Diary

Gadfly
A rake’s progress

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says it’s a “muckraking exercise” on the part of the Labor Party. Indeed, there is much muck about, but that’s more to do with the notorious leak of government classified information that ended up in the hands of the Dutch philosopher and Herald Sun bloviator Dr Andreas Blot (BA-in-waiting). 

Opposition frontbencher Andrew Leigh has been pursuing the matter for two years or so with FOI requests in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. 

The leak was designed to discredit independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s opposition to Winston Howard’s calamitous decision to invade Iraq – a decision based on flawed intelligence, lies and hallucination. 

Wilkie had worked at the Office of National Assessments where he co-authored a report called “Iraq: humanitarian dimensions”. Someone, somewhere in the Howard government thought that if this report was given to a faithful government typist, such as Blot, then anti-war advocate Wilkie would be given a right Dutch tickle-up. 

The latest information to be uncovered is the transcript of interview between Frydenberg and Constable Plod of the AFP. This has allowed people to join the dots: Wilkie gives evidence about the Iraq War to a House of Commons committee in London. Frydenberg, a pantry maid in the office of then foreign minister Fishnets Downer, asks ONA for a copy of Wilkie’s report. In breach of security arrangements Frydenberg faxed the document on an insecure line to Fishnets’ home. Two days later, details of the classified report turn up under Blot’s hand in The Hun

Since then, careers have been advanced. Frydenberg somehow or other became treasurer and Craig Maclachlan, with whom he worked at the time, is doing great and noble works for Benito Dutton, helping to arrange visas for the au pairs of significant Australians and so on. 

Frydenberg hired top-notch lawyer Leon Zwier from Arnold Bloch Leibler to bloch the release of the interview. Alas, it emerged to show details of the rather pally chat between Plod and young Josh, who by then had graduated to be a factotum in Winston’s office. 

Frydenberg said he talked frequently to Blot, but Constable Plod could find no evidence that he leaked it to the renowned philosopher. The treasurer fought like a scalded cat to stop the release of the transcript of interview, but when it was published he said there is “nothing new and nothing to add”.

There’s plenty of muck and there needs to be more raking.

Trounced believers

The night of the bye-bye election in Wentworth was punctuated by a rant of Pentecostal proportions by PM SloMo

No doubt he was trying to gee-up the dejected gathering at the InterContinental in Double Bay, grazing on deflated arancini balls and sucking warm sav blanc. In the process he forgot to congratulate Kerryn Phelps on winning. 

“I knew there would be tough days and there would be great days. Today is a tough day, but the great days are coming,” the old clapper bellowed, accompanied by much jabbing of fingers and pumping of fists. 

“We believe in a fair go for those who have a go ... You don’t rise [sic] people up by bringing others down ... Stand up for what we believe until the bell rings and the bell hasn’t rung, Liberals...” 

By this stage you’d think SloMo would have run out of vacuous clichés but, no, there were more. “We believe it is every Australian’s duty to make a contribution and not take a contribution,” he proclaimed, and added something about Liberals being people who get up early in the morning. 

No wonder Gadfly is not of the faith, being rarely out of bed before 8am.

Soporific solution

Another imponderable is why the Nasty Party insists on parading fossils such as Little Winston Howard and Fabulous Phil Ruddock around the ring at election time. They would be better kept out of the line of sight of undecided electors and small children. But there was Fabulous Phil on Q&A, the father of the “Pacific Solution”, with an Amnesty International badge glinting on his lapel in the studio lights. You simply can’t make this stuff up.

Maybe the New Zealand Solution is the logical extension of the Pacific Solution. Much alarm surrounds whether refugees and their children accepted by New Zealand after being banged up on Nauru for five years should be allowed to visit Australia, even to see a dying relative or if, in due course, one of their number rose to the heights of NZ PM. 

No. Absolutely not. They wouldn’t be allowed to put one tiny foot on our hallowed and blessed soil.  

A more probable likelihood is that they wouldn’t want to come to Australia under any circumstances. After all, this is the country that has made their lives hell, sent them half mad, destroyed their prospects for a better future and made a political virtue out of their human misery. 

