Department of Dangerous Irony

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My name is Matt Le Mat. I live in the capital city of the driest state of the driest populated continent in the world - Adelaide, South Australia.

To describe Adelaide as quiet would be an understatement. Although it has a population of over a million people, it is too big to be a village, too small to be a city, and too boring to be a town.

So when something unusual happens, I take notice.

Early in the month of January this year, a passerby walking through Fawkner Park in South Yarra, Melbourne, discovered documents strewn across the grass.

They were detailed maps and other security documents showing the layout and technical specifications of the Woomera Detention Centre which lies in the north of this state.

The story piqued my interest for a moment, but I soon forgot about it. The accidental spill of Woomera-related documents from a contractor's dump bin in another state was hardly front-page news. Especially since Woomera had been closed for some time.

Or so I thought.

Until a couple days ago, when I received a thick envelope in the post, containing photocopies of said documents.

And a key to a locker at Adelaide Airport.

What I found in the locker was the document you are about to read. Its author, Spalding N. Haywood, is probably mad.

As far as I know, there is no such thing as the Department of Dangerous Irony.

The idea is patently ludicrous. And yet...

I leave it for you to decide the veracity of this document. If there are any typing or spelling errors, then I take responsibility for them.

As far as legal disclaimers go, I think we can say with absolute certainty that the following is absolute fiction.

(Fiction being written more than ever in this country.)

I think it best to begin this journey with a quotation. I gather the practical joker that sent me this insanity also read Nietzsche's Use And Abuse Of History...
"Lastly, an age reaches a dangerous condition of irony with regard to itself, and the still more dangerous state of cynicism, when a cunning egoistic theory of action is matured that maims and at last destroys the vital strength."



With Special Agent Spalding N. Haywood

"So tonight, I ask Congress to join me in creating a single permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission..."

President George W. Bush, June 6, 2002.

If you have never heard of the Department of Dangerous Irony, then that is because until now it has been a well-kept secret.

The Department is older than ASIO, ASIS, the Office of National Assessments or any other of Australia's espionage acronyms. Some say the Department arrived with Captain Cook. In truth, it is older than the idea of government itself, let alone government departments.

This sub-sub-branch of military intelligence is represented on official stationery with what looks like an upside-down anchor. Consequently, it is considered (incorrectly) to be a part of naval intelligence.

The point of the matter is that this tiny department has, - through a series of governmental oversights and budget cuts over the last thirty years - become nothing more than a curiosity. It has been less responsible for actual intelligence work, than it has been for organizing the ASIO office Christmas Party.

Specifically, we made the punch.

Until last month that is, when the agents of DODI were commissioned to create this special report: How To Fight Terror.

The United States has its Department of Homeland Security. Australia has a new Defence and Security Division of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. And the UK has The Professionals.

And now Australia also has the Department of Dangerous Irony (DODI) to make sure that it is safe from... Dangerous irony.


September 11, 2001:
Four planes are hijacked in the US, and are crashed into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvanian field respectively.

The mastermind behind the plot, Osama bin Laden, was in fact trained and funded by the American CIA to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The man trained in guerilla warfare by the Americans turned the tactics he learnt back against them.

That is a dangerous irony. I should know - I have been trained to spot them!

(DODI Handbook of Standard Operating Procedure, guideline c.6.4: While irony is often amusing, it is not a laughing matter.)

The agents of DODI shoulder a heavy burden. Yet, we carry on nonetheless. Just as we swore to, in

The Department Of Dangerous Irony Non-Ironic Oath of Allegiance:

I am an agent of the Department of Dangerous Irony. It is my duty to detect, neutralize and/or eliminate the circumstances that give rise to dangerous ironies, taking care not to create new ones in the process.

I will be resolute, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to carry out the orders of my department. I am prepared to give my life to do this.

I swear this in all seriousness, without a hint of irony, dangerous or otherwise. God save the queen.

We hope that readers find in this guide the instruction and solace they will need to play their part in The War On Terror.

Special Agent Spalding Haywood,
Department of Dangerous Irony,

How To Be Alert
During the recent National Security Campaign, Australians received an Important Letter From The Prime Minister. In it, he explained how we could help protect Australia from terrorists by ringing the National Security Hotline in the event that we saw something suspicious:

"It is not possible to give you a detailed list of everything that might be suspicious. As the experts tell us in the booklet, what amounts to suspicious or unusual activity often depends very much on the circumstances in which it takes place."

Thankfully, the Department of Dangerous Irony can provide you with a short checklist of things to look for.

Remember, it is your patriotic duty to keep your eyes peeled.

For some of you, this will mean arranging rostered days off with your employer so that you can stay at home all day, poke binoculars through the Venetian blinds and watch the foreign people next door.

Because the terrorists know that we are looking for them, we have to be smarter.

Now that everybody is (rightly) so suspicious of everybody else, nobody should be acting 'normal'. It is the people who are not acting suspiciously who should be regarded as truly suspicious.

Therefore anybody who is not acting suspiciously - that is, people who appear to be acting naturally - should be reported to the National Security Hotline.

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the terrorists have thought of this too. So, if you see someone being conspicuously suspicious - i.e. acting unnaturally unnatural - you should report him or her too.

See - it is easy when you know how!


How To Protect The Royal Family
Worried monarchists who fear the Royal Family may be a target of terrorists can rest easy. The problem is not protecting the Royals from terrorists, but protecting them from themselves.

Thankfully, cloning has come to the rescue. Grieve not for the Queen Mother! Come next Tuesday there will be three more of Her ready to tour the world simultaneously.

As you read this, scientists and people in white coats are using modified DNA and gene therapy to expedite the long-winded process of selective breeding. No more Royal love-matches, messy media courtships and tabloid scandals.

The 2004 Royal Family will each have six arms - enabling them to wave and shake hands at the same time. Prince Charles's ears will be made smaller, so he cannot hear the gossip.

How Long Will The War Last?
Try to think of The War On Terror as a game of Test Cricket.

Sometimes you may get the impression that we are losing.

At other times, it will be obvious that we are winning. It might go quite quickly, or it might go on for a very long time, without any actual result. But that does not mean it is not a game worth playing.

Regardless of the duration, we can expect endless interviews and meaningless statistics.

Admittedly, The War On Terror is to war what Test Cricket is to sport. But even people who do not play it, agree that terrorism is just not cricket!


Market Forces Explained
People familiar with the semi-scientific halfway house between astrology and accountancy known as Economics, will have heard of Market Forces.

The soldiers who form this elite branch of the Military Industrial Complex are the most misunderstood in the world. For many, their heroic antics on our fiscal and monetary battlefronts seem incomprehensible.

Market forces are so mysterious, we really only know two things about them:

1. They are extremely confusing.
2. They are designed to make money.

In this way, they remind us of the Goods and Services Tax, or the AFL Final Eight.

Nevertheless, whenever terrorists attempt to disrupt the world economy, Market Forces will be there to stop them.

This well-drilled commando SWAT team swoops on unsuspecting enemies of competition. Protected only by their bulletproof money vests, they fire loose change and other shrapnel at their enemies until they yield to the power of the market. Their motto: To Demand and Supply.

Without them, war as we know it would not be the same.

How to Stop the Cockroaches - A Threat To Mankind
While they might not have a seat on the Untied Nations or an official embassy, the world cockroach population has citizens in every country around the globe.

Consequently, they are next on President Bush's hit list.

Mr. Bush has lately told the world how he was alerted to "The Cockroach Problem" - while watching a television advertisement for a popular bug spray.

If cockroaches could survive a nuclear war, George W. surmised, they were not to be trusted.

"What I want to know," said Mr. Bush "is where cockroaches got nuclear weapons in the first place?"

An interesting question. Since these creatures are also responsible for spreading disease, they are officially proponents of biological warfare.

Whether cockroaches might launch an unprovoked nuclear strike is unsure, since - as thousands of hack stand-up comedians have pointed out since the early 1980s - cockroaches may be able to survive massive amounts of radiation, but they can also be squashed with a sandshoe.

America's focus on the "Insects of Evil" has prompted other countries to follow suit. The Canadian Prime Minister has pledged that squirrels will "get what they deserve". Japan has promised to end the whale's "reign of fear". And France's Jacques Chirac has personally pledged a ruthless assault on lobsters.

Cockroaches so far have refused to comment.

The Missile Defense Shield Explained
Critics of the proposed new Missile Defense Shield have wrongly referred to it as Star Wars II.

They are seriously mistaken.

The Old Missile Shield
Ronald Regan's original Star Wars program placed Hollywood stars in major American cities as celebrity human shields.

President Regan knew that despite their irrational hatred for America's capitalist ways, the Soviets would not bomb targets in which their favorite American actors and game show hosts lived.

Would the strategic victory of obliterating Washington, for example, be worth the cost of inadvertently killing Danny Bonnaducci from The Partridge Family? For the Soviets, the answer was "No".

It was this logic that won America the Cold War.

Sadly, Australian Government advisers withdrew their support for our own Star Wars Program in the late Eighties. They realized we had a genuine lack of celebrities.

Daryl Sommers could not be placed in Hobart and reasonably be expected to deter the Red Army from nuking it, if the Soviets had never seen an episode of Hey! Hey! It's Saturday!

Come to think of it...

The New Missile Shield
The New Missile Defense Shield fires missiles at missiles fired at us by countries intimidated by our Missile Defense Shield.


How To Be Invisible
Prime Minister Howard wisely gave the job of Governor-General to an ex-Army man. And the G-G has used his Special Air Service training to keep an impeccably low profile.

We do not know what he looks like. If he does not give many speeches, it is because it is hard to talk with a balaclava on your head.

He prefers helicopters to limousines. Other dignitaries use doors - our G-G abseils from the roof.

His ninja-like stealth means he can be in and out of public functions in a matter of minutes. In a recent surprise attack, he opened a new hospital before it had been built.

Governor-General, your sterling work will not been forgotten, even if your name has been. Give yourself a medal!


How To Find Justice
"Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."
George W. Bush, September 20, 2001.

When America has caught all the terrorists, it will have to decide where to put them.

Careful examination of any world atlas reveals that there are two kinds of Justice in America.

The village of Justice in Mingo County, West Virginia has a population of around three hundred, and is not ideally suited to detain the likes of Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar. Perhaps the people of nearby Ike's Fork can help with the catering.

In any case, the Village Board which meets on the 2nd and 4th of every month has a lot of planning to do.

The other kind of Justice is a town of twelve thousand people, situated near South West Cook County, Illinois. Its proximity to Chicago means that should they decide to stage a show trial there, TV hosts Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey may be available to mediate.

Note: Copies of The Road Map To Peace are available at petrol stations.


When America liberated Iraq, it thought only of bringing those hapless souls their liberty.

As we watched on television, the Iraqis pummeled Saddam's statue like an oversized piņata till wondrous things burst from it.
Instead of sweets and chocolates, freedom and democracy fell into the hands of Iraqis in equal measure.

But something else also spewed out from that statue - something completely unexpected: OIL.

And now America, the UK and Australia face a new Oil Crisis: what to do with all this oil?

The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated. Plainly, there is too much of it. We must all do our share to get rid of it.

Embrace unnecessary travel!

Upper-middle-class women are right now selflessly driving their not inexpensive 4WD vehicles with reckless abandon. They know full well they have no hope of ever reaching the country or an actual dirt track, and yet they still burn as much fuel as they can.

Whenever possible, car pool! If you have more than one car, and your neighbour catches the train every day, then let him drive your spare car instead.

And everyone, except bus drivers, should avoid public transport.

Do your duty, so that we might turn to any misguided Iraqis and proudly say: "See! If we really invaded your country for the oil, how is it that we've used it all up?!"

How To Be A Leftie
Being left wing makes an excellent hobby.

