Diary

Gadfly
Oarsome times for Gina

While Theresa May’s government was tottering on the brink of fracture, the toffs were at the Henley Royal Regatta quaffing champagne and Pimm’s from the boots of Range Rovers and Bentleys, rather in the manner of the shickered crowds that gather in Melbourne Cup marquees.

Gadfly’s invitation must have been lost in the post, but fortunately our field agent was on hand. He reports one of the crews came from the Rinehart rowing academy of Australia and sure enough in a motor launch following the race was the billowing form of Gina Rinehart herself. Mrs Rinehart is the patron of Rowing Australia and the crew from the training centre named in her honour carried off the Grand Challenge Cup at this year’s Henley.

Later, the iron ore queen was seen in a vast tent with blue and white stripes (not her dress), tucking into a lunch of baked ham salad with four of the lads from her rowing crew.

At afternoon tea, our agent was enjoying scones, jam and cream, plus sandwiches of egg or cucumber, when there was a mighty “arf” noise as an enormous middle-aged Billy Bunter sat down, sporting a pink and white blazer.

His bulging eyes betrayed “Lord” Christopher Monckton, the famous climate authority. However, our reliable agent thought it would be too much good fortune to have spotted both his lordship and Mrs Rinehart in the one afternoon, so he put the sighting down to a disturbing Monckton lookalike.

The previous evening at nearby Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons there was another sighting of Mrs Rinehart, who swept into the Michelin-starred muncherie in a huge white hat with feathers and lots of frou-frou. She was accompanied by a man younger than herself wearing a Panama hat, which he kept on his head throughout dinner.

There was much clinking of glasses and they seemed happy in each other’s company. The most expensive wine on the list was £8400, and Grange was £2450. Our man at the famous Great Milton diner was confined to Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru for a miserable £138.

Don’t say that Gadfly doesn’t get about, even though he’s glued to one spot.

Pru confessions

Gadfly well remembers the time he used to share a Radio National breakfast microphone with Pruzels Goward, who went on to fame and distinction as the New South Wales minister for family and community services, as well as the minister for prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault.

What a busy portfolio. The minister was on the wireless last week explaining her prevention plan. “I’ve been in the domestic violence space for 20 years,” she said, urging people to hear a clear “yes” before they “proceed”.

Details were scarce. She agreed that it can’t be enforced, but it’s worth having a conversation if you want to have sex. Pru said “the days of fumbling around are over”, adding that in her own time there must have been a lot of fumbling as “women didn’t have the confidence to say ‘yes’ ”.

Her increasingly distressed radio audience heard the minister say that it’s important to ask little children if they want a kiss. Granny Pru always asks: “Do you mind, can Grandma give you a kiss? And sometimes actually the little one puts her eyes down and says ‘no’.”

Then there’s the tricky business of Santa. Apparently, you don’t have to sit on Santa’s lap, instead “you can stand there”. The minister went on: “I mean I remember the first time I saw Santa I was terrified ... I thought I was going to wet my pants. In fact, one little boy in front of me did.”

Special delivery

Still in the bewildering field of NSW politics, there have been some curious inquiries about the special minister of state, a gentleman by the name of Anthony Roberts. He’s also the minister for planning and housing in Aunty Gladys Berejiklian’s government.

In his capacity as special minister of state he’s only ever been asked two questions on notice. The first one asked what he actually did as special minister of state, what projects he was working on and what outcomes have been achieved.

He replied that he undertakes “a range of activities”, including the reform of the state’s electoral legislation.

The Electoral Act 2017 and the Electoral Funding Act 2018 are well and truly through parliament.

There was a follow-up question from the shadow attorney-general, Paul Lynch: “What specific portfolio activities do you undertake”, apart from those to do with electoral matters?

The answer was due on June 27 and there’s been silence. Maybe he’s a minister of state with nothing to do, which in a Yes Minister world makes him a very efficient minister.

Southern discomfort

We’re fortunate that after a conversation with Senator Leyonhjelm, Home Affairs Minister Benito Dutton has lifted the barrier and decided to give another alt-right loon a visa to conduct a “speaking tour” of Australia.

