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.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The recession is so bad in America , economists predict that bicycles will soon replace cars as the main means of transport in the country. Already millions of Americans have sold their cars and taken to the road on made in China bicycles.

In this way America is starting to resemble China during Chairman Mao’s days when the main source of transport was the ubiquitous bike. Little Darwin can reveal that President Obama will be driven about in an armour –plated executive tricycle followed by security men on skateboards and scooters .

Instead of wearing fake expensive designer labels clothes, most Americans now wear black Chinese coolie suits as they pedal along, swearing in mandarin at the Dukes of Hazzard hoons who refuse to part with their gas guzzlers. In another telling move, the old tune about loving my bicycle has shot to the top of the pops five weeks in a row.

The New York Stock Exchange is in the process of being converted into an instant flat tyre repair workshop where customers receive unlimited hot air and axle grease courtesy of the free –wheeling finance industry. And early this morning CNN reported that Michael Jackson was seen sharing a bicycle built for two with a monkey. Naturally, the intelligent chimp was doing the steering while Jackson was licking a Middle East ice cream and looking for his other glove.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Stories posted on the Little Darwin blog are often cryptic ones containing hidden inside information from various corridors of power. For example, our exclusive story about Federal Shadow Treasurer , Julie Bishop , being voted Miss NT Lemon Squash by the Humpty Doo Lemon Growers’ Association carried the secret message that she is about to be tossed on Canberra’s fruity compost heap .

No sooner had we posted our exclusive story than the Weekend Australian revealed the Bishop is about to be defrocked, figuratively speaking , because her colleagues have gone sour on her performance , both in the House of Reps and on the celebrity dance floor. Her failure to scrape the zest from Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan , in the steamy parliamentary kitchen has upset true blue Libs. Her male buddies, feeling the sap rising because of the approach of Spring , want to squeeze her out – hence our brilliant cryptic lemon scoop.

Little Darwin understands Ms Bishop will be given a new, highly regarded job : polishing the prized thistle of the late Liberal Party’s founder, Sir Robert Menzies. In this capacity she may also be responsible for barnacle control in the Cinque Ports, using lemon- charged detergent to make sure all yachts have a smooth bottom like Dame Patti - Australia’s early America’s Cup entrant.

There is no truth in the wild rumour that Ms Bishop and former Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, both legal eagles, have been asked by an anonymous West Australian businessman to back a venture selling law diplomas through the mail to students in Nigeria.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The annual general meeting of the Humpty Doo Lemon Growers’ Association last night voted Federal Shadow Treasurer Julie Bishop its pin up girl. This is because she often looks as if she has just sucked a lemon as she spits pips over the Rudd government.

Her homely expression will be used to promote increased lemon sucking among right wing conservatives . The lemon growers identified Ms Bishop as a market booster when they saw her dance the Lemon Meringue Samba on TV.

Little Darwin understands former Federal Treasurer , Peter Costello, may also be appointed a wandering ambassador for Top End lemon growers. He has that natural look of a regular lemon sucker.

Prominent lemon grower, Syd Canker, says the citrus fruit needs a new sexy image to combat competition from soursops. It is not know when Ms Bishop will be able to fly to Darwin to receive her Miss Lemon Squash sash . Right now she is having a tough time getting a word in sideways about matters financial because the Coalition’s top banana , Malcolm Turnbull, gives the government a fruity fiscal serve each time he sees an over –ripe bunch of nutty Canberra journalists .

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Believe it or not, Chef Ramsay is speechless . Readers will recall he was rushed to Iraq to prevent mutiny among Australian troops , many from Darwin, over their rations. Well, he was whipping up a fabulous batch of new tucker in the Baghdad Green Zone kitchen when it was peppered by a mortar barrage.

His surprise meal of shepherd’s pie , topped with 100 year old lamingtons, served on Dame Nellie Melba’s fan , with a drizzle of Pennsoil and a handful of monkey nuts , sustained a direct hit. A solid silver platter souvenired from Saddam Hussein’s palace hit Chef Ramsay on the head and knocked him out . Dug out from the rubble , a tin of unopened artichokes imbedded in his skull , Chef Ramsay was rushed to a hospital manned by Australian Army nurses .

After a three –day coma , he came to and found his hand held by a charming nurse in a tutu , Corporal Bruce Clinger , from Robertson Barracks . Ramsay’s eyes popped , he uttered something like ,“I’ll be !@*!!!!!” and lapsed back into a coma . He has recovered , but refuses to open his eyes and has not uttered another word. If he remains speechless for much longer his fabulous television career will be ruined, unless he can use finger gestures and body movements to leave no doubt what he means .

Friday, November 21, 2008


As part of the 2030 vision for the NT , redundant American car industry robots will be installed in the new Palmerston Hospital which will rival Dubai’s fabulous man –made luxury island estate Palm Jumeirah .

Instead of welding car body components together , the downsized , rusty robots will carry out rapid cosmetic surgery operations to turn Darwin into a city of beautiful people with a new car warranty on their battered organs. All females will be given a nip and tuck and converted into Nicole Kidman look alikes , according to exclusive information supplied to Little Darwin medical roundsman, Dr Bob Bandaid .

Dr Bandaid , addicted to hot chocolate , says the task will be difficult for the robot surgeons when it comes to converting Territory males into handsome snags as so many have heads like warthogs and bodies like ruptured bean bags.

