Richard Ackland

is the editor of the Gazette of Law & Journalism. He is The Saturday Paper’s legal affairs editor.

By this author

News January 21, 2023

How Cardinal George Pell seduced News Corp

George Pell spent decades cultivating the Murdoch press, duchessing editors and senior journalists. The impacts of that political manoeuvring are clear in the coverage since his death.

podcast October 27, 2021

The High Court judgement that could change the internet

Richard Ackland on what this High Court decision means for how we use the internet, and how our courts are out of step with the online world.

Comment October 23, 2021

Judges v The Internet

“Judges, like everyone else, use the internet ferociously, which makes their hostility to it a modern-day conundrum. Their application of ancient judicial precedents to an evolved and different world is cockeyed, let alone unhelpful. ”

Comment July 03, 2021

Investigative reporting and defamation

“The Ben Roberts-Smith case may be the greatest show in town, yet the consequences for the media defendants cannot be overstated. The future of investigative reporting is held in the balance.”

Comment June 12, 2021

Bernard Collaery and Witness K

“In Franz Kafka’s book The Trial the accused, Josef K, manages to arouse the court’s anger by loudly complaining about the absurdity of the proceedings and the accusation itself, if he could only understand it. The book is alternatively …”

News May 29, 2021

Mr XX marks the spot

The identities of several senior legal figures are being protected by suppression orders, even after some have been found guilty of serious offences, raising questions about secrecy and privilege in the courts.

Comment May 15, 2021

Defamation actions by politicians

“Had Christian Porter carefully considered the sorry history of defamation actions brought by politicians against the media, he may have paused and pondered for longer. While few things are certain in life, in defamation actions all bets are off.”

News March 20, 2021

Christian Porter v the ABC

ANALYSIS: Christian Porter’s defamation case against the ABC and Louise Milligan has put a spotlight on Australia’s legal system and our lack of a public interest defence for journalism.

Comment February 06, 2021

How Covid-19 transformed the courts

“The suffering has been intense. No costumes, no theatre, no crowds, no greasepaint. Barristers have been beside themselves for months as Covid-19 cancelled performances in courtrooms throughout the land. To have one’s stage so cruelly confiscated is …”

Comment December 19, 2020

Gadfly: Speech day at St Brutes

“Thank you, Reverend Pastor Houston, for those prayers and your message about rich men walking upright through the eye of a needle, with or without a camel. Boys, remember the pastor’s encouraging words about how religion and real estate can work together in the name of our Lord.” 

Comment December 12, 2020

Gadfly: Flint’s tone deafness

Until he popped up on Monday night’s Media Watch, Gadfly thought Emeritus Professor David Flint must have disappeared from the mortal coil. But there he was looking as splendid as a pox doctor’s apprentice on Sky “News” telling that other old stager Alan (The Parrot) Jones that Joe Biden’s election victory was a fraud, a “self-evident” fraud.

Comment December 05, 2020

Gadfly: The Fletcher, Christian show

There has been altogether too much tedious communication from Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, the man with a permanent hangdog expression. Drawing from the playbook of Richard Alston, a Howard-era Communications minister obsessed that Aunty was not 195 per cent behind the glorious battle for Iraq, Fletcher is stamping his foot and demanding answers from the ABC board to 15 silly questions about Four Corners’ “Canberra bubble” show.

Comment November 28, 2020

Gadfly: Cormann the barbarian

Citizens have been kicking up a dreadful fuss about Mathias Cormann spinning around Europe in an RAAF jet while lobbying to land his well-padded backside on the top chair at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in not-so-gay Paree. The Belgian Waffle (hat tip, Mike Carlton) has been clocking up $4300 an hour for taxpayers as part of this global pocket-moistening tour. The Europeans have been warned that Cormann may not be all he seems – despite what passes for an Australian charm exercise.

Gadfly November 21, 2020

Gadfly: A sorry slate of affairs

Like flies they drop, as quickly as their pants. In recent days, it has been Hugh (Percy) Marks, the Nine Entertainment panjandrum, and Carl Lentz. Yes, Lentz, the “celebrity pastor” dishing out blessings for Brian Houston at the New York branch of the Hillsong business. Carl, who strayed from the paths of righteousness with someone other than Mrs Lentz, has been defrocked by Brian. For good measure, Mrs Lentz’s pastoral duties at the New York office were also terminated.

Comment November 14, 2020

Gadfly: Christian lessons

It was time for a few heads on pikes, or should that be Poles? Sadly, it is those adornments to public life, The Christian and The Tudge, who got piked. There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as seeing lecherous, hypocritical politicians squirming in the Four Corners spotlight. Alan Tudge, whose name comes straight out of Dickens, expressed “regret” – most likely he regretted being a family-values man who got sprung.

Comment November 07, 2020

Gadfly: Judging democracy

It’s always better to let Republican lawyers and judges decide election outcomes. It’s so much cleaner and less fussy than trusting an untrustworthy electorate. Surely the Supreme Court of the United States, stacked with “illegitimate judges” and sex pests, will show us the way. Why should a plurality of voters decide the outcome when there are all sorts of fixes and filters to be applied?

Comment October 31, 2020

Gadfly: Corresponding angles

The battle of the Kerr–palace correspondence is surging ahead. Historian Jenny Hocking’s book The Palace Letters was out of the stocks on Tuesday. By Tuesday next week the bookshops will also be selling the rival book, The Truth of the Palace Letters, by Monsignor Paul Kelly and Troy-Boy Bramston of The Catholic Boys Daily. We can only hope the Melbourne Cup doesn’t steal some of the limelight.

Comment October 24, 2020

Gadfly: Not so glad to be Glad

Our Gladys this week played a crowd-pleasing game of Twister. With one hand on the square called “love”, a foot on “insubstantial relationship”, and another on “not really a boyfriend”. With all her might she tried to keep off the tile called “tickle from the top”. The contortion was painful to behold. Yet, there she is – still Our Glad, sort of.

Comment October 17, 2020

Gadfly: Murdoch in a blather

Maureen Dowd’s New York Times interview in her garden with James Murdoch didn’t exactly set the world on fire with searing insights into the greenie billionaire who is now on the loose from his father and brother’s “hate-for-profit racket”. There was plenty of hedging from the younger Murdoch heir amid the ducking and weaving, yet also moments that revealed James drowning in search for words.

Comment October 10, 2020

Gadfly: Bugle’s notes off-key

Banana Benders are off to a state election at the end of this month and you’d have to think Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is in dreadful trouble, what with daily birching from the hacks at The Bowen Hills Bugle. Yet according to the latest polling, the ALP regime is comfortably ahead – 52 per cent to 48 per cent on a two-party preferred basis. And Palaszczuk is the favoured premier over her Nasty Party rival, Deb Frecklington – 48 per cent to 22 per cent.

Comment October 03, 2020

Gadfly: Brush turkey at biodiversity summit

We’d almost entirely forgotten about Fabulous Mitch Fifield, until there was a brief grab of him on the telly, beamed in from New York, where he has landed softly as our ambassador to the United Nations. It’s pleasing to see the Human Toilet Brush still maintains his bristling, brush-like qualities, yet it’s to be wondered just what he’ll be doing at the UN Summit on Biodiversity. Nothing much, it seems.

Comment September 26, 2020

Gadfly: Hock of Gibraltar

Isn’t it terrific that Fishnets Downer consistently lends his talents to the betterment of nations? According to reports, he’s signed on for a three-year gig to assist Gibraltar in free trade negotiations with Australia. In his new job, “The Knee”, as Paul Keating memorably christened the great global statesman, has to unravel the complexities of the Rock’s movements of goods and services, in and out.

Comment September 19, 2020

Gadfly: What a pity

An emotional nation has been moved by Schmo Morrison’s humanity as he fights for the freedom of citizens to cross state borders to attend funerals. Funerals and their role in salving grief over the loss of a loved one is something dear to the Coalition. Government Finance Minister and Turnbull quisling Mathias Cormann announced gutturally that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is “so cold-hearted and so harsh and so nasty”.

Comment September 12, 2020

Gadfly: A law unto himself

Gadfly had the temerity to turn his back for a fortnight and on reporting back for duty discovers everything has turned to mush. It’s starkly apparent that language and ideas no longer have the same meaning and value they once did. Take the “rule of law”, for instance – a well-worn notion, beloved of lawyers, meaning judges and courts as the third arm of government are independent of the other two arms. The idea is that judges, right or wrong, have authority to make binding decisions according to law.

Comment August 22, 2020

Gadfly: Driving a hard bargain

With the speed of a sputtering meteor we’ve seen gilded careers disintegrate. So it has been with that magisterial expert on promissory estoppel Dyson Heydon as doors slammed in his face following the High Court’s findings of his inappropriate sexual harassment of young employees. Then, early this month, Melbourne silk Norman O’Bryan, a chap with plenty of smarts and entrepreneurial flair, hit the ropes.

Comment August 15, 2020

Gadfly: Recurring pipe dreams

The ghost of Rex (The Strangler) Connor lives and breathes. Gough Whitlam’s hulking Minerals and Energy minister, who slept by the telex machine waiting for news of Tirath Khemlani’s $4 billion loan, has been reborn as a modern-day inspiration. The Strangler’s plan more than 45 years ago was for a nation crisscrossed with gas pipelines. It was believed his vision went further, and that he saw a future for a massive pipeline between Australia and Japan.

