Diary

Gadfly
Judging democracy

It’s always better to let Republican lawyers and judges decide election outcomes. It’s so much cleaner and less fussy than trusting an untrustworthy electorate.

Surely the Supreme Court of the United States, stacked with “illegitimate judges” and sex pests, will show us the way. Why should a plurality of voters decide the outcome when there are all sorts of fixes and filters to be applied?

The Economist publishes something called the Democracy Index in which countries are carved into categories: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

The US already has moved into the flawed category, and is one step away from authoritarian.

We have a growing distortion problem here thrown up by federalism. Otto Abetz, the Nasty Party’s tinpot overlord from Van Diemen’s Land, needs a quota of only 50,000 votes to have the same say on legislation as a senator from New South Wales, who needs nearly 700,000 votes to be elected.

But as Winston said, “… democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”.

That’s Churchill not Winston Howard. The other great sage, Grouper Greg Sheridan, described the mess as “the great American experiment”.

After the Poles have finally closed and everything is sorted, maybe the Polesters should go into the library. It’s in the top right-hand drawer of the bureau.

Downer plays Trump card

Bunter “Fishnets” Downer, former minister for Foreign Affairs, this week told readers of The Australian Financial Review he would if he could be voting Trump No. 1.

That’s just the support the orange-faced draft dodger needs.

Bunter’s sister, who is an American citizen, has voted for Trump. She was turned on by the tax cuts and deregulation – that is the rampant slash and burn of environmental protections and letting the fossil fuel people run riot.

It’s true that stupidity can be a fixed factor in entire families.

Downer says some of our local commentators will like the Democratic Party’s “commitment to identity politics, critical race theory, intersectionality and the rest” – but this will be “illiberal and divisive”.

Bunt predicted, sadly, that Joe Biden would win, but with a “divided and directionless” administration – not so different from Trump’s junta.

This from a man whose chats with George Papadopoulos in the Kensington Wine Rooms led to the impeachment of his most favoured president.

Of course, to plump for Trump you must ignore the fact he is a tax cheat, has had six business bankruptcies and 26 accusations of sexual misconduct, funnelled revenue into his businesses while president, juggled about 4000 lawsuits, and faces pending criminal investigations, with calls on his business debts of $US900 million within four years.

This man needed another term of presidential immunity to stay out of the clink.

Rupert’s paper tigers

It’s been a sad few weeks for Lord Moloch’s fish wraps and broadcasting bullhorns.

They tirelessly propagandised against Annastacia Palaszczuk and her banana-bending government, yet she sweeps back with a full-throated victory, leaving the Nasties with nonentities to contest the leadership of a shattered party.

In Victoria, the Hun is filled with raddled tirades about LockDanIstan – with additional petrol thrown on the flames of the V/Line IBAC adventures, the delayed final report of the Quarantine Fiasco Board of Inquiry, and the VicPlod royal commission report.

Still, a poll in The Catholic Boys Daily says 62 per cent of Victorians support the Andrews government’s Covid-19 response. Meanwhile, snooze-inducing Vic Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has an approval rating of 15 per cent.

And what happened to Peta Credlin’s single-handed effort to blitz Dan into oblivion?

In Brisbane, Chris Jones, the gingery editor of The Bowen Hills Bugle, has been awarded the Gold Rupert – for efforts that included emailing subscribers advising them to vote for the LNP.

Now The Smellograph in Sydney is manoeuvring to anoint the ground zero social conservative treasurer and icare bungler Dominic Perrottet to replace Aunty Glad as premier. We’ll see where that goes.

But the lesson for now is that fewer and fewer soft-headed citizens are persuaded by the drongos who pump out these bilious lashings of sturm und drang.

Jerry’s past deemed not News worthy

Lest we move on too quickly from matters Moloch, the edition of Private Eye that Christine Holgate found time to get delivered into Gadfly’s letterbox reports some nifty snip and tuck at the mogul’s London rags.

