Diary

Gadfly
The tragic wand

Benito Dutton is doing his level best to make sure visitors to his Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation are not infused with drugs. Even traces of Bex on someone’s sleeve may be enough to have their visitation rights cancelled.

So far an ex-mayor, an elderly Catholic priest, a mature aged-care nurse and a Salvation Army pastor have flunked the MITA drug test. This involves blood-curdling Border Force operatives and Serco agents passing a magic wand over visitors’ clothing in the hunt for stashes of heroin and cocaine.

The aged-care nurse had been changing her patient’s pain patches when she was working a night shift and may have had residues of fentanyl and Norspan about her person. She was refused entry to the MITA.

An elderly businessman who made regular visits to Benito’s prisoners also tested positive and was turned away at reception. He promptly went to the local cop shop and asked for a blood test, which came up negative.

The magic wand also found the priest from Colac was riddled with illicit substances. He was bringing a hamburger to an Indian prisoner and was turned away and put on the banned list. He thinks he may have inadvertently picked up traces of something from the counter of the burger shop. It was only after his local MP Sarah Henderson intervened that he got the green light for more visitations.

On occasion, male guards have creepily passed the wand suggestively over the chest of female visitors in the fervid hunt for ice.

With all these alarms about drugs, the prisoners themselves had better be careful. If any of them were found with a drug residue, inadvertently acquired, for instance, by rubbing up against a guard, then Benito would be quickly signing an order for prompt deportation.

Which leads to the obvious question: when are they going to start waving the testing wand over staff and contractors?

Family ties

The outcry in the United States over Trump’s immigration detention policies was so fierce that the greatest orange-coloured commander-in-chief the world has known backed down – well, sort of.

The most committed conservative Republicans gnashed their cosmetically enhanced teeth over the separation of children from their parents as they cross from the Mexican border.

Tiny tots were whisked away and held in cages by the Department of Health and Inhuman Services. Various media organisations provided the audio of detained infants wailing in grief. Current and former first ladies decried the heartlessness of the policy and Republican members of Congress were anxious about their prospects at the midterms.

Needless to say, a few cold-hearted creatures were delighted by the policy. Laura Ingraham, Moloch’s favourite blonde pit bull on Fox News, called the detention cages “summer camps” for kids, while the hatchet-faced Ann Coulter said the wailing babes were “child actors” who were trying to “wreck the country”.

The barbarism was too much for Jarvanka, who persuaded Trump to unlock the cages. Instead, he’ll imprison entire families on military bases and get the Pentagon to build sparkling new prisons.

What is it about Australians that we are so uniquely docile about the torment meted out to refugees and asylum seekers in our name – a policy that so far has resulted in the deaths of 12 people in immigration detention.

While separating young children from their parents is up there with the policies of Kim Jong-un or Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, being held indefinitely in detention by Peter Dutton is qualitatively no better.

Screaming Lords Stutch

The Stutchburies sound like a troupe of male strippers that can be booked for hens’ nights. But no: in truth, they are the father and son team of Michael and Harry. Michael is the conservative editor-in-chief of the Financial Review and Harry is the president of the New South Wales Young Liberals and a former stamp-licker in the office of John Howard.

Harry was out of the blocks this week in Fairfax papers putting the puerile Young Liberal case for selling the ABC.

He had a salmagundi of angles to his argument: the ABC was designed for a bygone era when James Dibble was a sex symbol; there’s no need for it because the internet has everything you want and “amateurs” can now “produce television quality content at reasonable prices”; it “crowds out” terrific private competitors. Yet at the same time Harry doesn’t want it shut down, just placed in commercial hands, where mysteriously it would not crowd out other commercial players.

Give the lad a cigar. 

The next day, old man Stutchbury ran an editorial in his paper saying that Labor will try to make hay out of the Liberal federal council’s privatisation commitment, but pay no attention to it. He must have borrowed some of Harry’s thinking on the topic because there he was saying the national broadcaster crowds out commercial rivals.

To Gadfly’s way of thinking, Senator Linda Reynolds (Lib, WA), bears an uncanny resemblance to Senator Ian Macdonald, so it was especially exciting to see her on Q&A, the night before Stutch’s editorial appeared, insisting that it was perfectly valid within government to debate the privatisation of the ABC.