Comment August 08, 2020

Gadfly: Peas in a podcast

It was quite something to tune in to the first episode of Bunter and Georgina Downer’s geopolitical podcast, where they discussed the recent AUSMIN meeting, the upcoming United States presidential election and the future of war. Father and daughter get along famously as they take us on a wide sweep through the trickiest global thickets, with memos about Condoleezza Rice’s determination to play golf, China’s dominance in the rare earth market, Joe Biden’s “flaky” interviews, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fishing quotas in British waters and Russia’s anti-satellite rocket program.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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?”

Gadfly 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.”

Gadfly 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Gadfly May 02, 2020

Gadfly: Trumble in the Moloch jungle

Lord Moloch’s press is leaving no stone unturned in letting a couple of confirmed Trumble detractors give a vigorous “welcome” to the former PM’s book A Bigger Picture. Last Thursday, The Daily Smellograph treated us to an analysis by Peter King, a former member for Wentworth, trounced by Trumble in a bitter preselection in 2003, amid accusations of branch stacking and branch stripping.

Gadfly April 25, 2020

Gadfly: Grouper Greg’s Aunty agony

What a marvellously engaging week we’ve had, made all the more diverting by a couple of creatures who emerged from the Black Lagoon. First, there was Grouper Greg Sheridan from The Catholic Boys Daily, complaining on Insiders about the ABC doing what in the trade is called journalism. Specifically, he had his knickers in a twist about the investigatory work ABC reporters had done on Cardinal Pell. Grouper, a failed seminarian, thought the investigation was unfair because it was a “monolithic” attack.

Comment April 18, 2020

Gadfly: Warranted confusion

The High Court, exhausted after its unanimous feat in the Pell appeal, broke into clusters to come up with its thinking on The Sunday Telegraph’s challenge to Constable Plod’s warrant to search and seize data and documents from journalist Annika Smethurst’s home. After all, Smethurst was the reporter who brought us news of plans being hatched to extend the powers of the Australian Signals Directorate to covertly access data about the life and movements of Australian citizens – a story that was fair and square in the public interest.

Gadfly 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”.

Comment April 04, 2020

Gadfly: Message palaver

Where’s Siiiiimon Reynolds when you need him? You’ll remember Siiiiimon as the adman who created the Grim Reaper advertisement in 1987, during the AIDS epidemic. It was a controversial yet highly effective message that drove home HIV awareness. Today the message about coronavirus could be coming into people’s mobile phones, daily, three times a day, whatever it takes.

Comment 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.

Comment March 21, 2020

Gadfly: West slide story

The Pussy Grabber, Boris the Bonker, Schmo Morrison and dreamers of the alt-right all struggled to come to terms with the alarming rate at which coronavirus is spreading. Their denialism is instinctive and they only pulled out their fingers when it was too late.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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”.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment December 14, 2019

Gadfly: Houston calling

What a miracle it was that Brian Houston, leader of the Hillbilly Church and spiritual adviser to Schmo Morrison, managed to get his White House ban lifted. There he was inside the cabinet room, no less, announcing he had prayed for the Pussy Grabber, presumably asking God to remedy his bone spurs.

Comment December 07, 2019

Gadfly: Smoking out a reality check

Citizens of Sydney and nearby parts wake each morning to the smell of their environment going up in smoke. Trees, leaves, animals, fences and homes are ablaze. The sky is a sinister colour, the rivers are empty, the air is dangerous, the oceans are filled with junk, islands are disappearing, the Earth is on its knees and the price of bread has gone up.

Comment November 30, 2019

Gadfly: Rhodes to perdition

By now the gatekeepers at the entrance to the Rhodes Scholarship must be rewriting the requirements. What a collection of political mugs they have delivered us in recent years: The Mad Monk, Malcolm Trumble and Grassgate Gussy Taylor. All Rhodes, and all terrible at their politics. Old Cecil must be turning in his plot.

Comment November 23, 2019

Gadfly: Piers-reviewed climate science

Bushfire and reproductive rights expert Barnaby Joyce, MP, may be onto something with his idea that the sun’s magnetic field is the devil behind the terrible conflagrations sweeping the nation. Citizens who labour under the belief that CO2 is the cause of our problems have clearly not read up on solar magnetic theory. One of the principal proponents of this theory is an Englishman named Piers Corbyn. Yes, the older brother of British election hopeful Jeremy Corbyn.

Gadfly November 16, 2019

Gadfly: Nationals’ treasures

Some people have been unkind enough to criticise former New Zealander, man of weatherboard and iron, drought envoy and one-time deputy prime minister the Honourable Barnaby Joyce, MP, after he claimed Green voters not only caused the catastrophic fires this week but also made the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs. Did he go too far, you ask? Not at all. In the scheme of utterances from Cockies Corner, this is sensible stuff and goes down a treat.

Comment November 09, 2019

Gadfly: Voters look back in anger

Here we are six months after the federal election and upon swaths of citizens it has dawned that they have bought tickets to a flop. If it’s cringeworthy now, imagine another two-and-a-half years of this clapped-out music-hall routine.

Gadfly November 02, 2019

Gadfly: Lowering the Barr

The United States Department of Justice is set to launch a criminal investigation into itself and the events that precipitated the Mueller investigation into pro-Trump Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. This inquiry has been ordered by Billy Barr-Barr, the attorney-general and flunkey-in-chief to ol’ Bone Spurs. It’s such a screwy time in Washington.

Gadfly October 26, 2019

Gadfly: Protesters push their lock

It feels as though Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen is back in town, what with new anti-protest laws aimed at locking up Queenslanders who disturb the peace for decent Banana Benders. The Queensland Labor regime has thrown in its lot with the hewers of coal and burners of fossils – with climate taking the hindmost.

Gadfly October 19, 2019

Gadfly: Points scoring

The talking points from the PM’s office that this week plopped accidentally into the inboxes of “undisclosed recipients” are designed so that a chorus of government parrots can squawk in the same tune. Bubble people in Canberra shrug off these revelations as uninteresting fare – yet for non-bubble citizens they provide a depressing insight into the contrived nature of our politics, the thin veneer of what passes for policies and the mind-numbing banalities deployed to prop them up.

Comment October 12, 2019

Gadfly: A Greek comedy duo

The dazzling Athenian sunshine caught the highlights of Kevin Andrews’ luxuriant crop of Grecian 2000-enhanced hair as he took coffee at a footpath cafe in Skoufa, close to the Greek capital’s embassy district. But hold on, there was an even bigger distraction. Pauline Hanson, that heart-throb of menopausal males from the boondocks, was perched close by. Quite the strange pairing to spot on holiday together in the Mediterranean.

Gadfly October 05, 2019

Gadfly: Removing the Downer cover

#Thighgate and #Arcurigate have gripped the Sceptred Isle, while at the same moment Washington is flooded with subpoenas issued to President Bone Spurs’ posse of hit men, and Hong Kong celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party with its own special fireworks.

Comment September 28, 2019

Gadfly: My friend (insert name)

Trump’s bone spurs must be giving him hell. Standing for hours on end to smother Schmo Morrison in effusions at a welcome ceremony, at a press conference, at a state dinner and then at Anthony Pratt’s cardboard factory. Agony for the Radge Orange Bampot, and for everyone else in earshot.

Comment September 21, 2019

Gadfly: Donation building

Schmo Morrison was in full marketing-man mode as he batted away accusations against forgetful Comrade Gladys Liu. Membership of a strange Chinese state propaganda machine; squillions of dollars raised at great fundraising feasts; agitation to amend the foreign investment regime so Chinese business can snap up swaths of agricultural land – nothing to see here, move on, says Schmo.

Comment September 14, 2019

Gadfly: Legal eagles take to Sky

It was a star-encrusted night on Tuesday as the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties held its annual knees-up at Sky Phoenix in Sydney. This was not just a few lefties munching on dim sum around a lazy Susan in a Chinese restaurant. Rather, it was a grand affair bursting with judges, lawyers, politicians, scientists, captains of industry, academics, public administrators, journalists and other worthies.

Gadfly September 07, 2019

Gadfly: Held over a Barilaro

Giovanni (Pork) Barilaro, deputy premier and king of Cockies Corner in the New South Wales parliament, has been busy puffing hot air and positioning himself for a move to Canberra. But he has other pressing concerns: unfortunately for Giovanni, the Australian Taxation Office has applied for a winding-up order for Ryleho Group Pty Ltd, the Queanbeyan timber doors-and-windows operation he owns with his brother Tony.

Gadfly August 31, 2019

Gadfly: Ramsay tweak

The University of Queensland and the Ramsayites, after a lot of fumbling and frottage, finally got into bed together. UQ joins the University of Wollongong in producing scholars honed and buffed in the ways of Western “civilisation”.

Comment August 24, 2019

Gadfly: Wrangling a Parrot

The week belonged to the Parrot, the hero of Struggle Street. He was up to his old attention-grabbing schtick: vile remarks, followed by public fury, doubling down, a tight-lipped “apology”, then threats from management that this was his “last chance”. There was a special twist on this occasion – Jones complained the ABC’s Media Watch didn’t broadcast all of his comments about Jacinda Ardern. If there’s anything the Parrot likes, it’s the full context of his unvarnished misogynistic diatribes.