Unless you are a Green, in which case you should spend all of your time trying to get into the Senate. Once there, you should spend the rest of your time making sure that no legislation leaves it.

Old left-wingers meet twice weekly in a community hall at 6pm. On Tuesdays, they sing karaoke protest songs and play board games such as Communist Monopoly.

If it sounds like fun, it is not. You cannot buy anything, because it is all owned by the state.

"You have won second prize in a decadent Western-style beauty contest. Go Directly To Labour Camp. Do not pass GO. Do not queue for bread rolls... "
(Includes Thimble of the People. Ages 4 and upski.)

On Thursdays, Lefties hold a seance and try to contact the Soul of the Australian Labor Party.


How To Be Relaxed
If Terror leaves you feeling uptight, we suggest alternative medicine. Take your cue from the ex-Immigration Minister. He managed to maintain an ice cool, almost deathly calm in the media hot seat before being promoted to Attorney General.

His secret? A product bought over the phone from the Parliament House Home Shopping Network:


Ring now and get the whole set for less than a hundred dollars! Every flag of every country in the world -beautifully rendered in timeless miniature silk-screen detail - is also a genuine acupuncture pin!

Even the Prime Minister has jumped on the bandwagon. Mr. Howard can be seen wearing them during cabinet meetings, with Iraq on the brain, America in his ear and a veritable United Nations on his back.

Multiculturalism never felt so good!

How To Be Comfortable
Invest in real estate.

(Note To Poor People: The Liberal Party has decided to do something about the gap between the rich and the poor. It is going to make it bigger.)


How To Be Alarmed
Many of us can still recall the halcyon days before the American anthrax scare, when postmen would go crazy and kill people, instead of the other way around.

Use extreme caution when checking your mail.

Do not under any circumstances open envelopes marked "Jihad Digest Sweepstakes". You may already be a victim.

Last Friday a seemingly innocent package arrived on my desk spiked with what looked like talcum powder. Naturally, I had it x-rayed, sprayed and decontaminated by security personnel.

The powder was deemed harmless, but inside was a birthday card with the following chilling message:

Dear Spalding,
Trust that you are okay. Hope you have a lovely day on your 27th birthday.

Jove, this war is nasty. It makes me feel sad.

Love to you all,
Grandma H.

Experts agree "it is appropriate that people handling mail remain vigilant and cautious at this time, but it should be remembered that most reports of suspicious packages are false alarms."

Or so it says in the Handling of Mail and Packages Fact Sheet provided by the Attorney General's Department, which can be sent to you upon request.

If you are not too afraid to open the envelope it comes in.


How To Be A Leader
Australia today has a leader of tremendous strength. Of steely determination, who is firm but fair. A leader whose resilience has been tested time and again, but has never broken. And who is not afraid to say what they think.

But enough about Mrs. Howard.

(Underneath her placid exterior and innumerable ridiculous hats, beats a heart of... Well, let us hope simply for a heart.)

The Prime Minister
While he rarely inspires, Mr. Howard always respires.

If this mild gnome gives any impression, it is that of an inept relief teacher who - through some bureaucratic bungle by the Board of Education - has been inexplicably been given the principal's job.

The Prime Minister's Eyebrows
What Prime Minister Howard lacks in charisma he makes up for in eyebrows. And the remarkable story of their metamorphosis runs parallel to the changes in the Australian political landscape.

Before his ascension to the Prime Ministership, Mr. Howard had not two eyebrows, but one gigantic mono-brow. And the difference between the policies of the Liberal and Labor Parties could not be more obvious.

Flash forward eight years, and we see that constant public appearances have merited a more polished appearance. Careful grooming has left him with two distinct eyebrows.

Bizarrely though, the distance between the election platforms of Liberal and Labor is now so small as to make them... EXACTLY THE SAME! The Liberal and Labor parties have grown so close together as to make the Australian political spectrum itself a grey, mangy monobrow.

