Born to be resiled

Here we were thinking that sovereignty was so yesterday. How wrong we were. Senators are falling like tenpins because their mothers fetched up on the wrong piece of soil. The birther movement has now got a real leg-up as ancient lawyers analyse the location of maternity wards from which MPs and senators were hatched. 

It does seem all a bit pointless when those who have renounced their offshore citizenship still have the blood of their forebears coursing in their veins. Can anyone doubt that Ten Flags Tony is any less a Little Englander even though he has shredded the certificate of citizenship signed by his favourite Queen? 

Does not Otto Abetz get a delicious prickly sensation all over his body when he hears “Deutschland über alles”? And surely Mathias Hubert Cormann forgets his duty to Australia when the fragrance of moules-frites wafts close to his nostrils. 

How can the constitution protect us from these deep-seated DNA conflicts? It needs someone like Bookshelves Brandis, now that he has heaps more time on his hands, to thoroughly sort it out.

Windsor not

Sadly, this week, the nation forgot to mark the occasion when there was a memorable renunciation of foreignness. 

It was exactly 100 years ago last Monday that George V dumped Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and embraced Windsor, the most English-sounding name he could find in the phonebook.

The quick switch happened during the war to end all wars, when Germans were not frightfully popular in the Mother Land. Yet few if any thought that the monarch and all the relevant offspring should have resigned. Had they known the horrible thing that was going to happen 100 years hence to Greens senators they might have been more mindful. 

The proclamation from Buck House had no shortage of capital letters: “Whereas We, having taken into consideration the Name and Title of Our Royal House and Family, have determined that henceforth Our House and Family shall be styled and known as the House and Family of Windsor ... 

“We for Ourselves ... and all other the descendants of our said Grandmother Queen Victoria who are subjects of these Realms, relinquish and enjoin the discontinuance of the use of the Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles and Honours of Dukes and Duchesses of Saxony and Princes and Princesses of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and all other German Degrees, Styles, Dignities, Titles, Honours and Appellations to Us or to them heretofore belonging or appertaining.” 

It’s about time that the phrase “We for Ourselves” was brought back into vogue. Anyway, it’s a relief that the royals jumped the fence 100 years ago and have got on with the task of pretending to be British.

Censure right

How much do we really care that in New South Wales different sections of the Nasty Party are tearing each other’s eyes out? It can only be to the benefit of decent people that both factions bleed to death. 

Hilariously, the right wing of the party, which deludedly calls itself “centre right”, thinks that the moderates or centrists are Trotskyites. It doesn’t get any nuttier than that. The right-wingers want to take preselections away from the mods. Given that the moderates are not all that moderate you can imagine what Liberal MPs will look like once Ten Flag Tony and his mates from The Sopranos get control. Sweep-overs and barbwire underwear will be the order of the day. 

The latest email de jour from the Warringahites should get any waverers, who haven’t had their party membership pre-paid, over the line at this weekend’s Party Futures Convention. It begins: “The factional bosses are like the rich man who likes to sit in the front row at church but puts $5 in the plate – the lowest amount he can without the sound of coins.” 

That knockout argument is topped up with some squawking from The Parrot, demanding that the state branch of the party be “wound up”.

Plodding powers

Last week we had the solemn duty to report that despite all the lawn order hoopla from politicians in Macquarie Street there have been no serious crime prevention orders made since a you-beaut law was introduced to allow the wallopers to rid the state of crims and undesirables. 

It gets better: shadow attorney-general Paul Lynch tells Gadfly that last month the actual attorney-general, Mark Speakman, tabled a report from the ombudsman dated three years previously. It dealt with the counterterrorism powers, specifically preventative detention and covert search warrants. The ombudsman reported that these powers have never been used in NSW and the crime commissioner said he had no need for them. 

Further, there was a report from the same ombudsman last November that reviewed the use by police of their powers under the Criminal Organisations Control Act. It said that despite the concerted efforts of a dedicated unit within the Gangs Squad, which spent over three years preparing applications to close down bikies, “no application has been brought to court”. 

