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

By this author


Opinion August 01, 2020

Gadfly: Kiwis flying high

As went to bed on Friday, 649 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Australia in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total for the past seven days to 3513. The majority of those were in Victoria, with new hotspots in some restaurants and gyms in Sydney’s Potts Pointless, which looks like the Nile Delta in terms of population density. The total confirmed cases in the Wide Brown Land stood at 16,904, and the death toll at 196. Over the way in New Zealand, the numbers look miles better. On Friday the number of active cases fell by four, to 20, with the total at 1560 and 22 deaths.

Opinion July 18, 2020

Gadfly: Carry on up the Charteris

The buttery emollients that gushed back and forth between Jolly John Kerr and senior palace flunkey Sir Martin Charteris will be a treat for Australia’s gimcrack royalists and accompanying style mavens. In the “palace letters” there were heaps of exchanges about when to wear morning dress with decorations, what tunes to play by way of royal salutes, the extent to which subjects should curtsy, damage to official photos of Betty Battenberg and Phil the Greek after Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin, and the odd Latin bon mot.

Opinion July 25, 2020

Gadfly: Knock on Woodside

The deep state’s spidery fingers are here, there and everywhere. Bernard Collaery would be all too familiar with their reach. As part of his defence in the secret prosecution that the Commonwealth has brought against him for allegedly revealing the bugging of Timor-Leste’s ministerial offices, his lawyers subpoenaed documents from Woodside, the oil and gas producer with a hefty stake in the Timor Sea’s Greater Sunrise gas field.

Opinion July 11, 2020

Gadfly: Just squawk away, Renee

The Australian Federal Police has sent to the prosecutors its brief of evidence about the ABC’s reporting on the Afghan Files, the big story about alleged killings of unarmed civilians by Australian soldiers. It looks as though reporter Dan Oakes could be in the frame for bringing us the news, but not so his colleague Sam Clark. Anyway, it was the first big AFP announcement, following its raid on the ABC’s HQ, since former Bowen Hills Bugle political reporter Renee Viellaris took over as the federal plod’s director of strategic communications.

Opinion July 04, 2020

Gadfly: Jackson thrives

Where’s Kathy Jackson when you need her during a pandemic? It’s a cry Gadfly hears frequently as he gallivants around a boarded-up nation, so it’s timely to present a handy updated guide to events. Kathy was the national secretary of the Health Services Union of Australia, the outfit that represents a massive number of people who work in and around hospitals and nursing homes. As far back as August 2015, the Federal Court found Jackson had misappropriated union funds and ordered her to repay $1.4 million. Regrettably, she had been declared bankrupt two months earlier.

Opinion June 27, 2020

Gadfly: Dicey business

It’s as though the entire conservative cause in our weird nation has been deracinated. The allegations against Dyson Heydon leave much havoc in their wake. His political sponsors, Little Winston Howard and the Mad Monk, look gormless, while he has blotted the escutcheons of luminous institutions from the High Court to the University of Sydney, where he is an emeritus professor.

Diary June 20, 2020

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.

Diary June 13, 2020

Gadfly: Yabsley tat’ll do

Hurry. Rush. Lawsons’ online auction of Michael Yabsley’s load of bric-a-brac and tat closes at 7pm on Saturday. The former Nasty Party New South Wales Prisons minister is clearing out his Wombat Hollow playground in the wake of his lifestyle change and move from the Southern Highlands to Darlinghurst.

Diary June 06, 2020

Gadfly: That Cory old chestnut

Just as a grateful nation thought Cory Bernardi, the former pub keeper, former Liberal and former Australian Conservative, had stumbled off into that special pantheon reserved for “unrepresentative swill”, we find he’s back, looking to put his hand in your pocket. Yes. Cory Bernardi Confidential has been launched – a special website with intriguing gems behind a paywall, including “Who’s been swimming naked?” and “Is this the new normal?”

Diary May 30, 2020

Gadfly: Grouper stupor

The ABC people know a trick or two about ratings triumphs. Having Grouper Greg Sheridan on Insiders as frequently as possible is a sure-fire winner. There’s the grizzled Grouper, with his tinted locks, nice and warm in his jumper and comfy jacket, dragging more viewers to the show by extolling the virtues of fossils and pooh-poohing market mechanisms to put a price on them: “Coal is still the best option for Australia; the second-best option would be gas; nuclear would be a very good option.”

Diary May 23, 2020

Gadfly: The inking person’s judge

It’s not often that retired judges get much of a sendoff when they peg out. Invariably, a few grizzled legal types wince at the thought they may be next as they read death notices in the bar newsletter. Not so for David Levine, a man with one of the largest private libraries and book collections in the country. His departure was met with a genuine outpouring of affection from lawyers, arts administrators and literary figures.

Opinion May 16, 2020

Gadfly: Quiet as a church mouth

Gadfly, along with an anxious nation, was looking forward to last weekend’s Catholic Boys Daily. Surely, it would be bursting with explanations from all the favourites on how the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse got it wrong in its unredacted report on the state of Cardinal Pell’s knowledge about the Ballarat Paedophile Club.

Opinion May 09, 2020

Gadfly: Reality smites

Death and the plague. Whenever Gadfly reaches for his well-thumbed Pears’ Cyclopaedia he finds that plagues turn out worse than everyone had hoped. What does this pattern of history mean in regard to Schmo’s “snapback” or the impressive “V-shaped recovery”? All the economic pundits Gadfly can discover say the PM’s smoking something.

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