Wednesday, December 31, 2008


A new theory has been advanced to explain the strange disappearance of cartoonist Wicking, at first attributed to abduction by spacemen . It now seems he could have been reduced to a greasespot by a Triffid , an alien plant which sucks out the brains of Homo sapiens as easily as sipping soda through a straw.

One of Wicking’s neighbours, Fatty Arbuckle, this morning told Little Darwin the gifted cartoonist bought a weird Christmas tree from the Rapid Creek Sunday market. The dodgy vendor,Chevy Chase, told him it had fallen off the back of an intergalactic space shuttle.
Wicking fell for the cock and bull story, paid through the nose for the tree, and brought it home. It immediately ate all the cats and the garden gnomes, the postman and his bike disappeared and four Mormons are missing in action. Scared neighbours took up a petition to have the Christmas tree napalmed by the Darwin City Council before the Chinese New Year.
The Triffid became annoyed by hoons roaring up and down the street and while it was able to easily crush their cars , to the delight of the community, it was a waste of time attempting to suck out the drivers’ brains because the brain boxes were already empty. As a result , the Triffid became anaemic and had to visit the Palmerston after hours clinic for vitamin injections each night. Its visits immediately cleared the waiting room , causing the halt and the lame to sprint like Fine Cotton. The brave weed killer from Arnhem Nursery , with noisy , wonky kneecaps, was called in to deal with the horrendous Triffid, but he has also disappeared and is believed buried in a Humpty Doo compost heap.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The residence of brilliant NT News cartoonist Wicking has been cordoned off midst fears that he has been abducted by aliens from outer space. Terrified neighbours say an armada of spaceships hovered over the Wicking household just as Santa was about to climb down the chimney with a blow up female crocodile .

Weird looking aliens then roughed up Santa, stripped him naked (not a pretty sight as he is a dropout from Fat Busters ) and reduced his reindeers to beef jerky with a blast from their ray guns. A petrified neighbour ,Orson Welles , with a body like a rejected bean bag , told Little Darwin the scene represented something out of War of the Worlds..

Welles says Wicking is a great neighbour , except for his outbursts of maniacal laughter when he has yet another inspired idea for a cartoon which captures the out- of – this- world NT lifestyle. Welles, who received a much needed weight reducing exercise kit for Xmas, predicts the abduction will drastically reduce real estate values all over Darwin. Thousands of people have already fled through Katherine on their way to Tasmania to escape the frightening aliens.

Fortunately, the incredibly gifted cartoonist drew a beaut Tombstone Territory Yuletide Christmas strip before he was probably beamed up by Planet Zog’s answer to Scotty .

Sunday, December 21, 2008


In what promises to be a massive class action, the top legal firm of Slater and Gordon is reportedly planning to sue the NT News and its parent company for constantly scaring the pants off Territorians and overseas tourists with terrifying stories about crocodiles.

Recently the Queensland Government paid $40,000 compensation to businesses on Magnetic Island because of losses in the tourism industry due to publicity given to one crocodile that swam about the island for several weeks.

Using this figure as a precedent, Slater and Gordon estimate that the NT News has run so many crocodile stories over the years each Territorian could receive at least a zillion bucks. Yippee! Bugger trying to win the piddling News mystery number prize. Little Darwin understands the legal firm has interviewed thousands of Territorians who claim to be petrified of crocodiles because of what they have read in the paper . Many young Darwin children scream and cry when they see a yellow ducky in the bathtub , convinced it is Peter Pan’s crocodile out to eat them.

The population is so scared of crocs, harmless geckos running about the walls and ceilings daily cause schoolchildren to flee their classes. This News croc bombardment also explains why there are so many jibbering idiots in the Top End. Police say fear of crocodiles is a contributing cause to the number of drunk drivers on the road.

A front page story about a man-eating croc in a swimming pool conjures up the return of the whopper saurian , Sweetheart. However, it usually turns out to be a baby croc who has lost its way. The Crocodile Liberation Party (CLP) is expected to be a party to the class action as it is furious with the constant bad press cuddly crocodiles receive from the newspaper.

A Slater and Gordon lawyer was seen doing cartwheels around the NT Supreme Court entrance after reading that the NT News declared crocodiles the fourth most powerful “person” in the Territory.

