Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation. By Richard Ackland.

Kenny or can’t he?

I celebrated the joint decision on marriage equality by the Nasty Party and the knuckle draggers from Cockies’ Corner by deciding to clean out the cockatiel’s cage.

This was well overdue as the odour had become overpowering. To my amazement I discovered a soiled back-copy of The Catholic Boys Daily at the foot of the cage. After scraping off the guano I read a snippet by Sharri Markson, who writes News Corp press releases and is stenographer to ed-in-chief Kransky Mitchell.

Sharri reported that Chris Kenny, who does typing for the Nasty Party, had challenged me to a “debate” and I had failed to turn up. Apparently the topic was to be about how frightful Zaky Mallah is or was.

Chris was a valet to Lord Downer, when Alexander was foreign minister, and later became an adviser to the Member for Goldman Sachs, Malcolm Turnbull, skilfully helping the then leader of the opposition turn Utegate and Godwin Grech into a political triumph.

The Daily’s scribe also won some monies from the ABC last year for not having sex with dogs. “To the extent that I am remembered for this,” he said at the time, “I’ll be remembered as the journalist called a dog fucker who stood up for his rights.”

These days Kenny Doesn’t Rogers performs as a one-trick pony at the Daily, telling his comatose readers the ABC is awful, the awful ABC is awfully awful and how much more awful the ABC can get, etc.

If I had known in advance there was to be a debate with someone of this calibre, my overwhelming concern would be that life is far too short.

1 . $10k for full Monte

It’s not often that you find a judgement of the Federal Circuit Court dealing not only with MILFs, but “pasties” as well. What luck. This could be a first for an Australian judgement.

Private dick Frank Monte sued Fairfax Media over a 2013 story in The Sun-Herald under the heading, “Alarm as Monte’s back on the case”.

According to Monday’s judgement of Judge Rolf Driver, the article was not very friendly towards poor Frank, starting off: “Liar, cheat and unlicensed private investigator Frank Monte is again using aliases to scam unsuspecting clients, reports Kate McClymont.”

The problem was not the text, but the accompanying photograph of Frank’s partner, Sharon Sargeant, who was “reclining on a bed ... naked from the waist up, except for a loose mesh item over her breasts and ‘pasties’ over her nipples”.

Frank took the snap of Ms Sargeant and he sued for breach of copyright. One of the problems was that the photo “drew attention to the fact Ms Sargeant operates an escort business that was not previously known to her family and children”.

Driver shrewdly recognised that “the photograph is suggestive of professional sexual activity”. Similar photos of Sharon appeared on a website called “Careless Whispers” and her Twitter account describes her as a “sexy super MILF”.

In footnote 14 to the judgement, HH observed: “MILF is an acronym, the meaning of which is known to me but which, somewhat surprisingly, I had to explain to counsel for Mr Monte [Clive Evatt].”

Monte got nominal damages of $1 plus another $10,000 for the newspaper’s “flagrancy”.

2 . Half-baked truths

Back to marriage equality and some of the peculiar nostrums being peddled.

Freedom Boy Wilson says there should be “mutual respect” for religious institutions and service providers, such as florists and bakers, who don’t want to provide flowers and cakes to gay and lesbian people.

Similar sentiments can be found in the teachings of Father Paul Kelly, who editorialises-at-large for the Daily.

What these thought-provoking sages are telling us is that we’ve got to consider the consequences of marriage equality for the churches and bigoted services providers.

Freedom Boy is proposing that the law should require people baking cakes and arranging flowers to announce upfront “the marriage tradition or traditions for which they provide services”.

Actually, the law has already thought about the consequences of marriage equality and done something about it. It’s section 49ZP of the Anti-Discrimination Act (NSW) and I’m sure there are comparable provisions in other jurisdictions. For the benefit of people worried about “mutual respect”, this is what it says:

“It is unlawful for a person who provides, for payment or not, goods or services to discriminate against another person on the ground of homosexuality:

(a) by refusing to provide the person with those goods or services, or

(b) in the terms on which he or she provides the person with those goods or services.”

