Australia in the Time of the Red

Australia in the time of the RED

Australia, the Lucky Country. Yeah, right.  

Lucky to have a roof over your head.

Lucky to have a job.

Lucky to have enough to eat.

Still, no worries mate.  She’ll be right.

Dave “Bandit” Blue, Smuggler.

Australia itself was largely left alone during the 4th Corporate War, as it was out of the way and of little interest to the warring parties, but such was the global nature of the conflict it was impacted heavily nonetheless.

Eastern Australia saw some light covert actions between various corporations, but it hardly stood out beyond run of the mill daily life.  It was Western Australia, an Arasaka vassal state, that saw the heaviest action.  

Early in the war, Militech sought to deny Arasaka the benefit of the location, and launched heavy missile strikes on the Arasaka HQ in Perth.  The HQ was largely destroyed, but there was also extensive damage to the surroundings.  Even as the missiles struck, secondary attacks were staged on various research facilities, ports, mines and infrastructure held by Arasaka.  The first wave was made up of hired Edgerunners, expendable forces used by Militech to confuse Arasaka and local forces.  It was followed up by surgical strikes by Militech troops at a number of locations.  The exact target of these raids still remains unknown, but the effects were obvious.  Arasaka’s presence in Western Australia had largely been degraded.

There was talk of rebuilding and reinforcing, but as the global situation rapidly deteriorated it never happened.  The DataKrash and the destruction of shipping lanes largely cut Australia off from the rest of the world.

The economy of the region went into a sharp decline.  While the east suffered, it was already fairly bad off before the war and didn’t have so far to fall.  Not so in the west.  Thanks to its status as an Arasaka vassal state, Western Australia had enjoyed a much higher level of prosperity.  It crashes hard, leading to the fall of the government and a period of anarchy that lasts until after the 4th Corporate War ends.

Local Arasaka loyalists and bought politicians try to manufacture a new government but by this stage Arasaka’s reputation has been badly damaged, its power stripped away by world governments and its influence almost non-existent.  What starts as internal disputes in what remains of the government spills out into sabotage, assassinations and armed groups fighting it out.

Into the mess steps the Australian government.  They send in peacekeeping forces, though not out of any humanitarian desire.  Even so, they are largely welcomed with open arms by this stage, with mass defections of Western Australian law enforcement and military personnel.

The infighting is brought to a swift end and Western Australia is incorporated into the Republic of Australia, though it is brought back in as a territory, not a state.  While some in the west chafe about this, the Australian government is firm on the matter – they have to earn their acceptance again.

Twenty years later they are still waiting to earn it, which is chafing to some, but for most of the populace there are more important matters to be concerned with.

Australia in 2045 is in bad economic shape, with limited access to the outside world.  Communications remain limited and trade even scacer.  While, on paper, it has vast wealth in the form of minerals, it has few customers for it.  Corporations, especially those involved in the war, are not particularly welcomed and most show little interest in a place so isolated and of little value as Australia.

The Australian government has been seeking ways around its problems, sometimes reverting to fairly radical and less-than-legal means.

Prior to the war, one of Western Australia’s most powerful mining magnates, Kate “Queen” Morling, had been inspired by Richard Night and the concept of Night City, and sought to replicate it in north-western Western Australia.  She envisioned a new, shining city, Port Morling, much closer to the export markets for the wealth torn from the ground by her mines, a city that operated outside of the government’s control and firmly in the hands of herself and the corporations.  It didn’t take much for the government to be persuaded, especially with Arasaka’s support.

Work began immediately, regardless of damage to the local environment and destruction of important indigenous sites.  There were some sabotage attempts by various environmental and indigenous groups, but Arasaka backed security soon cracked down.

Then the 4th Corporate War hit.  Construction of the city, still in its early stages, slowed down and then halted after Miltiech struck the rail lines and port facilities, cutting off supplies.  The vast quantities of money that had been promised soon dried up and the skeleton the city was left behind.

Yet the 4th Corporate war proved both the death and life of Port Morling.  While Australia was in a bad state due to the war, it was still relatively untouched and not as bad as elsewhere.  Huge numbers of refugees were seeking safety as the war ravaged their lands, and many sought refuge by boat.   With the Western Australian government in turmoil, they had little chance to stop the tide of boats that flowed forth, most aiming for Port Morling.

Vast shanty towns soon blossomed around Port Morling, both on the land and on boats in the harbour.  No one knows how many arrived, though conservative estimates place it in the few hundreds of thousands, drawn from many nations.  At first it was a chaotic place, with limited services or control.  Smuggling and even piracy began to flare up in the waters around the north as the new arrivals sought a new life and a living.