It concerns this passage from Diary of an MP’s Wife, a “tell-all” book by Sasha Swire, wife of a former Conservative politician
Hugo Swire:

“ ‘Hugo has two claims to fame … [one] is that he stepped out with Jerry Hall.’ Boris’s jaw drops on the table. ‘Hugo … and Jerry Hall? Never!’ He proceeds to shout down the table: ‘Hugo! Did you shag Jerry Hall?’ Everyone turns to look at Hugo, who is rapidly reddening.”

Most of the national newspapers licked their lips and gave the book a good run, yet the News UK titles The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times meticulously avoided any mention of this passage in otherwise juice-laden reviews.

As Private Eye put it: “Their collective decision to keep quiet about Jerry Hall’s shagtastic history, and the prime minister’s fascination with it, was of course quite uninfluenced by her current status as the fourth Mrs Rupert Murdoch.”

Is the bloom off the Boris?

The issue that now entrances many in the Old Dart is whether Rupert is tiring of Boris.

There was a piece in The Times this week from political journalist Rachel Sylvester headlined “Johnson has passed the political tipping point ... the prime minister appears locked in a downward spiral”.

It cited Ipsos MORI figures that showed Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party with a five-point lead over the Tories for the first time since the election.

Rachel also reported insurrection in government ranks and a surge of support for independence in Scotland, largely driven by the fact Johnson is regarded as a buffoon.

Even if the soon-to-be nonagenarian does a crab-like crawl away from Boris, with his recent mixed record at influence peddling, will it matter a hoot?

Tweet dreams

We have spent forever trying to fathom what Chuckles Henderson is on about.

For instance, in a recent Media Watch Dog item published in The Catholic Boys Daily he took Melbourne silk Julian Burnside to task for having the temerity to suggest that Schmo Morrison may be corrupt – without, he wailed, “a shred of evidence”.

He claimed his watchdog @JackieHendo sent out a tweet: “Does anyone share my view that @JulianBurnside is an alienated Melbourne Grammar type who from his pile in Hawthorn rails against Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg in a somewhat non-legal language?”

Chuckles has an obsession with private schools and suburban addresses.

We’re still searching, but there appears to be no JackieHendo Twitter account @Username with the avatar of a pooch.

Burnside sent in a comment on Chuckles’ article, saying this appeared to be a fake tweet redolent of Murdoch media tactics. As with suggestions of the Hugo–Jerry tryst, it was not published.

Porter carries on the corruption pledge

The Christian Porter has revealed the latest consultation draft of his legislation for a corruption concealment commission.

This is a work of wonder where, with the design of a camel in mind, law enforcement officials can be publicly examined for alleged corruption, but not the MPs who came up with the design.

It was just before the May 2019 federal election, when public support for a national integrity commission was at stratospheric levels, that The Christian rushed out his first proposals.

There was, naturally, to be another draft putting into legislation the original ideas, and that has now arrived 18 months later. There is to be a further round of consultations as part of the tortured process.

This could give the impression that The Christian’s heart is not really in the fight against federal corruption.

While the federal law enforcement agencies will be subject to the powers of a blitzkrieg, there can only be a locked-door investigation of public service officials on the referral of an agency head, and even then there must be a “reasonable suspicion” that one of 143 corruption-type offences has been committed.

When it comes to shady members of parliament, Porter has arranged for handling with the softest of perfumed gloves. MPs and senators can only be investigated directly if they refer themselves to the concealment commission. Go Gussy.

The clam-like secrecy imposed in flushing out corruption is because The Christian claims there have been “excesses” with state-based anti-corruption commissions, and that shonks have been dealt with unjustly, with “irreparable harm to the reputations of innocent people”.

Presumably, he has New South Wales’s ICAC uppermost in his mind, because it has been the most effective corruption buster and held more public inquiries than interstate counterparts.

Yet, in all the cases where people have complained about ICAC’s findings of corruption, none has been subsequently overturned in a court.

The Margaret Cunneen episode was never fully investigated because it was terminated on statutory interpretation grounds in the High Court. One other person found to be corrupt was acquitted on separate and different charges under the Public Disclosure Act. The Catholic Boys Daily falsely claimed this was an exoneration.

So, what’s Porter and his straw man talking about? 

Tips and tattle: [email protected]

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 7, 2020 as "Gadfly: Judging democracy".

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