With well under 100 days to go before polling, Councillor Les Rhiannon, Mayor of the inner-city municipality of Burchett Hill ("proudly twinned with Pyongyang") has made a dramatic pre-election intervention in the debate on illegal immigrants.

"Keeping these guests to our shores in what amounts to a concentration camp in Nauru at a cost of $1000 a month for each arrival is a shameful return to the genocidal policies of the Howard terror,” he said. "It's outrageous. We could do it far more cheaply in Burchett Hill."

Councillor Rhiannon proposes that the "spontaneous visitors" (plus their subsidy) be diverted to Burchett Hill, where they could be housed in "sustainable accommodation" for "a much more reasonable figure". The sustainable accommodation is understood to be the redundant steel-mesh "suites", each with main cage and "kitty's walking area", from The Purring Pussy, a cat-boarding establishment conducted by Councillor Rhiannon's daughter Kimberley, which failed recently amid rumours that Kimberley had "snorted" its profits.

The Mayor proposes that the surplus from each $1000 would be allocated to “public benefit projects” in the municipality. Asked what these projects were, Councillor Rhiannon said that any agreement over asylum-seekers coming to Burchett Hill would put him in the position of a "scrupulous custodian of public funds held on trust" and he was therefore not at liberty to give further details. But according to e-mails allegedly seen by an anonymous "whistleblower" in the Town Hall, the only public project Councillor Rhiannon has in mind is the the campaign fund to get the Greens party, which controls the city council, re-elected when Burchett Hill residents vote for a new council on 14 September. 

The fund is in particular need of contributions, with local polls uniformly predicting an 85 to 90 per cent vote against Greens council candidates. Councillor Rhiannon dismisses these figures as "mendacious inventions by the hate media" and "venomous attempts to misinterpret the People's will", but there are indications the Greens are rattled, not only by the prospect of a landslide against them but by the risk that their own vote will be split by a "wild card" in their ranks.

The wild card is the Mayor's estranged "partner", Ms Drusilla Alitosis, the hot-blooded Hellenic siren who has entered the hustings on an all-female ticket, "Drusilla's List" (hers is the sole name on it). There's been a strong Greek community in Burchett Hill since the days of postwar migration and if Ms Alitosis can harness their political clout she stands a chance of unseating Councillor Rhiannon. Her campaign headquarters in the room behind her brother Georgiou's Blue Aegean fish shop in Racecourse Road is crammed night and day with volunteers, dancing, singing and smashing glasses. As campaign guru Ms Alitosis has recruited Georgiou's "equal marriage partner" ("we tied the knot on Mykonos") Max McTernan, a wealthy retired PR consultant.  He's already recommended that Ms Alitosis use her "natural advantages as a feisty female" (or as he put it privately, "Let's face it, Druse, you're a fag hag from way back") to pitch her appeal towards the substantial SSASGD (same-sex attracted, sex or gender diverse) community in Burchett Hill.

Last night, also on McTernan's advice, Ms Alitosis unleashed a "killer" attack on the Mayor, accusing him in a fiery speech of being not only a misogynist but a paedophile too. "That's why," she told an audience in the Our Lady of Lesbos parish centre, "he snaked his way into the position of patron of the Burchett Hill Under 10s' Coalition for Climate Change. Those kids are at risk," she shrieked.

This morning the Mayor hit back by accusing Ms Alitosis of "not being a true Green at all" and undeserving of party support. "She leaves on lights during Earth Hour, brings home non-organic feta, throws all the rubbish into one bin instead of sorting it for recycling and exploits the immunity from traffic fines I gave her by parking her Prius in bicycle lanes while she spends hours having her legs waxed," he said. He also suggested that, in the happier days when she was unofficial Mayoress, Ms Alitosis had regularly "siphoned ratepayers' money" from the mayoral entertainment allowance "to fund her retsina habit." "She's got thousands of bottles stashed away behind the fish shop," he told reporters. "Ask her where she got them."

Councillor Rhiannon moved out of the cohabitational home several weeks ago but the cause of the rift between Burchett Hill's most celebrated power couple has not been revealed. "It's private and personal," says the Mayor. A clue emerged during a civic reception for members of the Burchett Hill-Hezbollah Friendship League when, somewhat inconsistently in view of her earlier accusation, Ms Alitosis apostrophised the Mayor for being "unable to keep his hands off" the couple's Japanese au pair, Sushi. "His brain's in his pants," she informed the room, "and he's done this once too often. It was the same with that Kiwi scrubber." Her remark is believed to be an allusion to the Mayor's former "executive personal assistant", Ms Cherylette Gibney, who received an undisclosed figure in settlement of a harassment charge against Councillor Rhiannon and has now returned to her native New Zealand.

