Diary

Gadfly
An affair to dismember

The dwindling citizens who read Lord Moloch’s tissues will have noticed that exciting fatwas are under way against Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs and barrister Julian Burnside.

Griggs is vice-chief of the Australian Defence Force and in line to take over the job as top Defence wallah. However, he has committed the crime of divorcing his wife and marrying fellow navy officer Commander Chloe Wootten, now Griggs. Maybe he was inspired by Lord Moloch himself, who tied the knot on two occasions with young women from the factory floor.

The Catholic Boys Daily has been raining contumely down on the vice-admiral’s head, with the able assistance of the first Mrs Griggs, and Senator Rex Patrick, a stand-in for the departed Nick Xenophon and a former petty officer who later ran a defence industry consultancy.

The allegations range from drafting love letters, creating a special job for the latest Mrs Griggs, having the first Mrs Griggs move out of accommodation at Duntroon, changing policy in relation to intra-navy relationships, and sending letters on “cabinet room” letterhead.

The Daily Telegraph’s ever trusty light entertainment correspondent Miranda Devine complained that his affair may have been going on for longer than he disclosed. Further, and more distressingly, the vice-admiral has been “virtue-signalling” about awful things such as diversity, rights for queer sailors, Islam, Wear Purple Day and White Ribbon Day.

Unforgiveably, Vice-Admiral Griggs complained to the Press Council about the Smellograph’s treatment of Captain Mona Shindy, a missiles engineer who is also a Muslim and whom Griggs appointed as a cultural adviser.

Among this avalanche of information about domestic affairs and ADF culture are findings from the Defence Force inspector general who, in relation to complaints from the first Mrs Griggs, found the vice-admiral disclosed his relationship with his lover to the secretary of the Department of Defence. His relationship was not a breach of policy, there was no deception involved and he did not interfere in her job placement. Further, all the internal reviews were conducted properly and in accordance with administrative law requirements.

That appears not to be enough, because Miranda doesn’t think Griggs should get the gig as chief of the Defence Force, after Bigglesworth Binskin steps down midyear. Presumably the position should go to the army chief, the swivel-eyed Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, who looked after our sovereign borders for SloMo Morrison all those years ago.

Dressing down

As for Julian Burnside, he committed the unpardonable offence of sharing on social media an image of Peter Dutton in a Nazi uniform, adding that the home affairs minister “acts as if the rights of human beings are irrelevant, unless they happen to be in his electorate”.

Being something of an expert himself on disgusting behaviour, Benito said Burnside’s tweet was “disgusting” and he should apologise. Someone from the Jewish Anti-Defamation Commission climbed on board, saying the tweet was “profoundly offensive” to Holocaust survivors and the six million Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis.

Needless to say, Dutch philosopher Andreas Blot was apoplectic. Catholic Boys Daily hacks also kept banging on about it, although it was obvious that the mighty Melbourne silk was making a quite different point – Dutton is cultivating a climate of fear and hatred of non-white Muslim refugees, which is what the Nazis did with Jews, ultimately with shocking consequences.

Burnside said he was sorry if the tweet offended some people, and that he was not equating this country’s offshore camps with the Nazi camps of the Holocaust. He also pointed out that Moloch tissues ran front-page pictures before the last federal election of Messrs Shorten and Albanese in Nazi uniforms.

Touché.

Lowering the bar

After a bit of reluctance by the Federal Circuit Court to provide what was promised to be a gripping transcript, all has now been resolved, happily.

The issue at stake was the swearing-in proceedings for Judge Greg Egan, appointed to the FCC by his old pal Bookshelves Brandis. Lawyers have been muttering for weeks about the new judge’s speech with a certain amount of awe and wonder.

Enthusiastically, Egan endorsed the “astute and energetic” leadership of chief judge Three Wigs Willy Alstergren, which will see “those pesky court lists licked in no time at all”. However, it was Egan’s references to life at the bar that drew particular attention. His mentor at the bar taught him several important things, including “there’s nothing better in life than fees [and] why take on only one trial brief per day if you’re offered three.”

