Diary

Gadfly
Triggs a warning

Last week the Saturday magazine that comes free with The Catholic Boys Daily celebrated its 30th birthday. 

The occasion was marked by interviews with 30 well-known Australians, including the likes of John Olsen, Toni Collette, Tim Winton, Alan Joyce, Ian Thorpe, Frank Lowy etc etc. 

They were all asked the same questions, about Australia, the outlook for the next 30 years, favourite people and so on. 

Bob Brown, the famous Greenie from Tasmania, was asked to participate but strangely his entry didn’t make the cut. He received a missive from the magazine explaining that because other “political figures” were unavailable for this pioneering journalistic exercise “we decided to make it a politician-free zone”. 

After his retirement from the Senate six years ago Brown has not been a parliamentary politician. Maybe the reason he was banned was his answer to the question, “Which Australian do you most admire?” His reply: “Gillian Triggs, former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission.” 

That’s far too much free speech from Bob, what with Triggs being on the Holt Street “hit” list. Maybe he should have answered it in the way Frank Lowy, 87, responded. Who were the shopping centre mogul’s most admired Australians? Answer: Rupert Murdoch and the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Da Vinci cad

Disappointments abound in the electorate of Wentworth that rheumatologist Maxine Szramka didn’t carry off the preselection for the Liberals. 

Dave Sharma claimed that schoolteachers don’t work hard enough and ever since he’s been trying to extract his foot from whatever of his orifices does the talking. In view of that, Maxine may have been the safer choice, particularly as problems with joints and ligaments are rife in the harbourside seat. 

Last week it was also expected Maxine would be giving evidence for Serge Benhayon, the tennis coach turned spiritual healer who is the plaintiff in Sydney’s current spellbinding defamation trial. 

Serge founded an outfit called Universal Medicine at Goonellabah in northern NSW and told the court his body contains the “essence” of Leonardo da Vinci and that his teachings are in the tradition of “ageless wisdom”, as practised by figures such as Hermes, Plato, Pythagoras, Jesus and Muhammad

The trial judge, Julia Lonergan, accepted that certain medical evidence proposed to be given for Serge would not be rationally probative of the questions before the court. 

Sadly, this meant that ophthalmologist Dr Anne Malatt, also from the north coast, would not be appearing on the hands-on healer’s behalf, and nor would other specialists, including Ms Szramka.

Wagnerian opera

It’s worth delving deeper into Justice Peter Flanagan’s 344-page judgement in the Wagners’ defamation case against Alan Jones, which will result in damages, interest and costs of the best part of $10 million for the unhappy defendant broadcasters. 

As the judge said: “The vast majority of Mr Jones’s broadcasts are sensationalist in tone, are pregnant with insinuation and suggestion. In many instances Mr Jones, by his tone, invites his listeners to adopt a suspicious approach, and he repeatedly invites conjecture.” 

Of course, this is the art of the snake-oil salesman, the peddler of fake nostrums. It’s one of the great puzzles why any politician or public figure would give the toxic fulminator the time of day. 

The modus operandi of Jones’s daily operation was also laid bare by the judge, and is worth remembering because it shows the extent of the dereliction of duty by Macquarie Media, majority owned by Fairfax: 

“While Mr Jones is contracted to the owner of 2GB, he is largely given free rein in what he says on radio and is not subject to editorial control. For the period 2013 to 2015, Mr Jones had five staff who assisted him. Some were employed by him and some by Macquarie Media. He and his staff controlled production. The staff employed by Macquarie Media would provide technical assistance to enable the program to go to air, subject to Mr Jones’s direction. None of the five staff utilised by Mr Jones were either journalists or researchers. Mr Jones generally received information from listeners or members of the community, either by email, letter or phone call. He stated in evidence: ‘I have always argued that my listeners are my best researchers.’ ”

Melburnian rhapsody

Devotion to Queen and country beats proudly in the breast of former German, Senator Otto Abetz

We can see this in the advertisement he’s taken out in The Eastern Shore Sun, a community newspaper flung over white-picket fences in the boroughs of Clarence and Sorell: “Eric Abetz, Liberal Senator for Tasmania. Flags and portraits of the Queen available on request.” It’s accompanied by the obligatory photo of Otto trying his hardest to crack a smile. 

