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

By this author


Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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?

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 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 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 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.

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