We’re talking of Lauren Southern, the 23-year-old blabbermouth Canadian “internet personality” and crashing bore whose paperwork had been held up by Benito’s clerks. Ms Southern had been banned from entering Britain after she provoked people with leaflets saying “Allah is a gay god”.

She treads in the footsteps of the mythological Greek Milo Yiannopoulos, who was given a speaking engagement at Parliament House courtesy of Senator Slut-Shamer.

Lauren’s specialty is the plight of white South African farmers, something that is close to Benito’s gristle-like heart. Dutton’s visa for Ms Southern is in sharp distinction to his court battles to stop sick children from his Nauru non-processing centre from flying to Australia for medical treatment.

In the past six months he’s fought eight cases brought on behalf of seriously ill children held on Nauru. “Lefty” judges have found that the minister and his department have a legal duty of care for the children.

In one of the cases the government relented on the steps of the court. In another, Dutton wanted to send to Papua New Guinea for treatment a two-year-old girl from Nauru with encephalitis. This is despite the fact that the hospital in PNG didn’t have the equipment or expertise to perform an MRI on a child so young.

As the girl’s lawyer told Guardian Australia: “You really have to query why the government was forcing a two-year-old child to take court action in order to receive medical care.”

Justice Bernard Murphy in the Federal Court gave the order that the girl should come to Australia within 48 hours.

If only Benito could send the tiresomely predictable Ms Southern to PNG.

Secrets and spies

Don’t you just love the way Attorney-General “Christian” Porter signed off on the prosecution of two citizens accused of exposing an illegality of the Australian government.

Lawyer Bernard Collaery and former Australian Secret Intelligence Service operative “Witness K” are to face court later this month on charges of conspiracy to communicate secret information about the bugging of the Timor-Leste ministerial offices in Dili during the sea border negotiations.

For good measure, the Christian urged people not to talk about the case, otherwise there could be an impact on the “fairness and regularity” of the proceedings.

Ever since, there’s been a tsunami of commentary about this clumsy act of political payback. No doubt the AG is working hand in glove with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to bring to justice other alleged breaches of “national security”.

One that springs to mind is the brief of evidence about the leak of classified information from then foreign minister Fishnet Downer’s office to hysteria-merchant Dr Andreas Blot. It must be very close to completion.

The classified document about the consequences of the Iraq War had been prepared by then Office of National Assessments operative Andrew Wilkie and was seemingly leaked in an attempt to embarrass the independent MP, who was critical of the invasion, as well as to bolster Fishnets and Winston Howard’s warrior enthusiasms.

Parliament has been told that the person who allegedly shuffled the secret paper to Dr Blot was Fishnets’ then shoeshine boy Josh Frydenberg, now the minister for talking out of both sides of his mouth.

As we say, the time that has elapsed means that the investigation must be close to complete and any day now we’ll see these allegations being cleared up.

Trumpette #77

President Droomp fished around in the bottom of the judicial barrel served up by nutter Federalist Society and pulled out the name of gun-loving, abortion-hating, former altar boy Brett Kavanaugh to go to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Kavanaugh is an “originalist” – a brand of judge who fraudulently thinks the constitution should be strictly interpreted the way the founding fathers intended in 1787.

Harvard professor Cass Sunstein says originalism leads to the banning of contraceptives, discrimination against minorities and women, the stripping of authority from environmental and regulatory agencies, segregation and the possibility of Christianity becoming an official religion. It saves judges having to stretch their brains to apply the law to the complexities of a fast-evolving society.

Of course, Kavanaugh believes that corporates should run the state, and be free to fund politicians while purging the electoral rolls to exclude as many minorities as possible. He worked in the Bush White House, whose lawyers came up with policies on torture and rendition. He was a central figure in Kenneth Starr’s office during the long-winded investigations into the Clintons and was among those responsible for Starr’s overreach in the Monica Lewinsky impeachment investigation.

For Droomp, Kavanaugh is the perfect person to join the creepy tribe of right-wing ideologues legislating from the bench of the Supreme Court.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 14, 2018 as "Gadfly: Oarsome times for Gina". 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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