What Voodoo magic is this?
How To Vote Labor
See How to Vote Liberal

How to Vote Liberal
See How to Vote Labor

How To Be A Flash In The Pan

Several years ago, the punters began to bore of watching the two major parties slug it out at every election. They were tired of "Us vs. Them" politics.

So, Pauline Hanson's One Nation gave us an "Us vs. "Us vs. Them"" campaign.

Her innovation was routed however, when last election Prime Minister Howard struck back with his own brainwave - "Us vs. "Us vs. "Us vs. Them""".

Note: Although things in "Us vs. Them" politics seem to have come full circle, the Australian Democrats had a late breakthrough in 2003 with their own version: "Us vs. Us".


How To Save The Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Short of legislating to make watching ABC Television compulsory, the only viable alternative to help the ailing national broadcaster win the ratings is to unleash a new range of programs designed to capture the maximum possible number of viewers.

This means renegotiating the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the US to remove any restrictions on the amount of American content that can be shown. Such a clause in the agreement would allow a new influx of programs to be imported and shown on Aunty ASAP. If you cannot beat them, join them!

Simply combine the mainstays of lowest-common-denominator TV with whatever crud is riding the crest of the pop culture wave and - voila!

You have the ABC's Secret Weapon in the ratings war: Slop Culture. The following list of suggestions is just the tip of the iceberg.

Big Blubber
Ten Sumo wrestlers stranded on a desert island must eat nothing but dead whale for a week.

Head 2 Head
Two brothers - one a prosecutor for the District Attorney's Office, the other a sleazy criminal defense lawyer - battle it out in court. The catch? They are Siamese Twins! Watch them struggle with the client confidentiality privilege, and their love lives!

Mr. Ed meets Seinfeld in this sitcom about a talking Clydesdale that also happens to be a stand-up comedian. Observational humor straight from the horse's mouth.

This Is Your Fault!
Guilt-ridden version of This Is Your Life in which celebrities are confronted by the people whose lives they have ruined on the way to the top.

Brunch is the maverick cop who is not afraid to break the rules, waging a very personal vendetta against crime boss Smorgasbord. From the creators of Breakfast and Lunch.

Guess Who's Coming?
Game show in which contestants listen to audiotapes of sexual activity, and then guess which celebrity was doing the dirty.

Last Meals
Jamie Oliver cooks easy to prepare meals for inmates on death row. If the food does not kill you, the lethal injection will!

Patrol Boat
Actually, this would be a repeat. Wonder why they don't show it any more?


How To Be Religious
The War On Terror is not a war against Islam.

Islam is a religion of peace. Yet, a handful of Muslim extremists have ruined it for everybody by claiming to kill in the name of Allah.

Luckily, the American power elite is made up largely of Christian Fundamentalists. While some of them may be fundamentally un-Christian, they at least have God on their side - while the Muslims only have Allah.

If only the Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle East could put aside their religious separatism. Then they could focus not on what makes them different, but what they have in common: that they all hate each other.

Our own John Howard has gone to great lengths to mend fences with the Australian Muslim community. When asked what he thought of the Koran, he said:

"I really like their early albums."


How To Fly Safely
September 11 demonstrated to the world how dangerous irony could be. It was the increased security measures of American airports and airlines which made getting a bomb on a plane so difficult.

Dangerous Irony: you cannot stop terrorists from putting a bomb on an airplane, if they turn the plane itself into a bomb.

In the DODI Handbook of Standard Operating Procedure, Guideline b.8.2. states:
"Invariably, the final solution to the problem of how to neutralize the cause of a dangerous irony is always simple - it is just a complicated business finding it."

Governments have tried biometrics, fingerprinting and holographic photo IDs. But we simply do not have enough manpower to stop every penknife and every pair of nail clippers from sneaking through the x-ray machines.

Just ask my cousin Larry, who so hated his fifteen years working in a shoe store, that he quit to become an airport security guard. Now he spends all day taking people's shoes off and checking them for bombs.