The robots will automatically give each patient a free grease and oil change and tighten up their gudgeon pins, the latter tending to go sloppy and rusty in the Territory’s fabulous lifestyle. Fine tuning will have to be carried out on the mechanical robots before they are allowed to touch delicate dipsticks. Rapid robotic arm actions could also prove messy when it comes to handling bedpans.

Robots can be programmed to work twice as long without a break as your average bug-eyed hospital intern. The use of rejected auto robots will greatly reduce the bill for surgeons . However , the already over-worked nurses will develop bags under their eyes, droopy bosoms , flat feet, varicose veins and rapidly spreading waistlines.

Patients being operated on by a robotic medico will have the choice of selecting one which used to make Cadillacs, Hummers , Chevs or stretch limos before they were sacked and told to hit the road. Dr Bandaid says introduction of the robots into the Territory is in the capable- but dangerous- hands of Health Department mugwump , Edward Scissorfingers, just back from a study tour of a third world scrapheap , Detroit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


According to a Katherine correspondent , a RAAF fighter jet hit a wallaby at the Tindal base yesterday. The wallaby was killed and the jet apparently did not suffer any major damage . It is expected the accident will speed up construction of a wallaby fence at the base to enable regular aerial medical flights to resume .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Question: What happened to the report on asbestos in Royal Darwin Hospital? Are patients at risk ? It would be nice to know what is in the report. Anybody seen a copy of the document ? We at Little Darwin are receptive to things which fall from the back of trucks. The hospital was never designed for Darwin conditions, it being a copy of one in the ACT, unpopular with indigenous patients right from the start.

Why can’t Australia design hospitals to fit Australian regional conditions and requirements? A recently built Queensland public hospital was copied from a Canadian design. While this hospital did not buckle under snowstorms and attacks from marauding polar bears, it had some problems: water flooded into operating theatres, staff repeatedly pointed out the poor workmanship in respect of the painting , laying of floor coverings and what looked like salt damp . Push out windows along connecting walkways between buildings were so low children were likely to take a header and had to be sealed .

In the bathrooms , water from droopy shower heads ran out under the door . Lights often went on the blink in the bathrooms and took a long time to be fixed. Entering pitch black bathrooms can be dangerous for patients unsteady on their pins and visually impaired.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, has been the subject of much attention of late what with the ABC’s documentary Menzies and Churchill at War and Graham Freudenberg’s whopper book , Churchill and Australia. Fancy Lady Astor wanting to give Ming her sapphires if he stayed on in London to help monster Winnie the War Winner.

Another titled lady is also said to have offered him access to her jewels. After being rejected by his own party, the United Australia Party,during WW11, Menzies formed the Liberal Party of Australia and went on to reign for many years as PM. His ideology is often trumpeted as being still very strong in the Libs. The first part in the Howard Years TV series on the ABC said Howard , like Menzies, flew the Australian flag from his car.

If Howard was keen to ape the founder of the Libs , then here is a strange story which could explain the Howard regime’s brutal attitude to boat people. It comes from the l937 book Round The World by Tom Clarke , director of a global organisation which sold practical journalism diploma courses. Menzies was travelling aboard the liner Strathaird between England and Australia and in his capacity as Attorney – General expressed a hardline attitude to a lovable stowaway.

This was no ordinary stowaway. It was a soap eating duck . The duck flew in after the vessel docked at Marseilles , France, made itself at home, and refused to flap off. A young English girl literally saved the duck’s neck when she begged the shipping company not to kill the bird, quickly named Donald Duck. She offered to look after the duck until it could be landed in some port of call on the way to Australia. The duck got into trouble by quacking loudly at night and eating soap. Malta refused to allow the duck ashore.

In an ominous move, Donald was placed in the tender care of the ship’s butcher. After the duck was refused entry at other ports, it was suggested it could go all the way to Orstralia. Menzies was asked for a legal opinion on the reception for the duck here. To quote from the book :” His reply was too evasive to be comforting for those who had the interests of Donald at heart. ”

Thankfully, the duck was taken ashore in a paper bag at Bombay and given to a friend who promised to look after him . Some cruel passengers suggested Donald Duck would end up Bombay Duck , the dish you get with a dash of Clive of India curry powder.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Little Darwin can exclusively reveal the nauseating happy ending to Baz Luhrmann’s epic film Australia which will soon be screened in redbrick dunnies throughout the nation. Our film critic, Ned Nong, peeped through a keyhole and saw the happy ending at the secret first screening of the revamped movie. Because of the change from a sad to a happy ending, the film will now be eight hours long. Happiness, it seems , is much desired in these days of economic doom and gloom.

To this end , the Japanese bombing of Darwin has also been cut from the movie as a survey has shown that most Australians do not know that Darwin had been bombed during WW11 so it would not put many bums on seats. A test audience thought it was another movie about Pearl Harbour when they viewed the trailer.

Our keyhole peeping critic Ned Nong says that in the rejigged movie Nicole Kidman gives the Aussie jackeroo Hugh Jackman she loves the flick and returns to Darwin. There she goes looking for the rich titled Pommie git who had been a passenger on the flying boat that first brought her to the Territory.

He is Sir Barry Ledwidge , whose ancestors made their fortune using slave labour to make rum in the West Indies . The Ledwidges also cornered the British Empire market for tasteless pork pies. Sir Barry is also rumoured to have been questioned by Bow Street Runners during the notorious Jack the Ripper investigations.

