October 16, 2012
While the Federal Government pursues its quest for Australian membership of the United Nations Security Council, a unit of government on a lower level in our abundantly governed country is seeking membership of the UN General Assembly. The candidate is the Greens-controlled inner-city municipality of Burchett Hill ("proudly twinned with Pyongyang"), which believes that as "a self-sustaining multi-ethnic entity" it has an entitlement to UN representation and, as Councillor Les Rhiannon, the Mayor, puts it, "to project its voice into the counsels of world government".
Councillor Rhiannon told Argus that it was "outrageous" that a "community with a specific identity and profile and clearly delineated local territory" such as Burchett Hill should be represented at the United Nations only by a "far-off government in Canberra". This arrangement, the Mayor believes, is "an inherited colonialist aberration utterly out of place in today's democratic world". "Further," he said, "speaking personally as a historian" (Councillor Rhiannon was a state secondary teacher before entering local government and has a BA in history from Manning Clark University), the present situation was "utterly opposed to the spirit of the United Nations, which from the time of its foundation at Bretton Woods in 1923 has systematically encouraged the dismantling of colonialist and imperialist empires".
Burchett Hill's application to join the UN, after lying around unopened in New York for some time, eventually brought an "assessment team" to the municipality from the UN's Committee for National Accessions. Three diplomats arrived in a chartered Airbus (a second Airbus brought their advisers, media staff and "security specialists") to undertake an "exploration of commonality of interests colloquium" in which, said a media release, the municipality's qualifications for membership would be "scrutinised" in "full and frank discussions".
Unfortunately no discussions took place. A spokesman for the UN delegation at first said the three officials would be "delayed" for their meeting with the city council because of "longstanding prior commitments", leaving the Mayor and his fellow Greens councillors sitting by themselves among sandwiches and teacups in the mayoral reception parlour consulting their watches. Then the "chair" of the assessment team, a Zimbabwean diplomat, having installed himself in the luxurious fastness of the Presidential Suite at the Burchett Hill Park Hyatt, declined to be "disturbed" for discussions or anything else.
In vain did Councillor Rhiannon send pleading messages propped up against the silver-covered dishes on the food and beverage trolleys that plied their way hourly into the diplomat's sumptuous rooms. Nor did a handsome gift produce any effect, even though the Mayor had personally commissioned it - a solid silver statuette, encrusted with Australian opals, of former Senator Bob Brown in the act of inaugurating the Burchett Hill branch of the Greens Party. Councillor Rhiannon arranged to have it conveyed into the Presidential Suite by one of the many visiting "hostesses" despatched there by the management of SaucyGirl ("sizzling hot chicks the way U like them"), a prominent Burchett Hill "escort agency" engaged for the entertainment of the visiting assessor.
The second member of the UN delegation was closeted for his entire time in the municipality with Imam al-Choppa-hedoff Poofa at the Burchett Hill Mosque, emerging only on the last morning to issue a ringing denunciation of the council's "anti-Islamic aggression" for not excluding non-Moslem bathers from the city's swimming pools every day of the week instead of only on weekends. The third member, from Cuba, had a limousine waiting at the airport and, having supervised the loading into the boot of a number of boxes labelled "UN Printery", sped off in it to an unknown destination. This was later discovered to be the overcrowded detention centre at Bowen Park, where the UN envoy was engaged in what Federal Police, powerless to act because of diplomatic niceties, described as a "commercial transaction" with counterfeit Australian passports.
The departing delegation did leave a statement addressed to the Mayor in which they said the municipality's application had been rejected on the grounds that Burchett Hill did not constitute a nation. "This is rubbish," shouted Councillor Rhiannon, tearing up the offending missive and stamping on it. "They might be from the UN but" - his rage for the moment trumped his usual locutional smugness - "those guys know Jack about international trends in governance. The nation-state is on the way out and the future lies, as our distinguished former leader has averred, with world government all over the earth. Not being a nation-state is an outmoded criteria and this quibble will not deter us from pressing ahead with our application and at the same time acting on the assumption that it has been successfully processed."
To this end, the Mayor has begun to establish a number of "UN instrumentalities" directly under the aegis of the city council. These will "bring Burchett Hill into line with current UN priorities while our application goes through," he said, "so that once we are in we'll waste no time in entering fully into the life of this unique world body, perhaps the greatest blessing to humankind next to the foundation of the Greens movement by Rudi Dutschke and Jane Fonda in Switzerland in the 1960s".
The first instrumentality, the "UN/BH Joint Commission for the Advancement of Women" has been placed under the direction of the Mayor's "partner", Ms Drusilla Alitosis (recently in the news for her "stand-off" with the principal of Burchett Hill Ladies' College). Ms Alitosis believes that "as a basis of fairness for all", male ratepayers in the municipality should no longer be able to vote in council elections. She regards her stand as "a concession to pluralist views", given that if she had her way no males - apart of course from members of the Greens Party in good standing, and Greens councillors, with a number of whom she has enjoyed liaisons - would be eligible to vote in any election anywhere.
A "UN/BH Joint Commission for the Enforcement of Climate Change" is also, as a council leaflet puts it, "up and running". The commission has been entrusted to the Department of Climate Sciences at Manning Clark University and its director, Professor Kevin Crock, who in an interview with Argus in the university library condemned most current climate-change research as "hopelessly unrealistic". Fixing his stern gaze on the Argus reporter - one eye, that is, the other seeking to "upskirt" a female student on a ladder reaching down a book (Professor Crock, like the silent film comedian Ben Turpin, suffers from strabism) - the eminent climatologist said that a rise of three millimetres in the seas in the next decade was "out of the question". "It will be at least 300 metres," he said, "and it's starting now. Can't you feel the sloshing round your feet? Better take your shoes off."
The Mayor is now selecting "commissioners" for his third instrumentality, the "UN/BH Joint Commission for the Unborn Child". This will be "headquartered" at the Sir Truby King Memorial Infant Welfare Centre in Enver Hoxha (formerly Victoria & Albert) Drive. A contract has been let with Marie Stopes International (long a council "preferred supplier") for the removal of "outdated" infant welfare equipment such as scales and baby baths and its replacement with "state-of-the-art termination plant".
Burchett Hill's UN aspirations came under attack at last night's council meeting while Councillor Rhiannon was delivering his "update" to "municipal stakeholders". "The United Nations!" sputtered the council's one Coalition member, rising from his seat. "It's intolerable that you're wasting ratepayers' money trying to join that international gang of thugs and crooks. You might just as well make an application to join the Mafia." The Mayor looked thoughtful. "I had been coming to that," he said. "We actually intend to apply for associate status with the organisation you mention." There was silence as he continued: "Yes, I know what people say about the Mafia but don't be taken in by what is basically bourgeois criticism of an organisation that arose from the need to show solidarity against the forces of reaction. Reactionaries hate the Mafia because they can't control it.
"I'm here to tell you that Cosa Nostra, to give it its full name in Eyetalian - it means "our thing"- is really about sticking up for your mates, in the best Aussie tradition. It's a grass roots organisation, like we Greens. It's also about efficiency and getting things done. In particular they have an excellent record of dealing with people who make themselves" - here he directed his gaze at the Coalition councillor - "inconvenient. We could do with some of that round here."
Christopher Akehurst blogs at Argus
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray