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

By this author


Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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 ...”

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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”.

Diary 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.

Diary 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.

Diary 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 …”

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.