Sweating like a pig in the Territory’s fabulous lifestyle, Sir Barry has been stumbling about the Top End with his box Brownie taking happy snaps. The revised film shows him sitting on a rock at East Point , a drop of the family rum nearby , shooting the sunset . Nicole sneaks up on him clad in a revealing neck to knee cossie . They embrace passionately , lose their balance, totter about squealing , and fall into the sea. A pack of crocodiles tear them to pieces - and the audience cheers , happy to see the end of the film so that they can massage the feeling back into their butts.


President-elect Barack Obama has devised a breathtaking plan to solve the global snafu . Little Darwin can reveal it has been drawn up with the help of Judy Garland , the mangy Hollywood canine star, Lassie, naughty party girl , Britney Spears , and Judge Judy.

Judy Garland was called in early to help Obama become the Wizard of Oz and show him the way over the rainbow into the land where dreams come true. Dreams are part of the great American self - deception.

Lassie, now a geriatric in an expensive retirement village , will lead American troops home from Iraq to wage war against Wall Street , junk bond dealers, short sellers, floggers of dodgy derivatives , neo conservatives who sing Hallelujah while gorging themselves on Mammon and other free market buccaneers who drape themselves in righteousness and the Stars and Stripes. Lassie will eventually become another Obama family dog in the White House menagerie but will probably be on constant life support after the heat of Baghdad .

Readers of celebrity mush magazines will recall that after a tiny spell in the slammer , Britney , like so many in America , emerged from the clink to a giant media pack and proclaimed she had become a born again Christian . She told the word she could even spell the divine word Babel, sorry , Bible. To help President Obama solve the world’s many problems, she has promised to say a prayer for him each day as she is ejected from a posh nightclub.

Judge Judy will hold special no - nonsense court sittings to deal with the massive army of bankers , economists , investment advisors , lobbyists , Federal Reserve fishheads and all the other highly paid “experts” who did not see the obvious corruption going on .

The judge has warned that all criminally inept boards and CEOs will be ordered to pay back five years’ salary and their multitudinous fringe benefits which will go into the public purse . Their secret bank accounts in tax havens will also be confiscated . In this way , America will be awash in filthy lucre, Obama will become a saint , and it is predicted by the year 2012 every child born in a ghetto will be driving a gold plated Cadillac - legally.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The Northern Territory is about to get revenge on Queensland for being the source of Darwin’s growing cane toad invasion. The Territory is going to flood the Sunshine State with rare lesbian lizards recently discovered in the Top End . These baffling lizards do not need males to breed . Bananaland will become known as the state which is beautiful one day and overrun by leaping lesbian lizards the next . Tourists will shy away from a place where hordes of lizards with floral parasols run up your leg . The image of Queensland as a tough macho state full of burly footballers will undoubtedly suffer. NSW rugby thumper Willie Mason is already calling the Queensland Broncos the legless lizards. And the Cowboys , based in the cane toad R and R capital of Townsville, are being mocked by Melbourne Storm who now jeeringly refer to them as the Brokeback Mountain Geckos .

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The Northern Territory loomed large in the lifetime highs and lows of the artist, Russell Drysdale, one of whose paintings hangs in the Wall Street Journal office of media magnate Rupert Murdoch. Born in England to well off parents, Drysdale worked on a North Queensland cane farm owned by a relative from l9l9 to l921 and studied art in Australia , England and Paris. Due to a detached retina, he only had effective vision from one eye and was rejected for war service .

In 1944 he captured the drought for the Sydney Morning Herald in a stark series of painting and was described as a kind of 20th century Henry Lawson of painting because he told the truth, harsh as it might be.

Seeking inspiration in 1957, Drysdale took his first wife, Elizabeth, known as Bon, , and their son, Timothy, to Ayers Rock, the Olgas , Alice Springs and Darwin. Mrs Drysdale returned home from Darwin and her husband and son continued on, flying to Melville Island , then going to Hall’s Creek , Derby, Broome and Perth.

From there they drove across the Nullarbour to Adelaide. As a result of this and other outback trips he became known as a pioneer of regional paintings, Aborigines increasingly appearing in his work. His Aboriginal paintings were described as being the first significant ones since the 19th century when they were depicted either as noble savages or curious survivors of the Stone Age and European massacres.

Returning to Australia from England in June 1958, Drysdale once more headed to the Territory with son Timothy. They drove to Darwin in a Land Rover and the artist left his son at the Don Hotel after giving the manager, Alf D’Ambrosio, brother of Darwin businessman and alderman , the late Ted D’Ambrosio, some money , asking him to look after the boy . Drysdale then headed off as official artist for an expedition into the Kimberley and central desert country with zoologist Jock Marshall , a bower bird expert, whom the Drysdales had known in London.

Soon after , police arrested Timothy, 18, and charged him with drink driving. Darwin Police Court was told that Drysdale , who pleaded guilty, had been seen driving erratically and at a fast speed around Darwin . Youths in the car had called “chicken” when a driver swerved out of the way. Drysdale had staggered about on the footpath . Arrested, he cried when taken to the police station . At the time of his arrest he was employed as a yardman at the Don Hotel in Cavenagh Street, now known as The Cavenagh.