Gadfly August 17, 2019

Gadfly: Raising the steaks

Well, that was a fine start to the post-Hayne banking royal commission litigation. The regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, went down in a heap in its action against Westpac, where it alleged the bank was in breach of responsible lending laws in relation to more than 260,000 home loan applicants. ASIC claimed the lending formula applied by the bank meant borrowers could be led into hardship because their ability to service the loan was insufficiently appraised. Not at all, said Justice Nye Perram in the Federal Court. Borrowers could simply refine their spending habits when times got tough, citing a money-saving move away from wagyu and shiraz to something more affordable – Spam and rice, perhaps.

Comment August 10, 2019

Gadfly: Furphy Brown

Sadly, Gadfly’s invitation to hear Minister for Minerals Matteo Canavani at Chuckles Henderson’s Institute got lost in the mail. It promised to be a spellbinding evening, with the topic “The Link Between Pope Pius XI and Bob Brown”. The theological possibilities are intriguing, especially when you consider Pius XI – formerly Achille Ratti – and the regime of Benito Mussolini had a lot in common.

Gadfly August 03, 2019

Gadfly: Grassy-eyed Gus

Things have got to a pretty rancid state if Pauline Hanson has to ride to your rescue. And rancid they are with #Grassgate. Fantastic Gussy Taylor, the squillionaire MP whose family is under investigation for allegedly squirting pesticide on endangered grasses, is significantly off the hook, thanks to Hanson.

Comment July 27, 2019

Gadfly: Out of saddle and addled

Little wonder Nick “Goosebumps” Cater very quickly lost the plot on Monday’s Q&A. The poor fellow from the Menzies “Research” Centre had just stepped off his Pollie Pedal bicycle, after he and a bunch of other ageing, angry, white reactionaries in Lycra and dyed hair roared into towns in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland, sweatily inspecting war memorials and other remnants of past glories.

Gadfly July 20, 2019

Gadfly: Reinventing their spiel

“Cry Freedom” echoes through the wide, brown land as reptiles and hacks try to throw off the shackles of oppression. Some of them have been, or still are, Moloch employees whose newspapers cheered on the slate of overwrought post-September 11 national security laws that bit by bit tightened the noose around the reporting of politically sensitive matters that had received the green elephant stamp of “top secret”.

Comment July 13, 2019

Gadfly: Gus’s power play defused

Fantastic Angus has been so busy with explanations about the poisoning of endangered grasslands on a family spread that he’s taken his eye off the ball. Both carbon emissions and power prices have gone in the opposite direction to that promised by Schmo Morrison’s junta. Emissions are up, up, up, and so too are power prices. Fantastic. Great move. Well done, Angus.

Comment July 06, 2019

Gadfly: A slice of Evan

How good is Australia? Gadfly returns home after three weeks on a global escapade and finds nothing whatsoever has changed. Schmo Morrison, Fantastic Angus and Benito Dutton are still strutting their half-baked stuff, and on we stagger. The only noticeable excitement on the horizon is that Schmo has his ears back for a good old beano with Iran.

News June 15, 2019

Michael Kirby’s broad church

Since retiring from the judiciary, former High Court justice Michael Kirby has been busier than ever – lending his lofty intellect to, among other things, campaigns for a bill of rights and an Indigenous voice to parliament.

Comment June 15, 2019

Gadfly: Security counsel

Senior members of the Commonwealth’s cop squad have been working overtime on coming up with fresh meanings for the phrase “national security”. To paraphrase Humpty Dumpty, it really means just what the government chooses it to mean, neither more nor less. Certainly it covers things such as bugging the Timor-Leste ministerial offices, or soldiers shooting the wrong people in Afghanistan, or plans by spooky public servants to spy on the entire population. All of that comes under the Humpty Dumpty definition, which really has nothing to do with national security at all, but more to do with government embarrassment.

Comment June 08, 2019

Gadfly: Morris dances to many tunes

Poor Gaven Morris, the man in charge of “news, analysis and investigations” at Your Aunty. No sooner was he having to bat away allegations he closed down a radio current affairs story about the loss-leading economics of Adani’s Carmichael coalmine than he had Constable Plod of the Australian Federal Police at his door, saying, “Ullo, ullo, ullo, wot’s going on here, then?” With a breathtakingly broad warrant, Plod was hunting for the sources connected to ABC stories published in 2017 about Australia’s clandestine special forces operations in Afghanistan.

Gadfly June 01, 2019

Gadfly: Ministry of silly dorks

Schmo has unveiled his ministry littered with any number of stale and pale third-raters. In particular, we’ll have to keep our eye on Stuart “Train Crash” Robert and Fantastic Angus Taylor. Gus is already out of the box with a cry that he has a “clear mandate” to do nothing much about carbon emissions. It seems we’re still stuck with the Abbott-era strategy of no carbon price and a few trees as a way of meeting the 2030 target of a 26 per cent greenhouse gas reduction.

Comment May 25, 2019

Gadfly: Intensive prayer

One of Gadfly’s field agents who looks after dustbins close to Horizon Church in the Sutherland Shire discovered a prayer scribbled on some prime ministerial letterhead. In the interests of religious freedom, we’ve decided to share it with you: O God, how good are you? You have cleared our land of pestilence and plague and like Canaan, the son of Ham, we rose up to smite those wanting to rid you, O Lord, of your imputations that you gave us when you cleansed the money changers from the temple. It may have been your only begotten son who did that, but you knowest from where I come.

Comment May 18, 2019

Gadfly: Cast from the past

You’ve got to admire the way the Nasty Party steadfastly wheels out Little Winston to wave, grin and hug people during election campaigns. He’s a reminder of things past and in a climate change election it’s good to be reminded that Winston for such a long time was a climate denier (aka sceptic). He resisted the Kyoto Protocol and stood against the implementation of legally binding carbon reduction targets.

Comment May 11, 2019

Gadfly: Egging to differ

The history of citizens egging their politicians is long and distinguished. When Billy Hughes was egged at Warwick, Queensland, in 1917 he ordered the local copper to arrest the offender, Patrick Brosnan. Senior Sergeant Kenny refused, saying that the PM had no jurisdiction over him – hence we got the Commonwealth Police, which morphed into the Australian Federal Police.

Comment May 04, 2019

Gadfly: Candidates with destiny

The election campaign is in full stride and citizens at long last are getting their money’s worth. Scenes of Pauline in tears over Steve Dickson’s derailment of her plans to turn Australia into a bogan paradise were particularly endearing. This was a terrific performance of a grievance peddler playing the victim. Unfortunately, it’s the distressing but inevitable fallout of her party’s preselection processes, which are carefully designed to get drongos running for parliament.

Comment April 27, 2019

Gadfly: Gus tries to block the leaks

Gadfly always had a strong feeling The Beetrooter and Gussy Taylor would rescue a dismal election campaign from complete boredom. Citizens are now focusing on the brilliance of making $79 million from taxpayers by selling rainwater and sending the loot to the Cayman Islands where it is safely tucked up out of reach from the grasping maw of the taxman.

Comment April 20, 2019

Gadfly: Bill’s joint adventure

So good to see the Shortens among the shorthorns, baby goats and bottled preserves at Sydney’s Royal Easter Show. But it was on the Central Coast where the leader of the opposition made a lasting impression while participating with a whole pile of little kids in a “slip, slop, slap” awareness moment. Gadfly has been unable to get out of his mind Shorten’s eccentric use of his knuckles in applying sunscreen to his face. I suspect there’s a lot we don’t know about this man but the sunscreen incident was a valuable insight.

Comment April 13, 2019

Gadfly: The A-Team’s heroes for hire

There’s a sense of relief that the nation is now in caretaker mode – a nice change from the usual arrangement where the affairs of state are conducted with unremitting carelessness.

Comment April 06, 2019

The media and contempt of court

“In essence, we now have a full-scale turf war between two crucial components of the democratic state – an independent judiciary and a free press, both seeking to defend their respective territory.”

Comment April 06, 2019

Gadfly: Not beyond regional doubt

Already the leaflets from people chasing votes are flooding into citizens’ inboxes. Former Labor man Warren Mundine, now the Liberal Party pea for Gilmore, is up and at it. His email to electors claimed: “I’ve spent my entire life in regional Australia, helping to create jobs and build communities. I’ll fight for you and stand up for our region’s needs.”

Comment March 30, 2019

Gadfly: Howard makes his points

There they were, Little Winston Howard and Fabulous Phil Ruddock, like two grizzled Muppets at the Liberal Party’s party at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth hotel on Saturday night. Howard has engaged Pig Iron Bob’s personal groomer to try to train his eyebrows to levels of imperial magnificence. On Pig Iron, the tufts looked impressive. On Winston they resemble small furry bush insects that have fallen asleep on his face.

Comment March 23, 2019

Gadfly: Laying it on sick

There’s so much that can make people physically sick. Army wallah and boonies Nasty Party senator Linda Reynolds told ABC viewers she was “almost physically ill” when the medivac legislation was passed by parliament. After all, it was Muslims who were on the attack in Bali, if you follow her drift. She’ll make a fine addition to Team Schmo. Other citizens were just as ill with news from New Zealand.

