A very Australian Coup
The Australian republic debate has taken a strange twist. In news just to hand, it appears Interfet commander, Major-General Cosgrove, has seized power in a military coup.
The coup took Australians by surprise and was remarkably peaceful. Although, a few enthusiastic RSL members, wearing ill fitting WWII uniforms, stormed the ABC headquarters in Ultimo demanding that Ray Martin be the Australian President. There were no injuries reported.
In his first press statement as Australia's new Head of State, Major-General Cosgrove declared he was not taking over the Australian government.
"I am assuming the powers of Governor-General, until such time as the government will allow democratic elections to be held. The public have a right to elect their president," he said.
Australian newspaper columnists and TV presenters have been spurred into action, with a flurry of reports. The lack of detail has not stopped them.
It is being suggested that, in spite of Australia's best efforts, we failed to integrate with countries in the region.
The financial scandals of Alan Bond and Christopher Skase did nothing to increase our standing. While Ros Kelly's whiteboard attempt at political scandal could not match the political corruption of our closest neighbours.
Major-General Cosgrove, after a few weeks in East Timor, came to the conclusion that the only way we could be seen as a serious player in the region was through a military takeover.
"Australia does not need the sort of political upheaval and uncertainty caused by the republic debate which was descending into farce. We do not need a Governor-General or a President to be part of the Asia-Pacific area," said the Major-General. "We need a military leader".
"I am not planning to muck around with the constitution. I am assuming the role of Head of State. From now on the Head of State will be known as the President-General".
The United States are rumoured to be outraged and considering sanctions.
Commonwealth countries are moving to expel Australia from the Commonwealth, although Canada is watching events closely.
"They are just out of touch", said the new President-General. "They do not understand this region, or the way Australian government actually works. I am not replacing the government. I am replacing the Governor-General".
Australians around the country were confused and unsure of what to do.
Monarchists, outraged that the Queen's representative could be so unceremoniously removed, were still arguing with Republicans as to who the effective Head of State really was.
Students, who started a few sporadic demonstrations around the country, soon settled down when they realised that the President-General was committed to free education for all.
The President-General signalled a return to the three Rs. Reading, Writing and Rifles.
Every school, TAFE, College, and University would become a military academy offering free education to all. Military service will not be compulsory, but every student will be required to do a few units of military studies.
By the time students graduate from university they would be able to fire a gun, drive a tank and resolve conflicts.
The ACTU are calling for democratic elections to be held as soon as possible.
The United Nations has offered to send a peacekeeping force to oversee the democratic elections for the President-General.
Indonesia has sent letters of congratulations, as well as offering troops for a peacekeeping force if needed. The former Indonesian President, Habibie, accused the Australian military of trying to destabilise the area by moving towards a republic too quickly.
"They need time for the democratic process to work in Australia," he said. "The people desperately want change, but it is important to let the government think they are still in control. If the people move to quickly it will just cause chaos. The government will be unable to cope. Australia is going through great transition at this time. We need to work together to ensure stability in the area".
Australia's political leaders, dazed from the shock, are slowly regrouping. Jeff Kennett, still smarting from his electoral defeat, managed to drag himself to a radio interview. "I wish the President-General lots of luck," he said. "This republic debate has left the country bitterly divided and unhappy".
John Howard indicated he would work with the new President-General as long as he still got the chance to open the Olympic Games.
Former prime minister, Paul Keating, blamed everyone, including the Howard government for being out of touch.
The military is being tight lipped, but under their proposal most of the ceremonial pomp will go from the position. The President-General will be chosen in a direct election. It will be mandatory for the President-General to wear a military uniform weighed down with a chest full of medals.
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