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Day to Day Politics: George says what others are afraid to.

Friday 9 February 2018

“George Henry Brandis QC (born 22 June 1957) is an Australian politician who has been a Senator for Queensland since May 2000, representing the Liberal Party. He served as a minister in the Howard, Abbott, and Turnbull Governments. Brandis studied law at the University of Queensland and Magdalen College, Oxford.”

Most people have the perception of a befuddled, self-righteous, toffy bookish politician who had never used a computer and so struggled to explain what metadata was. In the back of their minds they might struggle to remember something about book shelves and subscriptions to magazines at the taxpayer’s expense.

“If questioned, people might remember that in 2011 Brandis submitted specific accusations to NSW police commissioner Andrew Scipione that sitting federal M.P. Craig Thomson had committed larceny and fraud.”

“There were other things like the public scrutiny he faced when it was revealed that in 2011 he had billed the taxpayer for attending the wedding ceremony of Sydney radio shock-jock Michael Smith, who had colluded with Brandis to publicise the Craig Thomson media saga.”

“Then of course there was the time when as Arts Minister, Brandis received significant criticism from the arts industry for a $105 million cut to the Australia Council for the Arts funding in the 2015-16 Australian Federal Budget.”

“On top of that there was his support of greater press freedom, particularly for Andrew Bolt who was found to have breached racial vilification laws in commenting on Indigenous Australians of mixed-race descent.”

“Then in October 2016, allegations were made by Australia’s Solicitor-General, Justin Gleeson SC, suggesting that Brandis attempted to block the Solicitor-General from providing legal advice to members of the Australian Government without first seeking and receiving the permission of the Attorney-General.”

That then is the perception most people would have of George. The fuddy duddy who was always mixed up in one controversy or another.

Yes, “life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.”

On Wednesday the good Senator retired and will replace Alexander Downer as Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

As a sign of respect members of the judiciary, attended Senator Brandis’ valedictory speech including High Court chief justice Susan Kiefel, the newly appointed High Court justice James Edelman, and the chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court, William Alstergren.

Those who thought that George would just go and quietly close the door behind him were wrong. He let fly at Peter Dutton and other far right MPs who are succeeding at taking the party down the path of neo-conservatism.

Senator Brandis had given 18 years of his life to public service, 11 on the front-bench. He lamented that:

“Being a liberal is not easy” “powerful elements of right-wing politics” had abandoned the liberal tradition in favour of “a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them”.

Whilst not mentioning the recently appointed Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in his speech, he managed to make a sarcastic mention of Dutton’s disparaging of judges.

“I have not disguised my concern at attacks upon the institutions of the law – the courts and those who practice in them,”

“To attack those institutions is to attack the rule of law itself.”

In the presence of the Prime Minister the former Attorney General was highlighting , or confirming the challenge that right-wing populism would impose on the Liberal Party.

In his speech Brandis targeted “right-wing postmodernism”. “A set of attitudes which had its origin in the authoritarian mind of the left has been translated right across the political spectrum,” he said.

“It isn’t easy being a Liberal these days” he said.

“It means respecting the right of people to make choices which we ourselves would not make and of which may disapprove.

“It means respecting the right of people to express their opinions, even though others may find those opinions offensive.

“It means respecting the right of people to practice their religion, even though others may find the tenets of that religion irrational.

“It means, in a nation of many cultures, respecting the right of people to live according to their culture, even though, to others, that culture may seem alien.

“It means respecting the right of everyone to marry the person they love, even though others may find their understanding of marriage confronting.”

Brandis may be right. These do sound very much like left wing principles.

“It is a duty which, as my cabinet colleagues know, on several robust occasions, I have always placed above political advantage,” he said.

Brandis, a Liberal moderate, also strongly cautioned the Coalition against listening to those who said it should use national security as a political weapon against Labor, and criticised attacks on the judiciary from his own side.

Brandis told the Senate that classical liberal values were under “greater challenge than at any time in my memory”.