Unfortunately, extreme situations demand extreme measures. The solution? Replace stocks of airport novels around the world with Bryce Courtenay's The Potato Factory. In-flight reading that terrible may seem abhorrent, but surely even members of Al Qaeda* have their limits.

*(Please note the media's the insistence on multiple spellings of this terrorist organization's name. It has been variously spelt as Al Qaeda, al Q'aida, al Qaeda, Al-Qaeda, and Al-Q'aida. Some have referred to them simply as Qaeda - although this sounds too much like the nickname of somebody you might play mixed netball with.

The strategy behind this systematic misspelling is to infuriate Osama bin Laden until he feels compelled to write an angry letter to the editor of a newspaper - thus inadvertently revealing his address to the authorities.

Plan B is to raise the reward on his head until he turns himself in for the money.)

How To Protest
Australians who joined the nation-wide marches against the war in Iraq should remember that such protestors would have been beaten, and perhaps killed, under Saddam Hussein's brutal regime.

Our government actively encourages political expression amongst all Australians, even if it does not listen to what they have to say.

Most of this country would agree that the only thing we have to protest against is the lack of things to protest against.

Our Health Minister has even promised extra funding for the Private Health Insurance Rebate Scheme. Any protestors savagely beaten by police during sit-ins and the like will receive the very best in hospital care. The lucky country indeed!


What Is Irony?
This a difficult question to answer.

On the surface, it appears easy enough. Most people are familiar with simple verbal irony, in which one says the opposite of what one means.

The tragic potential of such facetiousness is highlighted in the DODI Occupational Health and Safety Video called "Sarcasm in the Workplace: When Words Can Kill."

(When one is asked, "Have you defused the bomb?" one cannot afford to be sarcastic.)

Agents of DODI are taught to become familiar not only with sarcasm, but also dramatic irony, Socratic irony, and every other kind in between. And yet, most of them cannot give a definitive answer to this vexed question.

Pondering irony's almost supernatural impenetrability can leave them feeling queasy. Incessant attempts to crack its code can, in extreme cases, lead to severe ironomania.

It is better perhaps, to give our attention to what is not ironic.

What Is Not Ironic

Selective Irony.
Australia's delicate relationship with the US requires us to rethink our traditional idea of irony.

Because America has been forced to play rough with rogue states, many have accused it of (ironically) becoming one itself.

Such claims can be rejected on two points:

1) America is not a rogue state. It is a 'loveable rogue' state.
2) The unlikely event of America becoming a rogue state would not be an ironic event. It would merely be An Unfortunate Coincidence.

(For detailed reasons as to why the second point holds true, please direct all inquiries to The Department of Unfortunate Coincidences.)

Note: A "pre-emptive strike" by America on another country does not constitute an illegal war.

A country should always defend its freedom, even if it means crushing somebody else's ahead of schedule. US ally Poland - a country invaded innumerable times during history - has rightly decided to beat the terrorists to the punch AND INVADE ITSELF.


How To Be A Cowboy
George W. can appear to be more sheriff than statesman. But to reduce him to this stereotype is unfair and unoriginal. He is not so wholly obsessed with enforcing international law that he cannot ignore it when he needs to.

True, the war in Afghanistan was somewhat like a dime western novella, but only in that it was short, gratuitously violent and entirely predictable.

Yes, his people did print old-style WANTED posters of Osama bin Laden. And yes, Mr. Bush can ride a horse.

But let us remember that not all Americans are cowboys. The first ones were Indians.

Remembering Special Agent Chuck Weaselhead, Friend and Colleague - A Burial At Sea

Sadly, agents of DODI sometimes lose their lives in the course of their work. Who can forget Special Agent Floyd Crippen, who died from tetanus after being pricked with a safety pin? Or Agent Special K, immolated by an exploding fire extinguisher?
The pain of their deaths was rekindled with the recent passing of Special Agent Chuck Weaselhead, our man in Havana, Washington, New York, and Lake Winnemucca. Tragically run over by a delivery truck full of crash test dummies, he died as he lived: ironically.