In New York, News empire chief, Rupert Murdoch, down to his last $20billion due to the economic meltdown, groaned when he heard about the threat by Slater and Gordon. He immediately donated all NT News staff to Wildlife rangers for croc bait and sold the NT News building to Crocodyllus Park as a new handbag and shoe emporium. Then Rupert applied for Chinese citizenship and flew to Beijing with his wife and kids to prevent legal documents being served on him . NOTE- According to the NT Real Estate Institute , the News building sold for a song: “Never Smile at a Crocodile .”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


( A special essay prepared for Little Darwin by an author who has worked and travelled regularly and extensively in SE Asia. The writer has been inside Burma, spent time in refugee areas on the Thai-Burmese border and discussed the issue with refugees, NGO and aid workers. He has also kept up to date with the literature and refugee/expat Burmese publications.)

I have been asked to offer some reflections on the situation in Burma and possible actions which might be taken to bring to an end this dire state of affairs. This is a painful, delicate and difficult task. There are no easy answers. Under the most favourable conditions Burma would have faced grave problems on independence. Burma did not become an independent nation under favourable conditions nor has it enjoyed such conditions for most of the last sixty years.

Here I will first briefly survey the well documented evils that beset contemporary Burma. Second, I will seek to identify several themes from Burmese history which seem to be relevant to an understanding of the present. Finally, and tentatively, I will look at some of the seemingly intractable issues of how the world might deal with Burma in the future.

The Present: Perceptions of Burma

The Burmese military regime is all that most western critics claim it to be. It is a ruthless military dictatorship. The country is misgoverned by a corrupt, self-aggrandizing clique of generals, their families and their cronies. It is part narco-state, the elites being dependent on the proceeds of illicit drugs. The government has effectively gained control of much of the once semi-autonomous production, processing, distribution and export of successively opium, heroin and, now, methamphetamines. The regime shows total disregard and contempt for the rule of law and human rights, including the right to life. Currently there are more than two thousand known political prisoners. In a country of great ethnic diversity, at least eight major and hundreds of minor groups, the generals are Burman chauvinists and xenophobes. They have engaged in long-term and brutal suppression of non-compliant ethnic minorities. Successive military governments have close to destroyed the national economy. In a series of ill conceived and at times bizarre and capricious policies they have impoverished the population, ruined the traditional trading class, driven away foreign investment and development aid and plundered natural resources. They are also the jailers and tormentors of Aung San Suu Kyi. In summary, the generals are arbitrary, avaricious, cruel, mendacious and criminal. It has also been suggested that many of them are paranoid, superstitious and deluded.

Whatever the accuracy of these last accusations the generals do seem to have some perverse contact with reality – especially as it affects their interests and survival. They are acutely sensitive to the illegitimacy and unpopularity of their own position in the country. Much of their energy and resources are devoted to social control and surveillance – to finding and eliminating real and imagined internal threats. Likewise they are inordinately sensitive to the delicacy of intra-elite loyalties and politics. The stakes are high and a minor miscalculation may have catastrophic consequences for the individual, his family and his followers. Fear rules. Externally the generals have no regard for or fear of the international community with its condemnations and its sanctions. Their only horizon is Burma. They, with some justification, see their position in the world as underwritten by large-scale and enduring support from China and opportunistic and increasing relations with India, Thailand and Singapore.

The present Government of Myanmar, for all its wrongs, domestic unpopularity and international opprobrium, is not a house of cards which will be easy to topple. It is rigid and brittle, with many blind spots and a limited and brutal array of skills in governance. It may be perversely led, deeply corrupt and morally compromised but the Burmese military is extremely powerful, militarily well equipped and exceedingly large, numbering over 400,000. It is not a parallel government, it is the government. It is the only national institution left standing that has significant administrative and technical capability.

The Past: The Burmese Inheritance

The bleak description in the previous section is not the whole story. There is more to Burma and its history, and much of it is relevant to understanding contemporary Burma.

First, Burma was colonized much later and less thoroughly than India. The conquest was not completed until 1885. Infrastructure was generally less developed and the colonial civil service was inferior to that of India. A small number at the top were British, the bulk of government officers were imported from India and among the small number of locals a disproportionate number were Karen. The dominant Burmans felt doubly excluded. The conquest and colonial trauma of the disruption of traditional structures and ways was recent and still well remembered in the 1930s. The emerging nationalist elite was drawn from a narrow pool of talent and was relatively small.

