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

By this author


Diary April 10, 2020

Gadfly: Justice deserts

Right after Sarah Ferguson on ABC TV added to suspicions that George Pell is a child molester, revealing there are several civil claims against the cardinal waiting in the wings, the High Court has gone and upset the apple cart with some complicated thinking about “reasonable doubt … unchallenged evidence … [and] innocence”.

Opinion March 28, 2020

Gadfly: Trump’s life or debt decision

One savvy business sage who this week was in Gadfly’s ear thinks the fast-failing enterprises in the United States might see Bone Spurs Trump become the first president in office to go bankrupt. The value of his gilded city towers and hotels is crashing with each passing moment and given they are leveraged to buggery with either Deutsche Bank or the Russian mafia, the whole rickety edifice will soon be underwater.

Opinion March 14, 2020

Gadfly: Bench warning

Those north Queensland beaks sure know how to dish out justice to anti-coal protesters chaining themselves to cattle grids or concrete drums to hamper workers turning up for fossil fuel duties.

Opinion March 07, 2020

Gadfly: A Gus of hot air

Field agents from Wingello in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales bring reports that Schmo turned up in town on a post-bushfire inspection. Only the Rural Fire Service seemed to be aware of his arrival; hence there were no brass bands and drum majorettes to welcome him in the main street. To cheer everyone up the PM brought Grassgate Gussy Taylor with him, yet residents were kept in the dark about their local member’s movements.

Opinion February 29, 2020

Gadfly: Merritt bastes decision

When palaeoconservatives get tangled in issues of race inevitably their pants catch on fire. So it was with the High Court decision in Love, Thoms v The Commonwealth – when a majority of the judges stopped Benito Dutton deporting a couple of Aboriginal men who had done time for criminal offences in Australia.

Opinion February 22, 2020

Gadfly: Very pressing matters

Gadfly found himself on a V/Line train speeding from Melbourne to Bendigo for an appointment organised by the regional community legal centres to appear at a huge press freedom jamboree at the town hall. And what a turnout – with 300 of the region’s finest packing the gilded room to get insights from your correspondent, Australian Federal Police raid victim Annika Smethurst and journalism academic Matthew Ricketson – all under the baton of the excellent Jon Faine, hitherto a leading voice on ABC wireless.

Opinion February 15, 2020

Gadfly: Services? Oh myGov!

Pensioners were excited to get letters last month from Centrelink asking for details of their “account-based income stream/s”. After spending hours of research working out what is meant by “account-based income stream/s”, it turns out, basically, to be payments from superannuation funds. The information had to be given to Centrelink by February 6, otherwise “your payment may be stopped”.

Opinion February 08, 2020

Gadfly: Chef’s def mission

Tony Bilson, the great chef, restaurateur, raconteur, flâneur, dreamer, trendsetter and bohemian was laid to rest this week with a big Sydney sendoff. Gadfly remembers Bilson for his generosity when as an editor and publisher of a small but mighty organ your correspondent was sued for defamation. Tony leapt to the defence, saying he would provide a fundraising dinner at Kinselas to help defray eye-watering legal bills.

Opinion February 01, 2020

Gadfly: Masking for trouble

By now it is clear the face mask is the object that most defines this new decade. From an unfashionable item confined to special conditions in specific geographies, it is fast becoming ubiquitous. It is the facial accessory du jour, filtering the effects of fires, plagues, pestilence, climate and uncertainty. The closer civilisation hurtles towards dystopia, the more citizens will put their faith in this ungainly facial furniture.

Opinion January 25, 2020

Gadfly: A Scott in the dark

It’s not been an easy time for Scotty from Marketing. He is supposed to be a PR genius, yet the art of public relations suddenly got too complicated for him. PR is the place people end up when all other professional options fail, and now Schmo has failed at the failures’ last resort.

Opinion December 21, 2019

Gadfly: Another year at St Brutes

There’s a carnival atmosphere at St Brutes (motto: Tabula in naufragio) as the end-of-year speech day gets under way. Parents, boys and staff are assembled in a marquee on the oval. Professor Flint on the Wurlitzer falls silent as the headmaster, Mr Morrison, strides to the lectern, droplets of lunchtime pie and sauce on his chin catching the afternoon light. Pastor Houston is invited to say a short and meaningful prayer.

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