pyne was at her side in a flounce and gave her a prolonged kiss of life. Sucking and gurgling sounds ensued for a few seconds before Bishop screamed, eyes crossing “Take it out! And get that thing off me!” Bishop took to kicking and slapping Pyne forcefully, a gesture which found favour with the entire group except the Minister for Sturt himself.

Business resumed but not before Pyne had been dealt some further hearty random slaps and kicks from other members quick to exploit such a rare and long deserved opportunity.

All war questions would be evaded, it was agreed secondly. As too would be any questions including the illegal invasion of Syria, Assad’s genocide, Turkish shootings of refugee Kurds and lies about the existence of any government to speak of in Iraq could be augmented with empty rhetoric about our humanitarian duty. Nothing would be said about numbers in the coalition of the wilting which currently stand at two.

Lurid, graphic details of beheadings would be repeated. Random execution plots would be said to be imminent in all parts of Australia. The phrase on the best available evidence at the time would be brought into play. On no account could the words war, feet on the ground, Assad’s gassing of his own people or Saudi beheadings be brought up. The total lack of anything resembling an Iraqi government or army could safely be deemed to be the result of the Labor Party’s great big new tax on everything, their hopeless mismanagement of everything and their putting of IOU’s in the afternoon tea kitty instead of cash like everyone else.

House Leader Pyne outlined a series of very clever strategies for the day. He circulated a briefing paper on why terrorists hate our way of life and our freedoms, food, hairdressers and barber salons plus another in his capacity as shadow minister for Justice on why all civil liberties should be curtailed indefinitely.

The second was a favour to the Attorney General who has yet to learn about computers. Brandis and Abbott would explain why new anti-terror laws would effectively mean the end of the current rule of law including habeas corpus. Suspended without notice would be all other legal principles governing arrest and fair trials. Everything necessary would be prudently retired in order to facilitate Summary arrest, indefinite detention and any other legal precedents needed to replace onus of proof with suspicion of intent.

Backbenchers would ask fatuous questions of Ministers about terrorism. What was the government doing to combat terrorism? Other leaders would simply turn their backs on the opposition if questions about Ashbygate, actually eventuated as rumoured. Bronwyn “The Rhinocerous” Bishop would continue to deploy her formidable talents as speaker to prevent any semblance of fairness in debate and promised to head-butt Electricity Bill Shorten should he get within striking distance. It was generally agreed, however, to give Shorten a hearing given that he has been so useful to the coalition already. And given his performance so far in this parliament, this can only continue. Members uttering the words budget, RET or responsible competent government would be evicted immediately.

Abbott ramps up security

Canberra is to have increased security, Prime Minister Abbott announced, bravely, fearlessly yet disturbingly, recently, peering out from behind a tent flap in remote Arnhem Land, his voice dry after a long night on the kava at the après corroboree function.

Increased security, Prime Minister Rabid repeated in his familiar, irritating fashion for those few who may not have heard him the first time. Having successfully instilled fear of summary execution whilst simultaneously unleashing popular hatred of Afghans, Arabs and all other Islamic migrant communities on the population of Australia at large and in the wake of his farewelling 800 Australian troops to drop humanitarian assistance on sundry unspecified unwary Iraqi, Kurdish and Syrian tribespeople and other fellow travellers in the Middle East, Prime Miniscule Tony Abbott’s latest step towards declaring martial law is to announce that he is now upping  the terror alert around Parliament House in Canberra.  Especially the bits around the newly-refurbished luxury apartment cum office he cohabits with his body servant Peta Credlin.

Top Dog Credlin, whose height, formidable demeanour and dour facial expression is said to deter almost anyone approaching except Julie Bishop, Clive Palmer and Mormons on bicycles is reliably believed to run the government in conjunction with her husband Brian Loughnane who claims to be Liberal Party Federal Director. A special squad would be responsible for the area where Mr Abbott parks his bicycle and would be specially trained in cavity searching, saddle warming, bicycle helmet and helmet hair and comb-over readjustment strategies.

Random terrorist chatter has been intercepted, he intoned, specifying government targets including the Prime Minister.  Random terrorist chatter, he repeated himself helplessly. The Australian Federal Police would now take over policing in Parliament House and surrounds, adding that surveillance would be stepped up . Stepped up, he reiterated needlessly. He then stepped down and embraced an unidentified man in uniform who may have been Air Vice Marshall Banana Skins before slipping away in his newly imported armour-plated, bomb-proofed BMW for his regular on air rub-down and tongue kissing session with convicted felon, broadcaster and fellow misogynist Alan Jones.

The BMW is of course but one of a small but select $6 million fleet of luxury limousines which will be deployed to Brisbane for the G20 in November, transporting world leaders including US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The fleet may yet be expanded. None of these world leaders could possibly share a ride. This is especially the case with VIP G20 guest Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will shortly annexe Ukraine for its vast food supply and Kazhakstan for its uranium, and who is clearly implicated in the recent terrorist downing of MH 17.

