Diary

Gadfly
Lord and hosts

As a good Gold Coast happy clapper, the unstoppable Stuey Robert, assistant treasurer of the Commonwealth, is likely to be redeemed of all his sins – such as running up a huge internet bill for the taxpayers, or going to China to eat roast duck at the behest of a Nasty Party donor, or juggling his directorships and shareholdings in companies with interests in transportation, gold and supplements for gym bunnies.

He brings to federal politics all the glamour of the Gold Coast, including his Pentecostal zeal, which he shares with his lovely wife, Chantelle, and Skin Curling SloMo.

Indeed, Chantelle is one of the leading lights of the METRO Church run by Garry and Kasey Mac. As the Macs put it: “We love what we do, we love our region, we love Jesus, we love people and we love the local church. That’s us!”

But wait, there’s more. You can join Garry and Kasey on a trip to Israel next year, dubbed the “Treasures of Grace Tour”, co-hosted by none other than Stu and Chantelle Robert. It promises to be “the adventure of a lifetime walking in the footsteps of Jesus”.

Garry tells his flock: “I am a writer and yet I could simply never hope to effectively convey what it feels like to sit in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus sweat drops of blood carrying the weight of the world. It’s imponderable.”

Too right, Garry.

Thirteen days in close proximity to the Macs and the Roberts will set you back $5600 a person – including Bible and history teachings with your hosts.

A spokesman for Stuey said the trip was entirely at his own cost and he was not obtaining any benefit – which is probably why he now says he is reconsidering whether he should go.

God works in mysterious ways.

Unequal measures

Which brings us to the developments in the holy land of religious freedoms, so close to the heart of parliamentary members of the God-fearing, money-loving, refugee-persecuting Coalitionists.

Our Christian Porter, attorney-general, has been trying to shift responsibility for discrimination by religious schools and associated entities onto the Labor Party’s 2013 amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act. Shadow A-G Mark Dreyfus says exemptions for religious schools already existed at that time.

Whatever, it means we can have the luxury of two different levels of treatment – where schools and churches can discriminate but cake bakers and florists et cetera can’t. It’s the work of Fabulous Phil Ruddock and his panel, which was established to feed some red meat to those opposed to the marriage freedoms that were established last year.

There’s also a recommendation to insert religious discrimination into the Racial Discrimination Act. Huh? The new race discrimination commissioner, Chin Tan, a former property lawyer and member of the Liberal Party who doesn’t think there’s racism in Australia, will have to work that one out.

It’s comforting that the report leaked before the Wentworth byelection and will help shake up things in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay. The belief hitherto that there was a freedom for priests to abuse children has not been analysed in the report.  

Loaves and Fisher

As if Catholic schools don’t have enough leverage, there’s to be a special event on November 2 at New South Wales Parliament House to mark the launch of “Parliamentary Friends of Catholic Schools”. This is a clever manoeuvre to make the politicians the lobbyists for the lobby group. The festivities in the appropriately named Strangers Room will be attended by leading anti-marriage equality campaigner His Grace Anthony Fisher, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.

Blessed be the fruit.

Heaven’s Kevin

While you were signing petitions in protest at the Sydney Opera House being handed over to the Visigoths, you may have come across another change.org campaign to have Our Father of the Blessed Grecian 2000, the Reverend Kevin Andrews MP, ordained as the minister for human and religious rights.

Slightly more than 5700 souls have signed on to this project, which was spawned in the hothouse of the “religious freedoms” movement. The petition says: “The prime minister should appoint Kevin Andrews to his new ministry to advocate on behalf of people feeling threatened in this current climate.”

Yes, it’s backs to the wall. Praise be.

Wentworth omen?

It was nice to see Whitlam daughter Catherine Dovey handing out how-to-vote cards for Wentworth Labor candidate Tim Murray at the pre-poll last week. There’s a whiff of 1943 about the electorate.

Gadfly may not have been yet a glint in anyone’s eye in ’43 but nonetheless it was an interesting year in the harbour and seaside rotten borough.