Stipendiary Magistrate Stuart Dodds gave Drysdale some fatherly advice : “ You have to learn how to skim the fat off your own soup and blow the froth off your own beer as a man . It is up to you to make a man of yourself. You have not made a good start out on your own . Working as a yardman won’t help you . Possibly, the company you were with contributed to your foolishness to a large extent . If drink is your problem , realize that men who help you to drink are not your friends, son .” He was fined $80 and his licence cancelled for six months . His court appearance received national media coverage.

Timothy left Darwin and joined his father on the expedition, out of which came the profusely illustrated book Journey Among Men co-authored by Drysdale and Marshall. A troubled youngster, Timothy suicided at the age of 21 in July 1962. His mother took her life in November l963. Her suicide prompted artist Donald Friend , a longtime associate of the Drysdales, to refer to Timothy in his diary as “ that little swine.” Renowned for his caustic tongue, Friend was not impressed by the paintings of Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira , and his diary was scournful of people who showered attention upon him.

Drysdale’s biographer, the late Geoffrey Dutton, said the paintings the artist produced during those grim years reflected the trauma in his life . He wrote: “ The works that emerged were sweated in blood through a period of acute psychological depression …The wounds in Drysdale’s life led him to draw his creative bow more strongly than ever before .”

Composer Peter Sculthorpe , a close friend of Mrs Drysdale, was so affected by her suicide he wrote and dedicated to her a piece of music which resulted in him receiving the first Alfred Hill Award. His career blossomed, and he developed an international reputation for presenting the Australian landscape , including Kakadu and Aboriginal culture, in his evocative music . The double family tragedy sparked an interest in the need for suicide prevention and education about the taboo subject .

In l964, Drysdale married Maisie Purves Smith, the widow of a painter confrere. Knighted in l969, Drysdale was immobilized by a stroke and died in 1981. At the funeral service Donald Friend delivered a passionate eulogy , saying he had been greatly influenced by Drysdale. Drysdale’s landscapes, set beneath relentless skies , with leafless trees , grassless land, hopeless blacks , scrawny, lonely station hands and their unfilled wives and lives appeared to be dreams of hell. His superb, sad and empty pictures were ones in which a town was one lonely street and a pub one bored man leaning against a verandah post.

This grim perspective, Friend continued, was at variance with Drysdale’s non- painter’s life. In life, Drysdale had enjoyed gaiety and wild talk, drink, laughter and companionship, everything that was the opposite to his pictures. A Drysdale sold for a record $1.62million about a year ago.

Monday, November 3, 2008


In yet another fabulous boost to Darwin's economy, it has just been announced that the controversial Gunns pulp mill planned for Tasmania will now be built on the old East Arm leprosarium site. A two -headed Gunns spokesman , wearing two papier mache hats,made the shock announcement this morning . Cascade lager beer is being quaffed in large quantities in the Wedding Cake to celebrate Darwin's latest triumph .
Gunns have told the Territory government that pumping a million gallons of gunk a day into Darwin Harbour will enhance real estate values. While admitting construction of the huge plant will cause rents to go into orbit, Gunns have come up with a solution.
Apart from churning out toilet rolls and packaging to help fill Tokyo Harbour, the mill will make cardboard houses for local families unable to afford a roof over their head.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Australia’s dynamic leader, Kevin “ The Enumerator ”Rudd and Hollywood’s “ Exterminator”, Arnold Swarzenneger , are working round the clock on a joint plan to save the world . Unfortunately, Arnie’s proposal is doomed to failure because it depends on an alien creature from another dimension sucking out the brain of President Bush. This is an oxymoron, so is the president . No patriotic, right thinking Exterminator is prepared to take on the yukky task , although they are willing to eviscerate Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Dick Cheney , which would do a power of good . Speaking from a steroid - free cone of silence, California governor Swarzenneger today fletched his muscles and tore a hamstring . As a consequence , he will not be playing for Hawthorn next season.

Monday, October 27, 2008


In a reassuring statement aimed to overcome the global economic jitters, President Bush today announced that the G7 group of the world's richest companies will undergo a name change. As from today it will be known as the G-Strings.
This is a clear indication , to use a quaint American expession , that the countries do not have enough collateral to cover their collective ass. Asses are having a tough time right now what with a shortage of fodder, rising vet fees , neighbours complaining about their braying at all hours of the day and night and their methane punching holes in the ozone.
President Bush made his historic announcement at the White House pawn shop in the company of a visiting cheese eating surrender monkey from Paris

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The fine ABC documentary about the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt at Cheviot Beach in December 1967 contained a puzzling link to Darwin. In the trailer advertising the doco and the film itself there was a shot of cameramen crowding in. Without a doubt , one of those was Walkley Award winning journalist, the late Keith Willey , who worked at the Northern Territory News under the editorship of Jim Bowditch.

Willey covered Holt’s disappearance for the Sydney Sun and discussed the assignment with this Little Britain member . How he came to be posing as a photographer with a speed graphic is puzzling . One suggestion is that the search was spread over a wide area , the large media party dashing from one place to another, and that a photographer gave him a camera just in case something dramatic happened and there was no regular cameraman on hand.

It being the time of the Vietnam war, Willey had gone on patrol with Australian soldiers, was caught in a mortar barrage, resulting in loss of hearing, and died from cancer, which his wife thought could have been caused by drinking water contaminated by Agent Orange.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The 24th of October is the 13th anniversary of the house arrest of the rightful , democratically elected leader of the long suffering Burmese, Aung San Suu Kyi. The stirring call of liberte, egalite and fraternite will not be heard in the afflicted country because the large French company, Total Oil, is one of the overseas companies hand in glove with the murderous Burmese generals.

