SUNDAY 6 FEBRUARY, 2000

Prime Minister Backward Thinker went on a tour of regional Australia this week, in a bid to meet the country folk and offer them the convenience of insulting him to his face.  Farmers, fishermen, teachers, and members of local government all gathered around to meet the Prime Minister, but were instead confronted by a dwarf in the shadow of an Akubra hat who mumbled about "understanding their concerns" for a while before spilling coffee on himself in an amusing fashion.  It was only then that people realized that this was the Prime Minister, attempting to look suitably rural, and looking bewildered at which end of a cow did what.

The Prime Minister was only visiting certain areas of South Australia and New South Wales on his "fact-finding mission" through the country.  He's not visiting Victoria because he "knows he's already screwed there after the recent State Election", and he's not visiting the Northern Territory or Western Australia because of "all the blackfellas, and we don't even have to leave Canberra without hearing them complaining about something every day".


Those mysterious "Researchers" are at it again - every now and then a few of them emerge blinking into the light to prove to the world that they really are working hard using all their grant money, and not just spending it on seeing how rats and mice react to being exposed to experiments involving chemicals, genetic manipulation, or Barbra Streisand albums.

This time they're claiming that circumcision may in fact protect men  from AIDS - although they can't explain why.  But we eagerly await their discoveries - not to mention how they're going to conduct their experiments.


Bendigo's primary basketball team, the Bendigo Braves, based at the Bendigo Schweppes centre, sponsored by many Bendigo businesses, and supporters of various Bendigo charities, this week announced their new team line-up: by dumping two of their Bendigo-based players and recruiting an(other) American one (who obviously isn't good enough to play in any leagues in his own country).


Fuel prices across the region this week began a climb that would eventually take them toward .90c a litre - and beyond.  The Howard Government has promised relief to country motorists: a GST to increase the price even further, which will cause many motorists to ride their bicycles instead, and make them a whole lot fitter people.  Environmentalists should also be impressed (except the ones who have to drive out into the forests to chain themselves to trees from time to time).


February: the last month of summer, and it finally begins to get really hot (in fact, the hottest February on record).

So what does the power company, so responsibly and beneficially privatized by our previous state government do?  It has a workers' strike, resulting in electricity restrictions and even blackouts across the whole of Victoria.  You got it... no air-conditioners!  (Although you'd be pleased to know that we were allowed to use washing machines, because they are just so essential to our health in these swealtering heatwaves.)

So off the general public heads to department stores to buy evaporative coolers to use instead...  a Harvey Norman spokesman said they're running out of them because of high demand.  Then he said that people still aren't allowed to use them anyway due to the restrictions - I'm sure a lot of customers would have been happier if he'd said that before they'd just paid money for something they're not going to need again.

Meanwhile, Federal Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith insists that Victoria's state government intervenes in the industrial dispute.  Victorian Premier Steve Bracks says that due to Reith's changing of the industrial relations laws, only the Federal Government can have the power to resolve the dispute.  So there!


SUNDAY 13 FEBRUARY, 2000

Prime Minister Uptight Dumbarse has ruled out reinstating the analogue mobile phone network in Australia, saying that the digital service is here to stay.  Although the digital coverage is less than analogue, it is growing.  Many mobile phone users claim that they do not want to get rid of their analogue phones.

John Howard blames the demise of the analogue network on the former Labor Government, who implemented a plan in 1992 to phase out the analogue system by 2000.  One would think that eight years fair enough warning for people to replace their mobile phones for digital ones, or buy digital ones in the first place!

Furthermore, digital mobile phones are available for fairly reasonable rates - cheap or free phones, minimal connection fees, and low usage costs spread over a contractual obligation to stay with a network over a period of time.  Even children are buying them (provided they're Poke-fucken-mon shaped or something, presumably).

And finally, it's possible that these country people expect major purchases to last forever - after all, many of them are probably still driving around in their grandfather's Holden utes, and expect to pass their analogue mobile phones down to their grandchildren as family heirlooms or something (in fact, they still could - many of them would probably make good doorstops or a handy object to throw at the foxes in their chicken coop, for example).


