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

Bladder of opportunity

Alan Jones and Peta Credlin’s experience with bedwetters would be limited, unless they themselves were incontinent tots. 

However, the problem is not to be scoffed at – some very significant people were bedwetters, including president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

According to the website Wet Buster, at a national meeting of the American Academy of Paediatrics, which held a workshop entitled “Evaluation of the Wet Child”, nearly a quarter of the 300 doctors and nurses present admitted they had been bedwetters.

Apart from Turnbull-supporters in the Liberal Party, other bedwetters include Helena Bonham Carter, Katie Perry, Kris Jenner, Marie Osmond and Puff Daddy. Whoopi Goldberg is said to have “light incontinence”.

I’ve also heard suggestions that General Tôjô Hideki of Japan was punished for bedwetting as a child, which subsequently led to global problems.

1 . Ink Blot

You’d think an action-packed book by A. Bolt (BA [pending] Adel.) would be roaring off the shelves.

But no. Stores are reporting customers are shy to be seen with the tome of recycled “insights and reflections” bearing the grammatically challenged title, Bolt: Worth Fighting For.

A Melbourne field agent has been tracking sales. Managers of newsagencies in Balwyn and Hawthorn reported earlier this week that they were looking forward to their first sale of the collected musing of Australia’s “finest public intellectual” (© T. Abbott).  At the busy Kings Cross paper shop, near Gadfly central, the pile remains stubbornly unmoved. 

At last count, records showed 716 copies had sold nationally.

2 . Sam kneel

If you want a good earful of right-wingery and whingeing, the Stamford Plaza hotel on Adelaide’s North Terrace between August 12 and 14 is the place to be.

It will be host to the 28th conference of The Samuel Griffith Society, and what a stellar line-up of presenters: after-dinner speaker the Hon T. Abbott (topic to be confirmed); Margaret Cunneen vents about the Independent Commission Against Corruption; Brendan O’Neill on freedom of speech; former GG secretary Sir David Smith brings everyone up to date with “the Dismissal 40 years on”; Prof. James Allan on the evils of human rights charters; and the IPA’s John Roskam has a never-before-revealed thesis on “The Erosion of Rights in Australia”. 

The whole thing will be capped off with “concluding remarks” by Hon. Ian “The Tub” Callinan, the Howard government’s capital-C Conservative on the High Court.  What Chief Justice Robert French is doing at that pocket-moistening jamboree is a mystery. 

3 . Roxy horror picture book

Sydney journalist and woman about town Margot Saville has been commissioned by Louise Adler’s publishing house to do a biography of Roxy Jacenko, PR queen, lifestyle expert and wife of inside trader Oliver Curtis

It’s a triumphant tale of a fabulous nobody who came to fame and fortune by means of tireless self-promotion. In fact, the self-promotion is so tireless that Justice Lucy McCallum mentioned it when sending young Ollie down for a year of porridge. 

Referring to the ravages of social media, where we can also find endless Instagram pictures of blondes, plates of food, Roxy and the tiny Jacenko-Curtis anklebiters, the judge said that some remarks since the verdict have been extremely distressing to the prisoner. “There is no evidence that Mr Curtis himself has invited media attention; he is not to be equated with his wife in this context.” 

Saville, a former solicitor, is a deft hand at nailing a topic. She’s waiting to hear back from Roxy, but it would surprise mightily if someone so dedicated to oneself didn’t fully co-operate with the project.

At least it will not be a “self-serving revenge” book – something that Adler said she would never publish.

4 . Cold dish

Gadfly is waiting to hear more from Bronwyn Bishop, the eerily silent former member for Mackellar. She had promised to reveal all about T. Abbott and how he turned on her as speaker and how she turned on him in the leadership vote and how he turned on her at the Mackellar preselection. 

This is a tale of vengeance that should be set to music as soon as possible. If Abbott and the anti-bedwetting faction of the Liberal Party, with cheer-leader-in-chief Sky News siren P. Credlin, make a play for the crown then that’s Bronwyn’s perfect moment to unbottle the venom. 

5 . Memo memorial 

Melbourne is renowned for its disasters with civic projects, e.g. bridges. The West Gate fell down in 1970, killing 35 workers. King Street Bridge also collapsed. And the Montague Street bridge is forever the scene of traffic pile-ups when trucks get stuck under it, twice in four hours recently. The lovely Princes Bridge and the old City Baths are in danger from burrowers trying to turn the city’s measly underground into a grown-up Metro.

Here’s hoping all sails smoothly for another long-discussed civil project – Melbourne City Council’s memorial to Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, brought to the infant Port Phillip colony from Van Diemen’s Land.

They escaped the last of genocide, only to be hanged for their part in killing two whalers on a beach near Wonthaggi in the south-east of the state. The trial of the two Aboriginal men was run by Supreme Court judge John Walpole Willis, who had been rusticated from Canada after attacking the attorney-general from the bench. He washed up in Sydney, via a further exit from British Guiana, where Willis stayed in character by attacking the chief justice in open court.

Exiled to Melbourne as resident judge with his 43 tonnes of luggage, Willis clashed with the papers, lawyers and public. His court was seen as a free comedy show. Willis sent the two Tasmanians to the jerry-built gallows in 1842, where one slowly strangled to death watched by about half Melbourne’s population of 5000, many in their Sunday best. Willis was returned to England the following year.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener are symbolic of the brutal past of now serenely civilised Port Phillip. A memorial can’t come soon enough. 

6 . All rise or else

Talking of judges, a missive from the Judicial Conference of Australia lobs, complaining about a proposed New South Wales law, the Courts Legislation Amendment (Disrespectful Behaviour) Bill. 

This is an entirely dotty proposal, from the office of Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Troy-Boy Grant, to punish people with up to a fortnight in the slammer if they do something disrespectful to a judge, like not standing up in court. 

The issue took wing when Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai, on charges of car theft and attempted murder, refused to stand for judge Greg Farmer, saying he was not subject to an order higher than Islam. 

MHR and triumph of the Liberal Party Craig Kelly, the member for Hughes, kicked up a fuss and said failure to stand showed “contempt for our constitution”. 

Now the judges’ lobby group has come out and declared that the bill, if enacted, wouldn’t cause anyone to moderate their behaviour. In any event, the whole thing is unnecessary because judges have ample power to deal with contempt of court. 

Justice Steven Rares, president of the JCA, pointed to how ridiculous the proposed law could be. The bill says that a child could be prosecuted for not standing up in the Supreme Court. Yet in this circumstance the prosecution would be tried in the children’s court, where the practice is that no one stands up. 

7 . Iraq settlement

There’s an announcement from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, contradicting a story in London’s Telegraph. On the eve of the Chilcot Report on the invasion of Iraq, the newspaper claimed the ICC prosecutor has “already ruled out putting Tony Blair on trial for war crimes”. 

The prosecutor said this is wrong, adding that the ICC is engaged in a preliminary examination with respect to Iraq. This will determine whether there is a basis to pursue an investigation into war crimes. 

At the moment, the ICC can’t try cases of aggression, so the specific question of the legality of the invasion is outside its jurisdiction. Still it has plenty of scope in cases of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes generally. 

As the prosecutor said, with her own emphasis supplied: “My office may investigate and prosecute any individual suspected of committing crimes within the court’s jurisdiction ... We do this work without fear or favour and irrespective of the official capacity of the perpetrator(s).” 

While she’s pursuing this examination she should also cast her gaze at the role played by supine invasion enthusiasts Little Winston Howard and Fishnets Downer.


Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 9, 2016 as "Gadfly: Bladder of opportunity".

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

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