Mr Putin is still warmly welcome to attend because as discredited pseudo-Treasurer Joe Hockey has explained, we need to keep the dialogue going. And it is imperative to invite those who have shown such a firm hand with terrorism in their own land, added Mr Hockey, haranguing his audience in his typically blustering delivery. Those paying attention noticed Mr Hockey appeared to have turned his back on his guests in the course of his speech. An eagle-eyed and quick-thinking aide (one of only a very small group yet to be dismissed from his staff by the treasurer) was able to be turned around so that he actually faced his audience. “I thought I was back in parliament and Labor was talking”, Mr Hockey joked with his audience.

Equally humorous is the Abbott government’s weak-kneed decision to invite former KGB goon and self-made oligarch at his country’s expense Putin to Australia for the G20 festival of public wank fest in Brisbane in November. Putin, a dangerous man at home and abroad has never appeared remotely interested in dialogue. He has been known to disappear those who disagree with him. He is eager to annex adjacent states in his ambition to restore his popularity and to achieve his megalomaniacal ambitions. He is no stranger to terrorist practices at home.

But let’s keep the red carpet ready. Tightened security demands or not when it comes to dialogue our government is clearly eager to follow World’s Best Practice. Let’s continue to do all we can to make Putin feel welcome in Australia. The stepped up security, the terror campaigns, the double-speak of the Abbott government will help in no small way to make him feel at home already.

Terror on cue

Police say raids involving more than 800 officers have disrupted a terror plot to inflict violence on a random member of the public.

The operation, involving NSW police, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO targeting various Sydney suburbs, resulted in 15 arrests and one Omarjan Azari, a twenty-two year old Sydney man of Afghan origin, ‘with a full facial beard’ arrested and charged during the biggest counter-terror raids in Australia’s history.

Azari, whose appearance and demographic fits the public stereotype of a terrorist so well that he could have auditioned for the part with central casting is being charged with serious terrorism-related offences. The key reason for the raid, however, was a single twenty minute phone call from an Australian ISIS operative and former actor who rang him from Iraq where there are no laws prohibiting the sale or consumption of marijuana.

Azari will appear in court today, when it’s expected police will reveal an alleged plot to behead a member of the public on camera.

—————————————————————————————————————————

“We all grew up on the street together,” Saudoba Afzal-Shanasa told 7News. “My mum knows his mother, we never thought anything like that.”

“He’s great, he’s always been friendly to us, he’s a great guy. I don’t understand how this all happened”.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Australians awoke yesterday in stunned disbelief to news that Federal police had foiled a deadly local Jihadist plot in a raid on a Sydney house early this morning. Allegedly dictated by a high-ranking Australian in the service of ISIS in Syria, the plot was to wrap a random Australian in the ISIS flag and decapitate the victim on camera. It was maintained that the images would be used to boost propaganda for the ISIS cause. It would be a ‘demonstration’ killing.

Little of this made any sense at all to thoughtful Australians. Federal Police are not generally renowned for busting Jihadists or plots or anything else, really, for that matter since their formation in 1979. Nor, as yet, have so many of them been mobilised on the basis of a single, twenty-minute mobile phone call.

There are 6,500 Federal Police, each of whom receives at least three months special training in hand to hand combat and other martial arts. They can be impressively well-armed. Federal Police can carry Glock pistols and other lethal weapons but generally they are deployed overseas or on duty guarding VIPs in Canberra, escorting Prime Ministers out jogging and the like. They don’t normally bust into migrant housing fully armed and with sniffer dogs while helicopters circle overhead in the early hours of the morning or dig up other people’s gardens. Nor do they tip off The Daily Telegraph and 2GB.

If the raid is out of character for the Federal Police, the timing also raises eyebrows. Today’s events play into the hands of the Abbott government’s desire to create a heightened state of terror alert, anxiety, xenophobia and paranoia in its citizenry.

The arrest is also so close to the PM’s terror script that it is uncanny. It’s almost as if he could have scripted it himself. And as clumsy. Our intervention in Iraq and Syria but not yet Iran has been justified by the need to protect us from home- grown Jihadis in league with ISIS, the need to support the Iraqi government and other far-fetched rationalisation.

It is so neatly scripted it beggars belief.  Just a few days after the Prime Minister Tony Abbott had issued warnings of such a plot, such a plot is, indeed, conveniently discovered.  Right on cue. Slick.

Receiving news that most Australians were too frightened to leave their homes and that some had taken to their beds or under their beds, gibbering in fear, heads under their doonas whilst watching daytime television, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is reported to have placed his fingertips together intoning:

Excellent. Excellent. People of Australia are to go about their daily lives without alarm, just that extra degree of heightened awareness that the situation requires.