Total is a partner in the recently announced $12 billion LPG plant to be built in Darwin. Demonstrations in support of the frail Nobel Peace Prize recipient and against Total Oil will be held in various parts of the world, particularly outside the London Chinese and Burmese embassies , but not , we suspect, in Dreamtime Darwin.

There is also pressure for the plight of the Burmese and the economic rape of the nation’s resources by foreign countries to be brought up at a Beijing meeting scheduled today between Asian and European countries.

It is almost certain the Territory’s genial Business Minister, Kon Vatskalis, recently in China spreading bonhomie (that's French ) and urging the locals to come on down and help clutter up the Darwin skyline and roads , asked the Chinese to consider the unfortunate Burmese on this anniversary. After all , his homeland, Greece, birthplace of democracy , once echoed to the jackboots of generals.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Three giant crocodiles have been rushed to Royal Darwin Hospital after being savagely jawboned by rampaging Queensland mouth rinse salesman, Gob Chatter. The crocodiles have been placed in a drug induced coma deepened by the playing of NT Legislative Assembly debate tapes about the fabulous NT lifestyle.

Their injuries are terrible to behold . None of the mutilated crocs can ever hope to be made into an expensive set of executive suitcases. Critics say Chatter should be shot , frequently, with a Gatling gun. However, because he has such a thick hide , it has been estimated that it would take a year’s supply of ammo for the US Marines in Iraq to even dent his epidermis.

A member of the Family First Gun Club, Chatter has an itchy finger, an itchy nose and an itchy derriere. His aim is to mow down many of God’s creatures, be they large or small. Greenies, university students, NGOs and bats are also targeted by Chatter as he marauds about outback Queensland , deep in adoring redneck country, wearing the only 20 gallon albino cowboy hat in the world . His Queensland fans , whose knuckles often drag on the ground, affectionately call him the Great White Hatter .

Monday, October 20, 2008


Believe it or not , there is to be another political party called the CLP in the Northern Territory . There used to be the anorexic Country Liberal Party which grew into the Country Liberals which morphed into the Clobber the Labor Party. Then along came the weird Curvaceous Lip Party . Now there is the Crocodile Liberation Party , all known as the CLP. Confused ? So are we, but our excuse is that most members of the Little Darwin editorial team are bonkers. Our esteemed political pundit, Cyril Cyclops, says the NT’s feral donkey voters will find it hard to work out voting slips with so many CLPs to choose from .

The Crocodile Liberation Party is against the forced removal of crocodiles from Darwin Harbour. At a media conference in the renowned Throb nightclub , the president of the Croc Party , Kylie Gorge , issued a challenge to wildlife rangers : “ Let my crocodiles go loose, Bruce. Let my crocodiles go loose .” Bruce was unable to defend himself because he was wrestling a ferocious 10 metre crocodile which had eaten two southern tourists at the Mindil Beach markets.
Kylie says crocodiles are entitled to swim in the harbour as they were eating trepangers long before the Great White Hunter arrived in Darwin . According to Ms Gorge , crocodiles suffer extreme withdrawal symptoms when trapped , tied up and removed from the tasty Darwin sewage treatment ponds. This kind of cruel treatment must stop, she said. Crocodiles should be given the keys to the CDB where they could help drastically reduce hoons, thugs and dingbats. However , the Mayor seemed more interested in cane toads than crocodiles . Ms Gorge said all Crocodile Liberation Party candidates are easy to identify because they shed genuine crocodile tears – unlike the many other animals in the political swamp .

Monday, October 13, 2008


The cargo cult mentality dominating discussions about Darwin’s Inpex venture has dodged a large moral issue. It certainly was not raised by the media at the orchestrated official announcement here when the emperors appeared to be wearing fashionable clothing. While the project is billed as Japanese , it has an influential French partner , Total, fourth biggest oil company in the world , which has a 40 per cent holding in the WA properties that will be tapped. Strangely, Chief Minister Paul Henderson flew to Paris, not Tokyo, to assure the “ Japanese ” company that the ALP backed Inpex to the ceremonial hilt.

Total has been strongly condemned for being one of the international companies fuelling the oppressive dictatorship in Burma. The London based Campaign for Human Rights and Democracy in Burma states that Total is one of the biggest foreign companies in Burma which in joint ventures pumps “ hundreds of millions of dollars ” each year into the illegal, corrupt, brutal military regime running the country. Apart from the in group of corrupt people, the bulk of the Burmese populace receive little or no benefit from the plundering of the country’s resources by overseas companies.

The campaigners charge that widespread and sustained human rights abuses were associated with the Total pipeline in Burma, including forced labour, torture and rape. In addition, tougher European Union sanctions against Burma have been blocked by the French government in its efforts to protect Total’s interests. Remember how the French blew up the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland because of widespread objections to the Mururoa Atoll atomic tests which were polluting the Pacific ? A dash of Strontium 90 , we were told, added zest to milk and was harmless for children’s bones.

The well documented London website for justice and freedom in Burma has a graphic which shows TOTAL making part of the word TOTALITARIAN intertwined with a machine gun . The message is abundantly clear.

Aung San Suu Kyi , whose party won 82 per cent of seats in the l990 election , still under house arrest by the predatory thugs strutting about in military uniforms, has spoken out about foreign companies aiding and abetting the economic rape of the country. Other parties to the oppression are China and Thailand.