Second, under British rule the focus of attention was on the core Burman ethnic areas. The Burmans make up 68% of the total population and are largely concentrated in the lower, delta and central areas. Apart from a thin administrative structure very little was done to promote national integration of the large number of outlying ethnic groups established in their own territories in the mountain regions encircling the core Burman area. The colony was governed as two distinct administrative areas: Ministerial Burma and the Frontier Areas. Apart from issues affecting foreign policy and exploitation of natural resources these frontier groups and their traditional rulers were left largely intact – except for vigorous missionary activity amongst some groups. This policy of benign neglect meant that on independence the new Burmese government inherited a complex set of ethnic minorities, many with differing expectations, to be integrated into the new state. The conflicts inherent in this situation erupted. Things were further complicated by widespread and often effective communist insurgency in the early years of independence. In some northern areas the situation deteriorated further with the withdrawal of defeated, US backed, KMT forces from Yunnan across the border in China. The presence of these large foreign military units continued to cause serious problems for the next twenty years. The combination of ethnic discontent, unrealistic expectations, dishonoured undertakings, communist insurrection, uncontrolled foreign forces, Chinese and American interference and traditions of local warlordism meant that at times in the early 1950s the national government controlled little more than Rangoon. National survival was a real and urgent issue.

A third element of the Burmese inheritance was the older traditions of Burmese statecraft. The traditional courts of Burma were characterized by despotic, suspicious, rapacious, cruel and xenophobic rule. Succession to the throne was often a bloody and violent affair, potential rivals (usually family members) were assassinated in vast numbers, military prowess were essential to legitimacy and survival, and many rulers were isolated and ignorant of the outside world. It is easy to draw parallels with the behavior of the military over the last 45 years. These are illuminating parallels, not necessarily determinants. In fact the generals have constructed their own version of Burmese history using these parallels to legitimize their rule and to justify their behavior.

Several myths surround the origins of the modern Burmese state. One is that in 1948 Burma was a new state with vast untapped natural resources, adequate infrastructure and a functioning political/administrative system handed on by the departing British. Burma did and still does have vast natural resources – rice growing capacity, forests, oil and gas, gems. However, no state in southeast Asia had during World War II suffered devastation comparable to Burma. Most territories in the region either capitulated without struggle or surrendered after brief and ineffectual resistance to the Japanese. With the exception of the Philippines, no other state suffered re-invasion by the allies and strong resistance by the Japanese. Burma was bombed, invaded, harshly occupied, stripped of resources, re-invaded, became the theatre of a protracted and destructive allied offensive and a desperate Japanese defense. The result for Burma was devastation. On the eve of independence in 1948 Burma was not the Burma of 1940, it was little different to the Burma of 1945.

The second founding myth of modern Burma concerns Aung San – one of the most influential founders of modern Burma and the father of Aung San Suu Kyi. His untimely and tragic death in a mass political assassination in the months prior to independence has left a heritage of what if…if only. Many think that had he not died prematurely Burmese modern history might have been different – I agree. But how different and different in what ways is unclear. It is a common belief that had he lived Burma would have been able to overcome its inherent problems and become a functioning democratic state, a successful multi-ethnic federation and a prosperous developing economy. Neighbouring Thailand, with a comparable land mass and comparable population, is seen as approximating what Burma might have become.

At the time of his death in July 1947 Aung San was 32 years old. He had been a student activist in the nationalist cause, a teacher, a journalist/editor and agitator. As a nationalist he had a recent history of collaboration with the Japanese against the British, had received some military training, was one of the founders of the Burmese National Army and had emerged as one of the most effective leaders in the nationalist movement. A brooding and distant man he was talented, clear headed and sensed when and how to act politically. He played a central role in the negotiations with the British government for the granting of independence. He successfully persuaded them to grant almost immediate independence which was not the British preference and to remove many of the conditions they were seeking to impose.

One of the great what ifs concerns the position of the ethnic minorities. Aung San negotiated an agreement with the leaders of the main groups to enter into a federation, with the position and most of the powers of the traditional rulers left intact and a right to secede if unsatisfied after ten years – the celebrated Panglong Agreement of February, 1947. Certainly, had this been adopted, been able to withstand the conflicts and pressures of the 1950s and been even partly successful Burma’s internal ethnic relations may have been very different.

