Diary

Gadfly
Cast from the past

You’ve got to admire the way the Nasty Party steadfastly wheels out Little Winston to wave, grin and hug people during election campaigns. He’s a reminder of things past and in a climate change election it’s good to be reminded that Winston for such a long time was a climate denier (aka sceptic). He resisted the Kyoto Protocol and stood against the implementation of legally binding carbon reduction targets. Howard himself vetoed an early version of a scheme to reduce emissions and his environment minister, Robert Hill, managed to negotiate an increase in Australia’s emissions.

By 2001 Howard’s cabinet decided not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at all.

In the dying days of his government, in the face of drought and rural ruin, with mounting international pressure and nowhere else to hide, he was dragged to the lectern and announced an emissions trading scheme. It was too late for the voters, who said he was past his use-by date.

So, it’s no surprise Howard is the very man Tony Abbott wants in Warringah reassuring voters that the past was just so peachy. In the process the former PM spelt out his shrivelled vision for Australia to shoppers scooting through Warringah Mall. He alleged that Bill Shorten is “after your savings … I mean this is an insult to every successful small businessman who has worked hard, accumulated a bit and wants to leave it to his kids. I mean this is what this country is all about.”

It was marginally more revealing than Schmo Morrison’s vision thing last Sunday at the Nasties’ campaign launch: “It is my vision for this country as your prime minister to keep the promise of Australia to all Australians. I believe that Australia is a promise to everyone who has the great privilege to call themselves Australian.”

Is this the smell of death lingering in our nostrils?

Shining Sharma

Apart from Warringah, the other former Liberal stronghold of Wentworth will also be a focus of attention tonight as the results come in. Liberal candidate Dave Sharma is up against sitting independent Doc Phelps, AM, and Dave has changed tack from the previous occasion he stood for the seat. His banners now declare he is a “Modern Liberal” without any distracting party logos or badges.

Further, he has segmented his market, so it’s Dave for Potts Point, Dave for Rushcutters Bay, Dave for Double Bay, Dave for Coogee and so forth. Many from Sydney society, that great contradiction in terms, are turning out for Dave, led it seems by a botox-infused Skye Leckie.

Just so we know, a Modern Liberal equivocates on climate, keeps refugees out of sight in offshore hellholes, cheers on the Bibi Netanyahu model for peace in the Middle East, has no intention of doing anything about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and likes things to trickle down, if they can. Importantly, Dave’s how-to-vote card preferences Fred Nile’s Christians above the other contestants.

As G&S put it, and it must have appeared on one of Sharma’s motivational flyers:

I am the very model of a modern Major-Liberal,

I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,

I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical

From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical…

Go Dave.

Hearts and mines

Don’t mention the word “Adani”. That’s the message from Liberal and Labor HQs – except that Bob Brown’s 250-vehicle Stop Adani Convoy managed to light up the issue for banana benders. A crowd of 5000 turned out in Brisbane.

The latest Galaxy poll on the issue shows support in Queensland for Gautam Adani’s Galilee mine has slumped to 37 per cent and nationwide it is at 31 per cent. For Coalition voters, support for the wretched mine hovers at 40 per cent and for Laborites it is 24 per cent, while Central Queensland News reports that “the name Adani is poison among the major parties”.

Even more astonishing, the Greens-inclined vote in Queensland has climbed to 12 per cent since Bob rolled into town.

Brown’s convoy was met with aggression from some of the locals and from Moloch’s Courier-Mail. Kelvin Appleton, the proprietor of the Grand Hotel at Clermont and friend of mining minister Matteo Canavan, warned that the anti-Adani protesters would “not get a meal in my pub”.

As the protesters entered Clermont the locals turned on a welcome with rocks, obscenities and spittle. Inspired by this response, Kelly Appleton decided to launch his own pro-Adani convoy and mustered, we are advised, four cars and five people. In Mackay, Kelly’s crowd had grown to “hundreds”, with drawcards of George (Manila) Christensen and Minister Matteo.

The Courier-Mail didn’t make anything of the slump in support for the Adani mine, but reporter Renee Viellaris mustered some powerful arguments about life in India without coal from Queensland. This, under the headline, “Browned off at noxious Greens”:

“Little girls, their personal safety at risk, walking through their villages at night in the dark to relieve themselves because there are no toilets.”

Dialled up crazy

Maybe, Renee didn’t write that at all. It’s hard to know who writes what at News Corp, now that The Australian’s social affairs ink-slinger Squiggly Rick Morton has explained in more detail how things work at the Evil Empire.

Rick, in a little talk to UTS students, said that at his paper the “craziness has been dialled up … We know what the empire is, we know what the papers do, but something has changed in the last six months. I don’t know what it is. Death rattles or loss of relevance?”

He told the flabbergasted students reporters are often confronted with their copy being changed with the added flourish of false headlines. “Often times the headline bears no resemblance to the story filed … I’ve seen it happen to other journos who wake up in the morning and their copy is changed. Or the headline is screaming with something they didn’t write.”

Stories are spiked if they don’t fit the agenda, rewrite men tear the copy apart, and carefully groomed editors can be guaranteed never to have the intestinal fortitude or intelligence to get out of line.

As Morton put it to the students: “Am I lending credibility to a horrible machine? I don’t know…”

In an aside during his talk, probably a bit too late in the piece, Squiggly asked, “How public is this?”

Names and shame

From the courts we also find excitements. In Melbourne, Associate Justice Melissa Daly has granted a pseudonym order to disguise the identity of a prominent lawyer who is being sued by his former lover for nervous shock, trespass, assault and battery.

The case is known as Jane Doe v XYZ and the jilted woman claims to have had a two-year relationship with the married lawyer and all-round pillar of society. She agreed to have sex with him because she was assured that her paramour was monogamous.

The fellow is already married (with children) and she claims he was also seeing at least 15 other people, of various genders, at the same time as the plaintiff. The defendant denies this.

His lawyer told the court that if his name was published in connection with this litigation, harm would be done to his professional standing and his role in his “faith community”. Plus, he was suffering immense anxiety and if his wife found out about these shenanigans his marriage would be put at risk.

What better reason to be given a pseudonym order. Jane Doe already got one at an ex parte hearing, so to level the playing field XYZ was given one as well. Needless to say, speculation along the Yarra has been intense.

Tower blocked

It’s sad to report that Trump Tower, once the jewel in the Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief’s branding and property empire, now ranks as one of the least desirable “luxury” properties in Manhattan, according to a Bloomberg report.

The real estate values are declining in step with the values of many of the occupants. Since this narcissist and his corrupt administration took over the White House the gaudy structure has been ringed with concrete barriers and the two main entrances partially blocked.

It hasn’t had a do-over in years and the word “Trump” above the entrance is a big turnoff for any citizen with an ounce of taste or decency.

Adjusting for inflation, most of the tower’s condo sales in the past two years have fallen by 20 per cent. This is wildly out of step with the rising values of other homes across Manhattan. The commercial part of the tower has struggled to find tenants, despite offering rents well below the average on Fifth Avenue.

Overall occupancy rates have plunged from 99 per cent to 83 per cent over seven years – a vacancy rate twice Manhattan’s average.

Golf is also down at Trump’s public course in New York and other Trump-branded buildings have seen his name ripped from view.

Yet, business at his Washington, DC, hotel is booming because lobbyists, foreign delegations and assorted spivs stay there in the hope that it curries favour with a favour-riddled regime.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 18, 2019 as "Gadfly: Cast from the past". Subscribe here.

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