While Inpex is the operating partner in the project, Total has a large part of the action. This surely raises a moral issue for the NT , especially Aboriginal members of the NT Government with ministerial portfolios. These members protest about the treatment of their own people from time to time and in the case of Community Services Minister Malarndirri McCarthy she has actively campaigned against the diverting of the McArthur River by a mining company.

What should they do or say to an outfit which is accused of aiding and abetting an illegal regime which is plundering a country and guilty of many atrocities against its own people ? At the next photo opportunity involving the CM could some journo ask in depth questions about the matter, like : Do you know that Total is accused of being hand in glove with the murderous Burmese junta which openly rejects UN approaches to establish democracy ? Have you ever discussed the Burmese situation with Inpex / Total ? Did you visit Total offices in Paris when you went there to hold talks with the “ Japanese”? Will you now, alerted by Little Darwin ,which knows where many skeletons are buried , ask Total to outline its involvement in Burma and use its influence with the illegal regime to step aside for the people’s party which should be governing the unfortunate country ?

Little Darwin acknowledges the inglorious moment when former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans was snapped drinking champagne with his Indonesian counterpart in a plane over the Timor gap after signing a contract to divvy up the oil spoils, some of which had been stolen from the subjugated East Timorese. Hypocrisy, like oil on water, spreads far and wide . An interesting development took place a few days ago when the giant WA energy producer Woodside put a clamp on hiring extra staff and expressed concern about being able to raise finance for major future projects. Will blood money pouring out of Burma help Inpex overcome this potential problem ?


Sunday, October 12, 2008


Many Northern Territory police officers are suffering from a strange condition called restless leg syndrome. A puzzling symptom of the malady is sudden , involuntary leg movements. Officers patrolling Darwin’s Mitchell Street weekend drongo precinct and other moron beats are particularly prone to the worrying condition. They report frequent episodes in which their boot, for some unknown reason, has kicked a jackass up the khyber.

An officer sedately walking along a footpath , without warning, can suddenly find himself high kicking like Basil Fawlty impersonating goose - stepping Germans. This has led to an outbreak of complaints about police brutality and bundles of extra money for the growing thug protection industry .
In Darwin Magistrate’s Court today Constable Careful was cleared of an assault charge against a hammer wielding youth who bashed a grannie for her Bingo money. CCTV clearly showed Constable Careful , a sensitive , new age cop, had twice booted the culprit over the cross bar at Richardson Park . However, medical evidence proved that Constable Careful was afflicted by insidious restless leg syndrome when he donned his footie boots , filled the culprit's face with sand , said a prayer and raised the linesmen's flags. .

Friday, October 10, 2008


A brilliant NASA space capsule engineer has been frantically called in by PowerWater to save Darwin from a catastrophic blackout. He is Dr Who, a much travelled genius with an amazing Wallace and Gromit tool kit which enables him to fix just about anything that is a pile of old junk.

Dr Who is recovering from a tragic romance with Australia’s own Kylie Minogue aboard the luxury liner Titanic . Sadly, the Singing Budgie was sucked into a nuclear furnace after giving Dr Who a French kiss which caused his smelly sneakers to melt . Before she was reduced to sub atomic particles , Kylie threw Dr Who a piece of her lingerie which he now uses to polish his unique multi- purpose made in China screwdriver .

Saddened by Kylie’s demise, the good doctor seemed to disappear from Earth . He was, however, living like a hermit in a cave near the summit of Mt Everest , mourning the loss of yet another girlfriend ,despite the daily noisy throng of yuppy climbers, some in wheelchairs from Little Britain complaining about the view atop a sherpa's back .

When PowerWater sent out a Bat Signal for help, it was answered not by a fruit bat in tights, but Dr Who. He lobbed at the Casuarina substation in a puff of smoke aboard a strange space vehicle which looks like a police call box. It contains a top secret generator powered by bulldust and rust , fuel which is super abundant in the Top End. Dr Who is a veteran of Darlek riot control and says he will teach Darwin police new age methods to permanently eradicate local idiot gangs and Mitchell Street juiced up weekend morons.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Due to the giant economic snafu created by American banking , real estate and finance sharks , 2008 has been cancelled as the international Year of the Potato . It has been renamed the Year of the Irish Potato Famine and will be in force for at least a decade , if we are extremely lucky.

In announcing the name change , President Bush took the opportunity to use the immortal weasel words of President Nixon’s Press Secretary , Ronald Ziegler, when he said all previous soothing announcements about the strength of US banking fundamentals are now inoperative.

President Bush claimed the bail out of robber barons would result in a trickle down spin off for the unwashed masses of the world. He was unable to say if this would be a wee Irish trickle or an avalanche of waste water that would make life even messier for bog dwellers. Made in China shamrocks will be handed out by the Big Dicks of global finance.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


It is fitting that Little Darwin , inspired by the fabulous Little Britain TV show and Territory delusions of grandeur, should have an item or five about weird goings on with people in wheelchairs. Who can forget the wheelchair bound character shoplifting, beating up beercan throwing boneheads, parachuting , thwarting his thoughtful carer’s love life?
Well, try this for size. In hospitals throughout Australia a farcical battle of the wheelchairs is going on each and every day. It is not uncommon for a patient to park a wheelchair to shower and emerge to find the chariot missing, swiped by a staff member who had to steal it because of a severe shortage of wheelchairs .
In post-op recovery sections , nurses often argue over who will have the next rare wheelchair available to transport their patient to a ward. Full of awesome power, a wheelchair supervisor , something like the Big Fat Controller out of Thomas the Tank Engine, armed with a clipboard , keeps a beady eye on the movements of this necessary equipment , but not its condition .