“Increasingly, in recent years, powerful elements of right-wing politics have abandoned both liberalism’s concern for the rights of the individual and conservatism’s respect for institutions, in favour of a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them.”

“I have heard some powerful voices argue that the Coalition should open a political front against the Labor Party on the issue of domestic national security.

“I could not disagree more strongly.”

There we have it. An open admission that what I and many others had been saying for over five years that there is an ongoing genuine attempt, started by Tony Abbott, and members of the far right of the party to take it over.

We need to be shouting this out by any means possible before the next election so that the ordinary punter knows just what the far right is out to achieve.

Senator Brandis noted in his accomplishments the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and the several tranches of national security laws he authored.

He said that controversies had a habit of following him – such as his comment, o“the right to be bigots”  his now famous impromptu rebuke of Pauline Hanson’s burqa stunt “

Senate leader Penny Wong said her opponent was a “pedantic grammarian” who at critical junctures became “an extraordinarily eloquent advocate for liberalism and democracy”.

My thought for the day

“Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be.”


27 comments

  1. Kaye Lee

    “I have heard some powerful voices argue that the Coalition should open a political front against the Labor Party on the issue of domestic national security.”

    For a senior member of the Caucus, who happens to be the highest legal officer in the land, to admit that they are deliberately using domestic security for political purposes is despicable.

    They had the African gang strategy ready more than a year before they used it, just waiting for an incident closer to the election to unleash the preprepared political attack.

    One would think, if they truly thought there was a problem in the making, that they wouldhave worked with the Andrews government to forestall it. But not our boy Dutton. He wants to amplify problems, not solve them. He wants to shout through a megaphone that all these problems are Labor’s fault. It’s a crazy strategy when you are more than half way through your second term but Ray Hadley and the 2GB audience lap it up. Dutton is a despicable dog-whistler who wants strife and division, not that he has a clue about dealing with it other than to use his deportation powers for media coverage.

    There are no preventative strategies with Peter Dutton, it’s all punitive. There are no extenuating circumstances, no consideration for the complexities of individual cases, no need to examine the evidence – if it will grab a headline, Dutton is willing to lie about refugees being pedophiles purely for his own political purposes – that’s about as low as it gets.

    I look forward to him being voted out next election.

  2. Joseph Carli

    Brandis can be measured as one thing and one thing only..always was, always will be..; a supercilious c#nt…..in need of a horse-whipping.

  3. Glenn Barry

    Aside from how outraged I was with the Justin Gleeson affair in which Brandis was resoundingly belted – Georgie Porgie had the courage to warn the nation about the right wing threat emanating from the government at the very moment he departed from it and surrendered all possible influence upon it’s direction.

    That deserves a golf clap

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out George

  4. Phil

    Too late George. But thanks anyway for the footnote confirming what many already knew about your stinking, rotten, despicable and treasonous party.

  5. helvityni

    Hypocrites all of them on that side, sooo sick of them, wish they all went to London and stayed there…

    All they do is: punish, punish, punish…I don’t know how they sleep at night…

  6. wam

    Great thought, lord john, getting close to understanding the meaning of truth.

    Kaye there is no doubt the pragmatic men of the lnp(and the greens) will use any outright tactics to win.

    The economy perception is unchallenged and is the killer.

    The security theme as the coup de grace.

    Even little billy and torpin tanya must be aware of the danger but Labor seems to be stuck, like the big red, in the spotlight rather than spreading some oil, in preparation.

    Spot on, Joseph, it is men like him who present the cancer rather than the duttons who do their task diligently.

    ps melb uni has finally realised that men and women come to uni for more than learning and without adequate personal attitude preparation.
    Something fools like me have advocated for politicians and public servants in sexism and, for me more importantly, racism, for many years. The catalyst was the memory of sitting on a bench talking in a mix of eng, fr and lat so others could follow the conversation. Such snobbery was over 60 years ago and continued till teaching Aborigines at darwin high remade me as a learner. When I met their parents and was accepted, I realised how little I knew about life.
    I have made an arsehole of myself on the unrecognised racism in society.