It was the year Jessie Street, the famous suffragette and wife of the chief justice, stood as the Labor candidate for Wentworth. She had been very involved in the Australian Federation of Women Voters, to give women a voice in politics nationally and internationally.

Plus ça change, 75 years later Licia Heath from Women for Election Australia is standing in the electorate as an independent.

In the ’43 election Jessie Street topped the poll with 31,048 votes, while the Tory candidate, Eric Harrison, from United Australia, ran second with 23,519 votes and Billy Wentworth under the flag of something called the National Government pulled 14,875 votes.

It was on Billy Wentworth’s preferences that UA, precursor to the Nasty Party, hung on to the seat.

Labor went onto handsomely win the 1943 election.

Rein of terror

The report of NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller into the wallopers’ activities under the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act is a yearly event that lights up the state, if not the Opera House.

The police have been progressively given ever more enormous powers under this Act to investigate and prevent terrorism, to search people and property, to seize things, to cordon off things, to detain anyone, to use force, to preventively lock people up, and so on.

In exchange for this massive gift of power so enthusiastically granted by the parliament, Mick and the boys are supposed to report on how things are travelling under the Act. Here’s the latest report for the 2017–2018 year:

Number of terrorism suspects arrested – none.

Period for which each terrorism suspect was arrested and whether detention warrants were issued – no one detained; no detention warrants issued.

Complaints about conduct relating to investigative detention – no complaints.

Number of applications for preventative detention orders – none.

Number of applications for orders for adults and juveniles – none.

Duration of preventative detention orders – zero duration.

Preventative detention orders sought to prevent terrorist acts or preserve evidence – none.

Persons taken into custody and duration of detention – none.

Number of prohibited contact orders – none.

Number of revocation orders – none.

Complaints relating to detention under preventative detention orders – none.

Destruction of identification material – nil.

In all, a bad year for terror merchants and the politicians who keep stoking the fire.

Strange bedfellows

What a turn-up for the books. There’s the Institute for Paid Advocacy participating in a study about “evidence based” policy-making, hand in hand with the progressive think tank Per Capita.

Under the auspices of Luca Belgiorno-Nettis’s newDemocracy Foundation, the two tanks looked at the application of evidence and proper processes to the creation of various government policies.

Top of the list of policies that applied “excellent process” were Victoria’s voluntary assisted dying law and Queensland’s legalisation of ride-sharing apps. Bottom of the list were the creation of the Home Affairs Department, the federal marriage equality postal survey and Queensland’s vegetation management laws.

What is so extraordinary is the involvement of the IPA in considerations of “evidence based” policy-making. After all, this is the flat-earth outfit that contrary to all the evidence peddles conspiracy theories about climate change and doesn’t believe the government is intentionally mistreating refugees held in detention offshore.

Trumpette #90

The Toadstool-in-Chief would have been tickled pink to have seen the post from the Young Liberal Movement of Australia:

“Common sense has prevailed! Congratulations to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and to President Trump on a tremendous selection.”

They are talking about the latest alleged sexual harasser, liar and partisan judge to have been elevated to the top court.

But other refreshing developments are at hand. Last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)was testing the “Presidential Alert”.

These Presidential Alerts are supposed to allow warnings about impending crises to be sent to everyone’s mobile phones. Messages about tsunamis or a missile attack from Canada or Mexico might be anticipated, yet it is conceivable that the system could be alerting the nation about the hourly crises in the White House or making the Toadstool’s cheeseburger-infused tweets available to the entire nation.

Brock Long is the head of FEMA so you know the whole arrangement is in good hands. Recently he backed the Toadstool’s claim that the official estimates are wrong and “3000 people did not die” in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria.

The president maintains only 64 people died and the larger number was invented by the Democrats to make him look bad.

Brock said: “You might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car crashes because they go through intersections where the stoplights weren’t working … Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can’t blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster on anybody.”

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 13, 2018 as "Gadfly: Lord and hosts". Subscribe here.

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