Diary

Gadfly
Sprog’s bill beyond belief

Senator Sprog Paterson’s religious freedom bill was a pathetic effort and little wonder he is unhappy with it.

Fancy forgetting to include a clause that bans LGBTQI people from male or female public toilets. This omission confirms Sprog as one of the most inadequate people ever to land, unelected, in the senate – which is unsurprising, given he came from the Institute for Paid Advocacy.

Still, all the obvious things were in his bill, copied from the guidebook of America’s religious right: no more protections for LGBTQI people under anti-discrimination laws, goods and services providers off the hook if they don’t like gays, people free to abuse and vilify same-sex couples without hinder. And the offender doesn’t even have to be a religious believer. Any ugly nutter could enjoy these exciting “freedoms” on the grounds of “belief or thought”.

Fifi McLeod, the president of the Law Council of Australia, could see the prospect under the Sprog Act “where a hire car company could leave customers stranded on the way to a marriage ceremony simply because the driver held a thought or belief against it – even if the belief had nothing to do with religion”.

Senator Sprog says he is actually in favour of same-sex marriage, but his proposed bill also shows he wants people to have the freedom to be vile about same-sex couples. How’s that for a straddle?

But toilets, Sproggy. How could you forget the toilets?

The Sprog will now use his god-bothering ideas to “improve” Dean Smith’s bill, and will no doubt be ably assisted by Bernardi, Andrews, Abbott, Otto, et al. 

Meanwhile, things are progressing smoothly in the United States. The Ku Klux Klan’s favourite attorney-general, Jeff Sessions, when he’s not forgetting about Trump’s Russia connections, is busily recasting freedom of religion under the First Amendment to allow corporations to have “moral scruples”, and so exempting them from anti-discrimination laws.

The Department of Justice also now supports the right of employers to discriminate against LGBTQI employees.

Sprog better get over to the US quick smart on a IPA fellowship and immerse himself in some of these up-to-the-minute developments.

Yes, prime minister

What a proud moment it was for PM Trumble. Leading from behind he summoned his courage to be decisive after everyone else had made up their minds.

Australians “voted yes for fairness, yes for commitment, yes for love. I intend to deliver this reform by Christmas,” said the resolute one after being incredibly low-key throughout the whole postal event. Of course, as a government the Trumble regime won’t be committed to same-sex marriage legislation at all.

Grave leadership

One of Gadfly’s field agents, touring New Zealand by car, reports his road trip from Curio Bay to Dunedin. On the right-hand side of the road he spotted a narrow thoroughfare called Turnbull Lane.

Excited by the opportunity he moseyed on down only to discover that it ended up at a cemetery.

Ok go

Prospective Liberals are dropping like unconstitutional flies. Fiona Nash replacement Hollie Hughes has gone, managing to lose two soft landings in one swoop. Rumours now abound that the next on the ticket, military man and refugee wallah General Jimbo Molan, may also have eligibility difficulties following Hollie Golightly into the senate.

If we lose the gorgeous general, next in line is the Liberals’ Sang Ok, the former mayor of Strathfield. While there, Sang pushed enthusiastically for a gigantic Korean cultural centre slap-bang in Bressington Park. It was not so favourably received by the community and had the effect of tearing the council apart. Fortunately, the monstrosity never went ahead, but this has not stopped Ok.

The Libs sure know how to pick ’em.

Solemn salon

Gadfly found himself amid stuffed aardvarks, skeletons, tribal masks, mummified Egyptians and other relics at the Long Gallery of the Australian Museum for a session of the Sydney Salon with Geoff Gallop and John Hewson.

The two old pollies were in fine form as they roamed over economics, global trends, local politics, climate, energy, corruption, nuclear war, freedom and how various horrible developments are now accepted as the new normal.

It was a reminder of what it would be like to have at the helm of this lame ship of state two civilised, intelligent people who made sense.

