refugees flee australia

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    Collapse of Australian democracy turns the refugee tide

    October 14, 2004

    HERE is a report from the New York Times:

    THE international community is bracing for an influx of political refugees following the collapse of democracy in Australia.

    Last night the UN Security Council was in emergency session on the situation in Australia, where John Howard seized power in a bloodless election on Saturday. The defeat of democracy had been long foreshadowed by the country's artists and intellectuals, as well as by some prominent columnists.

    "For this to happen in one of the world's most stable democracies is a tragedy that must not be allowed to go unchallenged", said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Mr Howard's election coup occurred without violence. It was brilliantly organised and took the form of more than 7700 mini-coups in so-called "polling places" around the nation.

    Australia's artists, writers and intellectuals have been warning for years that Mr Howard's lies, deceptions and bullying of public servants would result in the death of democracy and the cruching of all dissent. But their warnings were ignored by their countrymen until it was too late.

    Throughout 2004, pro-democracy activists have suggested Mr Howard's Coalition forces might be planning an election coup. The activists held rallies, rock concerts, seminars and book-launches to warn their fellow Australians of the impending danger. They expressed their fears for democracy's future on gigantic billboards and with skywriting. They even established a pro-democracy movement known as "Not Happy, John!", which they managed to keep secret by talking about it endlessly on "Radio National", Australia's utterly crap version of public radio.

    Unfortunately, the public misunderstood most of the group's messages because of the atrocious spelling and grammar.

    But freedom-loving intellectuals remained optimistic until the end. On Saturday morning, in a pamphlet circulated among a tiny coterie of pro-democracy activists Ð and known as the Sydney Morning Herald Ð Alan Ramsey suggested Coalition forces were in retreat: "People are sick and tired of Howard, and many of us detest him for his duplicity, his divisiveness and his gross mendacity."

    One of Mr Ramsey's less sanguine comrades, public broadcaster Phillip Adams, simply prayed to God to preserve his country's democratic tradition.

    These hopes were cruelly dashed by Saturday night. The most startling features of Mr Howard's electoral coup were its ruthlessness, its efficiency and its utter transparency.

    It all went like clockwork. At 9.00am, Mr Howard's anti-democracy operatives gathered secretly at polling places with lists of carefully prepared instructions from anti-democracy HQ, known as "how-to-vote-cards".

    While Mr Howard's subversives silently took control of government, they distracted the citizenry by handing out sausage sandwiches, occasionally with trimmings such as delicious fried onion.

    The death of democracy has been accepted calmly by the stoical people of this distant land, who simply went about their business Sunday, mowing lawns and sweeping decks (known as "patios") as if unaware their democratic rights had been snatched away. Oddly, pro-democracy strongholds such as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the nation's universities were still being allowed to operate.

    However, Mr Annan warned last night the real tragedy was yet to come Ð in the form of a refugee crisis as Australia's artists, intellectuals and public broadcasters flee their totalitarian nation in fear of persecution.

    Although there are fewer than 5000 of these people, Mr Annan said "the degree of public funding required to support them would bankrupt almost any nation".

    Meanwhile, pro-democracy campaigners vowed to continue their fight without respite. Writing from pro-democracy HQ Ð an echo-chamber positioned two kilometres beneath the Pacific Ocean Ð journalist Margo Kingston said late Saturday: "We must join forces across the political divide to make a difference.

    "We must create and nurture alternative media, and we must venture out of our enclaves to reach out to fellow Australians across the political spectrum . . . I'm taking a month off from Monday."

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