Diary

Gadfly
Out of harmony’s way

Harmony Day turned into a triumph for pinkish-coloured people. 

PM Turnbull and his pale-skinned sidekick Bookshelves “Bigot” Brandis say it’s important for our free speech that tinted people be subject to offence, insults and humiliation – but no harassment, please. 

The Macquarie Dictionary says that “harass” means “to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc ... to disturb persistently”. The legislation seeks to give the word a fresh meaning by including isolated acts. One-off screeches on the public transport system of “wog ... coon ... Chink ... Yid ... boong” etc, may or may not transgress the Leak Law – that will have to be worked out in a whole new round of litigation. However, the great breakthrough is that the new test for racial discrimination will be decided by the standards of the reasonable Australian who took part in the Cronulla riots. What could be more “balanced” than that? 

In a way, Bill Leak showed us the future with his depressingly unfunny and clichéd cartoons of Aboriginal men as drunks, Muslims as decapitators and schoolteachers as transgendered zealots. 

Turnbull and Bookshelves spruiked their hardest on Harmony Day, saying that the existing law had “lost credibility”, yet you’d be excused for thinking that the loss of credibility lay elsewhere. 

Of course, it was payday for The Catholic Boys Daily. Mouths flecked with foam and eyes a-swivel, legal affairs scribbler Chris “The Tamil” Merritt and Monseigneur Paul Kelly pumped out fresh drivel at a ferocious rate. 

The Tamil said it was absolutely wrong to see these proposed changes as a green light for hate speech, while the Monseigneur describes the Trunchbull as “a warrior for the cause of liberty”. 

We live in creepy times.

Dutton to lose

Talking of creepiness, Sportsbet has Immigration Minister Peter “Benito” Dutton as odds on to lose his seat of Dickson at the next election. 

So while Sportsbet’s odds say he will lose his seat, he’s firmed as the preferred next leader of the Nasty Party, having moved from $2.75, out to $4 and now to $1.87. Julie Bishop is at $4 and Alan Tudge at $51 for a win.

On preferences, there was a swing in Dickson of 5.1 per cent against the minister at the last election. The Labor candidate was Linda Lavarch, wife of the former attorney-general who gave us 18C. 

It’s really no worries for Benito, because if the former drug squad copper loses his seat he can lie back and count the rent money from his numerous investment properties littered throughout the banana belt.

Stayin’ alive

The rich and the beautiful descended on the 70th birthday celebrations of David Morgan, the former Westpac CEO, chairman of the bankers’ association, senior boffin at the federal Treasury and currently managing director in London of private equity shop J. C. Flowers. The London night was nippy although the ’60s and ’70s music helped warm things up and before long David was onto the dance floor like a hound dog. The well-wishers whooped and cheered as the birthday boy tore open his Turnbull & Asser shirt, flung it to the floor, the buttons popping all over the parquet, and with glistening torso jived away the rest of the evening.

Stately princesses and dowagers were slack-jawed in awe. Even so, this fetching display should not surprise given that Morgan as a young actor appeared alongside Olivia Newton-John and Ian Turpie in the Australian musical classic Funny Things Happen Down Under.

Paddy waggin’

What’s going on with St Patrick’s Day and its parliamentary ambassadors? Anthony Roberts, the New South Wales special minister of state, announced six MPs would be ambassadors for the special day – whatever that meant. 

Roberts appointed himself, along with the Liberal member for Baulkham Hills and minister for counterterrorism, David Elliott. Then there was the leader of the Labor opposition, Luke Foley, and his deputy, Michael Daley, and the ALP member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle

Another Liberal with an Irish-sounding name was also included – Jonathan O’Dea. Roberts ended his announcement to parliament with “God save the Queen”, which is appropriate because he is a committed monarchist. 

Elliott is the same, having been director of the constitutional monarchists’ campaign against the republic. Indeed Professor David Flint invited some of his Queen-loving pals along to hear Elliott’s riveting maiden speech in 2011. 