Following the coalition government formed by the People's Party and the Freedom Party in Austria, many UN members are fearing that neo-Nazism may arise there after Freedom Party leader Jörg Haider's supposed down-playing of Nazi war atrocities.  The UN is enforcing democracy by claiming that Austria should vote the way the UN wants, and not the way Austria wants.

Even Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has added his weight to the argument, saying "Well, um, you know, I really sort of agree with... well, whatever everybody else is saying."  (Remember: this man was once leader of the Federal Liberal Party for all of about three days or something).


Talks have arisen about establishing a Very Fast Train link between Melbourne and other regional centres, including Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong.

"We're very excited about this going ahead," said a government and V-Line spokes-collective.  "In fact, we're almost as excited as we were about the announcement in 1989, 1993 and 1996."


Purveyors of the Citylink highway robbery scheme, Transurban, were this week pressured again by the new State Labor Government to provide better deals for country motorists in both paying for and actually being able to get hold of the fabled and mystical "Day Passes" to use the sacred and sanctified tollroads.

Transurban said they were working on the problem, and that they hadn't expected to be asked to make things easy for the general public because they didn't expect Labor to win government.

No really, that's what they said.  I just thought it was funny and worth mentioning here.


The Federal Government this week supplied $6 million to help National Textiles out of its insolvency and provide aid to the workers retrenched from the closing plant.  This is the first time the Federal Government has provided a relief package like this to sacked workers - and naturally victims of other industrial "downsizings" in the past are a bit pissed off about this.

By the way, the National Textiles chairman is Stan Howard, the brother to a certain current Australian Prime Minister (can you guess which one?).


Debate has arisen in the Northern Territory regarding Mandatory Sentencing - which dictates that anybody convicted of a second property offence or other minor offence is jailed for a minimum term of 28 days.

This is fair enough, you might say... for a second offence the person has had fair warning, and it might provide a decent enough deterrent.  Except isn't it tragic that Aborigines being convicted and imprisoned under this rule... it's OK for the white Australians, they probably deserve it, the land-thieving bastards, but when it's a black kid then we're just gonna have to call in the whole goddamn UN!!!


SUNDAY 20 FEBRUARY, 2000

War was declared in Bendigo this week by the RSL against the City Council over it's plans to move the Cenotaph to a position half a block away, to a more convenient location.  Former RSL President Max O'Halloran claims that it should stay where it is, and denies that once upon a time he thought it should have been moved to the proposed site (he doesn't even know the precise time of when he was President, so obviously he's a magnificent source of reliable information and informed debate).

A total of 28 RSL members turned up to a meeting to declare their opposition to the move.  All they need now is the remaining approximately 99,972 members of Bendigo's population to turn up and agree with them and they may have made a point.


Speculation is mounting that telecommunications company Telstra may close its Bendigo call centre, resulting in the loss of 65 jobs.  This follows John Howard's claim that the bush will not suffer any more under his government (Liberal definition of "bush": place where nobody important lives; Liberal definition of "suffer": something that occurs to unimportant people), and continued reassurances from Telstra that they will continue to provide excellent service to regional areas, will comply to all customer requests in an efficient and reliable manner, and will strengthen its position as Australia's leading telecommunications operator.

For a communications company, it's nice to know they can communicate a coherent and direct answer to a perfectly reasonable question.


Victorian Liberal Party Leader Dr Denis Napthine made an unspoken declaration in his push to show his understanding for and commitment to country concerns: he didn't turn up to a meeting with Mount Alexander Shire councillors.


Psychotic Gunmen in America #1:

Two people shot dead in a Subway restaurant in Colorado, the location of last year's high school shootings.  Surprisingly, some residents were still quite shocked at this.


The debate on the GST on tampons continued with women standing outside Parliament House, Canberra, wearing "I Bleed and I Vote" t-shirts.  Thankfully, they didn't make a practical demonstration, although John Howard was still hard pressed to disprove these claims.


SUNDAY 27 FEBRUARY, 2000

The Presidential race continues in the United States with George W. Bush saying the most stupid things and having Americans actually begin to like him.

John McCain, his rival for the Republican nomination (apparently, don't ask me how these crazy Americans came up with this system), was initially the popular runner but average Americans are now turning away from him because they can't follow his policies: speaking logically about stuff that makes sense, can use words of more than 3 or 4 syllables without having to think about them, and - most importantly - doesn't come from Texas.