Diary

Gadfly
Bench warning

Those north Queensland beaks sure know how to dish out justice to anti-coal protesters chaining themselves to cattle grids or concrete drums to hamper workers turning up for fossil fuel duties.

Most recently Craig Linn, a 65-year-old former mathematics and computer science lecturer now living in the Blue Mountains, travelled all the way to Mount Coolon and chained himself to a cattle grid in an attempt to block workers heading to the Adani mine site.

For his troubles, he got a 12-month good behaviour bond with a $450 recognisance, but no conviction recorded. Much worse was the lecture from magistrate James Morton delivering justice at the Bowen Courthouse.

He told Linn that he needs to “look at the economy around here … Those big mines, that’s what’s keeping the economy going up here.”

As though he were running for election, the beak added an extramural flourish: “Without these industries [people] will be unemployed and that’s just how it’s going to be for quite a while yet. You’ve been dragged up here, you’re a pawn by people who want to use you, that’s obvious…”

Last year Madge Morton, in a similar vein, dished out 12-month good behaviour bonds to two climateers who obstructed the Abbot Point railway line. Emily Starr and Matilda Heselev from Melbourne were plainly in enemy territory, with the bench struggling to retain a foothold on the law:

“It’s always the case that people from outside Bowen come up here to air their views. You will notice that no one from Bowen gets involved because they support the coal … You can’t stop progress.

“When you go back to where you live, worry about what’s happening in your own backyard.”

Convictions were not recorded.

Dragged through the Mods

How are those “Modern Liberals” going? You know – Dave Sharma, Freedom Boy Wilson and Jason Falinski. When it gets to the thoroughly modern issue of our time – the warming of the planet, the destruction of the biosphere and our dire future – they are exactly in the same place as stale, un-modern Liberals.

During the election campaign, they slapped “Modern Liberal” on their corflutes hoping that would position them as climate heroes in electorates where more than a fair share of constituents were aware of the folly of the Coalition’s fossilised agenda.

Little Dave in Wentworth was anxious people not be confused about the term “Modern Liberal”. “It’s really just about who I am,” he explained.

Now that their backsides are on the green leather for another term, the Moderns have signed up to Schmo and Grassgate’s “road map” – a grab bag of relatively untested technologies where we are not meant to notice coal is still centre stage while the evil twins, wind and sun, are relegated to policy obscurity.

In chorus, the Moderns support the road map and have come out against Zali Steggall’s climate legislation, largely modelled on Britain’s 2008 Climate Change Act. Without further explanation Little Dave pronounced Zali’s bill “a triumph of symbolism over substance”.

Wilson and Falinski made childlike whimperings that “this bill creates a climate change czar with wide-ranging powers to dictate government policy ... making the parliament beholden to an unelected body”. Gee, like it’s beholden to the Reserve Bank, the High Court and other unelected busybodies.

Electors in Wentworth, Goldstein and Mackellar might feel double-crossed that the Modern branding didn’t translate into anything more than slavish adherence to official gospel.

Fin’s revue

Bunter Fishnets Downer, the Tiger of Timor, was out in force in The Australian Financial Review this week with another dose of searing analysis.

“What is the best strategy,” he asks, to handle COVID-19? It’s not entirely clear, but he thinks people will soon be sick of lockdowns, even if they are sick, because this is harming the economy. Anyway, he doesn’t think lockdowns will work, yet he hopes so and it’s “worth a try”.

He concludes: “… we shouldn’t let panic destroy the global economy, even if doing so helps to fight climate change.”

Think about that for a while.

Bunter is among a cohort of right-wing scribblers the Fin Review has assembled for its op-ed pages. Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, serial plagiarist and Liberal Party candidate, who was defenestrated from The Catholic Boys Daily and The Sydney Morning Herald for repeated “borrowing” of other people’s work, also is safely tucked up at the Fin.

Most recently he says it’s Australia’s “moral duty” to provide coal to the poorest countries. To do otherwise would connect us with “the logic of empire” and the “white man’s burden”.

