Our old comrade in arms, the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher, OP, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has invited us to a special event to “commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation”. Some may have thought that Roman Catholics are not entirely keen on the Reformation after large chunks of the old church fell off into the arms of Martin Luther. By Richard Ackland.

Okay Papists, now let’s get Reformation

Invitations are pouring in to Gadfly HQ. Our old comrade in arms, the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher, OP, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has invited us to a special event to “commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation”.

The celebration will take place on October 11 at St Mary’s Cathedral, and if ever an event needs celebrating, it’s the Reformation, or as it’s sometimes known, the “Protestant Reformation”.

Some may have thought that Roman Catholics are not entirely keen on the Reformation after large chunks of the old church fell off into the arms of Martin Luther. Further, at the Diet of Worms, Martin failed to recant works that were deemed by Rome to be heretical.

After a bit of prayer and reflection next Wednesday, all will be clear. Nonetheless, it promises to be one of the weirdest events on Gadfly’s calendar.

Gladys’s night

Then there’s next month’s Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference in Sydney, where the Westin hotel will be packed to the glass ceiling with law enforcement nabobs, ombudsmen, auditors, critical infrastructure gurus, risk experts and so on.

The whole show will be opened by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, whose party plotted the demobilisation of ICAC’s effective commissioner, Justice Megan Latham, after she investigated Liberal fundraising rorts. In fact, Latham is nowhere to be seen on the two-day program, groaning with 60 speakers.

It’s expected that one of the popular presentations will be delivered by Dr Quinn Grundy of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney: “Sushi and fruit, tea, dinner three courses – the influence of gifts and payments from industry in healthcare”.

Among the keynote speakers is United States District Court judge Mark Wolf, who is pressing the case for an international anti-corruption court. Never mind the go-slow from Canberra on a federal ICAC; the new-new thing is to go global.

Picture prefect

What’s the point of having an art gallery named after yourself if there’s no portrait of you on its walls?

For years the Peter O’Callaghan QC Gallery at the Victorian Bar languished without a picture of Peter O’Callaghan, QC. Last week, the deficiency was remedied when O’Callaghan’s portrait by artist Rick Amor was unveiled.

Former High Court judge Susan Crennan did the honours, and referred to the barrister’s role as independent commissioner for the Catholic Church, aka George Pell’s Melbourne Response.

The idea was to have complaints against paedophile priests dealt with internally rather than through the courts. Abuse allegations could be settled for as little as $50,000 and later up to $75,000 – peanuts for someone whose life had been destroyed.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported that in some instances the independent commissioner discouraged complainants from going to the police. O’Callaghan disagreed that was the case.

At last week’s ceremony at the gallery, Crennan said she came across many people who had told their stories to the barrister in his role as independent commissioner.

“So many of them volunteered that they felt at peace with themselves after being listened to by Peter O’Callaghan.”

With a quote from Václav Havel, she added: “He helped countless people ‘orient their spirit’ and gave them the certainty that their lives made sense.”

Abetz goes postal

Otto Abetz’s great big “No” mailbox drop across the island territory of Van Diemen’s Land is going gangbusters, even though it is littered with terminological inexactitudes.

The main feature of the flyer is a picture of the Tasmanian senator trying to smile, the effect of which is to scare the daylights out of decent people.

Otto warns that the equality campaign is trying to “trick us” with their slogans, but the truth can be found from the “very few” countries with legally recognised same-sex marriage. Actually it’s 24 countries with marriage equality, but according to the senator they are the very places that have seen serious consequences, such as: compulsory radical gay sex education in schools, rejection of parents’ rights, restrictions on freedom of speech, and bad impacts for freedom of religion.

The details of these dreadful things are not spelt out, probably because he’s still trying to find the evidence. Never mind, Otto’s going down fighting.

He’s even had “No” people doorknocking Tasmanians, inconveniently interrupting their famous intra-family sexual ceremonies.

Otto mated response

Gadfly hears further glad tidings about Otto from Tasmanian health policy man and baroque music buff Martyn Goddard. He knows his way around the block in Hobart, Adelaide and other extraordinary places.

He tells Gadfly Abetz was bigot-curious even early in his political career, so much so that columnist and Adelaide newspaper publisher Christopher Pearson sought him out and invited him to dinner.

Pearson was once a slim Maoist, but later zoomed across the political spectrum and in the process put on an enormous amount of weight as he found God and the Roman Catholic Church. He graduated to editing Ten Flags Tony’s book Battlelines.

He also became very open about his gayness even during his time as the lover of John Bray, a poet and chief justice of South Australia.

Goddard also knew Pearson, who told him that he sought out the newish senator Abetz to explore the basis of his loud homophobia. Over dinner Otto explained that he thought it was all about nature.

Gay sex, he said, was unnatural – we just aren’t designed that way.

Pearson is reputed to have replied: “If we aren’t designed that way, how come it feels so good?”

Otto had no ready response and there’s no further information on his leaflet about this design problem.

Silent partners

Because of their fame and position, there is a category of voters who are on a “silent electoral roll”. There are about 100,000 of them.

It’s designed to protect prominent citizens having their houses egged by revolutionaries and other undesirables. In fact, it is an offence for someone other than the electoral commission to use these names and addresses.

So how do they get a survey paper from the Bureau of Statistics, which has carriage of the postal proceedings?

Survey forms have been going to people on the silent roll, but they are being posted out by the Australian Electoral Commission, not the Bureau of Stats.

Other than handing the public electoral roll to the bureau, the commission is not permitted to participate in the survey. To get around the problem of silent voters it looks as though the commission has become an agent of the bureau.

It can only be wondered how the survey might be affected by a bunch of politicians, judges, coppers, people hiding from violent spouses and celebrities.

Trumpette #42

The important work of exploring the 15 hours of interviews that Barking Dog Trump did with US radio talk show host Howard Stern continues apace.

We had some snippets from the archive last week, about his germophobia and how he would deal with terrorists on aircraft, but now there’s more. In 2008 the Dotard revealed that he hates blood. Take it away Mr President:

“I was at Mar-a-Lago and we had this incredible ball, the Red Cross Ball, in Palm Beach, Florida. And we had the marines. And the marines were there, and it was terrible because all these rich people, they’re there to support the marines, but they’re really there to get their picture in The Palm Beach Post.

“So, you have all these really rich people, and a man, about 80 years old – very wealthy man, a lot of people didn’t like him – he fell off the stage ...

“So what happens is, this guy falls off right on his face, hits his head, and I thought he died. And you know what I did? I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s disgusting’, and I turned away. I couldn’t, you know— he was right in front of me and I turned away. I didn’t want to touch him. He’s bleeding all over the place, I felt terrible.

“You know, beautiful marble floor, didn’t look like it. It changed colour. Became very red. And you have this poor guy, 80 years old, laying on the floor unconscious, and all the rich people are turning away. Fortunately for the injured man, the marines were on hand to help ...

“I was saying, ‘Get that blood cleaned up! It’s disgusting!’ The next day, I forgot to call to say he’s okay. It’s just not my thing.”


Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 7, 2017 as "Gadfly: Okay Papists, now let’s get Reformation".

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Richard Ackland is The Saturday Paper’s legal affairs editor. He publishes

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