Wheelchairs turn up with FLAT tyres ,LOOSE arm rests , CORRODED metal parts. Trying to manoeuvre a wheelchair with an hexagonal shaped wheel and a stand containing drips and tubes is dangerous to both the staff member doing the shoving and the patient . Many wheelchairs should be junked instead of patched up .

Maintenance of wheelchairs , we are informed , is unsatisfactory, slow and individual departments in hospitals are charged for repairs . The redtape associated with this madness is monumental. In a large Brisbane hospital something like l6 wheelchairs were mustered in one department and carted away for repairs. The faults included tyres so worn canvas was showing through, backs were loose, arm rests missing and rust was so evident it looked like a scene from a Hammersley Range iron ore pit , a Third World scenario. Report the obvious unsatisfactory situation to somebody up the food chain of command , and they often tend to plead ignorance.

We don’t yet know what the situation is like at Royal Darwin Hospital but going on some of the dodgem car antics performed outside the main entrance by people in wheelchairs some probably need a bit of panel beating by V8 pit crews.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We at Little Darwin are frankly amazed by the unusual names parents give their unfortunate children. In Queensland , a baby has been given a name which on the face of it seems a bit exotic . However, closer examination reveals it is also a brand of rat poison! As far as we know, his second name is not Thallium. When he goes to school, the poor little blighter is sure to be called Ratty and teased endlessly . He’ll probably lead a dysfunctional Wind in the Willows way of life, drifting about like little Moses in the Brisbane River bulrushes. On the other hand, he is lucky his father , a keen fisherman, did not call him Flathead, Flounder or Grunter.

Another infant has been burdened with Nelson Horatio by his academic parents with a passion for nautical heroes and classics. We bet he will be gripped by mal de mer each time he sees his rubber ducky bobbing about in the bathtub and grows up a confirmed landlubber.

Over in New Zealand , a child recently took court action to change the odd monicker bestowed upon her at birth . The case brought to light other peculiar Kiwi names like Bus Shelter 42 (wonder what happened there?) and Champagne Amour - something must have popped . How could any parents call their little bundle of joy Crème of Tartar ? Perhaps they are in the baking business or eat marijuana cookies ?

Back here in Little Darwin , we carried out a scientific survey in a pub , carefully avoiding our turn to shout, and discovered that we have a wide variety of names for infants, but none overly bizarre ,which is hard to believe when there are so many dingbats in town.

These names ranged from the unfortunate , conventional Cyril and Bruce to the Singing Budgie, naughty Paris Hilton , wailing country music singers, Barbie’s suspect friend, Ken, and slinky models. Then there is the nickname a heartless Darwin father has given his teenage son who tends to be a mite clumsy : Willy Lump Lump! Who ?, we asked , thinking this was a reference to a cute character in a popular children’s book or TV series like lovable Bob the Builder.

No . It seems this lad could not understand the basic instructions on his giant Lego sets he received each birthday and everything he constructed instantly fell apart . Because of his incompetence , his gruff handyman father said his son would never climb the Latham ladder of opportunity and was destined to be another Willy Lump Lump. Baffled by this cruel declaration and feeling sorry for the kid, we were further directed to a huge , very active US website dealing with Willy Lump Lump failures , who appear to be thick on the ground over there. One explanation for a WLL is a person who pretends to be an expert but is really only skilled in creating snafus everywhere he goes - no wonder the Yanks are in one helluva mess.

According to our Washington Deep Throat informant , President Bush is patron of the Texas Legion of Willy Lump Lumps. These wretched Willys are keen on dressing up in Rear Admiral uniforms ,love marching about in military fashion and sport a chest full of made in China Purple Hearts. Our reverse charge calls to the Darwin chapter of the growing Willy Lump Lump Club have so far gone unanswered.

Our unfortunate Willy Lump Lump, we are told, repeatedly kicked the family cat , held a weekend toy fire sale and got rid of his infuriating mountain of Lego kits . Now he mixes with a small group of similar minded mugwumps who strut their stuff at Chevy Chase’s Wally World , enjoying the pomp and incompetence, high on the smell of their overcooked sausage sizzle.

Monday, September 29, 2008


One of Darwin’s most gifted reporters was last night abducted by cruel aliens in a polka dot UFO which caused fear and panic when it circled the city . The horrified hack –Bob Boofhead- is employed at the highly respected Little Darwin weekly,The Cullen Bay Cock-Up , three times winner of the Walking Dead Award for Beat Ups.

Boofhead was drinking with a visiting Swedish journalist , Jonathan Holmes , when the fiendish looking creatures swooped down out of the sky and grabbed him. The pea green aliens are believed to be from the planet Tabloid Crud , in the toxic Chinese Milky Way cluster, pretty close to the Sun.