In a further melange of unfathomable contortion, he adds: “It doesn’t help an association with white man’s burden that one of the icons of climate change activism is Greta Thunberg, a Nordic, blonde Scandinavian teenager preaching panic.”

The paper also publishes the usual snake oil from the Liberal Party madrasah, the Institute for Paid Advocacy, as well as Rowan Dean, the waffling pikelet, from Sky News.

And subscribers pay good money for their gibberish.

Ties that blind

The Australian Communications and Media Authority recently published a research paper that found eight in 10 Australian adults are concerned large advertisers influence commercial TV news.

The feeling was that there was insufficient disclosure of the commercial ties between the networks and advertisers.

Not at all, says the Free TV lobby outfit representing Nine, Seven, Ten, Prime and WIN. It doesn’t want any more change to media rules because that may reduce impartiality and hinder the creation of “quality public interest journalism”.

Goodness knows what we should make of a Nine News report featuring Big W’s toy mania sale that lacked a commercial disclosure and a Seven News item about a new Samsung TV being flogged by Harvey Norman, followed promptly by an advertisement from the shop, or a string of current affairs segments that are nothing more than plugs for products.

Chiming in was a fresh-faced policy poppet from the IPA, Gideon Rozner, who thought the ACMA paper was a “flawed contribution”. Instead, Gideon was anxious to make an entirely sensible contribution: the abolition of all codes of practice applying to commercial broadcasters, closing the media regulator down completely and privatising the ABC and SBS.

The madrasah does not disclose who is paying for its opinions. Neither does another member of the Pied Piper brigade, Father Chuckles Henderson from the Sydney Institute.

Last weekend Chuck was banging on about the ABC being a “conservative-free zone”. Leigh Sales had the temerity to interrupt “Australia’s elected leader”, while Sabra Lane on radio cut off Josh Frydenberg when he was waffling through an answer.

The online headline on Chuckles’ piece in The Catholic Boys Daily was “ABC’s journos have always bitten hand that feeds”. Something that the head of the Sydney Institute would never do.

Feeling the draft

The Christian Porter’s religious discrimination bill is another of the government’s wretched messes.

No one is happy with legislation that seeks to reconcile the irreconcilable – or put another way, a proposed law that steals anti-discrimination protections from one section of society so that another section can have higher rights to discriminate.

In recent times we’ve seen business groups come out in opposition to Porter’s second draft, as well as various law societies, the Law Council of Australia, Michael Kirby, Ian Thorpe, academics, newspaper editorialists, Uncle Tom Cobley and even church leaders.

We need only remember the entire enterprise was born of a bone thrown to same-sex marriage opponents by then prime minister Trumble. That such a flawed and unnecessary legislative plan is the product of a cynical payoff to the moon-howling right of the Coalition is no surprise.

In similar territory is the attorney-general’s Commonwealth Integrity Commission, a patsy and hurried attempt before the last election to throw another bone in an effort to satiate overwhelming public demand for a federal anti-corruption body. Dem bones, dem bones.

The result of serial bone-throwing is nothing more than legislative dross.

Trump pathology under microscope

President Bone Spurs in the United States is on top of the coronavirus contagion, even though his utterances stoke concern about his acuity and mental stability.

David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, the other day carefully curated some of the president’s disjointed thinking about the virus, which at time of writing has led to more than 1000 cases and more than 30 deaths throughout 36 united states.

Let the Pussy Grabber do the talking:

“We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

“By April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be detrimental to what we’re doing…”

“We’re going very substantially down, not up … We have it so well under control. I mean, we really have done a very good job.”

“As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test [can have one], that’s the thing, and the tests are all perfect, like the letter was perfect – the transcription was perfect.”

“They would like to have the people come off [the Grand Princess cruise ship, off the coast of California]. I would like to have the people stay … Because I like the numbers being where they are.”

All this from a very stable genius.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 14, 2020 as "Gadfly: Bench warning".

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

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