Peter Dut­ton. Ben Roberts-Smith, Ross Coulthart and Sue Cato. Ru­pert Mur­doch and Ch­eryl Carter. Tim Sout­phom­masane. Clive Evatt.

The Saturday Paper - - The Week | Contents - Richard Ack­land

Gad­fly speaks for many when he says that for a long time he has been long­ing for a saviour of the cal­i­bre of Peter Dut­ton. What he lacks in charm, charisma and in­tel­lect, Ben­ito makes up for in neg­a­tively geared prop­erty ac­cu­mu­la­tion, gov­ern­ment-sub­sidised child­care en­ter­prises and the waft­ing al­lure of visas for mys­tery au pairs.

More than any­thing he brings the com­plex­ity of a ba­nana-bend­ing Const Plod to our sense of a bet­ter to­mor­row.

Ge­orge Chris­tensen, the heavy­weight bachelor MP from some­where on the equa­tor, summed up the events in Can­berra with his trade­mark pi­quancy: “You can’t put pig on a lip­stick and, you know, pre­tend it’s the home­com­ing queen; it’s still a pig.”

Alexan­der “Fish­nets” Downer also sought to cap­ture the zeit­geist this week with a col­umn he scratched for the Fi­nan­cial Review: “... Aus­tralia is and has been over the decades a pretty well-run place … On the ba­sis of what we know, the Lib­eral Party should be able to win the elec­tion: the econ­omy is go­ing well, the coun­try’s at peace and ur­gent so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues are be­ing addressed.”

Ad­mit­tedly, there have been set­backs. God knows how the na­tion will strug­gle on with­out the min­is­te­rial ca­pac­ity of Con­certina Fier­ra­van­tiWells. How on earth did we cope with­out her for three days?

Cabi­net break­ers

For­tu­nately, the Vic­to­rian Bar has some reme­dies on hand and is propos­ing a one-day work­shop on how to “man­age high-con­flict per­son­al­i­ties”.

A spe­cial Cal­i­for­nian ex­pert,

Bill Eddy Esq from the High Con­flict In­sti­tute, will be on hand to dis­cuss the skills re­quired to han­dle the five main per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders. Morn­ing tea, lunch and af­ter­noon tea will be pro­vided and all up it only costs $699. And, if you are a lawyer, you can score six con­tin­u­ing pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment points.

It’s an ex­clu­sive event, limited to 25 reg­is­trants, enough to ac­com­mo­date the en­tire cabi­net.

Downer time

Fresh ex­am­ples of Downer na­tion­build­ing con­tinue to flood Gad­fly’s in-tray. One con­cerns ex­pec­ta­tions in the Can­berra sub­urb of Downer where the Downer Bi­cen­ten­nial Project group failed to se­cure do­na­tions from Fish­net’s fam­ily to­wards a clock for the com­mu­nity square.

Surely, those obliged to live in a sub­urb called “Downer” are hav­ing a bad enough time, but the fail­ure of the name­sake to fund the vil­lage clock adds in­sult to in­jury. It was left to the lo­cal La­bor MP to find money for the time­piece, a small blot on an oth­er­wise su­perb his­tory of na­tion-build­ing and nest-feath­er­ing.

On the de­fen­sive

The Catholic Boys Daily con­tin­ues to pump out stories on dec­o­rated war hero Ben Roberts-Smith. There were at least three in last week­end’s pa­per, where an SAS wi­dow claimed the VC win­ner was be­ing bul­lied, an ar­ti­cle with the head­line “Dar­ing ad­vance marked sol­dier out for dis­tinc­tion” and an ed­i­to­rial “Lest we for­get the SAS’s brav­ery”.

The pre­vi­ous Satur­day The Na­tional Ru­pert had a soft front-page in­ter­view with the hero, who is seek­ing to re­but a Fair­fax in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions of mis­con­duct in Afghanistan. The in­spec­tor­gen­eral of the ADF is con­duct­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­le­ga­tions.

Roberts-Smith has launched the oblig­a­tory defama­tion ac­tion against the Fair­fax in­ves­ti­ga­tion and by his side is PR man Ross Coulthart, him­self a former in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist with Chan­nel Nine’s TV show 60 Jun­kets. In­deed Nine, in its tra­di­tion­ally un­der­stated way, called him “Aus­tralia’s top in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist”.

While the PR ar­ti­cle in The Catholic Boys Daily was head­ing to­wards the presses, the former sol­dier’s lawyers were in the Fed­eral Court in an un­suc­cess­ful at­tempt to stop the Fair­fax press telling its story.

A re­cent in­stal­ment of Me­dia Watch said Coulthart had been making ef­forts

to “kill or dis­credit” the Fair­fax story, which led re­porters Nick McKen­zie and Chris Masters to la­ment about a former jour­nal­ist stoop­ing to un­der­mine those do­ing dif­fi­cult pub­lic in­ter­est work.

Roberts-Smith him­self is a me­dia man, be­ing in charge of the Seven Net­work in Queens­land, while Coulthart works for the flack mer­chants Cato & Clegg. In­trigu­ingly, Sue Cato han­dles the cor­po­rate PR for Fair­fax.

Surely there’s a ready ex­pla­na­tion for what ap­pears to be a con­flict­ing sit­u­a­tion and Gad­fly rang Coulthart for his take on how it all fits to­gether. How­ever, he so busy pol­ish­ing the ex-sol­dier’s medals that he hasn’t re­turned the call.

Where the Sun don’t shine

Mean­while, prepa­ra­tions are un­der way in the Old Dart for cel­e­bra­tions to mark the Dirty Digger’s half-cen­tury pro­pri­etor­ship of The Sun, one of the na­tion’s lead­ing or­gans of af­fairs.