The crime busters are loaded up with all these draconian powers that are never used. Benito Dutton will see to that. 

Eagles’ nests

You’ve got to admire the propensity of lawyers to club together into neatly defined units of common interest. 

Gadfly is a devoted reader of the Victorian bar newsletter In Brief, where in recent weeks there’s been a minor proliferation of notices about sporting, eating and religious activities, and consequently Gadfly’s diary has been filled with pressing dates. 

The Australasian Lawyers Surfing Association has given notice of its 10th annual conference in August in a jungle setting on the East Javan coast “where you feel you are almost living in some sort of surfing fantasy land”. This event may overshadow the fun and festivities last month at the Melbourne Catholic Lawyers Association annual dinner at the Park Hyatt, held in association with the Catholic Doctors’ Association of Victoria, where together they heard a speech from Prof. Margaret Somerville on “The Ethical Imagination and the Proposed Victorian Euthanasia Laws” ($110 a head for a two-course meal, plus drinks). 

One of Gadfly’s favourite Melbourne briefs, Norman O’Bryan AM SC, is a leading light in the newly formed Victorian Golfing Lawyers Society – anyone can join, even those without a handicap. The aim is to compete with NSW golfing lawyers for the annual Frank Marrie Trophy in October. Meanwhile the Hellenic Australian Lawyers Association’s inaugural Victorian oration is to be held next month, where High Court justice Geoffrey Nettle will speak on the topic, “Some Hellenic Contributions to the Law”. 

And because places were limited, Gadfly missed the French Australian Lawyers Society Bastille Day Dinner. Quel fromage. 

Hand in Gove

A furore has broken out in Britain over the ghastly Michael Gove’s return to the cabinet as environment secretary. 

Theresa May’s people have refused to deny that Lord Moloch lobbied for Gove’s return to the government. Gove had a gig on Rupe’s Times newspaper after May fired him as justice secretary following his failed attempt to lead the Tories. Indeed, the wizened mogul sat in on Gove’s interview with the Pussy Grabber in Chief. Needless to say, speculation that Gove and Moloch are close is not far wide of the mark, which is all the more alarming since the government will have to decide on 21st Century Fox’s bid for Sky. 

Sane people are concerned about whether an organisation whose tentacles spread from sexually harassing female members of staff to hacking people’s private phones is a fit and proper outfit to have 100 per cent of the largest subscription TV business in the previously “United” Kingdom.

Trumpette #31

The Pussy Grabber, in keeping with his character, has surrounded himself with gold-plated shonks and assorted spivs, and his legal team is no exception.

Jay Sekulow, one of the oleaginous lawyers handling the Grabber’s Russian defence, turns out to be in with a couple of odd right-wing Christian charities. According to National Public Radio, he is chief counsel of the American Centre for Law and Justice, while his entire family comprise the board of another charity linked to the ACLJ – Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism. Watchdogs have questioned their fundraising activities, staffing and organisational structures.

Daniel Borochoff, from CharityWatch, says: “They’re a textbook case of having severely flawed governance and transparency.” Charity Navigator gives them a rating of one star out of four. No matter, donors stumped up $US230 million for the ACLJ in four years to 2015, which was used to fund cases against gay rights, Obamacare, abortion and laws considered anti-religious.

Then we had the silver-haired bully Marc E. Kasowitz, sending threatening emails to a person who had asked him to resign his position as the Grabber’s lawyer because he would turn out to be “a disparaging historical footnote to the presidency of DJT”.

Proving the anonymous complainant right, Kasowitz replied: “And you don’t know me, but I will know you. How dare you send me an email like that. I’m on you now. You are fucking with me now. Let’s see who you are. Watch your back, bitch.”

There was more: “Call me. Or give me your number and I will call you. I already know where you live, I’m on you. You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise. Bro.”

Legal drafting of the highest calibre.


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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 22, 2017 as "Gadfly: Born to be resiled". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.