Queen Morling tried to maintain control over the city itself, the workers and employees there, but those efforts failed.  The city began to develop outside of her control, in a chaotic free for all nature.  Representatives of various groups and factions began to meet in an attempt to prevent violence and bloodshed, though it was never easy.  Yet somehow the Council managed to keep the city going, in a fashion.

When Western Australia was taken over by the Republic, the new government stepped in.

They realised there were too many people there now to remove and so sought out the representatives of the Council.  Port Morling was renamed Port Hermitage and was cut out of the Territory of Western Australia, being made a separate territory under the control of the Federal Government.

The government began to set up services in the city, but also turned a blind eye to many of the activities that took place in the city, and even encouraged them.  In effect the government offered Letter of Marque, unofficially at least, to encourage smuggling and privateering in the south east Asian region where many of the refugees from Port Hermitage had come from.  With access to supplies cut off from most sources, the Port Hermitage smugglers became an important source of items that were otherwise impossible to get.  Port Hermitage’s markets began to thrive, and were home to many fixers, techies and nomads who supplied or made use of it.  If there is one place you have a chance to find something in Australia, it is at the night markets of Port Hermitage.

Elsewhere in Australia it is much harder to locate modern items, and techies have an important role in the repurposing, rebuilding and recycling of equipment.  Anything new and modern is hard to find, expensive, and generally comes in via Port Hermitage.

The Australian government of course denies any knowledge or complicity in what is going on there, and periodically makes a show of cracking down on smugglers, but these are always ones that operate independently of government oversight.

Following the 4th Corporate War, the Australian government, weak as it was, joined in on cracking down on the Corporations, and successive governments tried to outdo each other as it was seen as a vote winner.  One of the biggest scalps in this was Petrochem and its vast farmlands which grew crops for CHOOH2, farland that had once been part of the Youngblood family holdings.  Facing looming food shortages, the government nationalised all the farmlands and began renting it out to Nomad families who had been driven off the land by wealthy Megacorps.

It took some time for food supplies to stabilise, as converting the farmland wasn’t a quick or easy affair, though eventually it had its desired effect.  It also served to alienate Petrochem and especially the Australian born Angus Youngblood.  He saw it as a betrayal and has been involved in campaigns to try and win back what he saw as rightfully his.  He has rumoured to be behind a number of attacks on small farms as well, trying to drive out the new owners, but nothing has yet been proven.

The various Australian governments since the time of the 4th Corporate War have done little to endear themselves to the Corps, as their moves against them were widely popular, but as the Corps begin to grow and spread their influence again, and with their long memories, some fear that they have designs on Australia again.  Australians are proud of having kicked the Corps out but worried that it may soon come to an end.  The Australian government has long been cash strapped and that gives the Corps an opening.  With large numbers poor or out of work, there would be an easily exploitable workforce on offer as well.

Already the first tentative steps seem to be taking place, with some of the less problematic Corps starting to be invited back.  Ziggurat has started up in Melbourne, promising to upgrade and modernise the ageing city network there, against resistance from local telecommunication groups.  Biotechnica has also been invited in, given almost carte blanche to rebuild the devastated local environments.   While generally applauded in principle, there are already reports of unusual animals turning up in the wild, the venomous fanged koala, which locals have nicknamed the dropbear, being one of the least unusual of them.

Others are expected to follow.

One of the most recent developments involved the Highriders.  In an unusual step, the government turned over to them control of the Cape York space facility in the effort to forge ties with them, and to gain access to the Highriders technological base, in return for whatever raw materials and smuggled supplies that the Highriders require.  The venture is in its early days and it is too early to tell if it will have the hoped for effect.

Politically, Australia is an unstable place.  Governments are cobbled together alliances of small parties with often widely differing views that rarely last their full length and are almost never re-elected.  Politics has been reduced to a spectator sport, often with fist-fights in the parliament, and often between politicians who are part of the same government.  Scandals are frequent, as is betrayal and backstabbing.  Yet for all that it remains remarkably violence free, seen, and viewed, as a soap opera by the viewers. 

In general, Australia in 2045 is a poor place, still largely cut off, a melting pot of cultures and races driven by the events of the 4th Corporate War, still with large numbers of homeless and destitute, governments teetering on the edge of economic ruin, smuggling, piracy and espionage, and Corporations lurking the background, ready to pounce.