Ge­orge Bran­dis and Ge­orgina Downer. David Mur­ray. Morry Schwartz. Brian Johns.

The Saturday Paper - - The Week Contents - Richard Ack­land

The peo­ple run­ning the Twit­ter ac­count at Aus­tralia House in Lon­don pro­duced a mar­vel­lous pho­to­graph of the new high com­mis­sioner ad­dress­ing his min­ions in a mar­bled re­cep­tion hall.

The staff looked as though they were hav­ing a per­fectly mis­er­able time as His Ex­cel­lency Book­shelves Bran­dis droned on. They’d only just got rid of Fish­nets Downer; now they were rolling their eyes, won­der­ing what this new turkey from the Nasty Party would be like.

Mean­while, back home, Ge­orgina Downer is the lat­est young fo­gey from the IPA an­gling for a spot on the par­lia­men­tary leather. There are no sur­prises there, as the IPA is a sort of Petri dish for breed­ing sprogs to be fed to the Nasties.

Fish­nets is try­ing to shoe­horn her into pre­s­e­lec­tion for his old seat of Hold-the-Mayo, fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Bri­tish-born sec­tion 44 vic­tim Re­bekha Sharkie of the Cen­tre Al­liance, for­merly the Nick Xenophon Team.

Ge­orgina will bring fresh ideas to par­lia­ment, from her IPA ad­junct-fel­low­ship, as well as keep­ing the fam­ily name firmly locked onto the pub­lic teat.

She was knocked off by Free­dom Boy Wil­son as flag-bearer for the Nasty Party in Gold­stein, cov­er­ing Mel­bourne’s south-eastern suburbs. Now the Ade­laide Hills beckon.

Gadfly had oc­ca­sion pre­vi­ously to men­tion her coura­geous cam­paign on be­half of ci­ti­zens who wanted to buy Bat­girl T-shirts, bear­ing a to-do list: “dryclean cape, wash Bat­mo­bile, fight crime, save the world”.

Tar­get with­drew the item fol­low­ing com­plaints, but young Fish­nets flew to the res­cue and in the process used the phrase “po­lit­i­cally cor­rect” six times in 10 para­graphs.

She came up with some ex­cit­ing new thoughts: “The surge of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness un­der­mines our free­doms, in­clud­ing in this case the free­dom to raise our chil­dren in the way we choose.”

Go Ge­orgie Girl.

Art bankers

New South Wales Min­is­ter for the

Yarts Don Har­win has an­nounced new nom­i­nees for the board of the Na­tional Art School, the bril­liant lit­tle hub of cre­ativ­ity within the old Dar­linghurst Gaol.

In re­cent times prop­erty peo­ple have been smack­ing their chops at the de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial of the site, and with the state govern­ment re­ally be­ing the poo­dle of de­vel­op­ers it is feared any­thing is pos­si­ble.

Don has come up with the tra­di­tional as­sort­ment of Lib­eral Party types, money men, a prop­erty man, plus a few cul­ture­vul­tures tossed into the cock­tail.

The pro­posed new chair is

Carolyn Fletcher, for­merly a big wig in the NSW Lib­eral Party and the cur­rent squeeze of for­mer premier Nick Greiner. Then there’s David Kent, a for­mer chair­man of a money out­fit called Ever­est Fi­nan­cial Group and a one-time deputy chair­man of the Art Gallery of NSW Foun­da­tion.

Ear­lier this year, Don ap­pointed Nick’s for­mer squeeze, Kathryn Greiner, to the Syd­ney Opera House Trust.

Another pro­posed new ad­di­tion to the NAS board is Ross McDiven, hus­band of the for­mer Lib­eral Party pres­i­dent Chris­tine McDiven. Ross is the for­mer chair­man of prop­erty de­vel­op­ment out­fit Brook­field Mul­ti­plex. Har­win gave Chris­tine a job on the board of the His­toric Houses Trust in Jan­uary.

Cor­po­rate lawyer John

Mitchell from Arnold Bloch Leibler is also nom­i­nated, along with Glenda McLough­lin, an in­vest­ment banker who is cur­rently on the board and is up for reap­point­ment.

The se­lec­tion from the world of cul­ture is for­mer Book Show TV pre­sen­ter Jen­nifer Byrne; Brooke Horne, a di­rec­tor of the Equal­ity Cam­paign for same-sex mar­riage; artist Guy Maestri; and ar­chi­tect Su­san Roth­well.

There is to be an NAS share­hold­ers’ meet­ing on May 28 to for­mally con­sider th­ese ap­point­ments – the share­hold­ers be­ing the Min­is­ter for the Arts and the Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion, Rob Stokes.

The arts scene is stacked with bankers, cor­po­rate ad­vis­ers and pals of the govern­ment, bring­ing to mind Os­car Wilde’s ob­ser­va­tion that he much

prefers the com­pany of bankers be­cause they like to talk about art, whereas artists only want to talk about money.

Mur­ray raver

David Mur­ray’s ap­point­ment as chair­man of AMP has set the cor­po­rate world jump­ing with ex­cite­ment. Sour­faced Dave is just the pro­gres­sive sort of bloke to set the trou­bled fi­nance house on the right course.

In 2013 he was a lead­ing cli­mate scep­tic, say­ing that “the cli­mate prob­lem is over­stated ... there needs to be some con­sen­sus” about the sci­ence.

He was asked what it would take to con­vince him that there was a sci­en­tific con­sen­sus about global warm­ing. “When I see some ev­i­dence of in­tegrity amongst the sci­en­tists them­selves,” he shot back.

In 2016 he wasn’t keen about ASIC’s pro­posal to hold com­pany di­rec­tors legally re­spon­si­ble for poor cor­po­rate cul­ture.