We assume he’s not promoting distribution of the rainbow flag, which earlier this year he reminded a Senate estimates committee was “... the flag of the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands which has declared war on Australia”. 

You just wish Otto could stay off the jokes. 

As you might anticipate, Greens MP Adam Bandt has an altogether different approach to the distribution of what are called Nationhood Program Materials. 

One of his constituents who asked for a portrait of the Queen was invited by the member for Melbourne to the Standard Hotel in the heart of hipsterville Fitzroy to collect a glossy photo of the monarch. 

“I’d love to be able to provide you with a portrait of the Queen,” wrote Adam. “In fact, I’d love to be able to provide you with a portrait of other famous queens, like Beyoncé.” 

Bandt’s event at the pub was held earlier this month where he also celebrated “other excellent queens in our world”, such as the main street of Queanbeyan, Priscilla’s bus, a pineapple from Queensland, Queen Victoria Market, queen bees, and the rock band Queen.  

While Otto would be using Australia Post to distribute nation-building equipment, at least Bandt goes to the trouble of hosting drinks and listening to Freddie Mercury in the beer garden.

You shall not farce

News of Sir Lynton Crosby, famed political spinner, comes from The Mail on Sunday in the Old Dart. 

It claims he is working to upend Theresa May’s Chequers proposal for the Brexit plan and is “motivated by ‘revenge’ after No. 10 blamed the strategist for last year’s botched general election”. 

The Sunday Times ran a similar line, but it was left to the ever trusty Private Eye to point out that “... er, he was to blame for the campaign”, by limiting the Tory message to a mantra about being “strong and stable”. 

Sir Lynton also ran Zac Goldsmith’s disastrous mayoral campaign in London and in 2004 he advised the Conservative Party that Iain Duncan Smith would prove to be a “winner”. 

The headline of the Eye article was “Wizard’s Curse”.

Trumpette #87

It seems only natural that President Trump, accused of sexual harassment, molestation and pussy-grabbing, would nominate for his country’s Supreme Court a man who is now accused of sexual harassment, molestation and pussy-grabbing. 

Memories of Anita Hill and the confirmation of Clarence Thomas from 27 years ago come flooding back. Hill accused the then Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

In evidence to the Senate judiciary committee Hill said that Thomas “spoke about ... such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes”. He also described “his own sexual prowess” and the details of his anatomy. In another instance Thomas examined a can of soft drink on his desk and asked, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” 

Committee chairman Joe Biden didn’t allow four other female witnesses to testify on Hill’s behalf and Thomas sailed on to the Supreme Court bench where he became one of the most predictable, drone, conservative judges in the court’s history. 

Reporters Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson wrote a book about the episode, concluding that Thomas lied during his confirmation hearing. 

Today the committee has four women members and we are now slap-bang in the roiling #NotHimToo! movement.

The nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is a corporate-loving, gun-hugging anti-abortionist who has been accused by Christine Blasey Ford of drunkenly jumping on top of her at a teenage party in a private home, grinding his body against hers as he tried to remove her clothing. When she attempted to scream he clapped his hand over her mouth and laughed. 

Of course, Kavanaugh is a good Christian. 

The question remains, why would anyone make these allegations knowing they’ll be hurled into the vortex of public humiliation, speculation and recrimination – unless they sincerely believe them to be true.

In other disturbing developments, Stormy Daniels’ tell-all book is available with details about the presidential member. For the record, it is smaller than average with a “huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool”. This may explain a lot, or everything. “I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like a mushroom character in Mario Kart ... ” 

Does anyone have any further information about Yeti pubes?

 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 22, 2018 as "Gadfly: Triggs a warning". Subscribe here.

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