  7. Frank Smith

    I find it a bit rich to hear Bookends pontificating on “Rights” after the way he treated Gillian Triggs and propelled IPA lackies into positions in the Human Rights Commission. He will no doubt revel in the pomposity that comes with the London appointment.

  8. Kronomex

    On a side note: methinks big donations speak louder than sensible words.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/softens-hardness-tga-under-fire-for-health-claim-list-that-endorses-pseudoscience-20180207-h0vfst.html

    Now Brandis is set to get a another dip into the pig trough, ministerial pension plus bonuses and high commissioners pay packet plus bonuses. He will no doubt waste untold stacks of money refurbishing when he moves to England, new bookcases followed by more new bookcases with a soupçon of new bookcases.

  9. ozibody

    After having blatantly exploited all the traits he outlined (as in need of rectification) in his valedictory speech, Mr. Brandis looks to me like the sinner seeking absolution at the confessional prior to departing life ! …. hypocrisy and contempt under wraps !

  10. Keitha Granville

    It seems to be an effort to purge his soul at the last, so that people will think kindly of him and see that he did have the best beliefs but that the party over-ruled.
    Why he didn’t have the courage of these convictions while he was inside the party completely escapes me . Bit like those in Germany who were devastated at the extent of the Holocaust AFTER it happened and yet did nothing while it was.

  11. Rhonda

    Yep, well GB has pocketed more than his fair share of the PS expenses, at our great expense…off to London with his booty and his right to be a bigot, he goes. I’m alright, Jack, but you’re all f*cked!

  12. Frank Smith

    Can you just picture this pompous self-inflating toad doing the rounds of the London ambassadorial cocktail circuit in his top hat, tails and penguin outfit – and all at our expense. These potentially important posts should only be filled by experienced career diplomats and not be used as “rewards” for useless pollies like Bookends, Fishnets and Hockey whom the Party needs be “park” somewhere. Another form of corruption in my book that again demonstrates the urgent need for an Integrity Commission.

  13. Kaye Lee

    You’ll notice the ex-pollies never take the tough diplomatic gigs – it’s always London or Rome or New York.

  14. paul walter

    Pity he hadn’t said and abided by these sentiments over PREVIOUS times.

    Kaye Lee, no. Champagne and lobster to the degree to which these must indulge, is inevitably toxic.

    It is like abundant and nubile staff available to politicians, inevitably too much of a good thing.

    Remember Downer’s recent faux and Julie seems permanently ditzy, it is a hard gig.

  15. stephengb2014

    Sorry folks I have got to say – Brandis is without doubt a hypocritical prick full of hubris and ‘f’ all else.

    Actually that goes for 90% of the LNP.

    S

  16. David1

    What a lying hypocrite Brandis proved he is, as if it wasn’t obvious to all including his front bench cronies and the Coalition Party Room. This move to redemption is a joke when he has had ample opportunity to say it where it matters over the passage of years, that is in the Senate where he has sprawled his frame in unbridled bliss as a bore, as a misuser of the truth when it suited.
    So as he prepares to enter yet another world of luxury, fine food, wine and socialising it is good riddance blowhard, the country will be the better without you.

  17. diannaart

    @wam

    “there is no doubt the pragmatic men of the lnp(and the greens) will use any outright tactics to win

    You missed out an a major political party there, wam.

    Labor is chock full of the authoritarian, even (dare I say?) the misogynistic – I present Mark Latham as a prime example. In fact there are those who post right here at AIMN, who may have mistaken the left as their political home – even if they’re unaware of such contradictions within themselves.

    If Labor really was about equity many women, aboriginals and quite a few refugees would feel welcome rather than marginalised.

    PS

    ‘Pragmatism’ can be a good thing. Like many actions, when taken to extremes, particularly to the detriment of others, prove harmful.

  18. wam

    Dear diannaart
    I was referring to the men using outright tactics to WIN.

    I do not consider the ‘other’ party as pragmatists trying to win.

    Their men may be hoping to win but that doesn’t count.
    Sadly the women are running jumping behind the standing still boys.