Aung San then led his Anti-Fascist Peoples Freedom League to an overwhelming victory (76% of seats) in the provisional assembly to handle the transition to independence. The other great what if relates to his ability to maintain the unity he had temporarily brought about amongst the fractious nationalist movement. Unity to achieve independence is a finite demand. The maintenance of unity in continuing day-to-day government is another matter. Whoever took over the government of newly independent Burma, and even more so after the death of Aung San, was going to face enormous difficulties with no certainty as to outcomes. The country was already traumatized by war and even more so by the assassination of the popular national leader and a large number of his potential cabinet ministers. Aung San was never put to the test but he did offer hope.

The Future: Dealing with the Regime

Burma is an issue of immense difficulty. It is not particularly difficult in terms of moral judgement. The regime is evil. Practical responses are much more difficult to frame. In such a situation it is tempting and easy to opt for simplicity – moral outrage. Ethics is not only about principle, it is also about action and outcomes. Trying to find acceptable and effective courses of sustained long-term action is the real challenge for opponents of the regime.

During the forty plus years of military dictatorship and especially during the last twenty years a wide range of approaches have been tried: diplomacy, sanctions, UN and ASEAN initiatives, denounciation and demonization, media campaigns, humanitarian relief, NGO action, human rights documentation, “constructive engagement”, negotiations, aborted elections, draft roadmaps, armed resistance, ceasefires, non-violence, peaceful demonstration, mobilization of the monks, the National League for Democracy, refugee agitation, government-in-exile, satire and the courageous and principled stand of Aung San Suu Kyi. And all seem to have failed to either remove the government or significantly change its behavior. Faced with what seems like perpetual intransigence and stalemate it is difficult to know what options are left. There appears to be little external leverage, few effective threats or incentives. And internally there is a fixed and intransigent mindset in the ruling group and very little by way of independent internal dynamics to set change in motion. To date the system has alternated between long periods of enforced stability and very short periods of incipient change – the direction is circular not linear.

Occasionally in desperation the possibility military intervention is raised. Fortunately it has not gained any support. The area and terrain of Burma, the complexity of its society, the power of its military, the virtual impossibility of gaining either UN or regional authorization and support, and the possibility of provoking China are sufficient deterrence. The possible consequences of precipitating civil war, political collapse, social chaos and acute regional instability, and worse, are terrifying. Likewise covert operations, surgical strikes, arming and training dissident groups, assassinations, all the usual dirty tricks would as usual do more harm than good. We do need to consider the outcomes and consequences we do not want. Even something as desirable as the demobilization of the bulk of the Burmese army presents some very frightening possibilities. Say, half the Burmese military, 200,000 men, were returned to civilian life. The bulk of these would be young and uneducated, taught to obey orders blindly, to use weapons, to kill, to rape, to terrorize, to hate ethnic minorities and to adulate the military leadership. These men have never been civilians. Precipitate demobilization would mean unleashing trained sociopaths in very large numbers into economically prostrate and socially fractured communities. In addition there are very large numbers not in uniform but on call as plain clothes thugs and enforcers.

This catalogue of seeming failures and unacceptable options makes bleak reading. It arises from the intractable nature of the problems and, perhaps, the ways in which we think about it. Have we allowed the intransigence and cruelty of the generals to trap us into a mirror image world of moral absolutism. But we do not always do this when dealing with other morally repugnant regimes. Western governments have over the last 30 years found that they could deal with many seriously less than desirable regimes – China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Suharto’s Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, etc etc and, on balance, the outcomes although far from ideal have probably been on balance better than what might have been achieved by the fundamentalist strategies of anathama and shunning. If we cannot change their ways of thinking and acting we can change our own.