Comment March 16, 2019

Gadfly: Quill shafts for Judd

Kerri Judd, QC, the Victorian DPP, defender of the faith and protector of the courts, has possibly up to 100 media organisations and reptiles in her sights for alleged contempt. In her possession is a bristling letter from Justin Quill, whose firm, Macpherson Kelley, is acting for 53 potential media parties. This correspondence is a fallout from the Pell trial suppression orders and headlines after the cardinal’s secret conviction for “historic sexual abuse crimes”.

Comment March 09, 2019

Gadfly: The ABC of equality

What is journalism? It’s a question hacks throughout the dry and cracked land ask themselves not infrequently – hoping an answer will arrive. Fortunately, Gaven Morris, the director of Aunty ABC’s news, analysis and investigations department, gave us a clue in his Tuesday memo to the troops.

Comment March 02, 2019

Gadfly: Taylor-made socialism

The nation’s chief electrician, Gus Taylor, has had a frightful time trying to get his hard-baked socialist policies up and running. It was late last year that the free enterprise Greens blocked his bright plan to subsidise coal-fired power plants. For the Greens, steeped in the wealth-creating force of free markets, smaller government and lower spending, handing over taxpayers’ money to underwrite power from coal was anathema to their Ayn Rand-based philosophy. Undeterred, Red Gus is now bludgeoning electricity suppliers with price controls.

Comment February 23, 2019

Gadfly: Making another run

Ladislaus Meissner, also known as Joe Meissner, of “Love Boat” notoriety has, after a decent interval, resurfaced. Joe has moved on from his days in the 1980s as secretary of the Enmore branch of the Labor Party and former world karate champion when his putt-putt, the Kanzen, hosted riotous onboard parties, where politicians mingled with even shadier figures. Virginia Perger, a sex worker, said she had slept with the adorable Graham Richardson on board the Kanzen only to withdraw her statement, after much thought.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Comment 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.

Gadfly 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”.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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 ...”

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly 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.

Gadfly October 20, 2018

Gadfly: Wentworth prism

By now on this Saturday morning citizens would be queueing at polling stations throughout William Charles Wentworth’s electorate. The question on many lips is what happened to Dave Sharma’s association with the accountancy firm Kelly+Partners? In January 2018 there was fanfare when he came on board to lead the firm’s lobbying and government relations team. Yet click on K+P’s online announcement and you’ll get a firm “Page not found”.

Gadfly October 13, 2018

Gadfly: Lord and hosts

As a good Gold Coast happy clapper, the unstoppable Stuey Robert, assistant treasurer of the Commonwealth, is likely to be redeemed of all his sins – such as running up a huge internet bill for the taxpayers, or going to China to eat roast duck at the behest of a Nasty Party donor, or juggling his directorships and shareholdings in companies with interests in transportation, gold and supplements for gym bunnies. He brings to federal politics all the glamour of the Gold Coast, including his Pentecostal zeal, which he shares with his lovely wife, Chantelle, and Skin Curling SloMo.

Gadfly October 06, 2018

Gadfly: Sharma chameleon

The fate of the nation hangs on the outcome of the Wentworth byelection two Saturdays hence. Judging by the sheer volume of corfluting, flyers and associated bumf, the Nasty Party doesn’t regard this as a stroll in the park. Letterboxes are crammed with a blizzard of election excitements and the shopping centres choked with campaigners trying to press screeds of nonsense into the paws of citizens, who themselves are trying to flee the horror.

Gadfly September 29, 2018

Gadfly: One for the ageds

If ever there were a business riddled with log-rollers with access to the top levels of government, it is the aged “care” industry. And what fabulous credentials are on offer. Take The Guild, a name straight out of the Middle Ages, which represents eight of the biggest for-profit providers. The chief executive is Matthew Richter, who describes himself on LinkedIn as, “a dynamic results-oriented strategist … I operate not only as a leader, but also as an agent of change. I motivate and inspires [sic] a sense of purpose in those around me …”

Gadfly September 22, 2018

Gadfly: Triggs a warning

Last week the Saturday magazine that comes free with The Catholic Boys Daily celebrated its 30th birthday. The occasion was marked by interviews with 30 well-known Australians, including the likes of John Olsen, Toni Collette, Tim Winton, Alan Joyce, Ian Thorpe, Frank Lowy etc etc. They were all asked the same questions, about Australia, the outlook for the next 30 years, favourite people and so on.

Gadfly September 15, 2018

Gadfly: Let there be lights

Pentecostalists are highly regarded for their ability to speak in tongues, otherwise known as making unintelligible utterances. This may explain why Prime Minister and Shire clapper SloMo Morrison insists that electricity prices will come down because he has abolished what was supposed to be Malcolm Trumble’s national energy guarantee.

Gadfly September 08, 2018

Gadfly: Who’s done cannot be undone

Gadfly arrives back in the wide brown land to find that one of his personal favourites is now at the helm of a retooled One Nation version of the Nasty Party. Moments after seizing the crown, SloMo was into a skin-curling discussion with sexual identity scholar Alan Jones on concerns about gender whisperers, lezzos and trade unions. To show no one had whispered to him at school, his ample frame, in muddied-oaf mode, was seen later on the telly charging around a paddock with a football.

Gadfly August 25, 2018

Gadfly: All fail the Duttard

It was not to be for Benito, then. Gadfly speaks for many when he says that for a long time he has been longing for a saviour of the calibre of Peter Dutton. What he lacks in charm, charisma and intellect, Benito makes up for in negatively geared property accumulation, government-subsidised childcare enterprises and the wafting allure of visas for mystery au pairs. But ScoMo’s inside run got him the gong.

Gadfly August 18, 2018

Gadfly: Enid blight on

Next Tuesday, Menzies “Research” Centre executive director and Queensland floods expert Nick “Goosebumps” Cater is hosting a massive spread at Old Parliament House in honour of the memory of Dame Enid Lyons, the first openly female member of the House of Representatives. The exciting part is that the Tasmanian Liberal Senate Team is hitching a ride on the event and at $2200 a head you could have the pleasure of Otto Abetz at your table or, better still, have him waiting on your table.

Gadfly August 11, 2018

Gadfly: Legends lost

We’re surrounded by death and the passing of great totems of our time. The death of Fairfax’s independence coincided with the death of one of the era’s standout journalists, Evan Whitton. Then we had news of the death of Clive Evatt, the great Sydney defamation barrister, turf man, art collector and frequent visitor to Wagner at Bayreuth. Whitton and Evatt were polar opposites – one liked to expose wrongdoing while the other liked to sue the backside off newspapers on behalf of punters who were exposed.

Gadfly August 04, 2018

Gadfly: Homilies of scale

The new new thing is “scale”. We’ve been missing the importance of “scale” for so long, particularly when it relates to such things as the takeover of Fairfax Media by Nine Entertainment, two more culturally antithetical outfits being hard to imagine. Percy Marks jewellery progeny and Nine boss Hugh Marks said “bigger scale” is good because it produces more revenue. Greg Plywood at Fairfax thinks that the fused company’s scale is the way to confront giants such as Google and Facebook. No wonder he’s sold his Maserati if he thinks like that.

Gadfly July 28, 2018

Gadfly: An abhorrent affair

We now see the shining brilliance of the Liberal–One Nation media reform agenda: the absorption of Fairfax newspapers into Nine Entertainment’s culture of chequebook journalism, hidden cameras, patsy interviews and Eddie McGuire game shows. All under the chairmanship of Peter Costello, one of the smuggest Nasty Party politicians in living memory. The quid pro quo for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation’s support of the “reform” legislation was to do over the ABC. Bingo, two “reforms” in one hit.

Gadfly July 21, 2018

Gadfly: Watch this face

Bookshelves Brandis signed off on his stellar ministerial career with the observation that he was particularly proud of his espionage, secrecy and foreign interference legislation. Never mind that his original clunky version was significantly reworked and substantially different laws recently passed through the parliament. So what’s next for a country already weighed down with more overwrought security legislation than comparable Western democracies?

Gadfly July 14, 2018

Gadfly: Oarsome times for Gina

While Theresa May’s government was tottering on the brink of fracture, the toffs were at the Henley Royal Regatta quaffing champagne and Pimm’s from the boots of Range Rovers and Bentleys, rather in the manner of the shickered crowds that gather in Melbourne Cup marquees. Gadfly’s invitation must have been lost in the post, but fortunately our field agent was on hand.

Gadfly July 07, 2018

Gadfly: Assassin’s creed

Have you noticed the way that Prime Minister Trumble, and others of his ilk, are more frequently mentioning the “Australian dream”? The tax cuts are all about “realising your dreams”. Owning 15 negatively geared houses is part of the Australian dream. A fair go and all that stuff is also part of our dream. The notion is borrowed, like a lot else, from the US of A, where politicians prattle on tirelessly about the “American dream” – backwoodsman becoming president; the Koch brothers controlling all the newspapers, the universities and the Supreme Court. All fair game for dreamers.

Gadfly June 30, 2018

Gadfly: Diary of a made man

The latest instalment of The Spectator Australia has some absolutely crackerjack items. You’ll probably never buy the magazine, as very few do, so Gadfly is here to do the heavy lifting for you. Bookshelves Brandis has a diary item about his meeting with Brenda, aka HM The Queen. He must have nipped down to Moss Bros for his morning suit, which was two sizes too big. The poor fellow looked as though he was drowning in his finery.

