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

The old police ties that bind

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I discovered that Border Force supremo Roman Quaedvlieg and his commander-in-chief Field Marshal Peter (Fairfax Jihad) Dutton were once upon a time together in the Queensland police.

Dirty Dutto was on the beat between 1990 and 1999 and, amazingly, at the same time was a company director and chairman of the Bayside Young Libs.

The most famous Roman since Polanski also served as a Queensland plod between 1985 and 2000, but in those days his uniform was a relatively dull outfit, unlike today’s terrifying blackest-blue that would make Hugo Boss proud.

As if he doesn’t have enough distraction trying to massage Operation Fortitude into shape, Roman has the cross of bearing a surname that is the 296,460th most common in the world and in Dutch translates as “Angry Fly”.

Actually, Operation Fortitude was also the name given to a World War II Allied mission to deceive the German high command about the forthcoming Normandy landings. What would Young Otto Abetz think of such trickery?

The Fly also managed the Australian Federal Police’s probe into the Australian Wheat Board’s $300 million subsidy to Saddam Hussein, in breach of United Nations sanctions. But here we are today with Dirty and the Fly overseeing a fitness program for Border Forcettes.

To qualify for the black’n’blue army, inductees have to pass a gruelling program of push-ups, squats and shuttle-runs. Those who can’t perform will be given desk jobs, while those who meet the “operational sustainability requirement” will be dispatched to collar citizens outside Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station.

1 . Who should take credit for Mantach?

Talking of Young Otto, I see he is embroiled in the Liberal Party’s Damien Mantach nightmare.

Damo is under investigation for allegedly squirrelling $1.5 million from the Victorian Liberal Party’s petty cash tin. Previously he served as state director of the Tasmanian branch of the Liberals, where Otto reigns as some sort of obergruppenführer.

According to the Hobart Mercurial, Damien left Tasmania after running up a debt on his Liberal credit card of $48,000, which is just about equivalent to the GDP of the entire state. He since repaid the money and was picked up as director of the Victorian Liberals, where an even bigger sum has been the subject of spillage.

Normally, it is understood that nothing happens in the Tasmanian Liberals unless Otto says so. Yet, he seems to be coy about what role he played in Mantach’s rise to the dizzying heights of the party apparatus.

At first Otto declined to say anything, then he issued a statement that clarified everything: “I have been advised by the former state president, Mr Dale Archer, that he visited my office on March 5, 2008, to inform me as a matter of courtesy of an investigation into potential inappropriate use by the state director of his credit card.”

In short, the credit card got a good workout, plod was not called in, he paid it back, and was remitted to Victoria.

2 . What the pluck?

There was a clip on Insiders the other day of Joe Hockey Sticks spruiking his tax stuff, in which he said:

“To borrow an old analogy from Louis XIV’s finance minister, collecting tax can be like plucking a goose – and you don’t want to run out of feathers. Worse still, you don’t want to kill the goose.”

What on earth was Jolly Joe talking about? He must have been trying to remember the famous remark of 17th-century French treasurer Jean Baptiste Colbert, who said: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

If you can’t sort out the relevant functions of the feathers, the geese and the hissing, what hope is there for the Australian economy? No wonder Joe is soon to be made into pâté.

3 . Fitz and starts for republican cause

And what will happen to the republican movement should Joe be sacked as treasurer and sent to Nauru as high commissioner? Without Hockey Sticks fulfilling the function of parliamentary cocktail mixer for the cause, the whole constitutional mission is in danger of collapse.

It’s already in peril of being derailed if president-elect Peter FitzSimons continues to address packed rooms without his red bonnet.

“It’s time for us to be entirely self-governing,” Fitz told the National Press Club. “We propose it starts with a simple question to be put before the Australian people some time in the next five years: ‘Do you support replacing the British monarch with an Australian citizen as the Australian head of state?’ Bingo, simple as that.”

