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

Where’s Hendo?

Another week passed with Gerard Henderson missing in action from the printed pages of the weekend editions of The Catholic Boys Daily.

Can you bear it? What on earth are the editors of this mighty organ doing? Week after week we are being deprived of manifestos in praise of Cardinal George Pell and searing tirades against Green-Leftism. 

Devoted readers of St Gerard are rudderless and in disarray. Apparently, he’s still there online, but who can be bothered to drill through the layers of igneous URLs until they locate his latest works. 

People tell me they have given up going through recycling bins and snaffling free copies of the paper. Without Gerard there’s no point. It’s not as though his valuable piece of print acreage has been put to a worthwhile alternative use. 

The bruvvers have been heard chanting outside News Corp HQ in Holt Street: Wadda we want? Gerard in print. When do we want him? Now. 

1 . Not a sausage from ex-editor Chris

Which gets us to the even more pressing question: what has happened to the promised columns about the meeja from former CB Daily editor-in-chief Chris (Burst Kransky) Mitchell

We’ve been starved of his thoughts for long enough. Bring it on. Let the Kransky spill his succulent juices over the pages, then we could have father and son (Jake Mitchell) doing a double header on media analysis. You can’t have too many Kranskies on the case. 

The column was supposed to kick off in the new year – three months ago. 

Also, he promised that he would have an “ongoing role” on the paper and with the company – sadly, another broken promise and you have to admit News Corp is all the poorer for it. And there was his fearless prediction at the end of last year when he said he expects The Daily to be “back in the black by the end of this financial year”. 

We’re trying to work out when it was ever in the black, but that depends on the way you game the figures. 

Maybe Mitchell is flat out writing books for Louise Adler’s MUP. He was supposed to have signed a contract for two books – one a rib-tickler on his time as an editor and all the hilarious people he met: Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd, Pauline Hanson, et al.

The subject matter of the second tome remains a mystery, but it won’t be a “self-serving revenge tale”. Adler, when critiquing Niki Savva’s The Road to Ruin, assured everyone she wouldn’t publish stuff like that. The Latham Diaries, for instance, was free of vengeance and not self-serving at all.

2 . Kevin’s plum roll

Did you catch Grecian follicled Kev Andrews in his purple Lycra shorts and jersey, emblazoned with NAB and Australia Post logos, as he straddled his two-wheeler for the latest Pollie Pedal? 

Shortly before mounting his metal steed Kevin let it be known that he was willing to serve as PM – his baton packed in his knapsack for the gruelling cycle through the regions. The fun we would have with a Kev Andrews government is unimaginable.

He made a sweaty pit stop to say that he had been taken out of context, which is a relief because Gadfly’s preferred outsider for PM is the truck drivers’ friend, Michaelia Cash. The helmet-haired screecher from the west, red in tooth and claw, makes Margaret Thatcher look like a pussy. 

Just look down the list of awful disappointments who fill the ministerial ranks and you’ll soon understand why Michaelia shines so brightly: Barnaby Joyce, Arthur Sinodinos, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, George Brandis, Scott Morrison, Kelly O’Dwyer, Fiona Nash, Christopher Pyne, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt – need we go on? 

Michaelia v Kevin. It’s a no-brainer. 

3 . Tim’s free speech all Pies in the sky

Freedom Boy and preselected Liberal candidate for Goldstein, Tim Wilson, was very quiet during the crisis over the “Go Pies! – Stop the Mosques” banner at the Collingwood-Richmond game. 

I couldn’t find any quotes from him supporting the United Patriots Front’s right to be offensive and bigoted. 

Section 18C abolitionists will be disappointed that the Boy has gone belly-up at a crucial moment in the fight for free speech. And where was Senator James Paterson, 14-and-three-quarters? 

It was left to racial-equality expert Eddie McGuire to do the heavy lifting. He said these banner unfurlers should be banned for life from AFL games. It was a “disgraceful message”, said the Collingwood Football Club president. 

This is the same Eddie who thought Adam Goodes could usefully promote the musical King Kong and believed it inflammatory to call those who booed him at AFL games racists. 

In the next puzzling breath Eddie added that Australia celebrated Anzac Day, so Goodes could voice his opinions. 

What a starved nation wanted was another dose of Freedom Boy’s opinions. Surely he doesn’t have to keep shtum just to win a seat in parliament? 

4 . Long list of curators out of the frame

The exodus of curators from the Art Gallery of New South Wales continues. The latest to leave is Deborah Edwards, senior curator of Australian art, who put together several major exhibitions including Margaret Preston in 2005 and Sydney Moderns in 2013. 

She clears her office and leaves on April 15. 

Her departure comes soon after that of Richard Beresford, senior curator of European art pre-1900. His position was made redundant at the end of last year, during the exhibition of European art The Greats, which he curated in association with the National Galleries of Scotland. 

There’s a tribe of people who have left the gallery in recent times. Hetti Perkins, head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art for 13 years, left in 2011 citing lack of space given to her field.

Barry Pearce, head of Australian art, left after 32 years as one of Australia’s foremost experts in the field.

Jackie Menzies, head of Asian art, found her position abolished three years ago.

Hendrik Kolenberg, once in charge of prints and drawings, left in 2013. Gone, too, is Tony Bond, the head of international contemporary art since 1984 and curator of Francis Bacon: five decades.

By no means have all these departures happened since Michael Brand replaced Edmund Capon as the gallery director almost four years ago. 

The main aim of management at the moment is to get $450 million to fund a massive building expansion, which has required the hiring of new marketing and promotions people.

David Gonski has just returned to head the board of trustees for the second time. His skills will be tested as he balances the task of investing in bricks and mortar while not neglecting investment in curatorial excellence. 

5 . Byrne notices

The Timbo Carmody crisis still has legs, even if they might be a bit wobbly. 

You’ll remember Queensland’s chief magistrate who, in one stride, leapt to be chief justice, much to the horror of the rest of the Supreme Court and most
of the legal profession. 

This was one of Campbell Newman’s more bumble-headed ideas. Less than a year later Carmody had resigned, but not before senior judge administrator of the court, Justice John Byrne, recorded on his iPhone a spicy rant by Tim about other judges who were worried the CJ was attempting to rejig the Court of Disputed Returns after the close-run Queensland election. At one point Timbo referred to his colleagues on the bench as “scum”. 

Now someone has fired up a complaint to the Queensland coppers about Justice Byrne making a secret recording, which was then heard by others. Inspector Plod is investigating, although few expect anything terribly serious to happen because there seem to be plenty of defences under the relevant legislation dealing with listening devices, including where the person doing the recording is part of the conversation being recorded. 

The Carmody saga is to be crystallised in a forthcoming book by academics Andrew Lynch, Rebecca Ananian-Welsh and Gabrielle Appleby, titled The Tim Carmody Affair: Australia’s Greatest Judicial Crisis

Meanwhile, John Byrne and his brother, Robert Byrne, have been in the courts chasing a bigger chunk of their mother’s will. Neva Byrne died in 2014 and left most of her $17 million estate to the University of Queensland vet school. 

John Byrne said there must be some mistake because Neva didn’t want to financially support the vet school after her Boston terrier, Bru, died while having its teeth cleaned. A new will was not signed before Neva pegged out. 

Mother seemed to disapprove of John’s choice of wives and partners, while Robert was confined to working in the family’s pyjama and nightie manufacturing business.

The case has been settled.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 9, 2016 as "Gadfly: Where’s Hendo?".

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

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