December 31, 2021
Satire by Greg Ray
When I worked at the newspaper I was in the regular habit of writing a year-end column setting forth a variety of predictions for the year ahead. Far be it from me to blow my own trumpet, but my accurate prescience often caused astrologers and soothsayers considerable anxiety – or so I believe. In recent years I have not been so assiduous at providing this useful service to my myriad readers but, prompted by immense popular demand and a sense that I was being unfair in not letting other people benefit from my penetrating insights into future events, I have decided to deliver the goods for 2022. I apologise if some people find my revelations distressing, but – as a great man once said – such is life. Next year’s events follow. Please feel free to print the document and fix it to your fridge so you can track each item as it inexorably comes to pass.
The World Health Organisation announces the emergence of the Omigod strain of the Covid-19 virus. The new strain appears to be attuned to the 5G mobile phone network and somehow picks up wireless signals and transfers them into the brains of infected people. The earliest diagnosed cases appear on the West Coast of the USA and are characterised by mild fever and nasal congestion, with victims alarmingly claiming to be watching re-runs of old Hollywood movies inside their heads.
The Murdoch media empire announces new public health measures for Australia and NSW. Murdoch talking heads Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet declare the new two-hour Covid quarantine guidelines will safeguard the economy while helping Australians learn to live with the virus. The regulations also forbid the publication of information about infection, hospitalisation and death-rates from the virus, on the basis that this material causes unnecessary distress to shoppers.
In the Hunter Region, Newcastle City Council rents office space in Lake Macquarie for its remaining 15 employees. A spokesperson says the move will save ratepayers $250 billion over the next five years. Non-Labor councillors ask to see the consultants’ report detailing the savings and are immediately sued for defamation by senior council staff.
The United States installs more long-range nuclear missiles on the borders of China and Russia, declaring that this new “Axis of Evil” is threatening world peace to an intolerable extent. US President Joe Biden says he will ensure that truth, justice and the American Way survive the dangerous onslaught.
Australia requests more American nuclear submarines and offers to host long-range US missile bases in a bid to protect itself from Chinese aggression. The nation’s preparations for a March federal election heat up, with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party buying the front pages of all Australian newspapers for the entire month and saturating the free-to-air TV channels with anti-Labor and anti-Greens advertising.
In the Hunter Region, Newcastle’s troubled light rail link is again closed down indefinitely due to unspecified mechanical issues. Both passengers are forced to walk the full 500 metre length of their intended journeys.
Scientists announce an epoch-making breakthrough in the global fight against viruses. A new combination of vaccines and post-infection treatments will make viral pandemics a thing of the past. The breakthrough follows a huge injection of public funding across several nations. The new treatment is estimated to cost $4.50 per patient to manufacture and deliver, and will be distributed exclusively by the four multinational pharmaceutical companies gifted the patents at a cost of $8,000 per person. Poor nations beg for access to the treatments at lower prices but this is denied by the corporations which argue they need the money to cover the cost of lobbying the governments of rich countries.
Australians go to the polls, returning the Morrison Coalition Government for another term. The election is decided on preferences, with a large number of votes flowing to the Coalition from Clive Palmer’s big-spending United Australia Party.
Hailing the result, the Murdoch Media Empire announces that Scott Morrison, having led the Coalition to another “miracle victory” will retire to the back-benches in order to spend more time with God. Peter Dutton is declared by the Murdoch press to be the new Prime Minister of Australia.
In the Hunter Region, Newcastle City Council rents office space in North Sydney for its remaining nine staff. The move will save ratepayers $45 billion over the next three years, according to a secret consultant’s report. The Newcastle Herald applies for access to the report and is sued for defamation by the council’s senior management. The council announces that the universally popular V8 car races will be made a year-round feature. A consultant’s report states that the racing events earn $590billion a day for the city. A non-Labor councillor who requests a copy of the report is sued for defamation.
The US-sponsored government of the Ukraine requests American long-range missiles be placed on its soil to help defend it against Russian threats. US advisors pour into the fascist state in increasing numbers as part of the preparations which President Biden declare are necessary to preserve world peace.
The Dutton Government announces a hectic new round of legislative reforms designed to boost Australia’s global competitiveness and enhance national security. Abortions are to be banned. The ABC is to be closed, with many of its assets transferred to various Murdoch corporations. Military conscription is to be introduced. Tough new national security laws will crack down on dissent, with Prime Minister Dutton declaring the nation officially on a Cold War footing with Beijing. Scott Morrison leaves Parliament to take up a new role as Australian ambassador to Hawaii.
Newcastle City Council announces that the city’s entire East End – now defined as all areas east of Stewart Avenue – will be permanently closed to non-residents. The only exceptions are foreign students, holders of event tickets to the now year-round V8 car races and visitors to hotels and nightclubs.
The US, UK and Australia send a joint naval task force through the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits in a bid to defuse tensions in the region and boost the prospects of world peace.