Constitutional lawyers winced in pain as they heard the “bingo” bit, because they have an idea that it’s far from as simple as that. You’d need a genius such as the Member for Goldman Sachs to sort the complications but, unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be on the FitzSimons freedom train.

4 . Dyson won’t suck up poor grammar

With Dyse Heydon back in the saddle at the royal commission more fetching details keep emerging about the former jurist’s thoughts on important topics.

An interview from March 2013 with one of the ABC jihadists, Richard Aedy, has come to light in which the retired High Court judge suddenly switched from talking about the “Malaysian Solution” case to an Adelaide rape appeal where he and Justice Virginia Bell were in the minority.

“You may not remember it but there was a charge against a man of raping his wife in Adelaide in about 1962 when they were both very young,” Heydon told Aedy.

“And many, many years later she complained of rape and he was charged with that. At that time rape was not a crime, between husband and wife, it had not been a crime according to Sir Matthew Hale, distinguished 17th-century criminal lawyer and that view had been followed.”

Dyse was upset that the majority of his fellow judges on the court thought that possibly in the 1920s or 1930s, “because of the gradual rise in the status of women”, the accused’s conduct was now retrospectively criminal.

As if this were not bad enough, there were the split infinitives and dangling participles of his fellow judges that really got him riled.

Like this sentence: “If a person wants to cross the street, they should first see whether the light is green.”

Heydon said some of his colleagues “don’t mind that sort of thing … they don’t write grammatically as I understand Anglo-Australian grammar”.

If there’s one thing more troubling than rape in marriage, it’s a split infinitive.

5 . Torrid tales of a private dick

We mentioned a few weeks ago the courtroom triumph of private eye Frank Monte, who sued Fairfax Media for publishing a photo of his girlfriend 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”.

The case caused a minor sensation because Federal Circuit Court judge Rolf Driver had to explain to Monte’s brief, Clive Evatt, the meaning of “MILF”.

Monte got nominal damages of $1 for breach of his copyright in publishing the alluring snap of Ms Sargeant and then the judge slapped on an additional $10,000 in damages because she and Frank “were highly embarrassed” by the appearance of the photo in the paper.

“It is Ms Sargeant’s own business where and in what manner she wishes to promote her escort services … It is quite another thing to have a promotional photograph relating to an escort service published in the mass media.”

To make Judge Driver’s reasoning even more puzzling, we now find that Frank and Sharon are on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, modestly seeking $100,000 for a pilot of a reality TV show titled The Private Eye and the Madam. There’s quite a fleshy photo of Sharon to help kickstart the project, which at the moment has secured one pledge of $1000.

The idea is that the cameras will take us inside the world of the private dick and the busy callgirl operator. As the blurb explains, “This story line is that of two famous, glamorous and interesting individuals living their busy life day to day.” There’s an online press release with more wholesome details at

Talk about embarrassment. Frank and Sharon should take a leaf out of Judge Driver’s book and pay themselves another $10,000 in damages.

6 . Vale pioneering nun Veronica Brady

The bicycling red nun Veronica Brady died just over two weeks ago in Perth. You’d hardly know it, because the reports of her death were minimal. The ABC did acknowledge she had gone to God and Phillip Adams replayed a lively interview he did with her in June 2009.

The rest of the media was largely mute and yet Brady was one of the real fireball intellects of her time. A great Australian literature scholar, passionate about Patrick White, a mentor to countless students at the University of Western Australia, a campaigner for Indigenous rights and recognition, a member of the ABC board in the early 1980s, a vocal supporter of gay rights and the ordination of women, and a significant critic of the Vatican.

In fact, she said Catholic authorities in Perth advised her to leave town when Pope John Paul II made his visit to that city in 1986. She was happy to oblige.

The @Abbottlovesanal crisis attracted more commentary in this country than the loss of Sister Brady.


Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on September 5, 2015 as "Gadfly: The old police ties that bind".

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

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