3 . Beating own drum

We should express gratitude to Phil Rudd, the spirited once-was drummer with AC/DC, for enlivening New Zealand’s sleepy legal system. A matter of threatening to kill and possession of drugs has seen him confined to his home for eight months, along with strict treatment and behaviour conditions – by order of the court. Ten days after being sentenced he was nicked again when a woman brought forbidden grog into his gaff.

According to Rudd’s lawyer, Craig Tuck, it was Phil himself who notified the plod about alcohol being smuggled onto his premises.

He has a November court date, about the time when AC/DC start their Oz-NZ tour, a year after he was arrested for attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill (“a complete crock of shit”) and possession of marijuana and methamphetamine.

“Insufficient evidence” meant the attempt to procure charge was dropped, but he was ordered into rehab and banned from mind-altering substances.

According to the bonged-out drummer, his trouble started at a launch party for his solo album, Head Job. He told Rolling Stone:

“When I walked in [to the party], everyone was eight sheets to the wind and full of bourbon. That’s the last thing I wanted to see. I wanted them to sit down and listen to the album, have a snack and a cup of tea. It just got worse from there. I wasn’t handling it very well.”

Fortunately, a court-ordered psychiatrist called Rupert Bird is attending to the patient’s issues.

“It’s all going quite well,” Rudd says. “He’s a highly qualified maniac from the Clockwork Orange school of psychiatry.”

At least the ageing rocker has become much more self-aware: “Everyone seems to fuckin’ hate me, but everyone really loves me.”

4 . Art for Earth’s sake

I catch up with Australian artist Janet Laurence, at a Surry Hills soiree hosted by Fiona Spence of the Spence & Lyda furniture and homewares emporium.

Laurence tells me she’s soon off to France as part of the Artists 4 Paris Climate 2015, a massive mobilisation of creative people accompanying the upcoming UN climate change conference.

Her project concerns what is happening to the Barrier Reef and reef resuscitation, something she’s been studying from Lizard Island. Her major work is slated for display at the National Museum of Natural History on Rue Cuvier.

This creative sideshow of the climate conference is being sponsored by a heap of organisations, including the City of Paris, the World Wildlife Fund, the mayor of Paris, various UN bodies and Christie’s.

Australia is nowhere to be seen in this enterprise, certainly not Bookshelves’ cultural slush fund – although fortunately the Australia Council has chipped in to help Laurence do the work.

While we’re all slurping drinks and grazing on morsels from Nomad, Blair Palese, the Australian CEO of, gives us a well-tuned burst about sustainability and grassroots activism against fossil fuels – on the very day the government conjured its pathetic emissions reduction plan.

Three-hundred-and-fifty parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere is what scientists say we should achieve, from current levels of 400ppm, if we want to preserve a liveable planet.

There’s a long way to go to get there – but you wouldn’t know it if you were turned on by the Minister for Pollution, Greg Hunt, and his merry men.

5 . Go west

My friend Hughie, who works at the local chemist and does a bit of drag work on the side, tells me that his show at the Cauliflower Hotel, Waterloo, is no more.

The drag scene has moved to Sydney’s west, to Prospect, Campbelltown and even further out.

Gone are the days when pubs in Oxford Street would present elderly Filipino drags, billed as Rose Hancock’s grandfather, and other celebrities.

Hughie said many senior citizens are toddling out to see the show. In fact, he advises that bus-loads of aged citizens from nursing homes are packing the pubs to the rafters to get a gander as the glittering queens strut their stuff. It’s something for the rest of us to look forward to when we take our place in the Sunnyside Rest Facility.  


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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 15, 2015 as "Gadfly: Kenny or can’t he?".

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Richard Ackland is The Saturday Paper’s legal affairs editor. He publishes

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