Bendigo City Council indicated its surrender to inflation and public pressure this week by announcing that it was raising homeowner rates.

"It was the simplest thing to do," said the City Representative for Coming Up With Stupid Ideas, "I mean, last year we tried to charge rent for anyone occupying footpath space for more than two minutes at a time, and the year before that we were considering fining anyone wearing clothing more than five years old.  We were very surprised the normally supportive Bendigo residents were very vocal against this.  Particularly that guy who's writing that idiot webpage."

The Councillor refused to comment on whether the increased revenue would aid City Council in replacing the Perfectly Reasonable Landscaping surrounding City Council offices for about the third time in almost as many years, nor whether it would benefit the outlying areas of town that actually need further funding - such as plugging up mineshafts in High Street, Kangaroo Flat.

The Victorian Liberal Party has opened up applications for nominees to stand for preselection for the next State Election.  To avoid a rush, they have insisted that each State seat puts forward one applicant only (I am not making this up).  Truthfully, it's because no bastard in their right mind would want to be a Liberal candidate (I am making this up, but it's pretty true anyway).  Waiving the usual criterion that applicants need to be members of the Liberal Party for at least 12 months, the party has taken to the streets to ask ordinary citizens if they feel up to the job.

"We have already preselected one of the Wiggles to run in a Melbourne seat, so we expect heavy support from voters in the under-fives demographic there," said one leading Liberal party member, Mr Richard Tightarsed-Bastard.  "And we think the dinosaur suit might persuade a few swinging voters, too."

Candidates who are successfully elected (stranger things have happened... just look at the 1998 Federal Election) are promised an instant portfolio: Minister (or, if in Opposition, Shadow Minister) for Locking Oneself in One's Office for Three Years and Not Talking to Anyone Until the Next Election.  (Special consideration may be given for those who wish to tackle the more strenuous portfolio of becoming Minister for Hitting the Booze After 11am, a position already fulfilled by other current rural representatives.)

Anybody interested in nominating for candidature in the next State Election, which Premier Jeff Kennett may call anytime between now and the Fourth Millennium (or when Melbourne wins the Olympics again, whichever comes first), can apply in writing (crayons in big letters preferred) to the second cubicle from the left, Toorak public toilets.

The Goods and Services Tax debate concluded in the Senate this week when the Democrats voted to allow it to pass.

The bill is much changed from it's original proposal by the Liberal/National Government.  Instead of disadvantaging the poor, the GST is now going to give tax breaks to the stinking rich.

Many ordinary Australians feel that the Democrats have abandoned them - including Ms Natasha Stott Despoja of South Australia.  She has accused party leader Meg Lees of selling out the Democrat party to big business, of doing back room deals with the Liberal government, and feels she should resign her office and hand the leadership over to her deputy, South Australian Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

The GST will be implemented as of 1 July 2000, whereby all products will have their current plethora of taxes removed and replaced by a flat 10% tax on everything except fresh food, raw cooking ingredients, un-buggered-around-with bread (this is a technical term and shall be written as such in the Act), religious services...  Basically, everything that your normal average yobbo Australian (and that's most of us) doesn't need.

Senator Lees, denying claims of any "back room deals", has issued a press release requesting that all accounts due to her are now payable in full (bank cheque preferred).

Terrorist organization Transurban, who seized all access roads into Melbourne as their hostages several months ago, have refused to bow to any negotiation that would allow anyone to drive on public roads again - especially if they intend to do it, shock horror, for free.

Transurban has announced that it would not surrender the hostages until the Victorian public paid squillions of dollars ransom in $150 yearly increments per member of the population for three million years.  The government has leapt to the rescue of the public by closing off various alternate routes into the city to stop Transurban for capturing them also.

The terrorist organization's tactics were swift and merciless - the number of tollbooths they relentlessly positioned along approximately every 100m of roadway have been matched only by the merciless construction of Pointless Roadside Objects, such as the Big Yellow Thing Next to the Lots of Little Red Things; and the Concrete Bunker Wall Motif Painted Lively Vomit-Inducing Colours to Make It Look Natural project.

Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Party, Tim Fischer, has announced his resignation from his position this week.  Even Opposition Leader Kim Beasley had a few nice things to say about him, whereas Prime Minister John Howard was heard to remark "Who?".

When reminded that the National Party seats held in Federal Parliament are the only reason the Liberal/National coalition remains in power, Prime Minister Howard amended his comments by saying "He's made a great contribution to this country with his... erm... well, that hat he always wore was pretty impressive.  And I'm sure he did a lot to improve the quality of life for Australia's sheep population.  I shall miss him greatly.  What did you say his name was again?".

SUNDAY, 11 JULY 1999

A South Australian truck driver who ignored a red traffic light and collided with a car, killing the young female driver, appeared in court this week.  The judge fined the truck driver $3000 on a charge of Ignoring a Traffic Signal, which coincidentally contributed to the death of the young woman.

In the following case to appear before the same judge, a man was fined $100 for Illegal Possession of a Shotgun, which coincidentally contributed to the death of the man who just happened to be standing in front of it at the time it was fired.

