Diary

Gadfly
Shelf analysis

In the latest instalment of his blog, Freedom Boy Wilson, MP, has posted an article called “My Bookshelf”.

It turns out not to be a paean to his philosopher-mentor Bookshelves Brandis, but an encounter with the books that have put his thoughts “onto clear tracks”.

He nominates Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, Pig Iron Bob’s Afternoon Light, Friedrich von Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, several volumes on Ronald Reagan, and Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984.

The unifying theme of these unsurprising choices is that they extol the virtues of individualism over “centralised control”, and markets as the basis of freedom.

As Wilson puts it so indelibly: “People vote once every three years in federal elections but they vote every minute when they consume things. Its [sic] efficient in terms of the allocation of resources but also environmentally beneficial because we do things like put a price on waste.”

How’s that for a “clear track”?

Wilson is among the five “rebel” members of the Nasty Party, who on the issue of same-sex marriage, are boldly not crossing the floor, just yet.

 

Hitching post poll

How do you think the SSM postal vote will go with people under 40, who have never received or sent a letter in their lives?

Gen Ys have trouble finding a stamp or locating a postbox, and there is the wider concern of entrusting a vote to Australia Post, whose directors waved through eye-watering amounts of money for Ahmed Fahour, the recently departed CEO, and blithely flogged off for a bargain price the great Victorian Italianate Renaissance GPO building in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Gough Whitlam in 1974 commissioned a Bureau of Statistics poll to test public opinion on the national anthem. It sampled about 60,000 people throughout the land, 18 years and over, and was conducted as part of the bureau’s regular national household survey.

PM Trumble put the cost of the non-binding, voluntary postal vote at $122 million, whereas the 1974 anthem poll and processing was done for $9500. Why spend a lousy $9500 when we can spend more than $100 million for something that Nasty and Cockies Corner MPs will do anything not to debate?

For the record, in the 1974 poll “Advance Australia Fair” was supported by 52.7 per cent of the women polled and 50 per cent of the men.

After “Waltzing Matilda”, “Song of Australia” came in a poor third (14.8 per cent women and 12.3 per cent men).

 

Scippy screen time

Gadfly was trapped on one of those endless IKEA pathways to consumer engorgement when we ran into retired NSW police chief Andrew Scipione in the TV department. He’s looking tanned and relaxed after his gruelling years as commissioner of the wallopers.

There seemed to be a debate going on with Mrs Scippy about whether to go for the large or the super-large screen.

 

Pyne needles and Hebron colliding

A crowd of reptiles and assorted celebs turned up at Berkelouw’s for olives and dips and the launch of John Lyons and Sylvie Le Clezio’s book Balcony over Jerusalem – a bracing account of their time reporting from the Middle East.

The launch baptism was performed by Senator Nick Xenophon, who made a stirring speech in which he said that many of his colleagues in parliament aren’t so interested in seeing the oppression of the occupied Palestinians but instead “seem mesmerised by the sponsored banquets at the magnificent King David Hotel”.

MPs and senators have been guests of Melbourne property man Albert Dadon, who has hosted Australia–Israel dialogues. Senator Nick said that Poodles Pyne was on one of the banquet tours and “on a whim” accepted a free side trip to Morocco. In fact, Poodles was a student of Nick’s at the University of South Australia, where he “taught him everything he doesn’t know”.

The book says that Lyons and Le Clezio accompanied Dadon to Hebron, and even though the businessman had hosted dozens of conferences about Israel, “it was clear that he had never experienced the reality of the occupation”. 

After walking around for a bit, Dadon said he wanted to leave, and is reported to have said: “I’m upset that this is being done in my name … What I saw that day was not Jewish.”

Senator Nick said, “It is no accident that most Australian members of parliament never go to Hebron”, which he did and observed that this is the place where the occupation is carried out with no “illusions”.

Xenophon added that to make matters more memorable he went to Israel and Palestine at his own expense, using a Greek passport. (Editor's note: This last bit is a joke. Xenophon is not a dual citizen.)

 

Case for fed ICAC

Stand by for a stellar line-up of talent next Thursday at Parliament House, Canberra, to discuss “the case for a federal anti-corruption commission”.

Investigative journalists, lawyers, crossbench senators and academics are locking horns on a topic that seems a no-brainer. Polls show support running at above 80 per cent for a federal ICAC. Like marriage equality, it’s an issue where the public is out in front of many of the politicians.

Sydney silk Geoffrey Watson is to deliver Thursday’s keynote address. He’s called it “The Darkest Corners”, and mounts a compelling case for a federal integrity commission, particularly as a survey last year showed 3000 federal public servants reported witnessing conduct by their colleagues that included nepotism, blackmail, bribery, fraud and collusion with criminals.

Serendipitously, the updated ICAC legislation in NSW took effect on Monday, only eight months after the government rammed the amendments through parliament. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her government had “zero tolerance” for corruption, while at the same time cutting ICAC’s budget and putting in place trip-wires that make it more difficult to hold public investigations.

 

Fox takes Sky bid down a rabbit hole

Will Lord Moloch’s bid for Britain’s pay TV service, Sky, go down the lavatory?

The ghastly empire, which the wizened mogul runs with an iron claw, has done itself no favours by colluding with the White House in a fake news story broadcast on his Faaax network.

The breathless lie being peddled was that Democratic Party digital operative Seth Rich was responsible for leaking the emails from party HQ that were released by WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Further, it was implied Rich was murdered one dark night on his way home by Clinton loyalists as payback for the leak.

The Pussy Grabber himself, as well as his former flack merchant Sean Spicer, were given advance notice of the story by the Fox News people, with general agreement that it was a wonderful way to distract attention from the Russia connection.

Now the Sky takeover bid is further delayed as the Poms are having another look at Moloch and his family’s suitability to snaffle the remaining 61 per cent of the shares they don’t already control.

Former Washington homicide detective Rod Wheeler is suing Fox News, claiming a reporter made up and put false quotes in his mouth to bolster the Seth Rich conspiracy story.  Quelle surprise.

The fitness and propriety of this phone hacking, sex molesting, fake news organisation should be a key element against giving it a bigger chunk of the pie if Australia’s cross-media ownership laws are watered down.

 

Trumpette #34

For pussy grabbers and oral self-gratification athletes, fakery knows no limits. There’s President Trump busily tweeting away to his 35.4 million followers, when Twitter Audit says only 55 per cent of his followers are real accounts. That means about 15 million of his Twitterati are bots or fakes.

Among his inflated online enthusiasts was an account called @Protrump45 using the name “Nicole”. Nicole had kindly tweeted just as the president was embarking on his 17-day holiday, “Trump working hard for the American people … thanks.”

Trump fired back: “Thank you Nicole!” Nicole had a fake or stolen identity as Nicole Mincey, a young black pro-Trump activist who sold Trump- emblazoned tat online. The identity photo was of a model stolen from another site. @Protrump45 was a bot and Ms Mincey wasn’t a real person. Twitter has removed the account.

So it’s comforting for “the local milk people” and others to know half Donald’s Twitter followers are imaginary and he is busily replying to non-existent people.

As he repeatedly reminds followers who are functioning human beings, it’s CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, the NY Times and WAPO who peddle #fakenews. Thank god for Fox and Trump’s own “real news” show, broadcast via Facebook and created by the wife of his gormless son, Eric.

 

This piece was updated on August 16, 2017, to make clear that the line about Nick Xenophon's Greek passport was a joke.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 12, 2017 as "Gadfly: Shelf analysis". 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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