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DC 2. The Setting

Australia - 2015

Australia is a country that is very likely to change over the next 25 years. A number of events in the real world can be introduced to match the events of the DC world. Some of those events are as follows, as I see them.

In the real world. In 1999 Australia adopted a Goods and Services Tax, a 10% tax on all money transactions. This was touted by the economic rationalists as the only way to distribute the tax burden fairly over the population. Due to political compromises the final act gave some exemptions to "basic foods". The new tax was to come into effect mid 2000.

The referendum is to be held during the year 2000 to determine if Australia will abandon its old political system and become a republic. The polls at this time have the result just barely in favour of the republic, but it will be very close. Presently Asutralia has a modified Constitutional Monarchy. Under this system the Prime Minister and his cabinet run the country, but the Head of State is the Govenor General, a person who represents the Queen of Australia (who is Elizabeth, Queen of England). The Govenor General has several loosley defined powers that they may exercise. These powers however are not meant to be exercised without consultation with the Prime Minister.

In 1975 there was a constitutional crisis, the Prime Minister at the time did not have a majority in the Senate and was unable to pass the Supply Bills that ensured the country worked. The Govenor General decided (to complicated to explain why) to sack the existing government and force a general election to remedy the balance of power problem (which it didnt but that another topic). This was an unheard of act, after all the Govenor General is only supposed to act on the advice of the Prime Minister, but he had just sacked him!

Anyway, because of this event the Republican movement got a big boost. Under a republic the country would have a President who would be Head of State. We would keep a Prime Minister so the main effect of the change was to completely severe the colonial ties Australia still retained with Britain and the Monarchy. It looks very likely that the President will be elected by Members of the House of Representatives. Any individual nominated will need a 75% vote, which is suppose to defeat Party based nominations. The President would still retain most of the old powers of the Governor General but they would be defined a little better.

So you can see that if something goes wrong, Australia could have a pretty lively political scene, especially if the economy goes bad.

The introduction of the GST is meant to result in a redistribution of wealth. The problem with such a tax is that nothing fixes it in cement. Later governments can alter it to suite their own needs. As with any western country we will go through different governments and very likely we will get something like a Ronald Regan government at some time. This would mean a shift in the tax burden to favour the rich. In general Australia has a much better distibution of wealth, we have a large middle class that is both politically aware (well sometimes), and more importantly has a history of being willing to fight for what it believes. This power has until recently been commonly manifested through the Trade Unions. Up until 20 years ago the lower and middle classes were strong supporters of Trade Unions (union membership was compulsory in quite a few industries). Economic reforms by both right and left wing governments have lately disrupted this force, not to mention a pendulum swing by people to be less industrial. This combined with tough economic times has seen the union movement wane.

Also note that Australia does not have a Bill of Rights. Citizens have rights established by common law and state and federal laws. These can be changed by act of parliament at anytime. The High Court does not have the right to revoke laws that would remove your freedoms unless those laws broke the consitution in some other way. The consitution defines how the Federation (of the member states) will work, it was never imagined as something for the people (very british what!). Dont underestimate convention however, Australians hate to lose perks.

Considering all of this it is not hard to see a future (manipulated by Dark Powers), where Australia could be severly disrupted, and radical forces could make considerable inroads. There is already a vague precedent for the government to raise funds from international sources to cover its debts, so the ex-territorial lease of what is basically large tracts of desert and rough terrain is not all that hard to accept. Especially if Australia gets it back at the end. Using Hong Kong as an example China has done pretty well out of it, they get a massive economic city back for nothing (if things are handled properly of course).

As for toxic dumps, this idea has already been suggested even today. Inparticular there are a number of people proposing a nuclear waste dump in the centre of Australia. Historically there has always been the idea of turning the inland deserts into arable land more useful to the modern nation. Another scheme that is often put forward is to turn all the rivers running to the coast back inland. Huge icebergs off the coast with the melt off being pumped inland is another. They sound nice but there are several problems most of these people like to ignore, a major one being salt.

Diamond mines! They're there already, the Argyle Diamond deposits are some of the largest in the world.

Minieral wealth, there also, in fact Mount Tom Price is just off the edge of the map (This is a iron deposit of huge proportions). Lead, Tin, Zinc, Copper, Nickel, Gold, etc etc are all presently mined in the region. Not to mention offshore oil in the Timor Sea that are only now being constructed.

The following is a proposed time line. It is probably a bit quick but I wanted to keep the date close to the present so the technology will be similar.

Time Line:

1998 - Asia suffers major recession.

2000 - Y2K problem triggers depression in asian countries and recession in West.

2001 - Australia creates Waste Management Organisation, which establishes commercial and nuclear waste dump areas in the Australian desert. Major contracts signed and econmic gains outweigh the complaints of the environmentalists.

2002 - First dumps established on West Australia coast. Ships from asia and europe begin to arrive in great numbers. Several Third World countries boycott IMF repayments and default on loans. Global depression sets in with major banks going under.

2003 - Asia countries default on Waste payments and project becomes a disaster. Shipments from Europe and the US continue to arrive. Desperate to off load the project it is sold to a group of multi nationals with an Extra Territorial Lease to last 99 years. The strip of land effectively becomes a new Hong Kong. Austrlian government requires a Territorial Council elected by all residents to oversight civilian administration.

2004 - New Cenntenial Corp announces it will build a new city near the dump site by reclaiming land from the sea. They also announce plans for a major port, nuclear power plant, metal smelters and water purifiers. They begin highly controversial methods to accelerate decomposition of waste dump materials, burying much of the dump under land fill, leveling the surrounding hills. Further waste dumping is moved inland behind the new city.

2005-6 - Land recovered from sea and foundations laid.

2007 - Port, nuclear plant and smelter come on line.

2008 - Water purifiers come on line.

2009 - First stage of City completed. New mineral finds in lease lands, including diamonds and precious metals. Farmlands and Solar station experiments begun.

2010 - Growth, Project areas built, methane gas problems identified, caused by methods used to accelerate decomposition of wastes. Solar water purifier experiment begun.

2011 - Main Port moved to smelter location. Major sea floor habitat announced by NCC to be built offshore of New Centennial, work begins.

2012 - Growth. First stage of NCSeaHabitat completed. Woomera space station lands leased to multinationals who begin building Woomera Space Station.

2013-14 - Growth. Stage Two of NCSH begun. Woomera SS launches first rocket, regular operations begin.

2015 - Today