Welcome to Ord City

Imagine if Australia decided to reverse its anti-refugee stance and let in anyone who wanted to come here.

There’d be a mad rush, so how could we possibly manage them all?

What if we said to these desperate people: “Welcome! You may come to Australia, but you must stay for the first seven years in the Temporary Citizenship Zone (TCZ) around the Ord River.”

Seven years later, Ord City might be a teeming pan-Asian metropolis on our northern edge with a large First Wave about to gain their citizenship and be allowed to go anywhere.

How might the rest of mainstream Australia feel about it?

Would we all be totally welcoming? Or might there be some opposed to the idea, not least because of the dilution of “Australian values” and the risk of letting in terrorists.

And what if the concentration of so many races and cultures in one place had seen the development of a radical new philosophy blending aspects of numerous Asian religions – preaching a terrifying unity which mainstream Australian youth adopted as counter cultural slogans.

The likelihood is that Australia would be deeply polarised by Ord City, and that barbeque and dinner party conversations would get quite heated.

This scenario forms the backdrop to my new novel – Welcome to Ord City – which I hope will be out in July.

The story opens two weeks before the First Wave. Our hero is Conan “Tools” Tooley, an AFP Agent sent up to Ord City to look into a gangland double murder, but Conan is frustrated by the problems and questions that arise at every step. It is clear to Conan that something very weird is going on but he is under pressure to wrap up the case and come home.

His local AFP colleagues are no help and neither are the people he encounters in his investigations, such as officers from the Army of God charity, local politicians and Ronny Kwai – a journalist and socialite who is very well connected.

At the same time, the story is also being told from the perspective of a carload of young people heading up to Ord City for the Illumination Festival – the night before the First Wave – and Asif, a deep cell terrorist with a deadly mission.

As the various subplots wind towards the explosive conclusion, everyone’s motives and values will be challenged and certain alignments will dramatically change.

Welcome to Ord City is a satirical crime thriller set against the backdrop of Australian refugee politics and the malleable populism that characterises the Lucky Country in the C21.

Watch out for the Facebook Live launch where I will be grilled on the book by Pauline Wright, President of the Law Council of Australia.

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