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

By this author


Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

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