A firestorm has erupted over a secret campaign of foreign influence that has snaked into Canberra’s corridors of power and major media outlets across Australia.
Senior intelligence chiefs are understood to have warned the infiltration could extend to the very highest levels of government.
Calls for the Foreign Minister to resign over the scandal continue to mount.
Yet despite one prominent academic warning of the danger to national sovereignty from a “silent invasion” of key Australian institutions, civil libertarians reject the need for new laws to tackle the threat.
The royal wedding, they say, must go on.
Saturation coverage of the impeding nuptials is expected to dominate Australian screens well beyond the formal ceremony on Saturday.
The influence campaign has been bolstered by struggling (Fairfax) local (ABC) businesses (News Corp) in search of profit from overseas – tactics have included the publication of special lift-out feature sections disguised amid regular news pages.
British tabloid The Sun, renowned for its nationalist rhetoric, published a fiery editorial warning of “hurt feelings” should Australia snub the big day.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to disclose the burden on taxpayers for the nuptials of the prince who would be Australia’s king if only he didn’t have a brother who also had children.
But Mr Turnbull did reveal on Melbourne radio this week that Australia would send a gift to the happy couple, and that it would not be a pet fairy penguin.
“We can’t revel [sic] it quite yet, but its [sic] … it is very Australian and appeals to their, you know their interests,” Mr Turnbull said. [He actually did get asked about the penguin and the spelling mistake appears in the transcript.]
Critics leapt on the Prime Minister’s choice of phrase “their interests”, only to claim this proves that matters of the Crown are not actually the same as Australia’s interest.
Yet calls for a Royal Commission into the insidious foreign influence campaign by the Windsor family foundered as it quickly became apparent that the Queen would not lend her imprimatur into such an investigation.
It can also be revealed that foreign influence has extended to the military, including the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force.
“Labor can’t afford to play these games on this topic,” a high-ranking military official said on the condition of anonymity, in a completely unrelated context.
A serious scholar from the College of Fellow Travellers at Some University blamed spy agencies for hyping the threat.
But a Facebook post from Another University in Australia clearly shows a student calling for a debate on the republic being heckled by British backpackers.
Leading academics have weighed in on the controversy, writing a long and detailed open letter in support of insulting the royal family.
A second group of academics, including many from the first group, have written a second letter calling for the newly constituted field of “Royal Thought” to be added to the national curriculum.
In the face of overwhelming evidence, analysts have quickly judged the influence campaign as a momentous success.
"Meghan Markle is a brilliant move by the British royal family. They are the masters of public relations. It's love as well, but it's a brilliantly executed bit of love" Greg Sheridan #RoyalWedding #TheDrum pic.twitter.com/lrkgGahabT
— ABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum) May 15, 2018