Diary

Gadfly
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Archbishop Anthony Fisher, from St Mary’s in Sydney, must have been exhausted from all the fire and fury he recently poured down on the head of wretched LGBTQI sinners. 

But he’s picked himself up from the floor of the pulpit to tear off an epistle to Fairfax Media in response to the story about the billions of dollars of loot in the vaults of the Catholic Church in Australia and how it was insufficiently disclosed to the royal commission. 

Contrary to the impression left by the Smage investigation, the church is funded by cake stalls, local finance committees and the Vinnies second-hand clothes shops. Assets remain dispersed among dioceses, parishes, orders and lay organisations, making it hard to work out where the wealth is located. 

The church saved a lot of money under Big George Pell’s reign because the organisation was incorporated in much the same way as a local book club. Victims of priestly sex abuse couldn’t get to larger compensation figures because the wealth was so diffuse. 

There now needs to be a stocktake on whether the church has done more damage than good to people. 

In the meantime, a bunch of godly types has come up with a submission to the Mayor of Hornsby’s religious freedoms inquiry. They want a religious freedoms act and a religious freedoms commissioner to oversee exemptions to anti-discrimination laws and the right for Christian health facilities to heal only Christians, et cetera. 

Professor Patrick Parkinson from the University of Sydney is spearheading the Freedom for Faith outfit, and he defined the issue with characteristic clarity: “Christians are not into freedom to discriminate, they’re really into freedom to select.” 

Meanwhile, the human rights group Liberty Victoria has made its submission to Mayor Ruddock’s inquiry, urging that religious freedoms be curtailed, for example the freedom not to pay rates and taxes, the freedom to ignore anti-discrimination laws, the freedom to meddle in political affairs, and maybe even the freedom to be guided by faith rather than facts.

Molan thunder

PR operatives for Generalissimo Jim “Not a Racist Bone in his Body” Molan have also been busy. 

As if the prime minister’s endorsement of the unelected senator was not stirring enough, Grouper Greg Sheridan from The Catholic Boys Daily dug up a photo of the “great Australian” decked out in his jungle greens saving the life of Bishop Carlos Belo in Dili. 

Grouper’s sidekick, Little Chris Kenny, confirmed to the Q&A audience on Monday that Molan is a “great Australian” and that the nasty videos he posted on Facebook “were factual events” – never mind they were sourced from a neo-Nazi group. To clear up any doubt, Kenny Boy added: “I’m against fascism.” 

Maddy Devine was at it back in 2006, detailing Molan’s triumphs as the saviour of Fallujah, and complaining that those unhappy with the deteriorating conditions in Iraq “reveal an addiction to Schadenfreude so profound it has alienated them from moral reality”. 

The generalissimo was the chief of coalition operations in Iraq in 2004-05, commanding attacks on Fallujah, Najaf and Samara. Former senior diplomat and Canberra insider John Menadue wrote on his blog on Wednesday that the mainstream media in Australia was asleep about what was happening in Fallujah. 

Fortunately, overseas reporters were quite awake, revealing a coalition assault on the city’s only hospital:

“Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.” – The New York Times  

“US armed forces killed scores of patients in an attack on a Fallujah health centre and have deprived civilians of medical care, food and water.” – The Nation 

“There are dead women and children lying on the streets. People are getting weaker from hunger.” – BBC 

“The horrific conditions for those who remained in the city have begun to emerge.” – The Guardian  

Peter Phillips at Project Censored estimated that as of December 2004 at least 6000 Iraqi civilians in Fallujah had been killed and one-third of the city had been destroyed with the help of barrel bombs. 

It looked like a case of destroying the city to save it and the coalition forces were successful in that mission. However, Molan and his troops have been singularly unsuccessful in their campaign to invade the Liberal Party of New South Wales and clean out the wet-smacks.  

