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The archetypal dilettante

You have to hand it to Tim Wilson. He is the archetypal dilettante – a man who swans around the world at other people’s expense having a fat old time doing SFA.

In a 2014 interview, he revealed his tactics for self-promotion.

He became heavily involved with student politics, eventually becoming president of the Student Union in 2001, thanks in part to his talent for favour-trading – plying opponents with “a whole bunch of delegateships” in return for their support. He also had “this really clever little trick”, using a digital camera, “which very few people had back then”, to take photos of himself at university club functions, several of which he would attend in a single night. He would then send the photos to the club magazines the next morning. “They didn’t have any photos, certainly not that immediately. So they’d run them, and of course I was in half of them, and it made me look as if I was the centre of everything.”

Tim’s close relationship with George Brandis was rewarded when he was gifted the role of Human Rights Commissioner, without interview, for a job that didn’t exist until George made it for him, and then promptly spent $77,763 in expenses in his first year on the job in addition to his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance.

Tim quickly dumped this sinecure when he saw the chance of boarding the lifetime gravy train as member for the safe conservative seat of Goldstein.

But what does freedom boy actually have to offer?

In November 2013, Wilson did a double barrel trip, firstly to Israel as a participant in the Ramban Israel Fellowship Program sponsored by the Australia/Israel Jewish Affairs Council, and then on to Warsaw to observe climate change talks in his capacity as Director of Climate Change Policy for the IPA.

Israeli/Palestinian relationships and climate change are two very important issues facing the world. Perhaps the best way to judge Tim’s contribution is to read what he himself wrote about the trip.

“When someone ten years your junior asks you to drop your pants you know it’s going to be an interesting evening. Saturday started normally. My partner and I were hosted by good friends, Adrian and Pat, at the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival. Down a few dollars I left the track for the public transport trip to Tel Aviv. Presumably the Qatari passport stamp sent me to be privately screened at Bangkok airport. My satchel was taken away for an ‘X-ray’ before being handed back 40 minutes later with its contents missing. I was then taken to a private room and asked, ‘Are you wearing underwear?’ Mum would’ve been proud they were clean as I stood for ten minutes as Israeli security inspected every part of my jeans before I reclaimed my dignity and boarded.

In Tel Aviv I met up with my media colleagues participating in the Rambam Israel Fellowship programme organised by the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. The comprehensive introduction to Israel included a tour of the old city of Jerusalem and the ancient fortress of Masada, and meetings with politicians, academics and journalists. Our Palestinian guide took us to the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem for an uneventful, educational experience about how the locals live. The local Palestinian kids decided to perform and threw rocks at the nearby Israeli soldiers. The soldiers also performed by firing two tear gas canisters in the sky, before one landed five metres away, bounced and laid to rest at my feet. Sadly I couldn’t find a T-shirt that said ‘I was tear gassed by the IDF and all I got was this T-shirt, stinging eyes and a decongested nasal passage.’

Tear gas is nothing compared to the experience of the small township of Sderot. If Sderot residents hear the words ‘red colour’ in Hebrew, they have 15 seconds until it rains Qassam rockets sent from the Gaza strip only a kilometre away. That isn’t very long, especially as it took five for our bus to stop and open its door. I counted. Fortunately Hamas weren’t in the performing mood the day we visited. I only have one bit of advice if you are considering travelling to Israel: go!

For my sins, I observe international climate talkfests annually. This year 8,000 environmental activists, rent-seeking businesses, media and negotiators attended. Based on the current negotiating timeline a new global carbon cutting treaty is supposed to be concluded in Paris in 2015. I’ll have to make sure I am extra sinful that year. I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by a ‘Green Warrior of Norway’ handing me a condom at the Polish National Stadium. On the prophylactic’s packaging were quotes about the evils of overpopulation and overconsumption. Thankfully even far-left green activists recognised recycling’s limits by warning that the product was for ‘one usage only’.

A rare joy of attending these summits is spending time with like-minded, long-suffering free marketeers from across the globe, all three of them. A fellow lonely sole at these events is Ron Bailey from the US-based libertarian Reason Foundation. A disappointment of my travels is that they overlapped with the C.D. Kemp lecture hosted by the Institute of Public Affairs. This year’s lecture was delivered by the best-selling author Matt Ridley. He quoted Bailey for his erudite definition of the precautionary principle: ‘Never do anything for the first time.’ Bailey is a good dinner companion on cold Warsaw nights, but we have very different tastes in wine.