Gadfly June 23, 2018

Gadfly: The tragic wand

Benito Dutton is doing his level best to make sure visitors to his Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation are not infused with drugs. Even traces of Bex on someone’s sleeve may be enough to have their visitation rights cancelled. So far an ex-mayor, an elderly Catholic priest, a mature aged-care nurse and a Salvation Army pastor have flunked the MITA drug test. This involves blood-curdling Border Force operatives and Serco agents passing a magic wand over visitors’ clothing in the hunt for stashes of heroin and cocaine.

Gadfly June 16, 2018

Gadfly: Mining for information

Lord Gnome at Private Eye reports that Succession has started on HBO in the United States. It’s a drama series about Logan Roy and his four children, the family that controls the biggest, fattest media and entertainment conglomerate on the planet. What future lies ahead for this cherished bunch as their ageing father continues to grow older? Not that this necessarily reminds you of anyone in particular. The blurb says that Logan’s “eldest son from his second marriage is currently a division president at the firm and the heir apparent”. There is a brother that used to work for the business and they have a high-profile sister into the bargain.

Gadfly June 09, 2018

Gadfly: The cash of civilisations

Little Winston Howard and Ten Flags Tony, guiding lights of the Ramsay Centre, must be livid that the Australian National University has pulled the pin on their sponsored degree in Western civilisation. While Winston talks glibly of the grand forces that shaped our Western heritage, such as the Judeo-Christian ethic, parliamentary democracy, the rule of law and the Enlightenment, as prime minister he busily set about making Australia as narrow and mean a place as the horizons of his imagination.

Gadfly June 02, 2018

Gadfly: Scrutiny of the bounty

The chase for The Thorn Birds loot is taking on the hue of Jarndyce v Jarndyce and the presiding judge, Nigel Rein, has already urged the parties to step on it, with lawyers’ costs rapidly gobbling up what’s at stake. In the meantime, citizens have been spellbound by news of a fake will designed to soothe McCullough’s widower, Ric Robinson, a tearful lawyer in the witness box, bedroom shouting scenes, evidence that the couple were getting low on cash, claims of fabrication and instructions that Ric should “take” a mistress.

Gadfly May 26, 2018

Gadfly: Striking a chord

While in Otto’s extreme and manic world, it’s worth noting his complaints against Justine Keay, the former Labor MP ruled ineligible to hold the federal seat of Braddon because she had not renounced her Britishness. Abetz has been busy compiling the salary and entitlements Keay received between the time she feared she was constitutionally ineligible to stand for parliament and the moment the High Court in the Gallagher case found she was indeed ineligible.

Gadfly May 19, 2018

Gadfly: Hot off the press council

This week Gadfly thinks it’s high time to unload some festering snipes and snarls. Take the Australian Press Council as a starting point. The press “regulator” is in the process of rissoling the Indigenous woman Carla McGrath as a public member of the council, on the feeble excuse that her position as deputy chair of GetUp! creates a conflict of interest. What on earth are they on about? The Press Council itself is a conflict of interest, riddled with tired hacks representing their paymasters in the media.

Gadfly May 12, 2018

Gadfly: Bringing Downer the house

The people running the Twitter account at Australia House in London produced a marvellous photograph of the new high commissioner addressing his minions in a marbled reception hall. The staff looked as though they were having a perfectly miserable time as His Excellency Bookshelves Brandis droned on. They’d only just got rid of Fishnets Downer; now they were rolling their eyes, wondering what this new turkey from the Nasty Party would be like.

Gadfly May 05, 2018

Gadfly: Downer out

Fishnets Downer issued a last moving message from his well-padded HQ at Australia House. The outgoing high commissioner to the United Kingdom was looking incredibly pleased with himself as he faced the camera. “Being a diplomat means not just going to parties,” he said. “It means having purpose. So, um, your purpose is to promote the interests of your country.”

News April 28, 2018

The arch royal commissioner, Kenneth Hayne

The government may have thought Kenneth Hayne would run an easygoing royal commission. But his exposure of corruption and exploitation among the big banks sees him join a tradition of commissioners delivering more than their masters bargained for.

Gadfly April 28, 2018

Gadfly: Kerr’s cursive

The nation has been gripped again by the history wars, with Emeritus Professor Jenny Hocking of The Dismissal Dossier fame in one corner and in the other two scribblers from The Catholic Boys Daily, Father Paul Kelly and Troy-Boy Bramston. Prof. Anne Twomey is in there as well, telling Financial Review readers that she sniffs no sign of a conspiracy that the Brits and HM The Queen were in on Jolly John Kerr’s move to stab the Whitlam government in the back. Hocking has been turned down by the Federal Court in her application to get access to National Archives correspondence between Kerr, Brenda and Brenda’s palace courtiers, including that of her official private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris.

Gadfly April 21, 2018

Gadfly: Turnbulls face a star chamber

Hankies were dabbing at moistened eyes as soprano Nicole Car and the Australian Chamber Orchestra were at their most passionate on Saturday night. Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi were on the bill as the Melbourne soprano held everyone in her spell. Hairs on the back of eminent backs were standing on end all over Sydney’s City Recital Hall, and no doubt the ACO’s inaugural outing of the 1726 “Belgiorno” Stradivarius was partly responsible. There were so many celebs in the crowd that Gadfly lost count.

Gadfly April 14, 2018

Gadfly: Brandis cools his heel

Bookshelves Brandis’s Achilles heel is really holding things up. The famous back end of the well-rounded foot got injured while the high commissioner designate was delivering a fiendish backhand at tennis. The “Big Beast” was meant to take over from Fishnets Downer in early April but as things would have it Fishnets is still on the public teat, and will be there for next week’s CHOGM chinwag in London.

Gadfly April 07, 2018

Gadfly: An affair to dismember

The dwindling citizens who read Lord Moloch’s tissues will have noticed that exciting fatwas are under way against Vice-Admiral Ray Griggs and barrister Julian Burnside. Griggs is vice-chief of the Australian Defence Force and in line to take over the job as top Defence wallah. However, he has committed the crime of divorcing his wife and marrying fellow navy officer Commander Chloe Wootten, now Griggs. Maybe he was inspired by Lord Moloch himself, who tied the knot on two occasions with young women from the factory floor.

Gadfly March 31, 2018

Gadfly: Throwing the book at Dutton

The Russians know a thing or two about how to hold a press conference. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin holds an annual end-of-year session running for about four hours. In Canberra, his ambassador, Grigory Logvinov, was responding to the expulsion of two diplomats as part of a Western response to chemical weapon attacks on the Skripals in London.

Gadfly March 24, 2018

Gadfly: Mr Humphreys, are you free?

Doug Humphreys, president of the Law Society of NSW, had a frightful time on his recent LAWASIA fact-finding mission to the Maldives. The delegation thought they had all the proper authority to conduct their investigation into the independence of the Maldives’ judiciary and crumbling rule of law under the strongman Abdulla Yameen, only to be taken into custody “in a closed detention facility under guarded surveillance” as soon as they arrived.

Gadfly March 17, 2018

Gadfly: King’s lowlanding

Kings of War is a four-and-a-half hour Shakespearean onslaught in Dutch at the Adelaide Festival, under the direction of Ivo van Hove and scenographer Jan Versweyveld. To keep us in the picture there were surtitles, but only our leading Hollander, Dr Andreas Blot, had he been there, could have wrung all the subtleties from the performance.

Gadfly March 10, 2018

Gadfly: Planet of the gripes

If you’ve never been to one of those newspaper chat things where celebrity journalists talk about the same stuff they bang on about in print, Gadfly is here to fill you in on what you’re missing. With $25 in his pocket, our field agent wended his weary way to the Maritime Museum in Sydney, where in close proximity to the sharks, stingrays and groupers, Janet Albrechtsen and Caroline Overington were on stage.

Gadfly March 03, 2018

Gadfly: Daily dose of revisionism

The Daily Advertiser in Wagga Wagga has experienced some major rethinking since Michael McCormack, the current deputy prime minister, was the editor of the mighty organ. McCormack’s editorial line in the 1990s – that humanity was in danger of being wiped out by disease-spreading gays – has been starkly revised. This week, we find the paper carrying a story about the town of Hay hosting a mardi gras parade, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the big event in Sydney.

Gadfly February 24, 2018

Gadfly: Fraught the draft

Sad to see alt-right exhibitionist and bore Milo Yiannopoulos pulling out of his $US10 million breach of contract litigation against Simon & Schuster. This was a case where neither side was covered in glory. One thing it did throw up were the notes on the draft from editor Mitchell Ivers, including morsels such as: “Throughout the book, your best points seem to be lost in a sea of self-aggrandisement and scattershot thinking.”

Gadfly February 17, 2018

Gadfly: Holy owned subsidiaries

Archbishop Anthony Fisher must have been exhausted from all the fire and fury he recently poured down on the head of wretched LGBTQI sinners. But he’s picked himself up from the floor of the pulpit to tear off an epistle to Fairfax Media in response to the story about the billions of dollars of loot in the vaults of the Catholic Church in Australia.

