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

By this author


news 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.

news 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”.

news 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.”

news 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.

news 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.

news 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”.

news 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.

news 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.

news 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.

news 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.

news 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.

news 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”.

opinion 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. ”