Diary

Gadfly
Mad Monk’s misjudgement

After the Mad Monk’s remark that there is no evidence the court system gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a terrible time, it is just as well that his bronzed bust at the Ballarat avenue of prime ministers is now sheathed in protective wrapping.

A spray can of red paint also decorated the bust of his beloved spiritual godfather, and another emblem of regressive Australia, Little Winston Howard. Now taped in plastic wrap, both of them have never looked better.

Actually, there is evidence that courts can dish out some stronger-than-usual language to Aboriginal offenders. Take Top End magistrate Greg Borchers, who when sitting in Tennant Creek had a 13-year-old Aboriginal lad before him who pleaded guilty to property damage.

Earlier that year, the child’s mother was murdered by his father in front of his two sisters.

The lad – who had been studying at an Alice Springs boarding school, but had absconded after his mother’s murder – returned to Tennant Creek, got into bad company and broke into the local ANZ branch, a Chinese restaurant and a motel.

During the sentencing Borchers had this to say:

“There has been a bit of a breakdown in your family; a significant breakdown. But you’ve duchessed it. That means that you’ve taken advantage of it. You’re out and about on the streets with your mates, because no one is really in a position to look after you …

“It’s quite clear that you and your family are not going to pick up the damages for what you’ve caused … You don’t know what a First World economy is … you don’t know where money comes from, other than that the government gives it out.”

That was a judge speaking to a 13-year-old whose mother shortly beforehand had been murdered at the hands of his father.

Two years later in Alice Springs, when sentencing an Aboriginal man for assaulting his wife, Borchers said:

“She got a punch in the face and you dragged her through the house by her hair on the floor in a demeaning, degrading fashion. Just like a primitive person dragging his woman out of the cave ready to give her a further beating.”

In another case in the Katherine Local Court, Judge Borchers sentenced a 26-year-old Aboriginal woman for punching her partner once while drunk. Her nine-year-old son was being looked after by other members of the family.

Borchers said in court: “One day we might read some literature, some important anthropological literature, we might learn something about what’s called Indigenous laissez-faire parenting.”

Statues without limitations

Members of the legal fraternity are excited about fresh fields of endeavour after reading reports on Sky News and news.com.au about Aunty Gladys Berejiklian’s concern about statues being defaced.

This is “un-Australian”, because 99.9 per cent of Australians are “amazing”, Gladys told Sharri Markson in an interminable interview.

It was reported online that the NSW premier is considering tougher penalties for “the defamation of historical statues”.

Under Australian defamation law the dead cannot sue, although it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate, judging from some of the “live” claimants. Now, it seems statues will have standing to sue for injury to feelings, thus opening up fertile money-making opportunities.

Nothing is impossible, given the prevailing judicial disposition in favour of plaintiffs.

Flub club

That gets us to the undernourished subeditors at other parts of Lord Moloch’s steaming pile of decomposing fish wraps. They must be exhausted ploughing through all the dross, so it’s understandable that imperfections sail through to the public.

Take Dennis Shanahan in The Catholic Boys Daily, for instance. Last weekend he was banging on about the “culturally divisive argument” associated with black deaths in custody.

“The public is angry about the size and timing of the protests,” Dennis claimed after consulting a few people around the breakfast table.

However, he deserves an award for this 63-word sentence with a flurry of negatives:

“No one is not suggesting the long and painful history of black deaths in custody and attempting to rectify appalling indigenous living conditions is not a grand cause, but the timing and size of the protests, as well as the proxy debates about rewriting history, banning cultural works, pulling down statues and defunding police, are undermining support for the cause and health restrictions.”

Three negatives in 25 words.

Four days earlier Judith Sloan, the nation’s greatest grumpy economist, wrote in the same newspaper: “After the revelation that there had been a $6bn costing error in relation to the JobKeeper program, I was expecting to read about the resignation of the Treasury secretary or the deputy secretary heading the fiscal group. I’m still waiting.”

And we’re still waiting to read about the resignation of Ms Sloan after omitting the all-important “0” from the $60 billion costing error.

Need we mention someone called Peter Gleeson, who scribbles for Moloch’s tabloid wraps? This week he advised: “The reality in this country – and the US – is that the greatest danger to aboriginals and negroes is themselves.”

Readers have been missing the word “negroes” since about 1964.

Sun kicks

Meanwhile in London, The Sun reports that The Guardian is “facing calls” to be shut down because it was founded in 1821 by John Edward Taylor with profits from a cotton plantation that used slaves.

A petition attracting “hundreds” of signatures points to The Guardian’s links to the slave-owning Confederate south and its criticism of President Abraham Lincoln.

The Sun mentioned that “the left-wing paper” defended the defenestration of the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol. One enthusiastic signatory to the petition commented: “All people who have written for The Guardian in the past and right now ought to be ashamed at their support of slavery.”

Family disallowance

Every Wednesday for the past 10 months, a group of dedicated souls has gathered in Revesby, outside the electoral office of the minister for Immigration, David Coleman.

They are protesting at the continued detention on Christmas Island of the Tamil family Priya and Nadesalingam and their two Australian-born daughters, Kopika and Tharunicaa. They are “illegal maritime arrivals”, seeking asylum in Australia.

The family has been in detention since March 2018 and on Christmas Island since August 31, 2019. Prior to that they were living in Biloela, Queensland, where they were embraced by the local community.

On Friday, June 12, the protesters brought balloons and other celebratory decorations to Coleman’s office to mark Tharunicaa’s third birthday. She has spent every one of her birthdays in detention. Her sister turned five last month.

Dr Iyngaranathan Selvaratnam, who knows the family’s case well, has grave concerns for their mental health and development.

While they were in detention in Melbourne both children were denied birthday cakes, although fresh cake was delivered by supporters of the family to share with Minister Coleman.

As Coleman has been on health leave since last December, the acting Immigration minister is Alan Tudge, whose electoral office is nearly 900 kilometres from Revesby.

Nades, Priya and Kopika have exhausted their avenues of appeal and at the moment there are extenuated technicalities surrounding Tharunicaa’s application for a protection visa. Ministerial discretion is all that is left.

While politicians baste themselves in the notion that Australia is a great country and Aunty Gladys thinks 99.9 per cent of us are amazing, the truth is that our “leaders” also reflect deep seams of cruelty, inhumanity and arrogance.

Stoker fire

You can always rely on the Queensland Nasty Party machine to dish up the finest adornments to parliamentary life.

Senator Amanda Stoker is a special treat, most recently flung into national attention after she observed that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk “is the knee on the throat of the businesses of Queensland stopping them breathing. Right?”

Look, as she explained so helpfully afterwards, she didn’t mean it that way, “it was just language that was sort of floating around at the time and it’s what came out”. The sort of thing that happens on Sky “News”. Right?

Amanda replaced George “Bookshelves” Brandis in the senate after the former attorney-general sailed away to London, never to be heard of again.

She has spent much of her career desperately trying to get elected, somewhere, first in an unsuccessful attempt at preselection for the Queensland seat of Cleveland and then as an unsuccessful LNP candidate for the senate in 2013.

She’s still not elected anywhere, having been appointed to fill Bookshelves’ vacancy.

Stoker bears all the hallmarks of deep religious conviction: she doesn’t like the “transgender agenda”, believes that protections against race discrimination are “a drag on our society”, and thinks there needs to be more freedom for crackpots and God-botherers to express religious views.

Naturally, she is described as one of the Coalition’s “rising stars”.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 20, 2020 as "Gadfly: Mad Monk’s misjudgement".

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

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