What might be the elements of an alternative approach? We need to be clear in our minds that whatever we are doing it is for the people of Burma. Whatever solutions are found will have to be “Burmese” outcomes. As Aung San Suu Kyi has always insisted, the Burmese ultimately have to make their own independence. We cannot dictate the shape of it (and probably nor can she). Secondly, we might consider the abandonment of reciprocal isolation of Burma. In diplomatic contact treat Burma as a normal state even if it is not such. Thirdly, maximize contacts; diplomatic, investment, trade, humanitarian aid and travel (a form of constructive engagement without the rhetoric, the conditions and the unrealistic expectations). Fourthly, act unconditionally. Don’t make every exchange a carrot and stick exercise. Act in good faith for long enough for your good faith to be recognized and accepted. Fiftly, be patient. We are dealing with a complex situation and psychologically embattled and politically entrenched leadership. They will not change overnight. This could be a difficult drawn-out generational process. Finally, continue to monitor and publicise abuses. These proposals are based on the assumption that if you treat a group as “other”, it will act towards you as “other”. Some basis for trust must be created both between the Burmese government and the people of Burma and between the Burmese government and other governments.

This approach may be rejected as a soft option and a cop-out. In fact it is a hard option and based on considerations of power. As veteran Burmese activist and journalist, Soe Myint, said in relation to the 2007 rising “reality was not on our side”. What is this reality ? Basically there are three elements: one, the fact that the military is unlikely to fade away, whatever change takes place in Burma it will have to accommodate the military in some way; two, China’s implicit and long-term interest in a stable and pliable large neighbour to the south; three, the relative irrelevance of the West to the thinking of the generals. If the military stick together they will be hard to displace.

Over the years many attempts at change have been extinguished. However, not all are dead and there are still possibilities. Some of these changes may contain seeds of larger scale change in the future: negotiated ceasefires with many of the ethnic insurgent groups (although some of these have had very undesirable consequences), the relentless worsening of economic and living conditions for the general population, an unsatisfactory “roadmap for democracy” which leaves the military in ultimate control, promised elections for 2010, divisions within the pro-democracy forces both within and outside the country, an increase in the number of political prisoners and the severity of their sentences, the open defiance of the monks in 2007 and the unprecedented reprisals, the spread of internet resources which are not totally controllable by the government, the emergence of a functioning civil society movement with hundreds of small-scale health, education and development initiatives at the local level, an increasing willingness on the part of major neighbouring, regional and distant states to invest in Burmese resources, and the ageing of Senior General Than Shwe. Obviously not all of these are for the better but the consequences of change are not always predictable.

The two major players in the national political drama remain the generals and Aung San Suu Kyi. The military remains a vast and powerful organization within Burma. The ruling group and their likely immediate successors offer little hope for change. The lower tiers of the officer corps are privileged, well rewarded and in many cases technically well educated. If there were to be significant change in the country some members of this group would be necessary for the survival of the country through any transition to civilian rule. Generations of systematic neglect of the civil service have guaranteed that there are few other alternatives. Any reforming government, military or civilian, will be dependent on some of these people. It is not impossible that reform might ultimately be led by some of them. The other major player is Aung San Suu Kyi. For most of the last twenty years she has been either in prison or under house arrest. Despite her extremely limited contact with the outside world, and despite the constant attempts by the regime to denigrate, discredit and separate her from the people she remains a dignified, popular and potent symbol of Burmese democracy. Outside of the country she enjoys enormous respect, the ultimate “Beauty and the Beast” story for the simplifying western media. Within the National League for Democracy and the broader democracy movement there are some divisions concerning her role and her position on some issues. Some critics suggest that her intransigence matches that of her opponents and compounds the problem. I doubt that this is a majority view. Another line of criticism is not directed at her but at her representation in much of the western media. It is argued that what has been created is a “hierarchy of suffering” with her at the apex.

The crux of the argument is that the sufferings of Aung San Suu Kyi are freely chosen while thousands of other Burmese who suffer grievously have had no choice in the matter. These are the real victims and the real heroines and heroes. It may be that the most noble act Aung San Suu Kyi could perform would be the ultimate renounciation or abandoning her position to open the way to some imperfect but workable settlement.

These reflections are an attempt to offer tentative answers to what Soe Myint has described as “answerless questions”. They make no claim to authority, they are only an invitation to think differently.

