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

By this author


Opinion February 16, 2019

Gadfly: Justice married

In a week of political panic stations it was touching to see news of Michael Kirby’s marriage to Johan van Vloten, 50 years after their first meeting on Tuesday, February 11, 1969, at the Bottoms Up Bar of the Rex Hotel in Kings Cross. It’s been onwards ever since, with Kirby’s vaulting career as a lawyer and a judge and Johan moving for a time into the newsagency business. On AIDS, discrimination, equality and a fair go even if you don’t have a go, Kirby was unbending, which brought him into conflict with some pretty grisly fossils on the bench.

Opinion February 02, 2019

Gadfly: Leading from behind

Let’s try to keep a sense of proportion about the recent performances of a few of our most adorable contenders. First, The Mad Monk, sportsman and all-round fitness freak, who is raring to have another crack at winning Warringah for the Nasty Party, was in the Palm Beach to Whale Beach 2.8-kilometre swim last Sunday, where he finished 1013th out of 1050.

Opinion February 09, 2019

Gadfly: Greg expectations

The appointment of a new chair for the ABC is in the wind. Names of the contestants have been handed in a sealed envelope to SloMo and the Human Toilet Brush. Speculation suggests the final three are Fairfax’s beloved Greg Plywood, Danny Gilbert from law shop Gilbert + Tobin and ex-Murdoch man Kimbo Williams. Plywood, we know, was in tune with Lord Moloch’s playbook – harping about the free digital news content of the ABC stealing the lunch of newspapers and commercial TV networks.

Diary January 26, 2019

Gadfly: Joyful, strained

Australia Day comes but once a year and so soon after Christmas that it seems all our heavens arrive at once. This year, we might take flatheads and fakes as our theme for the day. SloMo brought the humble flathead centrestage when he made the announcement to Lord Moloch’s tabloid consumers that he likes nothing more than hanging around the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel with Jen and the girls, “enjoying flathead and chips like everyone else”.

Diary December 22, 2018

Gadfly: St Brutes yearbook

It’s the annual speech day at St Brutes, the very private non-selective school and training ground for future Nasty Party boiler room operatives and their underlings in Cockies Corner at the other end of the dorm. The headmaster, Mr Morrison, was hoping for a speech day built around the theme of “fair dinkum” – to reflect the authenticity of Australia and its values. A cat was set among the pigeons, though, when it came to light that “fair dinkum” was actually an authentic Chinese expression from the goldfields of the 1890s.

Diary December 15, 2018

Gadfly: Stricken in the Fox house

What a pleasure it is that HBO’s Succession is being streamed by Fox Drama, even if you do have to creep past the After Dark Monsters from the Sky News lagoon to get there. This is a blistering satire of a media mogul family, so closely reminiscent of the Molochs as to be entirely recognisable. The ancient, desiccated media tsar, Logan Roy, played by Brian Cox, is surrounded by offspring squabbling over the trust and who will take the reins of his junk-laden empire.

Diary December 08, 2018

Gadfly: Saltbush silly limits

The long arm of the mining industry is everywhere, sticking its shadowy fingers into as many pork pies as it can find. The Saltbush Club is the latest conspiracy-theory entrant into the climate wars. Among its directors are legacy mining men Hugh Morgan of Western Mining and Jerry Ellis, previously on mahogany row at BHP and a former grand fromage at the Minerals Council of Australia. Old favourite Ian Plimer is also a member of the club, which recently received a rousing endorsement in the Pied Piper outlets of similarly aged media gnome Lord Moloch.

Diary December 01, 2018

Gadfly: Otto asphyxiation

The theme for this week is “Fear”. Let’s start on Monday night when Tasmanian senator Otto Abetz appeared in the lounge rooms of the nation on the ABC’s Q&A show. Otto invariably looks and sounds as if he’s eaten a live animal and there he was crunching on a mouthful of bones as he addressed the terrifying issues of the day: Muslims, terrorism, Safe Schools, Peter Dutton and Liberal Party leadership spillages.

Diary November 24, 2018

Gadfly: Nine circles of Herald

Will the newspapers from Nine Entertainment Co (NEC) become more entertaining or are they going to continually drown us in scoops about Chinese infiltrators, corrupt local government councillors and crowded railway platforms? Can we look forward to a bit more of Tracy Grimshaw’s comments on the ozone layer or Eddie McGuire, from Millionaire Hot Seat, on the Productivity Commission’s horizontal fiscal equalisation inquiry? Inevitably there will be a happy blend of entertaining news and views.

Diary November 17, 2018

Gadfly: The Mitch trials begin

If you take out all the pages from The Sydney Morning Herald reporting on allegations of inappropriate touching there wouldn’t be enough newsprint to wrap a flounder. The latest revelation is that while the ABC board was at Billy Kwong’s, tucking into the saltbush cakes and crispy skin duck with Davidson’s plums, the then managing director’s back allegedly got rubbed, ickily. Litigation regarding this sort of thing is rampant.

Diary November 10, 2018

Gadfly: Counting the cursed

It’s wonderful to see British high commissioner Bookshelves Brandis back in business, making policy announcements in London on behalf of the government in Canberra. It looks like he was first out of the blocks with the proclamation that refugee children on the gulag of Nauru will be moved out of detention and to Australia by the end of the year. In a wireless interview from London he said: “There are hardly any children on Nauru and in New Guinea ...”

Diary November 03, 2018

Gadfly: Inflight infotainment

Onto the aircraft strides one of Lord Moloch’s former pashas, the silver-haired John Hartigan, viceroy of all he surveyed on the media landscape. Passengers were amazed and delighted that the mighty Harto lowered himself into an economy-class seat. It was only a matter of moments later that the ABC’s taxation affairs correspondent Emma Alberici appeared and was ushered into a business-class seat surrounded by fluttering ladies-in-waiting.

Diary October 27, 2018

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.

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