The cringeworthy stuff didn’t end there. His honour’s stellar career included splendid briefs in various worthy cases, especially one involving the 1991 Sea World helicopter crash. “A one-month appointment which was extended to a five-month all-expenses-paid stay at the Marina Mirage Resort at the Gold Coast for the duration of sittings.”

There was also a strange reference to “the pot at the end of the rainbow” and “pretty girls and the best of red wine” on a bar colleague’s yacht.

Grim tales from the trenches.

Brandis identity

Gadfly is in a minority thinking that Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin didn’t quite hit the mark. Basically, it could have been even more outrageous and satirical. But Iannucci to some extent rectified whatever was lacking by casting Simon Russell Beale as the head of the NKVD, Lavrenti Beria, who is a dead ringer for Bookshelves Brandis.

Beria rushes about compiling lists of enemies, replacing them with new lists, executing suspects willy-nilly, scheming, threatening, sucking up. All the time, the audience could be forgiven for thinking Bookshelves somehow miraculously had an earlier career in Moscow – until we realise Beria was ultimately executed in a plot organised by Khrushchev.

Beale also played the character Kenneth Widmerpool in Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. Widmerpool is one of life’s mediocrities, who, no matter how comical and limited, keeps rising and rising – through business, the military and politics. At the end, he swans off with a life peerage – to the incredulity of everyone.

His name is now synonymous with those promoted beyond their ability – much like the front bench of the Coalition.

Porter in a storm

Our relatively new attorney-general, the Right Reverend Christian Porter, is a man who meets himself coming around corners. Hacks at The Australian dialled him up for a patsy quote to support the latest outburst from former High Court judge Dyson Heydon that the Yarra Three – the ministers who arguably were in contempt of the Victorian Court of Appeal in a terrorism sentencing case – were within their rights to attack the judges.

Dyse characterised this as a disagreement over sentencing policy, whereas the Judicial Conference of Australia had to point out that it was a personal attack. The ministers had said the judges were “hard-left activists … divorced from reality”.

Porter was quoted in the paper saying he endorsed Heydon’s critique and that “no part of the democratic system was immune from criticism”. Amazingly, two days later the AG is quoted in the same tissue as ticking off the Law Council of Australia for criticising the administrative arrangements made by the chief justice of the Family Court.

Chief Justice John Pascoe had appointed Three Wigs Willy Alstergren of the Federal Circuit Court to oversee appeals to the Family Court. The Law Council had the temerity to point out that this could give rise to the apprehension of bias and conflicts.

Porter thundered that he was surprised the lawyers’ lobby organisation would think it appropriate “to lecture the chief justice how to administer his own court”. The attorney-general has squeezed himself into the incompatible position of saying no part of the democratic system is immune from criticism, except when a lawyers’ organisation criticises a Brandis-appointed chief justice.

Trumpette #63

Vazrick Nazari, an evolutionary biologist, announced a little while ago the discovery of a new centimetre-wide moth that flutters in circles around the region of the United States–Mexico border and along the coast to Baja California.

It is described as having a head that is orange-yellow in colour, blondish tresses, a white body and brownish wings.

Importantly, the male version has genitalia “comparatively smaller” than that of its near relative the Neopalpa neonata. With these characteristics, Nazari named his discovery Neopalpa donaldtrumpi. In doing so, he’s hoping to inspire Barking Dog to make “conservation of such fragile ecosystems in the US his top priority”.

The phallus of the Neopalpa moth is noted for its curved tip and a “distinct subterminal hook”. Female genitals, on the other hand, are “extensively sculpted with microtrichea”.

One twitterer observed: “Hence forward, the grabus vaginus moth”.

 

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 7, 2018 as "Gadfly: An affair to dismember". 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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