Federal and state judges will be getting in touch with their brains next week, or rather their two brains. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist is out from Britain and has been invited by the Federal Court to try to explain to the judges about the hemispheres in their skulls. By Richard Ackland.

Gadfly: Grey matters

Federal and state judges will be getting in touch with their brains next week, or rather their two brains. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist is out from Britain and has been invited by the Federal Court and the New South Wales Supreme Court to try to explain to the judges about the hemispheres in their skulls. 

I’m told chief justice Allsop of the Federal Court has read McGilchrist’s work, The Master and His Emissary, and is a big fan. He is convinced his colleagues need to know more about what is going on inside their heads. 

McGilchrist will be speaking at a special federal judges’ get-together in Melbourne next Thursday and then in Leura on Saturday, to NSW Supreme Court judges whose brains will be filled with mountain air. 

The understanding that the left and right hemispheres operate separately is old hat. Reason, emotion, language and imagery are now said to be served by both hemispheres. 

However, what McGilchrist says is that the left hemisphere, which focuses on functioning details, is the “emissary” of the right hemisphere, the “master”, which is all about the emotional, the evolving living being. What has been discovered is that the emissary has its own will and in all likelihood will betray the master, and in doing so will betray himself. 

The drive for language is really a left hemisphere attempt at manipulation. 

The lesson for their honours is that the left hemisphere is on the march, with the consequence that the search for happiness will lead to resentment and unhappiness. It also stands that the search for freedom sees us as more monitored and controlled, and that access to more information has led us to be less wise. 

As a result of being put more in touch with their under-siege right hemispheres, we should expect to see more humane reasoning from their honours, with judgements that are better at evaluating living beings – maybe even more empathy for the plight of refugees in detention camps.

Vale Johno

The great Labor Party identity and meat raffle aficionado the Hon. Johno Johnson KCSG has shuffled off the mortal coil. He was president of the NSW Legislative Council, the oldest legislative chamber in the nation, for 13 years, and among other things was chairman of the Catholic Newspaper Company, publishers not of The Catholic Boys Daily but The Catholic Weekly

Former state treasury secretary Percy Allan tells me that when the Government Printing Office was privatised in 1989, Johnson rang up to congratulate the government on this move because it would “end the last Masonic bastion within the public service”. 

If that seems an important enough reason to privatise one of the great agencies of government, it pales into insignificance with the money senior bureaucrats saved in having to wine and dine the bosses at the printing office in order to persuade them to get the state budget papers onto the presses in time. 

In 2002, Gough Whitlam went to the Australian Jockey Club for a tribute dinner in honour of Johnson. Referring to the great Labor split, Whitlam said: 

“Johno freely admits that if he had lived in Melbourne he would have joined the DLP. We have all been fortunate that Sydney had excellent cardinals – Gilroy, Freeman and Clancy – at a crucial period in the history of the ALP.”

Owing Lanceley a lot

Gadfly attended Lucio’s Italian eatery in Sydney’s Paddington for Kay Lanceley’s 80th-birthday celebrations. Kay is the widow of artist Colin Lanceley and a jolly crowd was on hand to drink, eat and remember. 

Longstanding friend, the journalist Alex Mitchell, who knew the Lanceleys in London and Sydney, proposed a toast in which he recalled that it was Kay who was the driving force behind the Australian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in the 1980s. 

She was the one who “twisted arms, lobbied, coerced and schmoozed across Sydney boardrooms” for funding and support. She went to Wollongong to persuade BHP to fabricate the metal infrastructure for the pavilion. She got John Menadue, then the chief executive of Qantas, to provide cargo space on the flying kangaroos. She persuaded Franco Belgiorno-Nettis to lend his technical and artistic support to the project, which turned out to be a huge triumph. 

It’s also only a distant memory that back in the day Kay provided essential support for SBS in lobbying the Hawke–Keating regime for funding and to preserve the independence of the broadcaster against the rapacity of the ABC. 

Her skills are badly needed today to see off the Hansonite pillaging of the public broadcasters.

As we were polishing off the enormous cheese plate and heading towards the torta tiramisu, Gadfly glanced out the window to see Lucio Galletto leaving the restaurant. Two passing young blondes embraced him in the street before he jumped on his Vespa and tooled off into the afternoon.

Reds in the beds

David Flint, the monarchist and well-rounded conservative, makes for fruity listening on radio station 2GB, which is background noise for dementia sufferers in many nursing homes. 

Flinty strongly believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others. 

He points to the post same-sex marriage “slippery slope” in Britain, where things have moved on to the “next stage”. He says that by statutory declaration people can change their sex. He gave a disturbing example of what this could lead to: 

“If you like to go into women’s lavatories and rape women you can now say ‘I’m a woman’, file a declaration and become a woman, and you’re legally entitled to go into a lavatory or a dressing room.” 

Admittedly, he points to a transphobic hypothetical, and seems to neglect mention of the fact rape would remain a crime, and that no one would be “legally entitled” to commit it, but there are even more extreme confrontations lurking on the slippery slope. Flint warned his listeners, “All of this has a sinister side and that is the Marxist agenda, from Marx himself and Engels, to damage the bourgeois family as a major institution.” 

Those commies have spent an inordinate time under our beds and now they want to climb into them.

Top Ruddock

The electors of the Sydney hamlet of Hornsby must be ecstatic that Philip Ruddock, 74, is running for mayor at the local government elections next month.  

He’s hardly left his role as father of the house and member for Berowra than he has his eyes set on more padded leather – Hornsby Council, the cherry on the top of the north shore. 

Ruddock produced a photo of his dad, Max Ruddock, a former deputy shire president of Hornsby in 1955, adding: “You need to have people with experience that can contribute.” On the other hand, Matt Gillian, the manager of the Blue Gum Hotel at nearby Waitara, was reported by the ABC as saying something about people’s inability to leave the spotlight. 

One can only hope that local refugees are not rounded up for an experimental north shore Pacific Solution. Ruddock has completed his arduous globetrotting in aid of Australia’s preposterous ambition to secure a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. 

Audacity knows no embarrassment.

Greek unorthodox

Gadfly has tended to operate on the principle that most jokes should be taken seriously, while serious stuff should be treated as a joke. 

There can be variations on this theme, so when last week we mentioned that Senator Nick Xenophon had travelled to Israel and Palestine at his own expense “using a Greek passport” we were reporting a joke. It was and remained a joke – and it remains a joke.

Thank God that’s cleared up.

Trumpette #35

What fate awaits Steve Bannon, the Pussy Grabber’s policy adviser and West Wing oral onanist?

Lord Moloch wants him out of the job so he can be the policy adviser, and Moloch is quite well qualified, what with running a whole lot of nasty crypto alt-right publications.

In fact, British campaigners are demanding that advertisers stop giving money to The Sun because of its consistent anti-immigration and anti-Muslim diatribes.

The creepy Kushners (Ken and Barbie), who are friends of Uncle Rupe’s, also want Steve gone and so did Anthony Scaramucci – as fine a cohort of humans as you’re likely to find.

Steve is now being called a white supremacist and maybe you can see tiny patches of white through his burst veins and bourbon-infused complexion. In any event, Trump himself is giving a good impersonation of a white supremacist.

Meantime, Trump Tower has come in for attention as The New York Times has explored the collection of spivs, crooks, hucksters, career criminals, charlatans, mobsters, bilkers and ne’er-do-wells who have lived there. The Times quoted one observer as saying, “Criminals got to go somewhere”.


Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 19, 2017 as "Gadfly: Grey matters".

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