While we do not suggest that Jim Molan is in any way responsible for the disaster of Fallujah, or Iraq at large, there’s clearly an urgent need to install more boat stoppers, Colonel Blimps and Capt’n Mainwarings in the parliamentary party.

Family guy

Troubles for the Bowyanged Beetroot from Walcha are only just starting. Think of what lies ahead – the divorce proceedings and the carve-up of Barnaby’s affairs. 

Natalie and the four girls will have to be provided for. There’s bound to be a family trust or two and assets held there will have to be examined. Then there’s the new addition to the family, little Adani Joyce, and mother Vikki – they will have to be sustained in a comfortable manner. 

Succession planning also comes into it, because it would be awful for all the children to end up in court squabbling over the remains of Beetroot’s estate once he pegs out. 

Of course, this sort of thing follows a fine tradition in Cockies Corner. Old-timers swear they saw Arthur Fadden, Country Party leader, federal treasurer and deputy prime minister under Pig Iron Bob, running naked after a couple of sylphs in the dead of night through Kings Hall in Old Parliament House.

Roman holiday

After nine months of intense examination an anxious nation awaits the outcome of the inquiry into L’Affaire Quaedvlieg by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. 

The Australian Border Force commissioner has been holed up on extended paid leave while probes are made into allegations that he assisted a female person with her employment at the ABF while in a “relationship” with her, a system of preferment whose precedent has been firmly established by no less an authority than the deputy prime minister. 

Getting to the bottom of this seems to be intensely difficult. Meanwhile, the Angry Fly has chalked up more than $400,000 in pay just sitting at home waiting to get back into his Hugo Boss uniform.

In London still

What’s going on at Stoke Lodge, the comfy Hyde Park Gate gaff of High Commissioner Fishnets Downer? We heard that Fishnets might like to stay on a bit longer, even for the May wedding of Harry and Meghan, which would appear to put a spanner in the works of a seamless transfer to Bookshelves Brandis

Does this mean the new high commissioner will have to make do for a while with a rooming house in Earls Court? 

Gadfly asked the mandarins at DFAT in Canberra exactly when Fishnets is likely to be prised off the public teat and return to the excitement of Adelaide.

It seems no one is absolutely sure. The question tested senior departmental wallahs, who after a day of suspense came up with this official advice: “The government will announce the appointment of the next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in due course.”

Scratch Adams

In a lift going home late on Tuesday night, Phillip Adams told Gadfly that he had been “banned” from India. 

Why is this so? A series of programs to be broadcast from Delhi and elsewhere by Radio National’s Late Night Live had been planned for months and there was even a grant for a team to travel to the subcontinent. 

Amruta Slee, an Indian-born producer on the program, wrote on the RN website that after applying for visas in December, well ahead of the planned flight in February, there was an eerie silence from the Indian officials in Australia. She discovered that if you ring the Sydney visa office to check what’s happening you are put through to an outsourced call centre in India, where no one has a clue what you’re talking about. 

Ultimately, a “highly placed government source” informed the program makers there were problems, including one big one: “It’s about the Adani story.” 

That’s right. Four Corners and reporter Stephen Long did such a terrific job skewering the environmental and corporate malfeasance of the company that it killed poor little LNL’s Indian adventure.

When Gadfly asked Aunty’s media muffins about this we got a different version: “LNL … is still waiting to hear whether visas have been approved. We have been given no information on why the visas have not yet been issued.”

Trumpette #56

The Trump people have a real way with gauging public opinion. 

Through the inbox comes a flyer from the team at the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, declaring that “President Trump has a stronger approval rating (48%) today than President Barack Obama (44%) did in 2010 on this same day (February 8)”. 

Lucky recipients of this message are then asked to rate Barking Dog’s performance so the media “knows the American people are fully behind President Trump. There are four options for the job performance question: 

GREAT

GOOD

OKAY

OTHER

What could be fairer than that?

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 17, 2018 as "Gadfly: Holy owned subsidiaries". 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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