The epitaph on his gravestone was plucked straight from the pages of the Department's Handbook of Standard Operating Procedure:
Guideline f.3.2:
Since irony is both friend and foe, it is neither.

Mourners at his top-secret funeral linked arms around the grave. As we hummed along with the atonal Departmental Dirge played on the sacred bagpipes, the DODI chaplain read an acrostic from the First Book of Eiron.*

Irony is not the Truth,
But the Way to the Truth.
I do not choose Irony because it is one Way,
But because it is the only Way.

We performed the ritual of anti-absolution, and then delivered his soul into the eternal Sea of Irony.

*Of the Five Books of Eiron, four are lost to time. Only the mysterious men who run the Department - the Secret Chiefs- have been taught the mysteries of the other books. Unlike the DODI Handbook, which is written in Esperanto, the First Book of Eiron is still read in Ancient Sumerian - a challenge for agents old and new. The understanding of acrostics such as the one above is an art, since no two interpretations are alike. In the hieroglyphs of the old tongue, the word for 'secret' is the same as the word for 'truth'.

What Is A Mandate?
"Mandate" is not another word for a referendum. And it is not, as many assume it to be, a measure of electoral support given to the winner of an election.

The Mandate is in fact an animal - a reptilian cross between a German Shepherd and an Orangutan.

Since Federation, the winner of each Federal election has been given a Mandate as a kind of guard dog. Most Australians are unaware of the Mandate's existence, but as the taxpayer pays for its care and grooming, it is referred to as "a Mandate from the People".

Should the Opposition in the Upper or Lower House treat the Prime Minister and his Cabinet with disdain, the Government is perfectly entitled to sic the Mandate on them.

The first pair was brought from Argentina, and one was given to Prime Minister Edmund Barton at Federation. Since then, they have been bred in the giant underground caves of Canberra. Such vicious brutes as these cannot be allowed to live in the zoo or any other aboveground lair, for fear of them scaring the public.

Another little known fact: the excessive number of roundabouts in Canberra was designed as a contingency measure to prevent escaped Mandates from going too far.

Should one of these beasts leap from its cave, its appalling lack of direction means it will end up going round and round a roundabout until it collapses with exhaustion. From there it is a simple matter to return the sleeping giant to its prison.

John Howard's Mandate

Satisfying the appetite of a Mandate is difficult. For the Prime Minister, Feeding Time is more stressful than Question Time.

The issue of National Insecurity dominated the last election. Rather inconveniently, hundreds of illegal immigrants arrived just before campaigning got underway. These troublemakers were trying to jump the queue and sneak into Australia.

(Note: Queue-jumping is un-Australian. Unless you are standing in front of a department store on Boxing Day waiting for the sales to begin -in which case it is perfectly Australian! Freedom from oppression is one thing. Massive discounts on TVs and refrigerators are another.)

Realising that he had to do something with these hordes, the Prime Minister put them into detention centres around the country. And the Mandate became restless.

President Bush's Mandate
Until his visit to our shores late last October, President Bush did not have a Mandate. This is because despite pledging to defend democracy, he was not actually democratically elected. This makes his pledge and subsequent commitment to democracy all the more admirable.

(There is nothing wrong with double standards, as long as they are rigorously applied.)

Both Bush and Howard had agreed earlier in the year that - should one be available - Bush could take a Mandate from the breeding stock in Canberra.

The presence of the Crocodile Hunter for the President's speech and subsequent barbecue was no coincidence. Mr. Irwin had been contracted to use his extraordinary relationship with animals to tame and train an Australian Mandate for Mr. Bush.

(Regarding the controversially large sum paid to the Crocodile Hunter to film television advertisements for the Australian Quarantine Authority, it now seems clear that a large part of that payment was made for his work in training the Mandate.)

Some days later, after returning from his overseas sojourn with the Mandate, President Bush was able to threaten and cajole the US Congress into providing an additional $125 billion for the war in Iraq. If anybody doubted the value of the Mandate before, they do not do so any longer.

