Diary

Gadfly
Work for the coal scheme

The relationship between the Greens and the giant roughhouse union the CFMEU is curious. 

The union has tipped money into the minority party in rather generous dollops. There seemed to be some quid pro quo with Senator Richard Di Natale and his parliamentary colleagues opposing the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and legislation to reduce the number of union people on the boards of super funds.  

Other employee outfits such as the Electrical Trades Union and the National Tertiary Education Union have also funded the Greenies. 

But when it comes to coalmining there are some unfortunate tensions. Contrary to official Greens policy, the mining part of the CFMEU is dead keen on getting the Adani mine up and running, in the forlorn belief that it will employ thousands of workers. Yet the union’s construction segment doesn’t seem too bothered about splashing members’ funds on the minority party. 

Anyway, it’s an awkward straddle for both the Greens and the union. The mining division might as well be giving money to One Nation, whose leader thinks the Barrier Reef is in glowing health and that bleached coral is just the ticket. 

The focus has been on the $1 billion loan to Adani for the rail link between the mine and the Abbot Point coal loader. The Greens can safely say they are “concerned” about the loan, while not making too huge a fuss about the mine itself. 

Meanwhile, rubbery figures about employment keep bouncing all over the place. Coal junkie Tony Abbott said the project will create 10,000 jobs, but in 2015 an assessment from Adani’s own consultants put the figure at 1464 jobs. The company itself is bravely sticking with 10,000. Whatever – think of a figure and treble it. The important thing is to save a few dog-eared Coalition seats in the boonies. 

If the blockheaded politicians driving this monstrosity were really concerned about jobs, they would look to what is happening elsewhere on the planet. In the US of A, for instance, independent news site ThinkProgress reports that solar power projects now employ more American workers than Apple, Google and Facebook combined. 

Employment in this sector has soared thirtyfold in nine years. Put that in your coalmine and smoke it.

Values added

Do you think there’s something faintly ridiculous watching politicians as they try to define “Australian values”? After all, these are the people whose values include locking people up indefinitely on rotten Pacific islands, who constantly knife each other while failing to work constructively for the public good, habitually rort expenses, engage in dodgy election funding and indulge in terminological inexactitude on an industrial scale. 

While they’re about this puerile piece of race baiting, why isn’t something more being done to improve the Australian citizenship pledge? (Actually two pledges, identical except that one includes God.) “I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey.” 

Yes, sure. What about adding in something like accepting religious, political, gender and racial differences and respecting this land and environment that abounds in nature’s gifts, even those slabs owned and controlled by foreign investors?

Honourable members

Ed Murray, the mayor of Seattle, is running for re-election this year. His campaign got off to a rocky start when this month a gentleman named Delvonn Heckard filed a lawsuit claiming that Murray “raped and molested” him in 1986, when Heckard was a teen. 

The claim relied on an anatomical description and the mayor underwent an examination of his nether regions in order to disprove the allegation. 

Craig J. Pepin, MD, made the following report, which Murray thoughtfully released in a press statement: “No inguinal hernia. No testicular masses or lumps. Penis is circumcised. No dermatologic lesions such as a mole, freckle or keratosis present on the penis or scrotum. No scars or evidence of prior surgery or dermatologic procedures.” 

It might be useful if all male politicians underwent a similar examination with the details posted on the parliamentary website alongside their maiden speeches.  

There can never been too much information when it comes to voters making choices – or could there be?

Firearm doors and cross check

A field agent scouring the net for aviation news tells me of a report last week that over the Atlantic a passenger on a Delta Airlines flight from Britain to JFK went to the bathroom for ablutions, only to discover there a loaded gun. 

The passenger handed the weapon to a member of the cabin crew who soon found its owner – a female US air marshal aboard the flight to protect the customers and crew from misadventure and who normally would have had the pistol in her pocket. 

The flight continued without drama and the US Transportation Security Administration said it is aware of the incident but did not want to comment. The TSA’s core values are: “Integrity, innovation and team spirit.” Safety does not get a look-in.

Naval grazing

It’s exciting for Prime Minister Malcolm Trumble, as Sean Spicy knows him, to be meeting President Trump on the decommissioned World War II aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid. It is moored on the Hudson River and is the star of Manhattan’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. 

The meeting coincides with the 75th anniversary commemorations of the Battle of the Coral Sea, which Trumble will be attending. 

I see that the American Australian Association will be hosting the black-tie-mess-uniform commemorative knees-up on the Intrepid, where the top price for a table is $US150,000. Sponsorship for the feast comes from Wes Bush and armaments giant Northrop Grumman, whose information systems, among other things, support the US ballistic missile program. Wes is the company’s chairman, chief executive and president.

It should be a great night for Trumble, among the warriors and warmongers, saluting the fact Australia has been in lockstep with the USA in every conflict since World War I. 

Trumpette #19

The first hundred days of the Pussy Grabber’s presidency have been marked by head-spinning media interviews and disturbing medical assessments. 

The president’s Oval Office session with the Associated Press should leave us in no doubt about the president’s unhinged psychopathology. With world leaders such as Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the chemistry was “unbelievable”; his address to congress was the “single best speech ever made in that chamber”; his greatest achievement was making a Supreme Court appointment; plus, he’s developed a remarkable discipline not to watch or read any media that is critical of him – “I never thought I had that ability. I always thought I’d watch.” 

In a childlike way, he sees the US as “the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defence Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest… you know, you go down the list.” 

David Remnick in The New Yorker followed up with his 100-day assessment saying Trump, surrounded by billionaire cronies and family inadequates, has “set fire to the integrity of his office”. Even George W. Bush was heard to remark after Trump’s inauguration speech that it was “weird shit”. 

Which gets us to the worrying medical assessments. Oxford scholar Dr Kevin Dutton (no relation to Benito Dutton) has made a career studying psychopaths, and on the revised version of his Psychopathic Personality Inventory Trump is up there with Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin.

The PPI scores candidates on eight characteristics, including fearless dominance, self-centred impulsivity and cold-heartedness. When assessed for “Machiavellian egocentricity” Hillary Clinton did better than Emperor Nero.  

As if we needed reminding, psychopaths are generally pathological liars, have inflated self-esteem and fail to take responsibility for their behaviour. 

Interestingly, among the jobs that attract the most psychopaths are journalist at No. 6, clergyman at eighth and chef in ninth place. Lawyer is No. 2 and chief executive tops the poll. 

In February, The New Republic said that many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues. According to infectious disease expert Dr Steven Beutler, one condition of this nature is “neurosyphilis”. 

Some of the symptoms include dementia, headaches, gait disturbances and patchy hair loss. If the grabber is suffering from this infection, he’s in good company – Frederick Delius had it and so did Al Capone.

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 29, 2017 as "Gadfly: Work for the coal scheme". 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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