Diary

Gadfly
Rally ’round the markets

Freedom Boy’s reappearances in these pages is well overdue, and what good fortune that we’ve found his cheerio call to attendees at the G20 Free the Markets Rally.

“Congratulations on your G20 rally to defend free markets ... anyone who cares about human rights and freedoms should be supporting freer global markets.”

That’s right: human rights go hand in hand with free markets.

Protectionism, on the other hand, according to Timbo, “teaches us to be untrusting and not to rely on the inherent goodness of our fellow human beings”.

This sounds as though it’s right out of the IPA hymnbook, yet it’s written on Human Rights Commission letterhead.

Tim Wilson has a dreamy view of the goodness of free markets. As long as market power allows big corporations the freedom to knock off smaller rivals, all is good. We’ll see the goodness of free markets should universities ever get the freedom to set tuition fees.

Last week, Wilson participated in a debate conducted under the auspices of Diversity Council Australia. Tony Jones from the ABC was master of ceremonies. The freedoms commissioner spoke for the affirmative, with the proposition being, “Promotion on merit does give everyone a fair go.”

Of course it does. As long as an ideologically aligned politician spots your merit and gives you a juicy government job.

Stop the showboats

Introducing Sly Moribund, Minister for Non-Communication. He pops up in a new play due to get an outing early next year at Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre.

The ghost of Franz Kafka (and possibly that of Deportation Minister Scott Morrison) will be hovering as a would-be refugee pleads his case in The Process, which learned readers will know was the original name in German for Kafka’s The Trial.

Playwright, author and philosopher-at-large Ian Robinson writes of an innocent who takes our national anthem to heart, especially the little-known second verse, when pleading with a bureaucrat, lawyer and a shrink to be allowed to stay.

To add spice, as it were, to this Dario Fo-style black comedy, the talk is that a Tamil refugee may play the would-be visa holder.

Success with the Melbourne season may bring on a national tour. A Canberra outing could see Scotty’s army of PRs and image-shapers occupying a few rows. All with gags firmly tied, of course.

Morrison and the chadors

While Morrison is on my mind, did you see the warm and squishy profile of him in the Weekend AFR, complete with a photo of the man wading in the surf at Cronulla with his trousers on?

What a loveable guy is this protector of our borders. His career in politics “stemmed from a view that public service is what my family did. It was a question of where you were best able to be of use to the public.”

He’s proud of his focus and his morality, which is dedicated to saving lives at sea, as opposed to saving the lives of those seeking to flee places where they’ll be killed or sending people insane in his network of internment centres.

There was so much happy-clappy fluff in the profile that there was no space for a few hard questions – such as addressing his complaint in 2011 that the government should not be paying for asylum seekers to attend the funerals in Sydney of those shipwrecked and drowned just off Christmas Island; or his call on the shadow cabinet in 2010 to start questioning multiculturalism and to ruffle voter concerns about Muslims.

Now the Fin Review breathlessly reports that Morrison has built wonderful relations with the Muslim community.

The other alarming revelation was that he goes trekking with opposition frontbencher Jason Clare, whose Blaxland electorate would have one of the highest concentrations of Muslims
in the country.

Jason on a previous occasion explained his view of multiculturalism in this way: “We’re like a fruit salad. We all like apples, we all like oranges, we all like watermelon, but they’re better when they’re all together.”

While he’s been remarkably silent on such things as section 18C, we must keep more of an eye peeled on Jace.

All the president’s mien

One of Gadfly’s field-agents was off to see the Australian Ballet’s La Bayadère at the Sydney Opera House only to find herself swept into a swish crowd as they ascended from the concourse up some steps at the northern end of the building.

It was a tight pack, with strange-looking types in navy whites and men with wires sticking out of their ears.

Soon the posh swell navigated themselves into a large function room at the front of the house, our field-agent haplessly caught in its tide. Bottles of champagne appeared along with platters of delicious canapés and she soon noticed a smallish man who looked remarkably like a customer service officer from the ANZ bank.

It was François Hollande, president of France (sans Julie Gayet).

All our agent wanted was to find her way to the ballet, but here she was stuck in a private reception with François.

Even though the president seemed to be surrounded by security men, they apparently provided no security at all, hence our agent was able to get up close and almost personal with the serial love rat.

Pakula’s castle

Intriguing possibilities await the 18 new silks announced on Wednesday by the chief justice of Victoria, Marilyn Warren.

Victoria now has a two-step process for the elevation of barristers. The first is selection and appointment as senior counsel by the chief justice, after consultation with a wide pond of big wigs.

So at the moment the 14 boys and four girls are freshly minted SCs.

The second step was introduced earlier this year by the Liberal government and allows SCs to fill out a form and send it to the attorney-general requesting appointment as queen’s counsel.

Most of the Yarraside silks have happily availed themselves of the opportunity to convert themselves from SC to QC, which we’re assured has absolutely nothing to do with aspirations for status or grandeur.

The Labor shadow attorney-general, Martin Pakula, who may well be the attorney-general after today’s election, has said that he’s not in favour of swelling the ranks of QCs, which means he is unlikely to be handing out letters patent to any of the Vic Bar’s new silks.

This leaves the just-announced SCs stranded a whisker away from the highly prized royal trimmings and flourishes.

In the night garden

Somewhere at a secret spot in Sydney’s CBD is an enchanted garden, with hedges, flowering myrtle, aggies, hydrangeas and a neatly trimmed lawn.

Once you’re within all is private, as passers-by cannot see in. This verdant and flowering idyll is one of the perks of office for the chief justices of NSW, where the incumbent can sit and ponder in tranquility. Former chief justice Sir Leslie Herron used the space to practise his golf swing and putting.

Towards the end of each year the CJ invites reptiles of the press, radio and telly to a cocktail party in his serene botanical plot and together the judges of the court and the media muffins mingle and exchange banter.

The journalists go along hoping one or two judges will take a touch too much refreshment and say something indiscreet. Invariably they are disappointed, as the judges are on their best behaviour busily observing the media people consuming various tinctures and getting looser by the minute.

The occasion is like a carefully choreographed pavan. Judges and journalists circulate, but if a reporter gets the evil eye from an officer of the law they have offended in dispatches, they know to keep their distance. Consequently, no one actually comes to blows, and as darkness descends we all go home, exhausted by the politeness, as we were on Wednesday.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 29, 2014 as "Gadfly: Rally ’round the markets". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.

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