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

By this author


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.

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 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.”

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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.”