Help­ing with the fes­tiv­i­ties is Ch­eryl Carter, who for five years was the PA to the flame-haired News In­ter­na­tional chief ex­ec­u­tive Re­bekah Brooks.

Pri­vate Eye re­minds us that Ch­eryl and Re­bekah stood to­gether in the dock charged with con­spir­acy to per­vert the course of jus­tice in re­la­tion to the hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of News of the Screws. They were both ac­quit­ted.

Dur­ing the trial Ch­eryl said that she had re­trieved seven boxes of files from Re­bekah’s of­fice and had evis­cer­ated about 30 note­books. She claimed to be act­ing on in­struc­tions from the ar­chives depart­ment, which just wanted to tidy up loose ends. The ar­chiv­ist dis­puted this and told the court Ch­eryl was not asked to remove boxes of com­pany files.

The Eye claimed that af­ter the trial Carter was given a beauty col­umn in the Sun on Sun­day and when that ended the kind­ness didn’t stop – she got the job as an as­sis­tant on the golden jubilee kneesup for Un­cle Rupe.

Run a good race

Gad­fly has been flat-out cop­ing with the re­fresh­ments at wakes and farewells.

There was a well-at­tended au revoir at the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion for Dr Tim Sout­phom­masane, the out­go­ing race dis­crim­i­na­tion com­mis­sioner. Fam­ily, friends and com­mu­nity groups gath­ered to toast Dr Tim, who had fought to pro­tect the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act against as­saults from “free speech” ex­po­nents, anx­ious to prac­tise their big­otry.

Ros­alind Croucher, the pres­i­dent of the com­mis­sion, firmly de­clared that as a re­sult of Sout­phom­masane do­ing his job as an in­de­pen­dent pub­lic of­fi­cer, “the Racial Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act is here to stay”.

We’ll see what Peter Dut­ton has to say about that.

Sout­phom­masane, in a dig at former at­tor­ney-gen­eral Book­shelves Bran­dis, told the gath­er­ing: “If you go and say you have a right to be a bigot, don’t be sur­prised if you see big­otry.”

“Chris­tian” Porter, the at­tor­ney­gen­eral at time of writ­ing, wants to stop this dread­ful drift to the left and is bent on scrap­ping the no­tion of a race dis­crim­i­na­tion com­mis­sioner. He wants to re­cast the job as some­thing akin to a com­mu­nity af­fairs com­mis­sioner.

It makes sense. In a coun­try that doesn’t have politi­cians, me­dia blowhards and oth­ers vent­ing about race, why do we need a race dis­crim­i­na­tion com­mis­sioner?

Weep­ing wil­lows

There was also a last farewell to bar­ris­ter and night­mare of the me­dia Clive Evatt, who died ear­lier this month.

The venue was Sir Anthony Ma­son Cham­bers in Syd­ney’s El­iz­a­beth Street and the in­vi­tees were soon stag­ger­ing around the room af­ter con­sum­ing some­thing called a French Mar­tini.

There were many fine speak­ers pay­ing trib­ute to this wily, bril­liant man, and his wi­dow, El­iz­a­beth Evatt, spoke mov­ingly when she said that Clive was a devo­tee of il­lus­tra­tions for chil­dren’s books, none more so than for former sec­re­tary for the Bank of Eng­land Ken­neth Gra­hame’s Wind in the Wil­lows with its an­thro­po­mor­phised an­i­mals, Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger.

She said that Clive pos­sessed in his char­ac­ter el­e­ments of each of these crea­tures. There was no men­tion of the weasels and stoats.

Trum­pette #83

While Mal­colm Turn­bull is be­ing im­peached by the politi­cians of his own party, the Orange Bam­pot is be­ing given a free ride by the con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans.

A few of the Bam­pot’s favourite crooks have bit the dust, with his own former lawyer giv­ing ev­i­dence that Trump was a co-con­spir­a­tor in cam­paign frauds for which Michael Co­hen pleaded guilty.

It’s only the Jus­tice Depart­ment say­ing that the pres­i­dent can’t be in­dicted be­cause the Con­sti­tu­tion is silent on that is­sue. How those orig­i­nal­ist supre­mos get to work on silent bits of the Con­sti­tu­tion will be in­ter­est­ing to watch.

In any event, the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives is thought un­likely to im­peach the pres­i­dent, be­cause they now have him where they want him.

And here’s our beloved Trum­ble get­ting done over with­out any al­le­ga­tion of crim­i­nal­ity, at least none that we know of. Pol­i­tics has a beau­ti­ful seis­mic un­fair­ness all its own.

Of course, these de­vel­op­ments may be fake news. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent ex­am­i­na­tions of the mys­te­ri­ous sub­cul­ture known as QAnon, this is likely to be the case. QAnon was born on the 4chan mes­sage board and gar­ners spec­u­la­tive the­o­ries so wacky that they make Otto Abetz look ut­terly nor­mal. It is home to, among other ex­cite­ments, the Wash­ing­ton piz­za­gate child porn trol­larama.

Any­way, QAnon en­thu­si­asts are now turn­ing up at those Nurem­bergs for Hill­bil­lies in the firm be­lief that Trump is ac­tu­ally a ge­nius who has it all sorted.

Oth­ers are not so sure, and think that QAnon is a prank by left­ists to make the far right look id­i­otic – not that much ef­fort is re­quired for that out­come. It’s ter­ri­bly complicated and New States­man has just spent thou­sands of words trying to ex­plain it.

Rudy Gi­u­liani has a sim­pler ex­pla­na­tion: “Truth isn’t truth.” Let’s

• stick with that.

RICHARD ACK­LAND is the pub­lisher of Jus­tinian. He is The Satur­day Pa­per’s di­ari­s­tat-large and le­gal af­fairs ed­i­tor.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.