Mr Abbott confirmed raids were sparked by intelligence ISIL was planning public executions in Australia. He said direct instructions on beheadings were coming from an Australian overseas. He did not explain how the perpetrators intended to escape justice, given the somewhat lower degree of lawlessness in Sydney when compared to Iraq or Syria. Nor did he explain why the raid had taken place in September when authorities had known of the plot since May. Nor did he spell out just how such an act could work as propaganda for ISIL.

Immaculately timed to meet breakfast television deadlines, the event caught the imagination of the nation. Australians marvelled at the incredible coincidences: a home-grown Jihadist plot was discovered just days after official warnings, the week after our terrorist alert was moved to high and on the very day that six hundred of our boys were being farewelled for their tour of duty in Iraq or wherever.

Court documents are expected to reveal the terror plan involved draping a random Sydney person in an Islamic State flag and beheading the victim on camera. It was to be a demonstration killing. Court documents would reveal nothing that might explain the uncanny coincidence that such a plot be discovered at such a convenient time for the beleaguered PM.

Attorney General (Mr Magoo) George Brandis appears to have typically wandered off message a little again in declaring that authorities had known of the plot since May. We had just been saving it up for the right time, he beamed. What Brandis didn’t explain is why in that case we had been told that there was no current threat under investigation when the terror alarm was raised to ‘High’ last week. Nor did he elaborate on how just one intercepted twenty minute phone call from a mentally unstable Australian serving with ISIS to a similar candidate at home was sufficient evidence to mobilise the entire AFP across two states. Nor has he fully explained the workings of his forensic mind to the conundrum of guilt by intention as articulated by his PM but we will learn more as the anti-terror legislation is rushed through parliament next week. Doubtless the new laws will be retrospective. Or made to measure.

For Abbott:

“This is not just suspicion, this is intent,” he said.

“… The events this morning were based on specific intelligence that people weren’t just preparing an attack, but had the intent to mount one.”

Doubtless also, the Abbott government will need to explain how alienating and marginalising elements of Australian Muslim communities in such spectacular fashion can do anything but increase local Islamic extremism. Reaction from local Muslim communities has been swift to denounce the government’s motivation. At a protest in Lakemba last night Uthman Badar from Hizb ut-Tahrir said it was no coincidence that the raids had occurred just before the latest terrorism laws were to be introduced into parliament next week.

“They are creating fear and hysteria to justify the unjustifiable,” he said

“Enough of scapegoating the Muslim community.”

Ultimately, the fear-mongering and war-mongering has precisely the opposite effect to the official justification. Clearly, the existence of the plot suggests greater danger to Australians at home is a result of our involvement in Iraq and Syria and whatever other undeclared war zone the US commands us into. Whatever the stated motives for sending troops to the latest Middle East disaster zones, keeping the streets of Sydney safer is not one of them. And whatever the official justification of yesterday’s raids, their effect can only add to factors already radicalising the thoughts of young men attracted to extremist thoughts and deeds.

Modern terrorism doesn’t work that way. We keep killing “senior figures” in terrorist groups – indeed, it’s more than three years since we killed the most senior of them all – and nothing substantive changes.

This yields a devilish problem: namely, that we are trying to confront a threat that exists nowhere in particular, and anywhere in theory. We can’t destroy that.

There is one very clear way in which this alleged plot can succeed, even if it is never carried out: that we become so emotionally manipulated, so provoked, that we end up helplessly polarised. That becomes a problem because a symbol as ghastly as ISIL can only prosper in a febrile atmosphere. Waleed Ali

Chickens roosting

At sunset the chickens retire from their day’s labours as if guided by the hand of providence. So gently and so surely are they gathered in by Nature, all order is confirmed once more. There is for the moment no rest better earned, no retirement more deserved, no process more befitting. A commanding, careful surety of purpose guides each bird calmly, steadily to her ordained place of safety. She murmurs contentedly in its sure caress.

Each bird glows red brown in the setting sun, their bodies seeming bulkier now, yet graceful as they are called in together by some mystic inner prompting. Their being is built up, embellished and re-defined in a painter’s light.

Turner knew how sunset reveals the inner nature of things. How it builds an exquisite density of tone, how a formidable solidity is briefly lent to all creatures. Tonight, these tiny russet bundles of being are figures in an eternal cycle, each creature etched forever against an ancient terra-cotta frieze.  The setting sun is lighting them up to bed. As it has since time began.

It is an unhurried business, the birds’ foregathering  and slowly ascending the stair that takes them to their small loft. They appear to tarry briefly and bide their time, softly cooing to each other as if to soothe and soften the darker edges of existence. Yet not one will delay overlong. An inexorable progress is evident. Day’s ending is undertaken with order and decorum. Each bird has its allotted place in the stately, unhurried, procession up to their straw-lined nests.

I check on them. My torch reveals they are nestled close, their heads aligned towards the east as if they were rowers in a boat setting out together on some ancient voyage towards dawn.