Following the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Prime Minister John Howard was faced with a difficult decision as to who would take his portfolio as Minister for Trade.  He contacted several frontbench Members requesting competent, hard-working and intelligent applicants to take up the position...   Unfortunately, being limited to his own Coalition party, he was finally forced to give the portfolio to National Party member Mark Vaile.

Mr Vaile confided the secret of his selection: "I was the last one to take one step backward."

The Royal Australian Navy are defending criticisms regarding their Collins Class submarines, which are considered to be "too loud" for effective possible wartime service.

One leading engineer defended the submarines as being of "truly Australian" design: "The engine is a reconditioned 1974 Kingswood, the radios are all tuned to the best classic rock stations, the monitor screens display endless footy replays, and - most importantly - there are several dozen empty beer cans rolling around on the floors."

And, of course, one musn't forget the screams of new navy recruits having sump oil poured into their arse by way of initiation.  (One would assume that, way out at sea, it's difficult to make it to the corner store to pick up some KY.)

Thousands of entrants in McDonald's restaurants' McMatch-n-Win competition have been McScrewed out of their prizes by being accused of cheating.

"We deliberately placed last year's tickets in this year's competition to make sure nobody could claim anything," said a McDonald's spokeshamburglar.  "But some people have deliberately and maliciously gone out of their way to collect all the correct tickets and legitimately be able to claim prizes.   We cannot condone that sort of behaviour."

SUNDAY, 18 JULY 1999

Australian Prime Minister John Howard this week met with U.S. President Bill Clinton to discuss the trade restrictions placed on Australian lamb in the U.S. market.  What follows is the official transcript of the White House meeting between the international superpowers (and John Howard).

John Howard: "Bill, Mr President, Your Eminence, Most High and Mighty Worshipfulness, can you please reduce your import tariffs on our lamb?"

Bill Clinton: "No."

John Howard: "OK, sure, whatever you say."

Mr Howard then went on for a Power Walk around the White House, where he was recognized and mobbed by literally ones of admiring fans, who had mistaken him for somebody famous (probably Danny DeVito, complete with Penguin costume).

The Australian Football League Tribunal this week questioned an umpire about his behaviour at a football match last weekend - he actually caught the ball during play.  (Or, as the commentators or other worshippers of this past-time would say, "He took a sensational mark!  What a brilliant piece of play!  Oh yes!!!" and then have to leave the room to clean their trousers).

The Tribunal actually let him off, laughing off the incident, saying it really was a mistake and a pretty stupid thing for anyone to do, even someone connected to Aussie Rules football.  They must have ignored the bit about where he looked like he was deliberately running toward the ball and deliberately jumped up to catch (sorry, MARK) it.  Then he dropped it.  He must have played cricket for Australia or, quite possibly, Pakistan, some time in his life as well.

Other cases in front of the AFL Tribunal this week:

- Two players charged for Inciting a Brawl: 1 week suspension.
- One player charged for Smashing Another Player's Head Down Into His Ribcage and Rupturing Several Major Organs: 4 week suspension.
- Three players charged for Having Their Right Foot Three Inches Too Far From the Southern End Of the 50 Metre Line On the Final Siren: 12 week suspension.
- One player charged for Being Tony Lockett: 8 years imprisonment.

Australian media personality, radio talkback host and one of those pompous idiots who likes to wear tinted glasses, John Laws, has faced criticism from various sources this week after it was alleged he received over $1 million from the Australian Banking Association in return for favourable comments made about Australia's major banks on his radio programme.

"It's attrocious," said one leading commentator.   "For saying good things about our bloody banks he should have asked for a whole lot more."

Prime Minister John Howard was equally shocked at the allegations.  "I only get paid $500,000," he said.

Other corporations to have received favourable comments from Mr Laws in the past are also likely to face a Royal Commission enquiry.  These include: National Mutual, Valvoline Oils, Toyota, and Tan in a Bottle.

Laws' attorneys have claimed in his defence that nobody in their right mind would ever believe anything he ever said anyway - and even if they did, there are maximum security walls seperating them from the rest of society.

SUNDAY, 25 JULY 1999

Shona Laing re-releases her hit song Glad I'm Not a Kennedy.

A Melbourne Primary School is sending a friendly reminder notice to all parents that the voluntary student fees are now payable, thank you very much.  Any parents who do not comply with the school's wishes to voluntarily pay the voluntary fees will face the prospect of having their child ridiculed and disadvantaged in every way.

And that's just by the teachers.

Le Tour de France (translation: "The Tour of France") continues unabated this week, with many participants being pulled off the track by the judges for suspicion of cheating.

Many cyclists are suspected of using motorized bikes to get ahead in the gruelling cross-country race, however upon closer inspection the judges found not miniaturised motors attached to the bikes, but playing cards sticking into the spokes in order to make the bikes go ptrbbtrprbtprtptbrtpr tpbrptbprbtprpbtprptbrptbppbtrp bpr brtpbprtpbrpbprpbrtp...