The Darwin To Adelaide Railway
Why the government would be happy to build a railway link worth $600 Australian from Adelaide to Darwin is uncertain. Until one considers the potential to transport the so-called asylum-seekers from their arrival point at the top of the country (in Darwin and the islands above her) to Woomera (somewhat more than half-way between Adelaide and Darwin).

Contrary to popular belief, the barbed wire and electric-fenced Woomera detention center is still open for business. Large numbers of "illegals" are sent there every week, where they are put to work manufacturing handicrafts and other knick- knacks for tourists.

Complaints from human rights groups to release the children of parents in detention have been ignored. While some believe it is less emotionally disturbing for the children if they are not separated from their parents, the reason behind the kiddies' continued imprisonment is much simpler. Their tiny hands and nimble fingers are needed for knitting and weaving the popular "welcome" mats the Department of Immigration sells, along with the other "Australian-made" merchandise being produced.

They are prisoners, yes. True, they have asked for their applications for refugee status to be re-assessed. The Government has listened carefully to their requests, and has responded with the generous donation of a ping-pong table.

What The Mandate Eats
Mandates are known to eat many things. But the Prime Minister has latterly decided it is more cost-efficient to feed his own monster something he has plenty of: refugees.

If this practice seems barbaric, we should remember that we did not ask these people to come here. They chose of their own accord to cheat their way into our country, with their concocted tales of hardship. If they have so little regard for our borders and immigration legislation, they should not be surprised by our indignation.

In any case, the Mandate's hunger for these people is growing. Having served Mr. Howard so well, it does not seem fair to deprive it of the one thing it needs most.

What it needs, is what perhaps all mandates need. Not the human flesh of the refugees - but that which they carry inside them: Fear.

More than anything, the Mandate needs Fear to replenish itself. And who are we to refuse it?


A Conclusion: Towards A Final Definition of Irony
If you want to torture a man, then ask him to define irony.

Oriental leg torture. Being trampled by elephants. Branding. Thumbscrews. Removal of the fingernails. The Death of Twenty-One Cuts. Being torn apart by horses...

All pale in comparison with this painful test. An agent can rack his brain for years before the epiphany arrives, as it must.

The key to understanding irony is being aware that something is happening parallel to what appears to be happening. But if you are the literary equivalent of tone deaf, or have the ironic dyslexia from which so many suffer, you will have to wait much longer for your final baptism.

You become the dud detective in your own film noir, unable to see that irony is the femme fatale sucking you into a whirlpool of despair.

Irony is an evil Rubik's cube built with all the loving care and attention to detail, that only a first-class sadist could muster.

That Danish guy Soren K. was right - irony is a negator. If it exists, it only does so as an effect on what already is.

Consequently, it can be described, but never totally defined. In that way it is like water - you can hold it in your hands for a few seconds, but eventually it will slip through your fingers.

And if you know how to look, you will see quite clearly the moist little drops of irony falling from the sky. It is a rain that never stops.

The symbol of the Department of Dangerous Irony is often mistaken for an upside-down anchor. But the Department has nothing to do with the navy, and the symbol is in fact an umbrella.

Only a landlubber would make that mistake.

Special Agent Spalding Haywood,
Department of Dangerous Irony.


There you have it. The document exactly as I received it, except for any typos I inadvertently made.

Oh, and one other thing...

Inside the sheath of papers containing the above text was a bookmark - a Garfield bookmark, of all things! But written on the back was this...

Anacharsis the Scythian divided the people of the world into three groups: the living, the dead, and those who sail upon the sea.

Some quick research on the Internet reveals that Anacharsis was alleged to have invented the first anchor.


I guess I just can't get over the irony that a nation of people who came by boat (excluding the original Aboriginal inhabitants of this country, members of the world's oldest living culture), can be so rotten to the next wave of boat people.

Australia is an island continent. It's a giant boat, floating in a sea of irony on a planet called Earth. Which makes us all boat people.

My name is Matt Le Mat. I live in the capital city of the driest state of the driest populated continent in the world - Adelaide, South Australia.

And right now, I'm drowning in irony.