By Mungo MacCallum
Meet the newest saviour of our fragile Utopia, Australian Border Force Commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg.
Apart from being very hard to pronounce and harder still to spell, Supremo Quaedvlieg is more than just another jumped up Queensland copper in the manner of his ministerial master Peter Dutton.
He has been anointed by a sacred mission by none other than the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. He is not so much a sentry as a guardian, deserving and receiving God’s blessings from our leader in his holy work.
And it’s about time; clearly the combined secular resources of our present defenders, the army, the navy, the air force, the customs units, the federal and state police, the multifarious spy agencies have failed. They must have – otherwise why has Roman Quaedvlieg been consecrated to the role?
And let it be said that he will not lack resources. True, most of his troops will be drawn from the ranks of the ungodly, mainly from the old Customs service and the Immigration department. But these humble followers are to be reborn as crusading warriors.
They will, for instance, gather intelligence, of which they have presumably been bereft. They can detain offenders, or, it seems, just about anyone else they don’t like. And in case there are any arguments they can, and will, carry guns. There had been some apprehension about this latter provision; after all, few if any of them have ever had any training in using firearms. But it can’t be all that hard; just point and pull the trigger and ask questions later, if at all.
There is no time to lose on such niceties as normal protocol; as Quaedvlieg has warned us, we are being invaded by those who want to steal our hard won wealth, to traffic drugs and sex slaves, to bring back foreign fighters who are, as Tony Abbott has rightfully and righteously declared, coming after us. Our entire way of life is in danger – we could all be murdered in our beds.
So, standing staunch in their snazzy new uniforms apparently salvaged from a fire sale in a Gilbert and Sullivan chorus line, the Australian Border Force (or ABF as it is to be affectionately known — not to be confused with the Australian Baseball Federation, the Australian Bridge Federation or the Australian Ballooning Federation, still less with the Association of Bloody Fools) marches off to its duty and – well, then what?
Of course, we can’t actually say. One of the great advantages of turning an at least partially transparent, civil organisation into yet another paramilitary one is that it will be shrouded in the deepest and darkest secrecy. Quaedvlieg is quite open about this – probably the last thing he will ever be open about: ‘I will maintain the principle of operational security,’ he thundered, before buttoning his stiff upper lip, perhaps forever.
In fact this is not a principle but a political contrivance; much, if not most of what the government chooses to hide from the public has nothing to do with security and a lot to do with shielding it from scrutiny and embarrassment; nowadays the reflex of concealment has become simply habit. So another secret and effectively unaccountable implement of government enforcement had been added to the already over-crowded bunch.
It was a big day for Roman Quaedvlieg, but a bigger one for Tony Abbott. Another inauguration of flag-waving bravado, another excuse to parade his credentials as Australia’s great war leader. And this is where the melodrama segues from comic opera to grand guignol.
There is no doubt that the Abbott regime has now become the most authoritarian, ruthless, impervious and yes, repressive in living memory – perhaps in our history. People older than I am say that even during World War II the machinery of government was not ramped up to such a deliberate and intrusive level.
Today the war may be undeclared, but Abbott himself has no doubt that it is an actual war – a war against terror, against the death cult, against Islamic State — but, somewhat confusingly, we mustn’t call it a war against Islam. However it is a war of biblical proportions; it is a conflict between good and evil, perhaps the ultimate conflict – the final battle of Armageddon, the coming of the Apocalypse.
Abbott has not yet invoked the Antichrist and the Beast of Revelations, but surely it is only a matter of time. And obviously when you are fighting with the heavenly host against the satanic hordes, there are no limits – the ordinary laws of man do not apply. So Abbott has, he believes, a licence to do whatever he wants to. It is his divine mandate.
There is, as always, a large element of political opportunism in all of this; Abbott is not unaware of the advantages of encouraging fear and loathing in the populace and confusion and disarray within his opposition. But the big worry is that he at least half means it: the Mad Monk may have been in abeyance, but he has never actually retired. Abbott has always seen himself as the archetypal Christian soldier, marching relentlessly on to war – any war, but this one is all but ideal for his temperament and for his purposes.
It is not quite all consuming – the Prime Minister is still making time for budget ballyhoo, a few minutes of Aboriginal recognition and of course the ongoing persecution of Gillian Triggs. But these are mere distractions. The real campaign is paramount, and no detail is to be spared – not even his faithful colleague Barnaby Joyce, who has been barred from that treacherous program on the ABC.
But the ban on the national broadcaster is not absolute; Abbott will of course eschew serious discussion or debate within its subversive ranks, but the slogans and the photo opportunities for himself in military regalia will continue unabated. The war must go on.