The Coalition's number one candidate for the council, merchant banker Mark Smarmley, has also had to put his house in order - literally. In spite of seeing the mayoralty of Burchett Hill as a step towards his political ambitions, he was neither living nor paying rates in the municipality until recently. He's redressed that by buying the biggest house in the district, "Graftdene", a boom-style mansion built by nineteenth-century financier and Legislative Council power-broker Sir John "Dirty Money" Gladhander. Smarmley has expensively restored the mansion after its many years as a rooming house, removing fibro-cement partitions and replacing smashed plasterwork. "The place was in a disgusting state," he told Burchett Hill Bugle Living 'n' Style reporter Lisa-Lu Alberici. "There was room after room full of derros. It took forever to get them out, but we managed."

Other parties are an unknown quantity in this election. Fielding a candidate for the first time is the First Nations Separatist Ancestral Lands Reoccupationist Party, whose leader, Chanel-outfitted Aunty Larissa Tomandjeri-Heiss, declared at a meeting around the historic Corroboree Tree in the Julian Assange (formerly King George V) Gardens that it was up to "typical blackfellas like myself to spearhead the struggle to drive the invader into the sea." As leader, Aunty Larissa has impeccable credentials, having been stolen, she says, not once but twice: "First when I was sent away to boarding school and didn't want to go and again when I won a cultural studies scholarship to Adelaide University and they made me live away from home or I couldn't have got to the lectures". To underline its separateness the FNSAP has established a "permanent tent legation" in the foyer of Burchett Hill Town Hall where it applies "selective sanctions" against the rest of Australia by picketing the cashiers' windows and obstructing citizens from paying their parking permits and pet registration. As an electoral force the party's strength is hard to estimate, though its support seems to be strongest in the area around Burchett Hill Central Station.

Another first-time party in this election is Sharia Now, which claims to represent the entire Muslim population of the municipality. Imam Ibn al Choppa-Hedoff Poofa of Burchett Hill Mosque has demanded "permanent non-elected representation on the council" for what he calls "the city's fastest growing faith community". Insiders believe the Mayor is "inclined to do a deal" with the Imam on this. Certainly, the votes of Burchett Hill's Muslim bloc could go some distance towards neutralising the electoral power of Ms Alitosis's Greek supporters. As an indication of their political convergence the Imam has made what Councillor Rhiannon calls a "public-spirited offer" to station members of his congregation with machetes at every polling booth "to persuade voters to do the right thing". "They will 'scrutinise' each vote before it is dropped into the ballot box," the Imam has promised.

So, polls or no polls, there are various factors that could turn this election in any direction. Mark Smarmley says he's "quietly confident" yet experience suggests that it would be unwise to underestimate Councillor Rhiannon. "After years of Greens politicking he knows every trick in the book," says an inside source. "He'll be checking for all the possible skeletons in his opponents' closets and he'll probably manage to discover that Smarmley's not really paying rates on his mansion and has set up a trust or something dodgy to pay them for him. And when it comes to polling day, well, it wouldn't be the first time in Les's career that boxes of votes got lost, or new ones appeared from nowhere."

The Mayor himself says he "has no doubt the good sense of the citizens of Burchett Hill will prevail" and that "come 15 September I'll still be wearing the mayoral chain, figuratively speaking" (a reference to the fact that the chain has not been seen since Ms Gibney returned to New Zealand).

In a sermon on Sunday, the Anglican vicar of Burchett Hill, Canon Owen Featherhead, commented sagely that "if only all women and men of goodwill would render unto Caesar and be like He who turned the other cheek by putting their own political preferences last and voting for the other side our fair city would get the council it deserves."

22 June 2013

There are other news stories from Burchett Hill in Argus here ("Municipal News"), here ("A Feast of Reason"), here ("On the Street Where You Eat"), here ("The One Day of the Year"), here ("The Glorious First of May"), here ("Support for the Arts"), here ("How May I Not Help You?"), here ("Our Very Own Olympics"), here ("Marriage Reform in Action"), here ("A School Story"), here ("A Voice in the World"), here ("A Blow Against Misogyny") and here ("Let Justice be Done").

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