Are monarchists infiltrating St Patrick’s Day in NSW? It does seem weird, although people in Northern Ireland celebrate the day, particularly in the Falls Road and West Belfast, but not in loyalist heartlands such as Shankhill. 

The Orange Order has July 12 as its special day, while March 17 is usually reserved for nationalists and republicans. Let’s get the sectarian divide straight.

We shall not want

Here are a couple of important dates for next week’s calendar. 

Monday sees the launch of phase one of the Menzies “Research” Centre’s Shepherd review. This involves a release of the “statement of national challenges” under the baton of Tony Shepherd, the leading bizoid who ran Tony Abbott’s slash-and-burn team at the National Commission of Audit; did tunnels and tolls for Transfield; and chaired the WestConnex Delivery Authority, the roadway that is bulldozing a path through entire suburbs.  

Nick Cater says the review will be “an objective presentation on the economic truths Australia must address”. Don’t be shocked if this involves tax cuts for business and expenditure cutting for everyone else. 

Next, on Thursday, NSW hard right faction leader and state treasurer Dominic Perrottet is launching the 2017 special student leadership program at Hawkesbury Race Club. Premier Gladys Berejiklian and former defence chief Angus Houston will be in attendance, alongside Channel Seven’s Larry Emdur

The program is for clean-cut youngsters, as an alternative to the wild times of schoolies’ week. Perrottet says they’ll be mentored by “some of Australia’s greatest leaders”, which in the past have included The Daily Telegraph’s Miranda Devine

All the mentors are of a deeply conservative hue and what is suspected is that this is a recruitment scheme for the Young Liberals dressed up as a leadership program. There might be a question why this sort of stuff is being run out of a minister’s office. 

Dom reassures us by saying that the blue-ribbon Hawkesbury and Hills districts are “home to the next generation of world-class leaders”.

Good News

Hardly a day goes by without some reptile from the media being shown the door, so it’s comforting to see employment opportunities opening up. 

The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney has a position available for a “director, communications and news media”. The archdiocese says it has embarked on “an exciting period of change, and created a new vision for evangelisation that focuses its efforts to better reach, inform, inspire ...” 

Father Brian Lucas used to be the voice of the archdiocese in the good old days. He was described by Leigh Sales on 7.30 as “the go-to man to deal with paedophile priests”.

Trumpette #14

Let’s get back to fundamentals with the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief – his hair.

There’s fresh analysis that opens the topic up to a range of intriguing speculations. Emeritus history professor Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books last month asked whether Trump handles his hair all by himself or if it is managed by a regular barber. Like much of the Grabber’s administration it is a matter steeped in secrecy – such as the involvement of Russia in the election campaign.

Wills conjures the image of Trump when he first wakes up in the morning. Before he starts tweeting, his hair has to be rebuilt, “with whatever adhesives he contrives to use in its construction”.

It is more complex than a comb-over, as Maurice Newman would know. Wills estimates that it would take 40 minutes a day to get the fairy-floss organised properly. That would include the daily tinting and the greased bits at the side that are draped artfully over the Grabber’s ears.

Possibly, the most authoritative analysis comes from Caroline Mitgang writing in Quartz. She’s a licensed cosmetologist and “active hairdresser”, so she should know what she is talking about. Her assessment is that the decorative topknot is not a toupee and it probably isn’t hiding a bald spot, so technically it’s not a comb-over. There have been rumours about Trump’s scalp surgery, or scalp alteration, so this may play a part.

However, Mitgang says that what we are seeing is a “frontal hair shelf” that is the result of an “aggressive cowlick”. It’s likely that the president has a cluster of hair follicles that causes some hair to grow in a different direction. This can be controlled by having longer hair that sits more heavily over the cowlick cluster.

Basically, the verdict is he’s got a dated hairdo that makes him look absurd, but through hell and high water he’s sticking with it. And to it.

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 25, 2017 as "Gadfly: Out of harmony’s way". 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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