For these refugees the lure of Australia has long ago turned to merde.

Iron Mark tunnelled

Great distractions this week at the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee, where dinosaur Ian Macdonald (LNP, Qld) was presiding over interrogations of people from the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

The cranky Queensland muppet had trouble with the name of the new Greens senator, Mehreen Faruqi, mother of journalist Osman Faruqi, who is dragging Mark Latham through the defamation courts. 

“Senator Far-kwee,” he announced. The Pakistani-born Faruqi, who replaced Lee Rhiannon, patiently explained that her name was “Far-oo-ki” and she proceeded to ask questions of the new race discrimination commissioner, Chin Tan

Still later in the proceedings, the chairman continued to struggle with her name.

Macdonald: “Senator Far-queue-i ...” 

Faruqi: “It’s Far-oo-ki.” 

Macdonald: “Sorry?” 

Faruqi: “It’s Far-oo-ki.” 

Senator Murray Watt: “She’s corrected you twice now.” 

Macdonald: “Well, I’m ...” [exasperated sigh]

Macdonald’s exhalation of breath suggested he was puzzled as to how people with funny names get into the Senate. 

Still, the discussion with the race discrimination commissioner proved, once again, that senators are capable of evaluating ideas and values to great heights. 

Senator David “Fuck Off” Leyonhjelm asked Commissioner Chin about the assertions “from left-leaning people and particularly Greens like Senator Faruqi” (correct pronunciation) that white supremacist sentiment was on the rise. 

The commissioner was non-committal, saying it was not something the HRC had in contemplation at the moment. Leyonhjelm persisted: “Is it okay to be white?” And still later, in revised form, he wanted to know: “Is it okay to offend people on the basis that they are white?”

Your taxpayer dollars are hard at work with this bozo.

War of words

The current British poet laureate is Scottish – Dame Carol Ann Duffy. In fact, she is the first woman, the first Scot and the first gay person (we think) to be poet laureate. 

Director and producer Danny Boyle commissioned Dame Carol to write a sonnet as part of a series of remembrances to mark the end of World War I. It was published on Monday and it will be read at low tide on the beaches of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland on November 11. 

It’s called “The Wound in Time”:

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,

chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.

Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;

the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching

new carnage. But how could you know, brave

as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?

The end of God in the poisonous, shrapnelled air.

Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love

you gave your world for; the town squares silent,

awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?

War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.

History might as well be water, chastising this shore;

for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.

Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

Trumpette #92

It’s a solemn duty each week to rake up something unmentionable about the Tiny-Toadstool-in-Chief.  

Earlier this week it emerged that the administration of the genitally obsessed president wants to define gender under the civil rights law as something that is determined at birth by a person’s reproductive organs. 

The Department of Health and Inhumane Services wants only two genders – male or female – and no changes please. This is unhappy news for transgender people, and other members of the LGBTQIA community, who already have had plenty of policy pronouncements with which to contend, some of which include: 

A presidential memorandum to remove transgender people from the armed services. After a series of interim injunctions from the courts, the ban appears to be on hold while the Pentagon scratches its head and works out what to do. 

The overturning by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions of a policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination. Courts have since found Sessions’ policy illegal under the Civil Rights Act. 

The arguing by the Justice Department in another case that gay workers are not protected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. The policy still exists even though it has not met with success in the courts. 

The decision by the Bureau of Prisons, announced in May this year, that says transgender female prisoners could be integrated with male prisoners. Again, “biological sex” will determine the assignment of facilities for transgender inmates. 

The support from the administration for the Christian baker from Colorado in the gay cake case in the US Supreme Court. It was odd because the federal government wasn’t a party in the matter. 

The further religious liberty guideline from little Jeff Sessions this month, which urged government officials to read the Constitution in a way that favoured religious bigotry. 

The government’s stated preference that LGBTQIA people not be included in the 2020 US Census. 

There are lots more initiatives along these lines, but that’s enough for now. Surely.

 

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 27, 2018 as "Gadfly: A rake’s progress". Subscribe here.

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