COMMENT: The glory days of Alan Bond, Kerry Packer and other rapacious Australian tycoons are far behind us. For the past few years we've had to make do with the admittedly terrifying but frustratingly publicity-shy Gina Rinehart.
Now one man is singlehandedly doing his best to change all that.
Queensland billionaire mining magnate Colin Palmer is domiciling his company here as part of a complex legal strategy which will allow him to sue his own government.
But don't worry – you won't be bumping into him at Ikea any time soon. An Australian news photographer visited the address cited as the New Zealand headquarters of Mineralogy International and found it unoccupied except for a desk, a chair and a small cabinet. So – not creating a lot of jobs here. A figure of $45 billion for the legal action has been mentioned.
I don't know about you but I'm feeling a little bit used by our part in all this.
What's Palmer like? Well, he's going into politics and his United Australia Party is planning to campaign using the eerily familiar slogan "Make Australia Great". The party's name was changed from Palmer United Party by someone with heightened acronym sensitivity. Its campaigning tactics include sending unsolicited text messages promising it would "ban unsolicited text messages".
I'm guessing Palmer must have at least one pre-school-age grandchild he adores because that's who appears to have done the graphics on his Facebook page. And he can take credit for briefly bringing anarcho-punk band Chumbawamba back into the spotlight. They required him to cease using their hit Tubthumping on one of his political videos, use of tunes by ideologically opposed musicians being a bit of a thing for right-wing parties. Last week Palmer lost a Supreme Court bid to have criminal charges over a deal gone bad dropped.
And our laws are helping him do all this.
It all brings home the fact that there's nothing we wouldn't do for our larrikin sibling state across the water, which yesterday celebrated its national day. At least, the white folks celebrated.
Aboriginals increasingly refer to January 26 as Invasion Day, seeing nothing to celebrate about the arrival of the First Fleet of convicts to colonise the continent and institute centuries of oppression. That was the day the people who had inhabited Australia continuously for more than 50,000 years were introduced to disease, deadly weapons and the threat of extinction.
On this side of the Tasman, we're not really into drawing attention to Australia's appalling treatment of its indigenous people and the sort of miserable statistics that colonialism engenders.
To the fact that the suicide rate for their young men is the world's highest. That at three per cent of the total population they account for 28 per cent of the prison population. That life expectancy is 10 years shorter than non-indigenous people's. That 30 per cent do not have adequate literacy.
Infrequent calls for a Treaty or other recognition of their status are barely given any notice.
In 2006 a report endorsed by then education minister Julie Bishop said indigenous culture should not be taught in schools because it stopped Aboriginal children from getting ahead. That attitude is still prevalent.
We might have allowed ourselves the occasional tut tut at all this, but generally we've stood by smiling indulgently while Australians continue not only their unconscionable anti-Aboriginal policies, but also the torture of refugees and arms sales to the likes of Saudi Arabia.
Because we have a special relationship.
It's time we asked ourselves if the special relationship is worth having. For now, we're like the Englishman in the pre-war cartoon reading reports of Hitler's activities and commenting: "If this goes on much longer, I might have to say something."