Michael was indignant that Aunty was milking support over the cuts to its budget. The confiscated $84 million is being allocated to a new gem-encrusted statue of Captain Cook for SloMo Morrison’s electorate, which seems a sensible redirection.

 The inanities didn’t stop there. Chris Berg, a Grand Wizard at the IPA, told Dr Blot on Sky News that the ABC was created in 1932 as an ALP plot against commercial newspapers. Blot swallowed this idiocy without blinking.

It was left to lawyer and academic Ken Parish to point out that the commission was established by the Lyons UAP conservative government and didn’t have a single journalist on its books until 1934.

Berg’s observations on The Blot Report were so cretinous they were removed from Twitter.

Deficit net

It doesn’t stop there. How much Downer do you want with your Mayo, the hill tribes of Adelaide are asking?

According to both ReachTEL and Galaxy polls they don’t want much at all because the Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie has a 58–42 lead over young Georgina Downer, who only scored a positive rating of 31 per cent against Sharkie’s 62 per cent.

No one can understand what’s going on, as Mayo is a hereditary rotten borough to be kept cryogenically in Fishnet family stockings.

The fact that young Georgina is also a Grand Wizard of the IPA doesn’t assist in transferring her perfumed presence to the green leather. The ReachTEL survey showed 74 per cent of respondents in Mayo wanted ABC funding to be increased or at least maintained, the precise opposite of the policy she embraces at the IPA.

And it’s not as though his Lordship, Fishnets Downer snr, is much help. He was spotted by Gadfly’s field agent at the Garrick Club in London this week, having lunch with some other gent.

The room was buzzing with waiters ferrying great plates of Yorkshire pud, trifles with lashings of cream, enormous rounds of Shropshire blue, and other delicious comestibles, some of which were making their way, far too slowly, to the table of our greatest former foreign minister.

Over Catered

Poor Goosebumps Cater, director of the Menzies Myth Centre and a scribbler for The Catholic Boys Daily. He’s a defendant alongside Alan “The Parrot” Jones in the Wagner defamation case in Brisbane, where the trial has concluded and Justice Peter Flanagan has reserved his decision.

It didn’t end well for The Parrot and Goosebumps, who have been trying to defend their claims that the bursting of the Wagners’ quarry wall contributed to the deaths of 12 people in the 2011 Grantham floods.

At the last moment, their counsel withdrew the honest opinion defence, which requires a factual underpinning to succeed. It seems a shame to be called to account at this late stage of the game, when you’ve spent your whole career bellowing at people with sweeping assertions largely devoid of facts, but
here we are.

On Wednesday, Gadfly learnt of another bother for Goosebumps. He had told his readers about the prior criminal record of John Setka, the Victorian secretary of the CFMEU, just before his trial on blackmail threats.

This was despite numerous warnings from the public prosecutors’ office about contempt of court and assurances from the paper’s lawyers that “our client regards matters relating to sub judice contempt with the utmost seriousness”.

Later the prosecutor withdrew the charge against Setka and commenced proceedings against the paper’s publisher, Nationwide News Pty Ltd, and Cater. In a deal with the OPP, the publisher pleaded guilty to contempt in exchange for Cater being removed as the first respondent. Submissions on penalty are yet to be prepared.

By this stage, Ming’s ashes must be whirling in their casket at Melbourne General Cemetery’s memorial garden.

Trumpette #74

We need look no further than local sources for this week’s Trumpette, where we find Prime Minister Blair Paton-Trumble being quizzed by teens at Bondi.

According to Moloch’s Wentworth Courier, he told the incredulous youngsters that Australia has a “high minimum wage” and refugees only had to remember Frank Lowy as an example of how they could also succeed. What great news for the folks on Manus and Nauru.

Trumble was also asked his thoughts about President Trump, and with his trademark mastery of the language, he replied: “He’s a big guy, he’s very colourful and, you know, he’s a property developer, very, you know, very colourful, ebullient, big, huge personality and obviously thrives on controversy.”

The “colourful” insight must have prompted another question about whether the prime minister thought Trump has a fake tan.

“Well, I don’t know. I’m not an ... you’d probably be better at working that out than me.”

Where’s Andrew “The Sunlamp Kid” Peacock when questions like this need answers?

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 23, 2018 as "Gadfly: The tragic wand". Subscribe here.

Richard Ackland
is the publisher of Justinian. He is The Saturday Paper’s diarist-at-large and legal affairs editor.