Gadfly February 10, 2018

Gadfly: The scarlet man

Another little beetroot-bundle is a treat for a treat-starved nation. Thank God family values are on the up and up. The odds are great that a Christian politician of the calibre of the deputy prime minister, who enthuses on the sanctity of family values, will have more than one family

Gadfly February 03, 2018

Gadfly: The Pentecost of denying freedom

God save us from Christians. That must be uppermost in the minds of those 700 asylum seekers who missed out on permanent protection visas because, as immigration minister, Scott Morrison asked ASIO in 2013 to go slow on processing the security checks. This helpful “mitigation strategy” ensured the applicants missed their deadline and could be marched out of the country within three years, instead of getting permanent residency.

Gadfly January 27, 2018

Gadfly: Jumped up Collapso

One piece of news that managed to captivate a comatose nation involved the activities at the Kensington Wine Rooms, where High Commissioner Lord Downer fell into discussion with George Papadopoulos, a member of Dotard Trump’s campaign team, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

Gadfly December 23, 2017

Gadfly: Ding Dong! Merrily on high-vis

’Tis the season of “killer toys” that allow obscure ministers for consumer affairs to show their magnificent plumage. The New South Wales minister for fair trading is someone named Matt Kean and he had all his feathers fully fluffed with an announcement that “the annual yuletide safety blitz continues to sweep through retail stores”.

Gadfly December 16, 2017

Gadfly: Tall Man pulls up short

What can the Lord Jesus have been thinking? Allowing Alabama voters to send a Democrat to the senate instead of a gun-toting, God-fearing alleged child molester endorsed by the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief himself. It was Roy Moore’s attempt to ride a horse to the polling station that finally did him in, as it was evident the horse detested him.

Gadfly December 09, 2017

Gadfly: Enright is wrong

Poring over court reports, as Gadfly does during a wet week, we discover proceedings starring journalist David Marr. It seems Marr enjoyed a victory in the New South Wales Supreme Court, which a week ago confirmed his role in the estate of his old friend the late playwright Nick Enright, who appointed the esteemed writer, raconteur and flâneur as his “literary executor”.

Gadfly December 02, 2017

Gadfly: Onan the vulgarian

What was the tipping point for the Queensland election? In Gadfly’s opinion it was One Nation’s dildo, strap-on and “maarsterbate” moment. The now defunct banana-bending One Nation leader Steve Dickson said at a pre-election BBQ that “little kids in grade 4 at school, young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos – that is the real problem in this country”.

Gadfly November 25, 2017

Gadfly: Court of little public opinion

Who can forget those political luminaries Hunt, Tudge and Sukkar? The bold and brave “Yarra Three” avoided prosecution for contempt after their blundering statements about the Victorian Court of Appeal while it was in the process of making decisions about sentences for two terrorist offenders. The three hung their heads, shuffled their feet and made a last-minute grovel to the judges. But all has not been entirely disremembered.

Gadfly November 18, 2017

Gadfly: Sprog’s bill beyond belief

Senator Sprog Paterson’s religious freedom bill was a pathetic effort and little wonder he is unhappy with it. Fancy forgetting to include a clause that bans LGBTQI people from male or female public toilets. This omission confirms Sprog as one of the most inadequate people ever to land, unelected, in the senate.

Gadfly November 11, 2017

Gadfly: Kirby, fully loaded

Gadfly repaired to Sydney’s Macquarie Street for a mystery event hosted by Macquarie University. The invitation said the occasion is to “pay tribute to the Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG”. It was to have been held at the Federal Law Courts until the sprinkler system caused havoc to the halls of justice, so it was transferred across the road to the Mint, which was fitting, given we were about to get information on “gifting opportunities”.

News November 04, 2017

Mark Dreyfus on a human rights act

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus talks about the benefits of a human rights act and why conservative concern for cake bakers is about removing protections not defending freedoms.

Gadfly November 04, 2017

Gadfly: Parry, dodge, spin, ha, thrust

Let’s pause a moment to reflect on the torrid time for Otto Abetz and his island kingdom of Tasmania. Not only do the polls show a majority of postal responses in favour of same-sex marriage, which Otto thinks could lead to people marrying the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but the wheels are falling off his badly oiled state branch of the Nasty Party machine.

Gadfly October 28, 2017

Gadfly: Dice keeps rolling on

Dicey Heydon has been relatively quiet since the triumphs of his “Get Shorten” royal commission. So it’s heartening to know the former High Court judge is still at full strength, delivering a lecture last week to a sect within the Australian Catholic University in Adelaide. His theme was the frightful “elites”.

Gadfly October 21, 2017

Gadfly: Just wild about Harry

Invariably Gadfly turns to Grouper Greg Sheridan in The Catholic Boys Daily for thought leadership. Grouper’s endorsement of Admiral Harry Harris, the United States commander in the Pacific, as Barking Dog Trump’s ambassador to Australia, could not have been more reassuring.

Gadfly October 14, 2017

Gadfly: Weapons of misdirection

It’s comforting to see Julie “Asbestos” Bishop in her tin hat, firing from the trenches. Australia will be in range of Kimbo’s nuclear warheads if he achieves his objectives, Asbestos warned in an op-ed piece for the Fairfax papers. She even threw in the key phrase “weapons of mass destruction” – not given a proper run around the block since the triumphant invasion of Iraq.

Gadfly October 07, 2017

Gadfly: Okay Papists, now let’s get Reformation

Our old comrade in arms, the Most Reverend Anthony Fisher, OP, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, has invited us to a special event to “commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation”. Some may have thought that Roman Catholics are not entirely keen on the Reformation after large chunks of the old church fell off into the arms of Martin Luther.

Comment September 30, 2017

The pointless exercise of suppression orders

“There is a tension between lawyers championing the cause of a free press and what the free press does once it gets its hands on the information. Last year, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal made some important in-principle rulings about take-down orders …”

Gadfly September 30, 2017

Gadfly: Coleridge and the rime of the ancient marrier

It was uplifting to see Father Paul Kelly, editor-at-large of The Catholic Boys Daily, beating the drum for a religious freedom bill. Never mind that already we have too much religious freedom; Father Kelly wants more.

Gadfly September 23, 2017

Gadfly: Proud Mary kept her Rollers

Gadfly leaps out of bed every day embracing the credo of Lady “Mary” Fairfax: “Touch every life with good.” Sadly, the old clothes merchant from Broken Hill won’t be leaping out of bed anymore but the good she inflicted on the mighty Fairfax media stable was touching indeed.

Gadfly September 16, 2017

Gadfly: John’s no in game of Tones

Little Winston Howard was out of the blocks with a piece in The Catholic Boys Daily, “kickstarting” the “No” case. The diminutive koala is concerned that churches, free speech and children will be threatened if the marriage equality postal survey results in a “Yes” outcome.

Gadfly September 09, 2017

Gadfly: Liberté, fraternité, fraternité

One interesting morsel that emerged from the discussion at the book launch was that at the time Thomas Paine wrote his Rights of Man in support of the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges was publishing her Declaration of the Rights of the Woman and of the Female Citizen (1791). For her troubles de Gouges was accused and convicted of treason and promptly executed at the guillotine.

Gadfly September 02, 2017

Gadfly: Total eclipse of the sane

After Grouper Greg Sheridan’s great burst of God-bothering in last weekend’s Catholic Boys Daily, it’s only natural to find him listed as the guest speaker at Father Lyle’s Australian Christian Lobby annual dinner on Friday, November 17.

Gadfly August 26, 2017

Gadfly: Marriage misguidance

The same-sex marriage debate has been spiralling into some exciting and dark corners. Among the most noteworthy contributions in recent days we find Otto Abetz accepting in a BuzzFeed interview that passage of laws legalising same-sex marriage “could lead eventually to people being able to marry objects such as … the Harbour Bridge”.

Gadfly August 19, 2017

Gadfly: Grey matters

Federal and state judges will be getting in touch with their brains next week, or rather their two brains. Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist is out from Britain and has been invited by the Federal Court to try to explain to the judges about the hemispheres in their skulls.

Gadfly August 12, 2017

Gadfly: Shelf analysis

In the latest instalment of his blog, Freedom Boy Wilson, MP, has posted an article called “My Bookshelf”. It turns out not to be a paean to his philosopher-mentor Bookshelves Brandis, but an encounter with the books that have put his thoughts “onto clear tracks”.

Gadfly August 05, 2017

Gadfly: A hardman’s tale

The television spinoff of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale is an allegory of life under a type of Abbott-Abetz-Andrews-Bernardi-Shelton totalitarian Christian theonomic regime, run by cold-hearted biblical nutters who have women enslaved and minorities cast into vats of bubbling oil.

Gadfly July 29, 2017

Gadfly: Devine inspiration rewarded

Journalist and naval historian Mike Carlton has come up with the Kenny Awards – prizes for right-wing commentary that might otherwise go unnoticed and ungarlanded. The awards are named after former bag-carrier for Fishnets Downer and Iraq war champion Chris Kenny, who scribbles for The Catholic Boys Daily.

Gadfly July 22, 2017

Gadfly: Born to be resiled

Here we were thinking that sovereignty was so yesterday. How wrong we were. Senators are falling like tenpins because their mothers fetched up on the wrong piece of soil. The birther movement has now got a real leg-up as ancient lawyers analyse the location of maternity wards from which MPs and senators were hatched.

