El Senatorio to turn parly into a sanitorium
There was a hush, an excited hush, sweeping across the Senate as the men and women on the floor and in the packed galleries waited to hear the First Speech of Senator Julian Assange.
After all, this is to be the first ever First Speech given by a senator living in Ecuador. Julian still thinks the Swedes are after him, and by that we know he means the Americans.
His was a stunning 2013 election victory against the might of the major parties and despite the awkward incident in which his entire campaign strategy was released on Wikileaks.
And it was damn hard running a race in Australia from the suburbs of the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.
But it wasn’t a total surprise. In May 2012, it was reported that pollsters UMR Research found Mr—now Senator—Assange had a chance in either NSW or Victoria by knocking off a Green Senate candidate. Which is what he did.
The poll had found that 66 per cent of Greens voters held positive views on Mr Assange and 39 per cent of Greens voters were likely to vote for him.
The Senate contest was billed by the more uncouth ends of the press and digital media spectrum as the Battle of the Beardies and the Showdown of the Sandals and Socks Brigades. Although Julian, of course, remains neatly coiffed and he hasn’t worn sandals since Queensland holidays while a tot.
But often it was difficult to tell apart the Greens and the Julian Now! zealots.
In his application to stand for the Senate he included a petition with thousands of supporters’ names to establish the credentials of the new Julian Now! party. And he listed his occupation as “data curator; host of Quito Today”. Apparently his brief stint in London at the helm of a political talk show The World Tomorrow, shown on Russian network RT, gave him the TV bug.
But now he was using the Quito Today set to send his video First Speech, having taken a virtual oath necessary for him to be officially made a senator. The hush deepened as the static on a giant flat screen on the Senate floor eased into the well-known flop of white hair and the know-all smirk of Senator Assange.
“My fellow Australians and Ecuadorians,” he began.
“This is a hugely important occasion for the nation and for me. In fact, it is hugely important because it is all about me. And a little bit about representative democracy.
“I firmly believe I have the policies and the drive to make sure this is a country in which I one day might live, and in which you will be proud to live alongside me. I will release these policies shortly by calling into the Philip Adams radio program, where I announced my candidature.
“This election was just the start of a national Julian Now! crusade to reshape the national polity in my image. It was an overdue recognition of the central issues I represent—such as what a terrific bloke I am—and a delayed advance towards the inevitable. I speak, of course, of Prime Minister Assange.
“I can’t say I am looking forward to actually taking part in Senate activities, letalone sitting in the Senate. But my life has seen greater discomforts. Solitary confinement was worse. Two years under house arrest, going to the police station every day at a certain time with a manacle around my leg was worse. Not a lot worse, but worse nevertheless.
“Today also is a great occasion for the many thousands of people who adore me and who I will sooner or later exploit in careless fashion. So to all those people whose couches I slept on without showing any gratitude, whose alcohol I drank and food I ate without replacing any of it, whose bail money I skipped on, this victory would be for you were it not mostly for me.”
The image disintegrated back to the speckles of static but the hush didn’t go away.
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