Readings - Thant Myint U, The River of Lost Footsteps, 2008 ; Justin Wintle, Perfect Hostage, 2008 ;Joseph Ball (ed), Come Rain or Shine, 2008; Sean Turnell, The Roots of Unrest: Burma’s Economic Crisis, 2008 ; Phil Thornton, Restless Souls, 2005 ; Bertil Lintner, Burma in Revolt: Opium and Insurgency since 1948, 2000 ; Ashley South, Ethnic Politics in Burma: States of Conflict, 2008 . Internet- The Irrawaddy, ; Mizzima News,

Monday, December 15, 2008


After the avalanche of gloom and doom , it was inspiring , uplifting and exhilarating to see the 25th annual NSW Schools Spectacular on ABC television . The choreography, costumes, enthusiasm , music and talent lifted spirits. It showed, yet again, the youth of this nation can knock the socks off much of the mass produced commercial crud churned out overseas and nationally . The confident performers doing the bushrangers routine, the dazzling 3000 - strong acts and involvement of handicapped enthusiasts were memorable. Also of particular note was the special Anzac tribute . It is earnestly hoped that the youth of Australia who participated in the show do not get involved in any future crazy wars.

The special tribute to guest, Rolf Harris , who compared the first three spectaculars, was brilliant. Rightly so, the teachers from all over the state who worked hard over the year to get the show on the road were called onto the stage and thanked. Here in the Territory, where teachers have been in tough, prolonged negotiations with the government , disparagingly referred to as chalkies in the media and abused from time to time by hillbilly and aggressive parents , many of them probably felt NSW was another planet.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


After Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve 1974, struggling countries like India and Sri Lanka offered assistance to Darwin. Burma , ruled by a brutal military junta and still suffering from Cyclone Nargis which killed in excess of 200,000 people, needs help from the world, which just happens to include the Northern Territory. A partner in Darwin’s proposed $12billion Inpex gas project is the French gas company , Total , which annually pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of the corrupt Burmese generals as it and other nations exploit the country’s resources , not to the benefit of the masses.

At the last sitting of the NT Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister, Paul Henderson , said he had been assured there was no chance of the Inpex project not going ahead due to the global economic meltdown because it was designed to keep the lights on in Japan in the future. Bully for Japan , but what about the ordinary Burmese who right now are in a stygian state . A recent German TV news report highlighted the plight of the Burmese- scared to speak out, struggling to feed themselves , living in flimsy structures made from cyclone debris and scraps of plastic and drinking polluted water. The UN, repeatedly ignored by the Burmese generals, is also demanding the release of thousands of prisoners. In a typically bizarre action by the generals, they have locked up a comedian for nearly 50 years for poking fun at them. The Irrawaddy news magazine , which covers Southeast Asia and Burma , runs cartoons vividly explaining the situation in Burma.

In the December 12 edition is a front page cartoon showing the UN Secretary –General, Ban Ki Moon , a large key in hand, being pushed, his heels dug in, by many hands towards a prison door marked Burma , with umpteen locks. Another cartoon shows a bloated corpse floating near a banquet table complete with candelabra at which a general prevaricates with the Japanese UN Secretary- General .

In the Territory there has not been a public squeak of concern about the Burmese. The Territory government and local media have all avoided mention of the Total connection with the Burmese crooks and the plight of the people . It is a classic case of don’t rock the boat , forget morality , sing along in tune with the PR handouts and share in the bonanza , even if it means turning a blind eye to the oppression of the Burmese.

Apparently no member of the Legislative Assembly is a member of Amnesty International. Not that it means anything when you recall that Phil Ruddock is a member . Dare it be mentioned that Mrs Laura Bush urged the world not to participate in an auction organised by the Burmese generals to flog off resources such as emeralds for a quick buck . If the wife of the US president saw fit to speak out against the generals, surely somebody in the NT government with intestinal fortitude could whisper boo from atop Uluru during the witching hour.

Perhaps the best course of action , using the good offices of the Federal Government , with the help of the diplomatic skills of PM Rudd , would be an approach to the nifty French President,Nicolas Sarkozy. Against a torrent of warnings by the Chinese, President Sarkozy recently was the only European head of state to meet the Dalai Lama . In the past, the French government has protected Total from European Union calls for strong action against the Burmese regime.

The French are now said to be keen to improve their image in the world , so why not ask President Sarkozy to use his influence on Total to improve the conditions of the Burmese populace? Medecins Sans Frontieres has been active in Burma since 1999, but is expected to pull out at the end of this year.