“To be com­pletely can­did, there have been peo­ple in the world that have tried to en­force that be­lief. Adolf Hitler comes to mind. If you want peo­ple to be free, you can­not do that.”

ASIC and Adolf. Right on.

Slow news days

There was a packed au­di­to­rium at the State Li­brary of NSW on Mon­day night for the Brian Johns Lec­ture, de­liv­ered by this or­gan’s pro­pri­etor, Morry Schwartz. Need­less to say, in at­ten­dance were plenty of the me­dia’s rep­tiles, along­side dar­lings of the arts com­mu­nity, cabin boys of in­dus­try, in­no­va­tors and dis­rup­tors aplenty.

The theme was “Slow News: Think­ing in Pub­lic”, a re­flec­tion of the pub­li­ca­tions pro­duced on the Schwartz presses: Quar­terly Es­say, Black Inc Books, The Monthly and The Satur­day Pa­per.

Morry has been a cap­tain of the slow news in­dus­try, which he de­fines as an at­tempt to “cap­ture the big­ger, deeper forces un­der­ly­ing the news”. It does not re­fer to the speed and means of de­liv­ery, rather the time given to its for­mu­la­tion.

Nor, pre­sum­ably, does it re­fer to slow jour­nal­ists, only to slow jour­nal­ism, although some­times they are one and the same. This seemed to be the case when Schwartz tagged along with Robert Manne to in­ter­view jour­nal­ists and edi­tor-in-chief Herr Mitchell at The Catholic Boys Daily back in 2011.

Fa­ther Kelly was also there in the of­fice to of­fer grave pro­nounce­ments.

“It was a hi­lar­i­ous mo­ment,” said Schwartz, “when the great News Cor­po­ra­tion couldn’t get a tape recorder to work. We, the four of us, sat in Mitchell’s of­fice in morose si­lence, as sec­re­taries scur­ried to make one work.”

The up­shot was Manne’s Quar­terly Es­say Bad News: Mur­doch’s Aus­tralian and the Shap­ing of the Na­tion, which was a sen­sa­tion.

The pro­pri­etor cited in­ter­est­ing ex­am­ples of nour­ish­ing slow news, in­clud­ing the dig­i­tal mag­a­zine Aeon pro­duced in Mel­bourne with a mil­lion monthly unique read­ers, 65 per cent of whom are in North Amer­ica and 4 per cent in Aus­tralia.

Also, there is the Slow Jour­nal­ism Com­pany in Bri­tain, pub­lisher of the quar­terly jour­nal De­layed Grat­i­fi­ca­tion, which aims to pro­duce jour­nal­ism un­der the slo­gan “Last to Break­ing News”.

Life of Brian

One of the pro­pri­etor’s sober­ing mes­sages is that it is en­tirely pos­si­ble that we’ll see qual­ity news be­ing the pre­serve of the wealthy and that ac­cess to news will cause even deeper in­equal­ity.

His dystopian sce­nario is that the su­per-wealthy will fi­nance valu­able news and in­for­ma­tion, out­side the reach of the ev­ery­day reader. You can see this now with pub­li­ca­tions such as Politico in the United States, where sub­scrip­tions to in­sider pol­icy news range be­tween $8000 and $300,000 per an­num.

“The rich will get rich news and the rest of us will de­pend on trashy free news,” Schwartz said.

He also traced the ca­reer of the late Brian Johns – jour­nal­ist, arts ad­min­is­tra­tor, ABC and SBS man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, pub­lisher at Pen­guin Books, plus much else be­sides too am­ple to men­tion. He be­gan in the boon­docks at The Quean­beyan Age and by 24 was writ­ing for Tom Fitzger­ald and Ge­orge Mun­ster’s Na­tion.

Johns pro­duced a great two-part in­ves­ti­ga­tion of B. A. San­ta­maria’s move­ment un­der the by­line La­condaire and another piece crit­i­cal of the Knights of the South­ern Cross, which re­sulted in that is­sue of Na­tion be­ing de­layed and many copies de­stroyed by Catholic postal work­ers in Syd­ney.

It wasn’t long be­fore he wound up as chief po­lit­i­cal cor­re­spon­dent for Lord Moloch’s new daily, The Aus­tralian, then edited by Maxwell Newton. After eight months, Newton was out of there, say­ing that as edi­tor he was un­der “com­plete di­rec­tion” from Moloch.

He said that it was “im­pos­si­ble to achieve the es­sen­tial prin­ci­ples, aims and stan­dards of qual­ity which fired the en­thu­si­asm and ded­i­ca­tion of a large team of men and women, in­clud­ing my­self”. Things ap­pear to be just as im­pos­si­ble to­day.

Trum­pette #68

Me­la­nia Trump, Bark­ing Dog’s Step­ford wife, is hav­ing a rough time of it, what with her hus­band’s af­fairs and flings with porn stars and bun­nies be­ing the daily fod­der of Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal dis­course.

The dis­tance is in­creas­ing and, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post, the cou­ple are only rarely seen to­gether.

They in­fre­quently eat to­gether or travel to­gether. This seems en­tirely sen­si­ble on her part – cer­tainly hav­ing him in the same bed­room would be grotesque and un­think­able.

Ap­par­ently, she can’t stand the icy and aw­ful Ivanka and that side of the fam­ily.

The Post re­ported an awk­ward ex­change as a re­sult of Trump call­ing into Fox & Friends last month to an­nounce Me­la­nia’s birth­day, soon to have the con­ver­sa­tion take a dan­ger­ous swerve to talk­ing about Stormy.

The Grab­ber-in-Chief was asked what he had bought Me­la­nia for her birth­day. Paus­ing, he said: “Maybe, I didn’t get her so much. I got her a beau­ti­ful card ... You know, I’m very busy to be run­ning out look­ing for presents.”

What a men­sch.

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