Diary

Gadfly
West slide story

It was inevitable the mule-headed would turn the coronavirus epidemic into a fresh bout of culture wars.

Wireless bloviator Alan Jones thinks it’s down to “hysteria and alarmism – the health version of global warming. Exaggeration in almost everything.”

Alan’s scientific expertise is almost as credible as his command of the details about the Grantham flood in his home state of Queensland.

But he’s onto something. Global warming and responding to viral pandemics go hand in hand, as long as you’ve washed both of them.

Clearly, science is not what it should be. It let us down on warmism and now scientific know-alls are making a fuss about the virus.

The Pussy Grabber, Boris the Bonker, Schmo Morrison and dreamers of the alt-right all struggled to come to terms with the alarming rate at which coronavirus is spreading. Their denialism is instinctive and they only pulled out their fingers when it was too late.

Gone is the era when the West produced the best ideas and principles for running the world. Britain, France, Germany, the United States used to lead the way.

Instead, Taiwan has been excellent at managing this outbreak, closely followed by Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea. China, so huge you would think it unmanageable, has caught up with a regime of massive lockdowns.

So much for the Howard–Abbott–Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. Surely, there will have to be a radical revision of the syllabus.

Self Catering

Since she pleaded guilty in Manly Court to assaulting a neighbour in her Kirribilli apartment building, we haven’t heard much from Rebecca Weisser, the former opinion and propaganda editor of The Catholic Boys Daily.

The beak did not record a conviction so it’s hardly worth mentioning the incident. Nonetheless, she’s now popped up in the local Spectator, edited by The Waffling Pikelet, with a good old hatchet job on the Ethiopian director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Being a global organisation intent on stealing our sovereignty, the WHO is, ergo, bad. Goosebumps Cater pointed to Rebecca’s article in his weekly newsletter issued by the misinformation department at the Menzies “Research” Centre.

“… the international body responsible for these matters has been found sadly wanting. Rebecca Weisser’s piece in Spectator Australia this week on the World Health Organisation explains why we should not expect too much from this bloated, politicised and ineffective organisation.”

In keeping with Goosebumps’ lax editorial standards he forgets to remind his reader Rebecca is also Mrs Goosebumps.

Hume improvement

Grassgate Gussy Taylor’s electorate of Hume, centred on Goulburn in New South Wales, has an impressive record of extracting federal money for local projects.

A $1.25 million grant from the Coalition’s Building Better Regions Fund has been splurged on upgrading the Rocky Hill War Memorial and Museum, a World War I edifice that looms over the inland city.

The Goulburn Mulwaree Council has also tossed in ratepayers’ money for the project. The plan had been for an “official community opening” next Saturday and, according to the council’s Facebook page, 12 people were going with a further 158 “interested”.

The odd thing is that on the day before, Friday, March 27, Grassgate was scheduled to attend a “ministerial opening”. The burghers on the local council wanted a separate private event with Grassgate in acknowledgement of the federal money.

They may have overlooked the fact that the community actually provided the federal funds and that it’s a bit rich for Gussy to baste his political credentials courtesy of other people’s money.

Regrettably, both the private and the community openings since have fallen victim to Covid-19 and will not go ahead. With all the hoopla associated with MPs dishing out sporting grants, it seems mysteriously odd that the Rocky Hill event would not have been given brass band treatment by the local member.

Gussy also announced Woodbridge Road in Menangle has been reconstructed thanks to $1.3 million from the federal government’s Roads to Recovery Program.

“Local residents who use the road every day are now enjoying a much smoother and safer trip,” he gushed.

On February 1, he attended the opening of the Wollondilly walking track – a community event, without a private ministerial launch to celebrate the Commonwealth turning on the money spigot.

Awaiting justice

The sound of popping corks could be heard in Canberra and surrounds as former ACT Supreme Court justice Hilary Penfold delivered another judgement: Supabarn Supermarkets Pty Ltd v Cotrell Pty Ltd.

This one ran to 218 pages, covering 1055 paragraphs, dealing with a clause in a commercial lease. Penfold found for the defendant, yet awarded nominal damages of $20 to the plaintiff.

The trial ran for 18 days with intermittent hearing dates stretching from September 16, 2013 to July 15, 2014. It must have been complicated because it took another five years and eight months for the judge to deliver her reasons.

The legal costs already would be eye-watering and in all likelihood are not over yet because there could be an appeal on the grounds of excessive delay, with the prospect of an order for a retrial.

Justice Penfold retired as a judge in March 2018 with a list of 17 overdue judgements to complete, something she is able to do because the ACT Supreme Court Act allows judicial officers to slowly churn out late judgements at leisure from their retirement villages.

Justice Penfold follows in the footsteps of Richard Refshauge, who was still delivering judgements long after he retired.

High Court justice Dyson Heydon in 2009 made an observation about the ACT Supreme Court, where the “torpid languor of one hand washes the drowsy procrastination of the other”.

Penfold has one more judgement to go – a judge-alone trial that she reserved on December 19, 2018.

The law time forgot

For many years the NSW government was anxious not to reform the state’s racial vilification laws, the then section 20D of the Anti-Discrimination Act.

In 2018, they caved and came up with section 93Z of the Crimes Act – offences related to publicly threatening or inciting violence on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex or HIV/AIDS status.

In other words, these actions became a criminal offence with hefty fines and up to three years’ porridge.

But during an estimates hearing last Friday in the NSW legislative council, the oldest parliamentary body in Australia, it emerged that no charges have ever been laid under this section.

You might think that meant there has been no racial or religious vilification in the state for the better part of two years.

Or it might be attributable to the fact few people are aware of this change in the law – and that includes the wallopers who are supposed to enforce it.

The Legal Aid people say they have got cracking on a community legal education program with a website and videos delivered by the Office of Community Safety and Cohesion. Awareness so far about section 93Z has been woefully inadequate, yet there’s still nothing about the police being trained or switched on to inciting violence, even though authorities know this is the core mission of supremacist groups.

It’s as if having eventually got around to strengthening the law, the government doesn’t really want Constable Plod to do anything much about it.

Jo’s latest news

Tasmanians are gripped by the jockeying to take the legislative council seat of Rosevears, which is to be vacated by the retiring independent Kerry Finch.

Channel Seven newsreader Jo Palmer has stuck her hand up to take the slot for the Liberal Party while Kerry, himself a former ABC presenter, says the seat should stay with an independent as he doesn’t want the upper house to be gripped by party divisions.

No doubt Jo is a catch for the Nasty Party, which is saddled with the gloomy image of Otto Abetz. She’s a former Miss Tasmania, was our very own Miss Australia in 1993 and is a former Tasmanian of the Year.

After 18 years Jo pulled up stumps as Seven’s nightly newsreader, wanting to spend more time with her family of four children. This “is the right decision for me personally and for my family”, she said.

Unfortunately, Jo’s family is in Launceston, while the legislative council of Tasmania is in Hobart. Let’s hope, for the good of the family, the legislative council relocates.

This is more interesting than the US primaries.

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 21, 2020 as "Gadfly: West slide story".

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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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