Gadfly July 15, 2017

Gadfly: Barefaced Lyle

His being attacked by Father Lyle Shelton of the Australian “Christian” Lobby is enough to make you warm to Poodles Pyne. Yes, the letterboxes in poor Poodles’ electorate of Sturt are being stuffed with flyers featuring critiques of the MP’s support for dreadful ideas such as Safe Schools and marriage equality.

Comment July 08, 2017

The Coalition’s legal appointments

“The process of selection is utterly foggy. No public advertisements, no need to be interviewed and no due-diligence panels. One recently appointed member just wrote to Brandis asking whether any jobs were available because he was out of work at the moment. …”

Gadfly July 08, 2017

Gadfly: Get thee behind I

Others have had the stomach to carefully ingest the statements of Immigration Minister Peter “Benito” Dutton, so I’m grateful to them for pointing out that the man who will set the university-level English exams for aspiring citizens has a special way with the language of Shakespeare, Shelley and Enid Blyton.

Gadfly July 01, 2017

Gadfly: We shall fight on free speeches

It was uplifting to read Little Winston Howard’s gushing endorsement of Reverend Peter Kurti’s tome The Tyranny of Tolerance. The book is a long whinge about mainstream beliefs being criticised by anyone outside the mainstream. At least that’s what it appears to be about, plus the Rev is alert to the dangerous attempt by “social engineers” to let girls wear trousers instead of skirts to school. Another vital value mercilessly under attack.


Gadfly June 24, 2017

Gadfly: Malcolm’s hokey poke

Honestly, Jane Goodall did her best, but up against the combined crashing boredom of Senator “Sprog” Paterson and right-wing religious fellow the Reverend Peter Kurti, from the Centre for “Independent” Studies, Q&A on Monday was doomed.

Gadfly June 17, 2017

Gadfly: Sunday law school

We start with news from God, via the Human Rights Law Alliance, an organisational friend of the Australian Christian Lobby, which deftly fuses law and God. The alliance is run by a young groover named Martyn Iles, a former chief of staff at the ACL and a giver of sermons at the Pentecostal Southside Bible Church in the far-flung ACT suburb of Kambah.

Gadfly June 10, 2017

Gadfly: Uncommon figure of speech

It was bopping at Sydney’s Cockle Bay Wharf Friday week ago. A couple of hundred true believers jammed in for a dinner that paid tribute to Norman Graham Freudenberg, AM, speech-weaver extraordinaire to Gough Whitlam, Neville Wran, Bob Carr and, I’d almost forgotten, Barrie Unsworth and Arthur “Cocky” Calwell.

Gadfly June 03, 2017

Gadfly: Nonsense of entitlements

While Fairfax boss Greg Plywood lectured the pollies in Canberra about the new world of media and the evils of the ABC having the temerity to promote its online content, his organisation set about its journalists’ redundancy program in a manner that brought confusion and despair. First up the hacks were told: “To enable a fast turnaround in providing you with … information, you will see that we have excluded all leave entitlements.”

Gadfly May 27, 2017

Gadfly: Last-ditch posting

Phillip Coorey, AFR’s political correspondent, the other day confirmed that PM Trumble’s pre-election frontbench reshuffle “would see the departure of Attorney-General George Brandis” – something that has been eagerly awaited for some time. He goes on to say that while London has frequently been mentioned as a likely destination for Bookshelves, “Wellington is now on the cards”.

Gadfly May 20, 2017

Gadfly: Cranston pickle

It’s incredibly heartwarming to see Flag-Pin Morrison muscling up in the wake of the alleged tax fraud arrests. “Those who think they can defraud Australian taxpayers – today’s events show that they have another thing coming,” the treasurer said, without being too fussed about pre-trial prejudice.

Gadfly May 13, 2017

Gadfly: A Mark of respect

There’s too much death about, particularly the death of good people. The arseholes seem to live forever. After a long illness and a brave fight, Mark Colvin has gone. He was a fixture on our landscape presenting ABC Radio’s PM for 20 years with a voice that reassured us the program was dependable.

Gadfly May 06, 2017

Gadfly: Unrepentant. Always.

To the House of Fairfax first, where the knives came out with another grand opening of the redundancy program. The culling of a further 125 editorial jobs at the once mighty publishing group is the most galling act of newspaper bastardry in recent history. The ABC’s 7.30 reported on Wednesday night that in the past six years Fairfax has lost more than 600 journalists. The latest cuts are a crippling blow and make farcical the company’s incantations about “strengthening journalism”.

Gadfly April 29, 2017

Gadfly: Work for the coal scheme

The relationship between the Greens and the giant roughhouse union the CFMEU is curious. The union has tipped money into the minority party in rather generous dollops. There seemed to be some quid pro quo with Senator Richard Di Natale and his parliamentary colleagues opposing the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission and legislation to reduce the number of union people on the boards of super funds.

Gadfly April 22, 2017

Gadfly: Abercrombie and filch

What a terrible time for stalwarts of the Victorian Liberal Party Council, Andrew Abercrombie and Caroline Elliott. They have been on the receiving end of party president Michael Kroger’s rebukes over the former state director Damien Mantach’s trick of making $1.5 million disappear from the coffers.

Gadfly April 15, 2017

Gadfly: Downer and out in Dublin and London

A treat is in store for the cavalcade of Australian barristers sweeping through London and Dublin in July on their two-yearly overseas knees-up. It looks like a pretty flatout affair, kicking off with drinks at Scarfes Bar, at the Rosewood London, named because of Gerald Scarfe’s artwork and his inspiration for the cocktails.

Gadfly April 08, 2017

Gadfly: Oscar ceremony mistake

This week there was a lovely afternoon tea at the Human Rights Commission HQ to welcome onboard June Oscar, the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner. Dozens were in attendance, juggling cups, saucers and delicate little edibles.

Gadfly April 01, 2017

Gadfly: Radio National treasure

Gadfly took a leisurely drive along the Hume Highway to Canberra and what a treat to have Radio National for company. By the Mittagong turnoff there was James Carleton’s show “God Forbid” with an item on the advantage of being white, leading into a top-rate discussion on 18C with academics Helen Pringle and Iain Benson. Hands down it was one of the liveliest talks on this well-worn topic since Dr Andreas Bolt (BA-in-waiting) had trouble with his fair-skinned Aborigines.

Gadfly March 25, 2017

Gadfly: Out of harmony’s way

Harmony Day turned into a triumph for pinkish-coloured people. PM Turnbull and his pale-skinned sidekick Bookshelves “Bigot” Brandis say it’s important for our free speech that tinted people be subject to offence, insults and humiliation – but no harassment, please. The Macquarie Dictionary says that “harass” means “to trouble by repeated attacks, incursions, etc ... to disturb persistently”.

Comment March 18, 2017

Brandis’s plan for metadata in civil litigation

“As if having the entire nation under surveillance for potential criminal offences was not sweeping enough, George Brandis has fresh thoughts about extending Big Brother’s scope. ”

Gadfly March 18, 2017

Gadfly: Brandis logs his claim

Diarist-at-large flies about the nation.

Gadfly March 11, 2017

Gadfly: Animal crackers

Diarist-at-large flies about the nation.

Gadfly March 04, 2017

Gadfly: Oh Fatherland, show us the sign

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 25, 2017

Gadfly: Piers group pressure

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 18, 2017

Gadfly: The munificent Seven

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 11, 2017

Gadfly: The spirit of ’76

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 04, 2017

Gadfly: St John’s wart

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly January 28, 2017

Gadfly: Going to extremes

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly December 24, 2016

Gadfly: Banana republican

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly December 17, 2016

Gadfly: SLO motion

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly December 10, 2016

Gadfly: Plenty o’Dutton

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly December 03, 2016

Gadfly: Trial and Canberra

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly November 26, 2016

Gadfly: Fudge of honour

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly November 19, 2016

Gadfly: Klein energy counsel

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly November 12, 2016

Gadfly: Arch Deakin

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly November 05, 2016

Gadfly: Shelving the sorrow

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

News October 29, 2016

Solicitors-general support Justin Gleeson in argument with George Brandis

A gathering of former solicitors-general has supported Justin Gleeson’s view that Attorney-General George Brandis misunderstands the Law Officers Act.

Gadfly October 29, 2016

Gadfly: The search for the Nile

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly October 22, 2016

Gadfly: Broderick’s uni assignment

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly October 15, 2016

Gadfly: Expert panel beaters

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly October 08, 2016

Gadfly: Race to the bottoms

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly October 01, 2016

Gadfly: Annus Mirabellas

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly September 24, 2016

Gadfly: Assisting themselves with their inquiries

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly September 17, 2016

Gadfly: Eyebrow television

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly September 10, 2016

Gadfly: Woo hoo for who’s who

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly September 03, 2016

Gadfly: Changing the rules of engagement

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly August 27, 2016

Gadfly: Artful dodginess

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly August 20, 2016

Gadfly: No counting for young men

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly August 13, 2016

Gadfly: The princeless diaries

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly August 06, 2016

Gadfly: Mayor than bargained for

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Comment July 30, 2016

Cascade falls as ICAC vindicated

“You know when the captains of industry and their cabin boys in parliament call for hearings to be held in private that what they are really hoping for is a Clayton’s corruption commission.”