Climate talks are rarely eventful. Negotiations are behind closed doors. Journalists sit in the press centre typing copy. The real colour and light is offered by activists. They’ve mastered the art of providing snappy quotes and visual stunts for a gullible and bored media. As climate change has dropped in public importance so have activist numbers. The usual stunts are gone. They symbolically walked out of the conference in anger at the progress of talks while chanting ‘we shall overcome’. After spending minutes in Warsaw’s November climate they walked back inside to enjoy the warmth provided by the nearby coal-fired power station.

Each year a key negotiating theme develops. This year developing countries wanted a ‘loss and damages’ fund to help them finance the costs from major climatic events. They used the Philippine typhoon as justification. On the third last day the UN Secretariat installed donation boxes at 5pm so attendees could individually help Filipino victims. By 7.15pm there was a solitary donation, and I am pretty sure it was put there to prime the pump. Australia wasn’t very popular at the conference. Disconnected-from-reality activists and bureaucrats weren’t impressed we elected an Abbott government that thinks carbon taxes are for repealing, not increasing.

I went through London to get home. Aussie expat Jason Groves and his British civil partner and celebrated classical pianist Charles Owen organised a dinner in a rather swank Belgravia restaurant with fellow expat Gordon Adams and long-time friend and former Kiwi Shane Frith. The quote of the night came from Charles who said, ‘Not many British classical musicians regularly read The Spectator. But the truth is, as soon as it arrives, I almost wet my pants with excitement.’ Over dinner I broke the cardinal ‘one Martini is all right, two is too many, three is never enough’ rule. Packing my bags to fly home the next morning was a challenge.”

Tim’s reports about his study trips may be more entertaining than Barnaby Joyce’s, but don’t hold your breath for him to do anything constructive. This uber-confident young man has found a way to have his socialising paid for by us as he swans around the world drinking martinis with “like-minded” mates.


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  1. jimhaz

    In terms of human rights, he is like an antichrist, an exact opposite of the attitude required with a demonstrated history of not standing for ordinary people. He reminds me that I do at least have some empathy. The audacity of the Abbott government was just incredible.

    [When someone ten years your junior asks you to drop your pants you know it’s going to be an interesting evening]

    What one could read into that.

  2. diannaart

    Good thing that AGW is just a myth, else Tim Wilson would be a complete wanker.


  3. Kaye Lee

    I’m not sure he would consider that an insult dianna

  4. diannaart

    Yeah, Wilson probably regularly won at the wanking competitions behind the change rooms at school.

  5. Kaye Lee

    wanker: Someone who shows off too much, a poser or poseur; someone who is overly self-satisfied.

    Seems apt to me

  6. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Watching the rise and rise of Tim Wilson over the years I have found very little reason to admire him – apart from surviving as openly gay in the uber-conservative Libs. Your article, simply letting Tim speak for himself, removes even the few points for being an outsider.

    Just as Thatcher was no role model for women, Tim Wilson is an embarrassment to the LGBTI community.

  7. Kaye Lee

    My favourite was when he hosted a religious freedom summit and didn’t invite any Muslims or Aborigines.

    “The 20 or so participants at the event, which was closed to the public, included representatives from the Anglican Church, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, two rabbinical peak bodies, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Sikhs, Buddhists and other faiths, as well as a representative of the atheist association and a representative of the Church of Scientology.”

    Snubbed Muslims respond to Freedom Boy’s religious freedom shindig

  8. paulwalter

    Kay Lee is such a shrewd, perceptive writer. Berg and Wilson are the latest in a sequence of cranks more or less with the IPA and Murdoch trying peddle to the American right-libertarianism alibi for legitimised looting. They all seem to be preppie poseurs.

  9. diannaart

    Human Rights Commissioner… cough, choke, cough, I guess Timmy remembered to include atheists for either one of two reasons; he thinks atheism is a faith or he is an atheist himself. The later choice is unlikely as holding an atheist position towards religion requires a lot of self reflection.