Dr John, looking incredibly prime ministerial, struck a dismal note, saying the US response, should Trump’s tax bill not pass, would be for the sharemarket to come off 15 per cent, with the bond and currency markets going into turmoil.

His verdict on 2017: “Disruption and distraction.”

As we dipped into the vestiges of our antipasti, chanteuse Courtney Severini on piano accordion took the floor with some French and Italian ditties. It was the first time a squeezebox had been played in the 160-year-old Long Gallery.

Gnarly Brown

Mike Seccombe, The Saturday Paper’s national correspondent, managed to create some consternation with his story last week on the pervasive influence of the Greens.

Among other things, he mentioned the turmoil generated by the New South Wales branch of the Greens party, with its adherence to old-school socialism, and its following among ageing Trots. The state branch has been voting on the preselection of a candidate for the senate seat currently held by Lee Rhiannon

Former Greens leader Bob Brown must have liked the story, because he tweeted it, adding the comment: “Polls show that supporters of every political party has a majority opposed to Adani mine.”

To his amazement, party functionaries from NSW emailed him saying there had been a complaint about his tweet to the preselection committee and accordingly they would like him to take it down.

Brown emailed back: “Of course, I will not be removing my tweet. What next? Will the trucks arrive at every NSW newsagency to confiscate copies of The Saturday Paper? Please let me know who made this complaint.”

What dingbat would complain about the tweet of a man who had just won a major free speech case in the High Court?

Well may we see

We mentioned last week the latest edition of Professor Jenny Hocking’s book The Dismissal Dossier: The Palace Connection, in which she uncovers new evidence about the meddling in Australian political affairs by Whitehall and Buckingham Palace.

Meanwhile, we’re still hanging on for a judgement from the Federal Court on whether letters between Jolly John Kerr, HM and her royal functionaries at the palace can be released for public consumption or whether they are, as the archives people in Canberra insist, “personal” correspondence. The flunkies at Buck House have so far blocked the release of Kerr’s copies of the letters held by our own National Archives in Canberra – having been embargoed on Queenie’s instructions until 2027, with her private secretary retaining a veto on their release even after that date.

Hocking is seeking the release of the correspondence and, if the Federal Court says yes, then at least we can find out something about what shenanigans the wine-soaked Kerr and his loyal monarch were up to.

Trumpette #48

Roy Moore, the Republican senate candidate and former chief justice of Alabama, has been in the news with stories emerging of him allegedly sexually molesting teenage girls while he was a lawyer in his 30s.

The Republican elders have been dithering whether to keep this sleazebag on the ticket or allow him into the senate if he is elected. How he got there in the first place is a miracle and another troubling indication of the state of US politics.

The New Yorker has helpfully tied a lot of Moore’s loose ends together, making it easier to dive into the lucky dip of sludge.

Of course, Moore is a religious nutter and even though he trumpets religious freedom, he also says Muslims should not serve in congress. He doesn’t like homosexuals and says they should be criminally published and that the US Supreme Court’s decision in favour of marriage equality was unbelievably terrible. On two occasions he was removed from the bench, once for defying a federal court order to remove a gigantic monument outside his courthouse on which were chiselled the Ten Commandments, and again for denying the right of same-sex couples to marry.

He declared that US law should give way to the Bible, has brandished guns at political events, and is a firm believer in birtherism. Moore was born in the backwoods city of Gadsden, whose main attraction is a shopping mall. Outside one of the churches is a sign that says “Legal or not, sin is sin”. The New Yorker reports evidence that in his 30s Moore was banned from the mall because of his harassment of young girls.

Yet, the orange-skinned Pussy Grabber has said Moore “sounds like a great guy”.

The White House issued a statement saying Trump “does not believe we can allow a mere allegation [from] many years ago to destroy a person’s life”.

If Moore thinks these allegations are true, then it’s up to him to step aside. Getting banned from a shopping mall is some achievement but, as the magazine puts it, “even a molesting Republican is better than a Democrat”.

 

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 18, 2017 as "Gadfly: Sprog’s bill beyond belief". 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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