Still shaking from the terrible experience , Holmes , wearing a Nordic helmet for protection in the Mitchell Street taxi area, gave a graphic account of the monstrous event. "That swine Boofhead , like many thirsty Darwin scribes, had been freeloading on me all night , and was about to actually shout me a small beer when the UFO landed and ruined everything. Boofhead quickly pocketed his money, screamed , struggled violently and then collapsed, his furry tongue in cheek. I hope the aliens give him the full painful rectum examination with a wire brush when they got him back to base."
This is the fifth abduction of a reporter in two months. At this rate , the standard of reporting is tipped to improve dramatically . In the event that this blessed situation arises, UFOs will be invited to join the peak hour traffic congestion on Tiger Brennan Drive . Our civic fathers will present the aliens with the keys to the city and introduce them to lovely local girls who think many of the local men are far out yobboes with two heads and four bloodshot eyes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


The Dow Jones index jumped a whopping 1000 points and Wall Street denizens got deliriously drunk today after it was announced that President Bush has called in Victor Stallone’s mum to solve the economic meltdown.

Mrs Stallone is famous for predicting the future by reading Coca-Cola tea leaves in the bottom of plastic cups at junk food outlets . She it was who advised former deranged Russian leader Boris Yeltsin that he was the re-incarnation of the famous American band leader Glenn Miller . On a state visit to Germany , Barmy Boris grabbed the baton from the conductor of an official Ooompah brass band and tried to get them to play Dawn Patrol . The Russian rouble dived overnight and vodka drinking exploded in Russia .

Rambo’s mum also told Boris that if he ate lots of strawberries and cream he would become the world’s top tennis player at Wimbledon . Unfortunately , he developed an unsightly allergy to strawberries and a bad case of Delhi Belly , the latter forcing him to sit out the tennis and play ping pong with Dame Margaret Thatcher .

A White House spokesman today said Mrs Stallone will help George Dubya and the Fed devise a solution to the nation’s economic ills. She will also assist the president overcome his speech impediment , just as she had with her famous son, affectionately known as Mumbles .

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Long suffering members of the Darwin Police Force now have a fiendish new way of reducing the many sprocket- headed goons who wilfully throw themselves into the NT’s maritime zone of economic influence . Instead of being rescued by gendarmes who put their own lives at risk, dorks who chuck themselves in the harbour and start swimming for Timor Leste will be assisted to complete their marathon Aussie crawl.
Acting on advice from Aussie Olympic swimming coaches , police will chuck T-bone steaks and smelly fish burley into the water to attract crocodiles , sharks and the Mandorah Monster . ( The Mandorah Monster , an horrific pre-historic creature , has been in hibernation for about 30 years and should be ravenous by now. ) In addition, the blood curdling Jaws theme played at full blast will be directed at the floundering finks and will undoubtedly speed them along the way. No walking on water will be tolerated by the police . Special combination telescopic batons / cattle prods which extend 200 metres will keep the swimmers submerged , flailing like windmills and screaming hysterically.

Darwin’s shellshocked police have rescued a bizarre driver who crashed while filming himself slipping bread rolls down the front of his knickerbockers . Each time he inserted a roll , he closed his eyes and sighed , “ I love you Helga .” The last time he performed this weird act , his car veered off the road into a sewage treatment pond . When he surfaced , police say he had something shaped like a wholesome wheatmeal roll jammed in his mouth – but it turned out to be a Grogan ! Yuk, spit, chunder !!!
Naturally, no copper administered the kiss of life. It was left to the firefighers to carry out this thankless task. NT firefighters are now expected to perform as many extra duties as there are blades on a Swiss Army pocket knife. However, every member of the police rescue party will be nominated for a gun-metal gong and paid nightsoil money . The Commissioner will also invite them in for tea and a Swiss roll.
Police are deeply concerned about the growing number of deranged Territory motorists who film themselves doing strange things while driving at twice the speed of sound in a built up area. Recently , another driver was arrested as he captured himself on celluloid - or was it with a celluloid Kewpie doll ?- doing something unspeakable. The news reports of that arrest made the Northern Territory the laughing stock of the world. As a result, tourism has dived and Australians are now regarded as Wolf Creek weirdos . Another fruit case from Humpty Doo enhanced his manly image filming himself stuffing his jocks with jack fruit and bananas while driving the wrong way down a one way street, talking on a mobile , with his feet on the steering wheel ! He is believed to be a skilled Abrams tank driver from Robertson Barracks. Needless to say , shrinks predict an early outbreak of Mango Madness.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Chef Ramsay has been rushed to Baghdad to prevent a mutiny by Australian troops who are complaining about lousy tucker. An anonymous Digger who was decorated after single handedly fighting off a horde of drunken Darwin punks with a stick of celery at a Mitchell Street taxi rank , said the rations his colleagues are given to take on desert patrols are "f!#+!!!*%!!t". Furthermore, slapped on a tin plate it looked and smelt like a swaggie's f!&*!!! sweatrag. Despite his impressive repetoire of expletives, the soldier denied being related to to or connected in some way with Chef Ramsay. The tucker situation is so explosive that Chef Ramsay donned not one but two bulletproof vests when he entered the Green Zone kitchen. He was shocked to see koalas, emus, camels, donkeys , kookaburras , redbacks and funnel web spiders in the food processing area. These, he was told, were Aussie mascots designed to make the troops feel at home. Mascots or not, Chef Ramsay blew his stack and ordered tha animals be taken off the premises . Struggling local Iraqis thought they were delicious , came back for seconds and declared him the best cook in the Middle East . The proprietor of Adelaide's pie floater cart believes the Iraq mission be Chef Ramsay's most difficult assignment . Little Darwin's Baghdad correspondent , Ned Chicken, will supply regular updates to Territory gluttons and freeloading local journos.