  10. Elroy

    Tim is a prize Bitch !

  11. Glenn K

    Whilst we are all taking justifiable cheap shots at Tim, i would like to remind everyone of the corruption and cronyism that is going on here. This is so offensive on so many levels, and it is galling to realise Tim will end up with a taxpayer funded pension for life in a few years. The reality is he should be hauled before the courts for fraud and misrepresentation. This just pisses me off so much, and is such a fine example of all that is corrupt in the LNP.

  12. Kyran

    Seems odd this git always reminds me of Oscar Wilde. Lives of privilege. One had, however, a mind that worked, not reliant on it’s privilege.
    Have a look at some of Mr Wilde’s observations (a cheap and tacky copy, on my part);
    1. I think that God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.

    2. The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.

    3. Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

    4. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.

    5. The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never any use to oneself.

    6. Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.

    7. What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    8. A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.

    9. When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is.

    10. There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

    11. Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

    12. Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

    13. True friends stab you in the front.

    14. All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

    15. Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

    16. There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

    17. Genius is born—not paid.

    18. Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.

    19. How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?

    20. A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.

    21. My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.

    22. The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.

    23. I like men who have a future and women who have a past.

    24. There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.

    25. Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.

    And one bonus quote about Oscar Wilde! Dorothy Parker said it best in a 1927 issue of Life:

    If, with the literate, I am
    Impelled to try an epigram,
    I never seek to take the credit;
    We all assume that Oscar said it.

    Only difference is, one was pithy, the other requires pity. Thank you, Ms Lee. I might read ‘De profundis’ again. Take care

  13. bobrafto

    cJim haz

    [When someone ten years your junior asks you to drop your pants you know it’s going to be an interesting evening]

    What one could read into that.

    Firstly he is skiting that someone 10 years his junior wants to bed him.
    Secondly he is probably intimating that he had an interesting night with the junior.
    Thirdly he cheated on his partner
    Fourthly in all probability he had a threesome.

    And with a bit of luck he might have got an STD.

    The age on entitlement on the tax payer hog has just started for Timmy.

  14. lawrencewinder

    He’s a Bloody hypocrite and waste of space!

    Everything that is like Caligula making his horse a Senator!

  15. Kaye Lee

    Wilde was a troubled man but a brilliant one. And then there is Tim who is just an aging Young Liberal.

  16. silkworm

    Little Timmy him no atheist. He is aligned to ultra right-wing Hillsong church.

  17. helvityni

    Kyran, Oscar Wilde is definitely not TEDIOUS, but Tim is, not interested in the state of his underpants…

  18. Deanna Jones

    A lot of homophobic generalisations there, bobrafto.

    Dianaart, he’s an embarrassment to the male species.

  19. Kyran

    Just a thought, Ms Lee. “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, perchance?
    In my experience, troubled people are often brilliant. Brilliant people are often troubled. Privilege disguises both brilliance and trouble. And then there is tim. Neither troubled, or brilliant. But entirely privileged.
    Well said, helvityni, you can keep his underpants. May I suggest hazmat procedure.
    Take care

  20. aimee

    “A fellow lonely sole”? He can’t even spell!

  21. Matters Not

    aimee, I took his spelling as a Freudian slip. Deep down he sees himself as a kind of ‘flatfish’. You know one of those species with both eyes on the same side of the head. In his case the ‘right’ side. Most probably a ‘flounder’. A known bottom feeder – so the ichthyologists tell us.

  22. jimhaz


    It could very well be just be a turn of phrase said as a bit of humour. Still, I was wondering why that phrase would have come to his mind.

    I don’t wish to get sued, so can’t speculate openly. I have no facts, only imagination.

    What intrigues me is the personality, mentor and overt nepotism links he has.

    In what circumstances may he have been the one that was 10 years younger?

    Are Slipperarian relationships more common than we realise?

  23. jimhaz


    I have led you into expressing your anger too directly.

    I would feel better if you asked for your post to be deleted. Just to be on the side of caution.

  24. Kaye Lee

    The thing that really annoys me is, after having this paid for trip to represent Australia in two very important fora (or is that forums?) or to at least observe as a young Australian and learn, he writes this sort of flippant facile self-indulgent report of his trip. It is apparent the trip, for Tim, was all about him having a good time and he seems to think that is what we all want to hear about. It is very reminiscent of the way Young Liberals talk about their annual conference. PISS UP, WHO’S IN?

