Diary

Gadfly
Who’s done cannot be undone

Gadfly arrives back in the wide brown land to find that one of his personal favourites is now at the helm of a retooled One Nation version of the Nasty Party.

Moments after seizing the crown, SloMo was into a skin-curling discussion with sexual identity scholar Alan Jones on concerns about gender whisperers, lezzos and trade unions. To show no one had whispered to him at school, his ample frame, in muddied-oaf mode, was seen later on the telly charging around a paddock with a football.

Even with the exciting new mission statement about being on “our side” it’s amazing how quickly everyone already is bored to sobs with this fresh, united team.

And then there’s Act 1, Scene 4 of Macbeth, with words that well reflect the circumstances of our dear departed Trumble, where we find Shakespeare’s Malcolm telling King Duncan about the execution of the Thane of Cawdor:

“Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it.”

Island strife

Air Vanuatu made heroic efforts to find a flyable aircraft with fuel in it to take Gadfly from Port Vila to Sydney. The tiny republic’s national carrier has no trouble cancelling or delaying flights interminably, telling people at the check-in counter to go away and come back another day.

At this stage, frazzled tourists haven’t quite got the hang of “island life”.

Yet the missing avgas is the least of the nation’s difficulties. Benito Dutton has sensitively identified the problem for low-lying Pacific nations of water “lapping at your door”. Then there’s the wholesale influence peddling by Chinese interests who are snapping up choice bits of real estate for casinos, port facilities, plantations, mega hotels and other attractions.

There’s much of Vanuatu that is serene, isolated and beautiful. So best to see it before the whole lot disappears.

At least SloMo would be delighted that fundamentalist Christian beliefs have taken a grip of the Ni-Vanuatu people. The sounds of singing and clapping on a Sunday are at least equal, if not more enthusiastic, than the joyful outpourings from the American-style Horizon mega-church, formerly Shirelive.

The new PM may even feel emboldened to pull on his industrial-strength rubber gloves and take out from its asbestos casing the Fabulous Phil Ruddock report on religious freedoms. Archbishop Mark Coleridge, of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, has opened up a new freedom – the freedom to molest small children without being dobbed in by priests who hear confession.

We can only pray that this freedom is fully ventilated in the Ruddock report.

Dark energy

Importantly, the new government got down to business with Wind-Turbines Taylor announcing a fresh energy policy. It’s just a matter of joining the dots, which go something like this...

The minister, groomed in the stables of McKinsey and Port Jackson Partners with Freddy Hilmer, Rod Sims and others, is from the angry redneck heart of the parliamentary Nasty Party, out there with the Mad Monk and Benito.

People may have got the impression that because of his enthusiasm for fossil fuels he’s sceptical about climate change, or global warming as it used to be called.

Not at all. We’ve got that all wrong, even though there was no mention of reduced emissions in his energy announcement. We also may have once thought that he disliked renewable energy and again we are wrong, even though in 2013 he was an enthusiastic advocate against a renewable energy target.   

It turns out his new position is that he dislikes subsidies for renewable energy, but quaintly wants taxpayer support for investment in gas and coal-fired power stations.

It seems that he has also adopted some of the socialist policies in the good old NEG scheme – price controls on retail energy, nationalised coal-fired power and a tight rein on the gas industry.

In this salmagundi of policies there’s something for everyone. What’s not to like?

Don’t pry for me

Once again, we find an Argentinian polo player at the centre of a drama.

This as yet unidentified sportsman has turned up in the Senate probe into Au Pair Gate. The evidence was that the AFL chief Gillon McLachlan got one of his functionaries to ask the government on behalf of his second cousin Callum MacLachlan what was going on with the Argie’s visa.

Callum is on the international committee of the Australian Polo Federation, which may count Julie Bishop MP among its most enthusiastic supporters. At the time of the request SloMo was immigration minister and the Mad Monk was the PM.

Gadfly recalls that an Argentinian polo player was the eye in the storm in defamation proceedings commenced by Jane Makim, the sister of Fergie, Duchess of York. Presumably a different player from the one whose visa needed sorting out by the prime minister.

Makim sued The Sunday Smellograph in 1990 over an article that suggested she had conducted an adulterous relationship with an Argentinian polo player. Her lawyer, Frosty Tom Hughes, asked the jury: “Can you imagine anything more shocking than to say that falsely about a decent woman?”

The court agreed and handed her $300,000. Those were the days.

Trumpette #85

The Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief wouldn’t be seen dead without a flag pin stuck to his lapel. He probably has one on his jim-jams as well.

It’s regarded as a cheap but sure-fire way to flag your patriotism, so it’s little wonder SloMo has picked up the vibe and anointed his lapel with a tiny Australian flag.

The PM’s reason for the pin is that “it reminds me every single day whose side I’m on. I’m on the stride [sic] of the Australian people, that’s what I’m saying to myself, that’s who I think about first.”

He added that he gave his cabinet ministers similar adornments “as a reminder today of how I remind myself”. In saying this he reminded us that his piercing intellect is not to be trifled with.

Some lapels are going to get mighty crowded. For instance, former senator Malcolm Roberts has an already cluttered lapel, sporting the tiny feet of a baby, miniature lumps of coal and other paraphernalia. Has he got room for a flag, and where do women without lapels place their pins?

Just as various grovellers started wearing blue ties around town in the Abbott era in the hope of picking up government jobs or gongs, there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing supine types drawing attention to themselves with flag pins.

Freedom Boy Timbo Wilson went a step further on National Flag Day and tweeted a snap of himself, hand over heart, staring blissfully into outer space, while surrounded by an Australian flag that bore the crucial message: “Tim Wilson. Liberal MP for Goldstein.”

But back to the Grabber. He’s following an American presidential tradition that apparently started with Richard Nixon during the Vietnam War. Nixon’s flag pin reminded him of the patriotic sacrifice of blood and treasure for no earthly purpose at all.

And we know only too well what Samuel Johnson thought about scoundrels and patriotism.

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 8, 2018 as "Gadfly: Who’s done cannot be undone". 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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