Gadfly July 30, 2016

Gadfly: Elf care top priority

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly July 23, 2016

Gadfly: Hoist with his own pedantry

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly July 16, 2016

Gadfly: Where the truth lies

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly July 09, 2016

Gadfly: Bladder of opportunity

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly July 02, 2016

Gadfly: Going hell for leather

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly June 25, 2016

Gadfly: Exit stage bereft

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly June 18, 2016

Gadfly: Kerr’s royal treatment

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly June 11, 2016

Gadfly: Les Patterson serves the world

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly June 04, 2016

Gadfly: Could we be any border?

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly May 28, 2016

Gadfly: Jogging our cemeteries

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly May 21, 2016

Gadfly: Bjørn sloppy

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly May 14, 2016

Gadfly: Bench press

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly May 07, 2016

Gadfly: A reptile biz function

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly April 30, 2016

Gadfly: Maiden voyage in the dock

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly April 23, 2016

Gadfly: Three characters in search of an author

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

News April 16, 2016

Gadfly: Grand theft Otto

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly April 09, 2016

Gadfly: Where’s Hendo?

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly April 02, 2016

Gadfly: Mamil pollies back in saddle

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly March 26, 2016

Gadfly: Bronnie round the bends

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly March 19, 2016

Gadfly: Bolt upright

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly March 12, 2016

Gadfly: Let’s stick together

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

News March 05, 2016

Gadfly: Caustic Coryspondence

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 27, 2016

Gadfly: Puzzle resolution

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flies about the nation.

Gadfly February 20, 2016

Gadfly: Freedom is free

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment February 13, 2016

Trans-Pacific Partnership to stall climate change action

“People who have read the TPP document in the search for safeguards have been disappointed to find that the term ‘climate change’ does not appear once.”

Gadfly February 13, 2016

Gadfly: Heroes of the Justice League

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly February 06, 2016

Gadfly: Is Brandis suffering drain damage?

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly January 30, 2016

Gadfly: Victims of Sharri law

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly January 23, 2016

Gadfly: Media gathers at Jurassic waterhole

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly December 19, 2015

Gadfly: Search on for new victims

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment December 12, 2015

Indigenous peoples locked into disadvantage

“Indigenous Australians make up about 2.5 per cent of the population, yet comprise 28 per cent of the nation’s prison inmates and 20 per cent of the deaths in custody. ”

Gadfly December 12, 2015

Gadfly: To Mitchell and back

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly December 05, 2015

Gadfly: Brough justice

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 28, 2015

Gadfly: Dear John letters

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 21, 2015

Gadfly: The route of no evil

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 14, 2015

Gadfly: Born to mewl

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 07, 2015

Gadfly: Delicious and de-lovely

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly October 31, 2015

Gadfly: The Rupe and Jerry show

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly October 24, 2015

Gadfly: Appealing to the masses

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly October 03, 2015

Gadfly: A spot on the Black list

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 26, 2015

Gadfly: Dark knight in Camelot

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 19, 2015

Gadfly: Turnbullish behaviour

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 12, 2015

Gadfly: Biggles buzzes the Levant

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 05, 2015

Gadfly: The old police ties that bind

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 29, 2015

Gadfly: Tweet that dare not speak its name

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 22, 2015

Gadfly: Wry freedom

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News August 22, 2015

Judging Dyson Heydon

With his credibility as trade union royal commissioner in question, Dyson Heydon’s past rulings speak volumes about the man he is.

Gadfly August 15, 2015

Gadfly: Kenny or can’t he?

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment August 08, 2015

Open Court and the problem with suppression orders

“The Victorian Open Courts Act is in keeping with Orwellian traditions, and has exactly the opposite effect to that suggested by its title. The NSW model is more wordy and even less worthy.”

Gadfly August 08, 2015

Gadfly: Santa’s little helpers

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 01, 2015

Gadfly: A law student unto herself

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 25, 2015

Gadfly: Gina courts more drama

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 18, 2015

Gadfly: Unprincely behaviour

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 11, 2015

Gadfly: A scarring experience

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 04, 2015

Gadfly: Dynamic duo cry freedom

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation

Gadfly June 27, 2015

Gadfly: Staff play the waiting game

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment June 20, 2015

Human rights and all that’s wrong with the Magna Carta

“Interpretations restyled from original meanings … can hardly be claimed to be a satisfactory alternative to a home-grown charter of human rights. ”

Gadfly June 20, 2015

Gadfly: Bishop and her pawns

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly June 13, 2015

Gadfly: Overboard professor now AO-kay

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly June 06, 2015

Gadfly: Gerard Henderson and the word of George Pell

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly May 30, 2015

Gadfly: Out of step in wedding waltz

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly May 23, 2015

Gadfly: Outback Camelots

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly May 16, 2015

Gadfly: Bjørn again

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly May 09, 2015

Gadfly: Princess Charlotte’s web of thrills

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly May 02, 2015

Gadfly: Cabaret Voltaire

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment April 25, 2015

Why does the right hate ICAC?

“ICAC was set up by the Liberals and it seems its sole purpose was to go after crooked Labor politicians. It has now turned into Frankenstein’s monster, devouring its creators.”

Gadfly April 25, 2015

Gadfly: Becoming a Newsketeer

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly April 18, 2015

Gadfly: A case in point

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly April 11, 2015

Gadfly: Spilling ink on Malcolm

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly April 04, 2015

Gadfly: Packing in the freedom

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly March 28, 2015

Gadfly: Campaigns and carnage

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly March 21, 2015

Gadfly: The ugly Truth

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment March 14, 2015

Treasurer for wail

“It is not attractive to see politicians suing for defamation ... It would be much harder to get to first base if the treasurer had brought his case in England or the US. ”

Gadfly March 14, 2015

Gadfly: Juan direction is what makes you dutiful

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly March 07, 2015

Gadfly: Detention deficit disorder

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly February 28, 2015

Gadfly: Road plans a trainwreck

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly February 21, 2015

Gadfly: Televising Murphy’s lore

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly February 14, 2015

Gadfly: Art and a thorny ol’ devil

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment January 31, 2015

ICAC’s defining moment

“If the court finds that constitutionally it is not possible to prevent the liquor, gambling, tobacco and property interests from cashing up their political favourites, then vast chunks of ICAC’s work will collapse.”

Gadfly January 31, 2015

Gadfly: Abbott and knight checkmate

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly January 24, 2015

Gadfly: Putting satire back in its box

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News December 20, 2014

Gadfly: The biggest barnacle

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly December 13, 2014

Gadfly: Media gongs wrung out

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly December 06, 2014

Gadfly: Readers taken for a ride

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 29, 2014

Gadfly: Rally ’round the markets

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 22, 2014

Gadfly: The art of strategising

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News November 15, 2014

NSW Supreme Court justice Tom Bathurst adjudicates

NSW’s top judge, Tom Bathurst, isn’t shy about stirring up the legal profession. He talks about suppression orders, judicial diversity and a bill of rights.

Gadfly November 15, 2014

Gadfly: The vices of King Malcolm

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 08, 2014

Gadfly: Pic won’t win Packer’s prize

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly November 01, 2014

Gadfly: Thou shalt laugh thyself

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly October 25, 2014

Gadfly: A passage through India

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly October 04, 2014

Gadfly: Bar legends set to hang

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 27, 2014

Gadfly: There’s something about Marie

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment September 20, 2014

The murky moves towards metadata retention

“While Australia is busily seeking to expand the horizons of data retention, in Europe and the US there have been processes working in the opposite direction. ”

Gadfly September 20, 2014

Gadfly: Taming the savages

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly September 13, 2014

Gadfly: Conflicting properties

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News September 06, 2014

Gadfly: Dangerous minds

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 30, 2014

Gadfly: Into the darkness

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 23, 2014

Gadfly: A frayed knot

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News August 16, 2014

Gadfly: Blood will have blood

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment August 09, 2014

Unconventional behaviour sees government in High Court over refugees

“It doesn’t come much more Morrisonian than that. The Refugee Convention is a tool to get people drowned at sea.”

News August 09, 2014

Gadfly: Bolt cutters leave no Marx

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly August 02, 2014

Gadfly: Canberra’s raiders tackle Sydney

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 26, 2014

Gadfly: Wake in fright wigs

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

News July 18, 2014

Gadfly: Think of the children

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly July 12, 2014

Gadfly: A Bolt from the future

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Comment July 05, 2014

Court offside by Chief Justice Tim Carmody

“Tim Carmody will be sworn in next week as chief justice of Queensland. The ceremony will be conducted privately in chambers, to save any embarrassment of hardly anyone turning up.”

Gadfly July 05, 2014

Gadfly: Soapy opera

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly June 28, 2014

Gadfly: The Furnival is over

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly June 21, 2014

Gadfly: Ashby pulls out

Diarist-at-large Richard Ackland flys about the nation.

Gadfly June 14, 2014

Gadfly: Dogging the ABC

Richard Ackland joins our team as diarist-at-large Gadfly.