  19. diannaart

    Dear wam

    I was referring to “the men using outright tactics to WIN.” also.

    In fact, there are women who will do anything to WIN.

    That the majority of the power mad form a festering sore on the right does not mean Labor or any progressives are immune.

  20. Glenn Barry

    In truth the hypocrisy of Brandis was breathtaking given his propensity to stack the Administrative Appeals Tribunal among other judicial oversight institutions

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/election-2016-coalition-makes-scores-of-appointments-in-caretaker-period-countdown-20160506-gooccj.html

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/a-brandis-stack

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/george-brandis-clears-out-infuriating-tribunal-20170628-gx071l.html

    He may have decried right wing elements hijacking the LNP, he was seeing a bigger picture however by basically hijacking every element of the public service and judicial tribunals which oversee the government.

  21. wam

    sorry dianaart The dear was cheap in today’s world it is automatic and I use it to start most letters..

    These all get paid extra any suggestion that they are using outright tactics to win or are they standing behind the men?
    wong
    siewert
    macklin
    SHY
    rishworth
    rhiannon
    roland
    rice
    king
    collins
    plibersek
    oneill
    chester
    pratt
    moore
    brodtman

    I remember Macklin as strong even as she failed to shut down brough’s folly but now she and these women seem to stand behind the boys and far from doing anything to win?
    To paraphrase lord john perception is the truth to the ‘perceiver’ who is not prepared to see.
    I married the best principal in my education life of over 70 years and I cry at the men who climbed on the back of her work because they think it was their effort and I whince at the women who agree with the men’s opinions.
    But she is above it and satisfied in her knowledge.
    Until women dump the god of man the political world will wallow.
    As for pragmatism my brain says
    the end justifies the means
    this involves deception, collateral damage and leads to avoidance of responsibility and mistrust. In those terms pragmatism cannot be good.

    ps the aboriginal people of Japan, Ainu, of NZ,Maori and of France?
    French people are the descendants of Gauls and Romans, western European Celtic and Italic peoples, as well as Bretons, Aquitanians, Ligurians, and Germanic people arriving at the beginning of the Frankish Empire such as the Franks, the Visigoths, the Suebi, the Saxons, the Allemanni and the Burgundians

    The aboriginal people of Australia are Aborigibes?

  22. diannaart

    On “pragmatism” – I am tempted to request you take advantage of the information (internet) available at the press of a button. However, have decided to provide you with the full meaning of the word – not just your version of it.

    pragmatic
    (prægmætɪk )
    adjective [usually ADJECTIVE noun]
    A pragmatic way of dealing with something is based on practical considerations, rather than theoretical ones. A pragmatic person deals with things in a practical way.
    Robin took a pragmatic look at her situation.
    …a pragmatic approach to the problems faced by Latin America.
    Synonyms: practical, efficient, sensible, realistic
    adjective
    1.
    advocating behaviour that is dictated more by practical consequences than by theory or dogma
    2. philosophy
    of or relating to pragmatism
    3.
    involving everyday or practical business
    4.
    of or concerned with the affairs of a state or community
    5. rare
    interfering or meddlesome; officious

    I believe you would find adjective number 5 closest to your interpretation of the word.

    The majority of women held back by patriarchy cannot even be named, they are anonymous and often pilloried, for example, single mothers. You provided a list of women who have actually become well known if not appreciated.

    Aborigines are the earliest known inhabitants of a country. In Australia we often refer to such people as First Nation people.

    But thanks for the lecture, as a woman I must appear very ignorant to you, wam!

  23. Chris

    “An investigative process was authorised by the Holy See and conducted by senior canon lawyers. The process confirmed the allegation unanimously. The Archbishop then submitted the judgement to the Holy See, who subsequently requested that the excommunication be made public. Therefore, the Archdiocese now informs you that Fr Ezinwanne Igbo has been excommunicated.”

    http://www.saintsonwaves.com.au/ParishNews/AnImportantAnnouncement-462/

    Nothing to holy see here.

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