  25. bobrafto

    Jim haz

    No anger here mate, it’s wot I read into his self indulgent crap and I have absolutely no qualms in keeping my post and you shouldn’t feel responsible for what comes out of my mouth or anyone else’s mouth.

  26. jimhaz

    @ bobrafto

    No problems. Probably just me being paranoid. I don’t just Wilson’s nature in any way, however now he is a pollie we do seem to get a bit more licence.

  27. Kaye Lee

    The very deliberate and obvious self-promotion of this young man, who seems to have very little to recommend him other than aforementioned skill, facilitated and paid for by older Liberals and vested interests, could make any reasonable person feel angry. He knows how to play the game and particularly the media. I will be paying very close attention to his expense claims.

  28. bobrafto

    There was nothing in my post to get paranoid about as Timmy laid out the ground work for speculation on whether he went to bed with someone 10 years his junior.

  29. Kaye Lee

    Tim is primed to follow in Robb’s footsteps……

    A Chinese government-backed propaganda unit and a swag of companies that stand to gain from the China Australia Free Trade Agreement have made more than half a million dollars of political donations in Victoria, raising concerns about the influence of foreign donors.

    Companies linked to Chinese conglomerate Yuhu Group made a donation to then trade minister Andrew Robb’s fundraising entity the day the trade deal was clinched.

    Bayside Forum, which supports the federal Liberal candidate in the seat of Goldstein (where Mr Robb is set to be succeeded by former Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson at the July 2 federal election), accepted $100,000 in donations from executives of Chinese agriculture, property development and infrastructure company Yuhu Group.

    At the time, Mr Robb was negotiating both ChAFTA and the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. Mr Robb also endorsed Yuhu’s $2 billion investment in Australian agriculture in a joint-venture with a Chinese state-owned enterprise at its launch on September 15, 2014.

    According to AEC disclosures, Chaoshan No 1 Trust (of which Mr Huang is a director) made a $50,000 donation to Bayside Forum two months later, on the same day ChAFTA was finalised and details announced by Mr Robb and then prime minister Tony Abbott.

    Another $50,000 donation to Bayside Forum, this time by Fu Ocean Pty Ltd (whose director Zhaokai Su is reportedly Yuhu’s office manager), was undated. And two months after the Hong Kong meeting, $30,000 was donated to the New South Wales division of the Liberal Party. It is illegal for property developers to donate to the NSW branch, but a loophole permits it if the funds are intended to contribute to a federal campaign.

    Mr Robb declined to answer Fairfax Media questions about Bayside Forum’s protocols for handling potential conflicts between fundraising sources and his responsibilities as a minister.

    “There were absolutely no conflicts of interest,” he said.

    Mr Huang was contacted for comment but did not respond.

    Meanwhile, the Victorian Liberals received $15,000 from the China Australia Media Group, believed to be an arm of the Chinese government. The group has twice been outed for hiring Western journalists at news conferences to ask soft questions of government ministers and officials with the aim of spreading Chinese propaganda.

    Fu Ocean disclosed its $30,000 contribution to the NSW Liberals, but failed to disclose the $50,000 Bayside Forum donation.


    Former trade minister Andrew Robb has joined investment bank Moelis & Company, where he will focus on deals with China.

    The role with Moelis, a New York-listed investment bank, will see Mr Robb mainly helping Chinese companies looking to enter the Australian market.

    He will have the title of independent adviser.

    Moelis also has an asset management business focused on wealthy Chinese wishing to obtain an Australian passport, through the Significant Investor Visa program.

    Mr Robb was responsible for redesigning this program while in government to tilt the required $5 million in investment away from passive bonds, towards higher risk venture capital and small company investments.

    Moelis says it has about $1 billion in assets under management from this program.


  30. paulwalter

    Kaye Lee, you have blown my mind again. Not only the general sense of what Robb’s FTA’s are about, but the nuts and bolts, where it fits together with a particular example.

    This is precisely the sort of writing conspicuous by its absence in mass circulation or audience MSM and we guess why when we read a commentary like this one.

    Can you imagine the sort of stuff that goes on behind closed doors re the Americans?

