Whether the Bali drug boy’s parents have sold or tried to sell his story to Channel 9 is a matter for them, but it is, nevertheless, a singularly foolish thing to do, and it was even worse to allow it to leak out. It assumes the boy will be released to do the interview, which is an insult to the Indonesian court. Moreover, if there is one thing that a lifetime in the law has taught me, it is that you should never try to predict what the courts will do, because they usually do the opposite. The boy’s parents have apparently also engaged celebrity publicist Grant Vandenberg to represent them. But that is neither here nor there: the law, like politics, is part of the entertainment industry these days, and if you are going to be in the trade you may as well have an agent. But what really surprised me was that Vandenberg, according to the Sunday Age, also represents ‘Justice’ Marcus Einfeld, the former Federal Court judge who went to prison for perjury over a $77 traffic fine. The first thing that occurred to me about this revelation was that if a criminal has engaged a publicist, what new cringemaking revelations are we about to have inflicted on us? Is he going to appear on Q&A as the latest circus freak they have discovered? Is he about to be reinstated to the list of Living National Treasures? Or is he about to give us a tearful mea culpa on 60 Minutes about how devastated he was at being caught?
My second reflection on the former judge was about my clash with him when he was Chairman of the Human Rights Commission and announced that he had invited his opposite numbers in the then USSR to come to Australia to show us how to respect human rights. His reprimand of me for my reprimand of him made me think it was only a matter of time before the hubris got him. Finally, I wondered why the Sunday Age referred to him as ‘Justice’ when he is not a judge. The media persist in referring to ex-judges as ‘Justice’ or ‘Judge’ as if they were still on the bench, presumably to add some sort of lustre to their stories. Thus, Elizabeth Evatt was ‘Justice’ years after she retired and Michael Kirby, bless him, is even today ‘Justice’ on the list of Living National Treasures. There is a current example of this. Ray Finkelstein QC, who was a good judge, but retired, is now heading up the government’s inquiry into the media. It will obviously come up with some so-called reforms that will restrict the media in one way or another. How do I know? Because no royal commission or inquiry since Adam and Eve’s trial has ever concluded that there is really no problem and nothing should be done about it. And yet there was the Australian, which has more to fear from the inquiry than most of the media, wrongly describing him the other day as ‘Justice’ Finkelstein in its reports on the inquiry. If this continues and the inquiry recommends restraints or controls on the media, as it will, they will have the imprimatur of a judge and the air of sanctity and infallibility that goes with it and that spells bad news for the media and our freedoms.
Speaking of the media inquiry, I have just seen some of the first day’s evidence, or should I say whingeing. Apparently, Australia is gripped by terror. The populace are too intimidated to express their own opinions. Fear stalks the land. Democracy is at risk because conservative views are being expressed. Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt have the whole nation in thrall to their evil spell. Frankly, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. The working press should have jumped on this nonsense when it started some months ago and pointed out that the real reason why the left-wing establishment is so sensitive to the handful of conservative voices is that it has lost its monopoly on opinion and doesn’t like it. There is also a challenge to the big-government, high-taxing, high-spending and open borders approach to life, and the left-wing establishment likes that even less. Hence it has now invented the myth that it is being stifled; in reality, it is just being defeated. But journalists and the media have allowed that myth to gain credence instead of supporting the rugged independence of their craft. They paid part of the price when they salivated over Andrew Bolt’s predicament instead of supporting him. They will pay the balance when the government uses the recommendations of the Finkelstein Inquiry to throw the first chain around what used to be the freedom of the press.
Finally on the media, I watched Australian Story on Monday. It was an interesting program about two young Muslim comedians who have apparently taken the country’s comedy festivals by storm. You might think that comedy and Islam are odd bedfellows. But Nazeem Hussain and Aamer Rahman are actually very funny. The speech at the anti-Israel rally outside Max Brenner certainly got a laugh: ‘Don’t feel left out; Australia is also guilty of these crimes.’ The suicide vests add some spice to their show and the exposure of the racism of white Australians is side-splitting. But the Anzac Day skit is the most hilarious: ‘Once a year white people honour the dead by getting drunk and intimidating minorities.’ In reality, their material was so appalling, racist and offensive that I will fight to the death for their right to continue presenting it, even if they offend me and denigrate my country and its people in the process. It is called freedom of speech. But if Andrew Bolt had said it about Muslims, he would be in prison by now.