A news item this very day said Japan is concerned about the growing number of refugees from countries such as Burma flooding into the country. An Inpex spokesman , spreading pre- Xmas joy and goodwill in the Territory, recently said the company planned to have a beneficial working relationship with the Darwin community . It is desirable for Total to have a similar attitude to the people of Burma where the legitimate, democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi , has been under house arrest for for 13 years with no sign of release . Surely, somebody in the Territory has a conscience or have we all crept into the sheltered manger, waiting for men from the East bearing gold, frankincense, myrrh and megabucks?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The National Party is so desperate to find a new dynamic leader after being painfully mulesed in election after election that it has asked esteemed political commentator Mungo MacCallum to consider standing for them at the next Butchers’ Picnic in three years time. MacCallum came to the attention of the National Party when he confessed on ABC radio that he comes from a long line of Scottish sheep shaggers.
While molesting sheep is frowned on by the RSPCA and most of the God- fearing community , it is widely whispered some lonely Nats get worked up when they catch a fleeting glimpse of a seductive leg of mutton in the stubble .

In the country, where there are few women and emus can run like the bloody wind, some National Party supporters are renowned for snuggling up close to woolly things on a cold and frosty evening, and it aint grandma’s heavy eiderdown. MacCallum revealed his sheep shagging antecedents to the notorious Pitt Street farmer, Phillip Adams , presenter of the popular ABC tax dodging show , Late Night Tax and Sheep Fiddling for the Man on the Land .

Another potential National Party leader is a Kiwi called Fred Dagg , but for some strange reason he gets about in gumboots and everybody knows there is very little water on Australian properties due to the drought . Thus a politician who wears gumboots to bed would be regarded as a weirdo , except in Queensland and the Northern Territory .


A major blooper about the death of famous author Xavier Herbert will be used in the campaign to counter the negative image of Alice Springs with nice stories about the town. According to the Monash University Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Australia, Xavier Herbert , who wrote the great Territory novels Capricornia and Poor Fellow My Country , died in Queensland on November 10, 1984 .

In fact , he died in Alice Springs, soon after taking part in a strenuous eradication campaign against members of the bunyip aristocracy along the Todd River. Fearing his death would be a blow to the Centralian tourist industry , it appears Xavier kindly agreed , posthumously, that his body be transported across the border in his Land Rover and parked in Camooweal.

The talented PR firm hired to project a positive image of Alice has seized on this strange situation . Little Darwin is reliably informed the company is building a bank of brilliant slogans to lure overseas tourists to the Centre.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Further proof that the ABC was right to change the name of The Howard Years TV series to The Alzheimer Years was provided in the final part of the show. John Howard stunned the nation when he made the amazing statement that he did not have a hat from which to pull an election winning rabbit.

Everybody knows that Little Johnny has a vast collection of Akubras and deputy sheriff 10 gallon cowboy hats . Media files contain many photos of Mr Howard in dorky sombreros , fedoras and weird APEC chapeaux .

As he stumbled about the countryside, like Brer Rabbit in a briar patch ,an Akubra hat awkwardly jammed down on his head, voters set rabbit traps and poisoned carrots for him. He was frequently seen using a hat to beat back the blowflies that followed him and the attendant media pack as he squelched along in the cowpats , waving at grumpy bushies.

How the former PM could say he did not have a hat from which to pluck a bunny is another indication of the Alzheimer syndrome rampant in the Coalition burrows . Incidently, did you hear about the gambling rabbit ?... He did his doe.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Just as Baz Luhrmann changed his epic film Australia from a sad to a happy ending , the ABC has decided to radically change the name of its TV series, The Howard Years. It is now The Alzheimer Years because so many ex -ministers in the first two parts could not recall being briefed, having telephone calls or discussing vital issues.

Apart from giggling like schoolgirls with jolly hockey sticks at times, some key players in the Howard Government, sadly, seemed to be showing early signs of dementia. Lefty viewers were cruel enough to suggest consumption of the clumsy drug, sniffing of nitrous oxide or an alcopops binge was responsible for the loss of memory.

Little Darwin can reveal that in the next part of the series President Bush will announce that he secretly made John Howard an honorary Texas Ranger . The President will also shock the literary world when he leaves the White House , via the backdoor, and takes up the post as editor in chief of Webster’s Dictionary . Naturally, he will continue his patronage of the Willy Lump Lump Association of America and the Northern Territory.