    Does it explain why a whole heap of music has “disappeared” from UTube, for example?

  31. Bacchus

    Glenn K – just a correction to “it is galling to realise Tim will end up with a taxpayer funded pension for life in a few years

    Timmy, like any MP elected after 2004 will not get a parliamentary pension – his superannuation is governed by similar rules to any of the rest of us with accumulation style super (although with an employer contribution rate of 15.4%).


  32. paulwalter

    Kyran, thanks for assembling and presenting the Oscar Wilde anthology, I so needed the laugh.

    Given what eventually happened with Wilde,

    “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing and a great deal of it absolutely fatal” is the one that hits a chord, there is laughter in it but a ruefulness also, that predicts his downfall.

  33. paulwalter

    Wait for the outcome..no doubt Glen K will be proven dead right, Bacchus.

  34. Kaye Lee


    To be fair, I am just collating the articles that appear in the MSM. They are under pressure to come up with new news every day. We have the luxury of trawling back through time to put things together.

  35. helvityni

    On Oscar (not Timmy); I bought his Complete Works a couple years ago, it’s all there, all 1246 pages in hard cover. I forgot that I mainly read in bed, the book is too heavy… Now I have returned to visiting Berkelow in Berrima, and buy his work in more LIGHTER editions, in paperbacks that I can handle, physically that is…
    The latest purchase being The Ballad of Reading Gaol… in paperback of course. 🙂

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    It will be interesting to see how Tim performs and where the first cracks appear in his effervescence.

  37. paulwalter

    Kaye Lee, that is too modest. To put together some thing like that you must know the significance of your material and how to present it…in fact, presented thus, a reader becomes quite sure a writer knows their stuff.

    JMS, yes..the Dorian Grey aspect others commented on earlier. Cute on the outside, as cold as ice where his heart and soul should be.

  38. Wunfarlung

    My wife just told me he looks like Malcom Turnbullshit

  39. helvityni

    Wunfarlung, I don’t know who he looks like, but he always seems a bit sweaty, kind of oily…

  40. Rhonda

    I wanna throw up

  41. lawrencewinder

    #Aimee … of course “….he’s a lonely sole…” He flounders about whenever he speaks!

    And why did I label his organization: “The-Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe”, pray, tell?

  42. diannaart


    I know what you mean, shiny like he has been completely sprayed in lube.

    And very boring looks – the man who played Dorian Gray in the 1945 movie version was very good looking.

  43. totaram

    Just an aside: It might be worth asking all the people who vote for this person, what do they expect he will do for them? Perhaps they don’t even know they vote for him! Next election, I think that might be a reasonable approach to take with voters.

  44. Royce Arriso

    Arrestingly dermabraded in appearance and a shamelessly attention-seeking social climber, Wilson is also Australia’s most overpaid public servant. His interviews and articles reflect no more depth than if written by an articulate teen. Content-lite, they are knocked out by repeating the same old airy Libertarian blather ad nauseum. This asserts, utterly without proof, that only if the already rich and powerful are allowed to do as they like, society will move onto broad sunlit uplands.
    Bollocks, Tim.
    Get a socially-useful job rather than tickling the testimonials of Australia’s supposedly Great And Good while sipping cocktails.

  45. Geoffrey England

    The one thing I have noticed about “Freedom Boy'” is how he has stacked on the weight and grown ruddier in complexion since his elevation to the rarefied atmosphere of the liberal party…. one too many meals and glasses of red wine on the public purse perhaps?

  46. Alan Baird

    Tim was a perfect pick by Tony’s Team to make sure the well-to-do are govt’s primary concern. It mirrored to perfection Tony’s own attitude to human rights, ie a load of crap like other non-concerns. Yes, dilettante was a perfect descriptor for this “Marie-Antoinette-let-them-eat-cake” type. Bring on the tumbrils! A guillotine for a dilettante! If he can act as a latter day Marie Antoinette, I’m sure I can get inside Mme Defarge’s head. What a waste of space Tim is.

  47. mark

    Tim,in love with his own genitalia.mark

  48. Kronomex

    All I can see is the overbearing arrogance and born to rule personality of an LNP dilettante and lord with his snout firmly in the public funded pig trough.

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