A new strain of the Covid-19 virus emerges in Australia – now the global hotspot for the infection despite its rigid new five minute quarantine requirements for severe confirmed cases. The variant of the Omigod strain – spread by the 5G phone network – is dubbed “OMFG”. Sufferers claim that, in addition to joint pains and fatigue, the major symptom is seeing endless repeats of Craig Kelly’s anti-vax speeches playing in their heads.
In the Hunter Region a new record price is set for residential real estate, with a two-bedroom fibro cottage in Hexham selling under the hammer for $3.2million. The buyer, a Hong Kong investor, says she is very happy with the purchase and immediately offers the property for lease at $820 a week.
Huge wildfires again tear through the Northern Hemisphere’s remaining wilderness areas, enormous tracts of permafrost melt, causing vast sinkholes and massive hurricanes smash the US, Caribbean and Northern Asia. Fox News deplores the disasters as the work of arsonists and extreme environmentalists.
Australia’s Queens Birthday Honours list is announced. Among the top recipients of honours are media mogul and government adviser Rupert Murdoch, mining magnate and noted political operator Clive Palmer and former prime minister Scott Morrison.
In the Hunter Region, a lone anti-coal protester is caught holding a placard that reads “coalmining makes holes in the ground”. She is arrested by the NSW Fixated Persons Unit and jailed for five years.
Australian journalist Julian Assange is extradited to the United States to face a secret, in camera trial by a hand-picked military tribunal. To guard the safety of the celebrated political prisoner, prison authorities place him on around-the-clock suicide watch with nothing in his cell but a suitcase full of belts, knives and pieces of rope.
The Dutton Government expresses concern about the state of journalism in Australia, proposing new laws to shut down all non-Murdoch news outlets. This would avoid any possibility of Assange-type difficulties in future, Mr Dutton declares.
Newcastle City Council’s remaining four employees are relocated to rental premises in Melbourne, saving an estimated $900billion, according to a consultant’s report. Nobody asks to the see the report, which the council says will save still more money in legal fees.
Unprecedented droughts cause the movement of millions of refugees around the world. Even the United States is affected, with the Californian drought dramatically cutting food production. Fox News labels the crisis a “hoax”, and blames “fake news” spread by “Libtard snowflakes”.
The Australian Government outlaws electric cars, saying they are bad for the environment because of the heavy demand on the national grid caused by their battery charging needs. Subsidies are announced for the development of new, green, coal-fired cars which Prime Minister Dutton declares are the key to reclaiming the great Aussie weekend. The cars will be built in Indonesia by a Korean company.
Newcastle City Council releases its latest ratepayer satisfaction survey, revealing 110 per cent of ratepayers are “totally delighted” with the way the city is being run. Critics of the survey’s secret methodology are threatened with legal action.
A dramatic global financial crisis is triggered by the collapse of a Chinese construction company. The cascading drama freezes the world banking system, depositors lose access to their funds and hitherto secret “bail-in” provisions are enacted, converting deposits to future share entitlements in potentially reconstructed banks. Many countries, including Australia, rapidly introduce universal basic incomes, paid in new central bank digital currencies that can only be spent in government-approved outlets. Rioting breaks out in many world capitals, requiring newly militarized police units to use maximum force to restore order.
Australia’s first coal-fired car is delivered from Indonesia as part of the Dutton Government’s commitment to emission reductions. The car fails to start, is too wide for Australian roads and it is revealed that base models will cost $75,000 each. Australia’s Sky News media monopoly declares the experiment a resounding success.
Newcastle City Council unveils its long-awaited upgrade of the city’s Ocean Baths. The baths have been filled with concrete to reduce maintenance costs, with savings estimated at $409billion over the next five years. Nobody queries the figures.
Russia and China announce a comprehensive defence alliance, pledging to assist each other against attacks by aggressors. The United States is outraged, declaring the move “the greatest threat to world peace since Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction”. To protect itself, the US moves more missiles to the borders of both countries.
Australia’s Sky News media monopoly calls for a war against Russia and China to stimulate the economy. Prime Minister Dutton instantly agrees, requesting US permission to make another one of his aggressive, sabre-rattling speeches.
Newcastle’s light rail service, out of action since the start of the year, is restarted to popular acclaim from both its passengers. Now coal-fired, in line with Federal Government requirements, the tram is hailed as the transport system of the future. It breaks down after four days but nobody notices.
Russia and China protest at the proliferation of US missile bases on their borders. The US declares the protest an act of extreme aggression and announces it is formally at war.
The Melbourne Cup, its field depleted to just four by a variety of difficulties including Covid-19, the economic crisis, the global nuclear war and animal cruelty protests, attracts record betting from overseas punters. The favourite, Conquest, wins by a head over stablemate War, edging out Famine and Pestilence to take the cup.
Newcastle City Council goes into voluntary administration, with its last employee turning off the lights at the rented Hobart office the organisation had recently shifted into. Nobody notices.
The season of goodwill.
The world ends.