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« The Sewer Of Twitter » Is Why Chris Uhlmann Should Receive An Award

Chris Uhlmann should receive an award for his writing about Twitter. No, not a Walkley, but there are many great fiction awards and Chris has been doing great fiction for years. Like when he asserted that it was South Australia’s reliance on wind power which led to transmitters being blown over.

I particularly liked his tweet referring to people on Twitter as « sewer rats » thereby showing how to rise above what he suggests is the abuse and bad behaviour of people on the social media platform. It’s a simple tactic really. Andrew Bolt does it all the time: Say something outrageous that you know will get a response, pick out the most vitriolic and then suggest that they’re anti-free speech and intolerant of other opinions.

Mr Uhlmann has been particularly upset by the treatment of Christian Porter. According to him and the Coalition, Porter is being judged when a police investigation cleared him of wrongdoing. People on Twitter have formed a lynch mob and are unconcerned with the due processes of the law.

This is a very familiar tactic in politics too. Exaggerate the position of your opponents and then attack the exaggerated position rather than address any substance of what they’re saying. By the way, let’s mention Bill Shorten here.

And speaking of Bill Shorten, how’s the « new » investigation going? You know, the one about the old accusation that Sarah Henderson handed on to the police. Have we heard any more about that?

Now while some people are appointing themselves judge and jury, most people who don’t think that this should be over are simply calling for an actual inquiry without predetermining the result. They’re not trying to overthrow the « rule of law », which the Prime Minister recently told us meant that « the police decide the veracity of an accusation ». Gee, and here I was thinking that they simply investigated, handed evidence over to the prosecution and it was the trial that decided the guilt or innocence

In this case the police have decided that there isn’t enough evidence to bring about a conviction which leaves everyone in a sort of Schrodinger’s Cat situation where you don’t know whether the cat is alive or dead until the box is open. Ok, in fairness to the cat, we shouldn’t dispose of the box without checking but that doesn’t mean that we’re saying it’s alive.

Similarly with Christian Porter, in calling for an inquiry people aren’t prejudging his guilt. Most people would be satisfied if a retired judge (not Dyson Heydon) were to look at the letter that neither Scott Morrison nor Porter read, interview a few people and give us a finding that tells us that on the balance of probabilities, he or she believes that we can make certain conclusions, which would possibly back Porter’s account.

Actually, I’m still having trouble imagining the conversation between the two men who hadn’t read the letter.

« Christian, I’m about to get a letter making accusations against you? »

« What does it say? »

« Don’t know, I haven’t read it? »

« Oh, well it’s not true whatever it is. »

« Fine, you’re word’s good enough for me. »


Let’s try and be objective about this though. If we take the politics out of the situation and ignore some of the questions that Porter’s press conference raise about timelines and who knew what, when, we can see this more clearly.

Imagine an accusation is made against a junior sporting coach by someone who dies before making a statement to the police. The police tell you that they won’t be able to investigate because there’s no formal complaint. Of course, the sporting coach is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but can you honestly say that you wouldn’t expect the club or organisation to make further inquiries? Or would you be satisfied for them to say the matter is closed and you’d be more than happy for your thirteen year old to go away on camp with them.

And finally, I just have to make a couple of observations about Linda Reynolds’ « lying cow » comment. Morrison has said that she wasn’t referring to Ms Higgins’ rape claim but about the support she received. Of course, this is a very neat way of suggesting to the public that she may not be telling the truth about her rape claim without actually saying so. Of course, it’s not that they don’t believe the accusation; it’s just that they want to make her less sympathetic. However, it begs the question: What part was Reynolds suggesting was a lie? Or is that like the comment that was conveniently leaked to the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party, The Australian, and private?

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  1. Bert

    Wasn’t mulemans little rant posted on twitter? Bit of a pot kettle thing going on there….

  2. Gangstas Paradise

    I’m going to have to ask the wife if the cat is in the box.

    When she is no longer under medical supervision ………………. due to me asking her so many “political” questions.

    The cat, not the wife.

  3. Terence Mills

    The other day on Media Watch Paul Barry played a clip of Rowan Dean and Andrew Bolt on Sky, slamming the ABC for broadcasting what they saw as a typically Leftie politically correct program called The Pacific : In the wake of Captain Cook narrated rather well in my opinion by Sam Neill.

    Bolt and Dean didn’t hold back on their criticism of the ABC particularly for including a segment where Neill interviews Bruce Pascoe on his theories of aboriginal agricultural systems and practices pre European settlement.

    When the ABC advised Bolt that the program had in fact been made by Foxtel [who employ Bolt and Dean] for the History Channel you would have expected red-faces all around.

    But No, all Bolt could say was “well you broadcast it !”

    They live in a world of fake news and conspiracies.

  4. Rossleigh

    Yes, Bert, the hypocrisy of using Twitter to call people on Twitter abusive seems to have escaped Uhlmann.

  5. Henry Rodrigues

    Uhlmann, muleman, whatever, he has proven by his past rants and rhetoric that he is even lower than a journalistic prostitute.
    Using Twitter to slam other Twitter users ? No wonder he’s sounds such a twatter.

  6. Pagnol

    As a friend of mine remarked “ Morrison reminds me of a jellyfish wrapping itself around half a housebrick to stay afloat…”
    Uhlmann and other govt. propagandists notwithstanding.

  7. wam

    Another great piece, rossleigh(like you cuckoo, i don’t need to use a proper noun to indicate respect). I have laughed at uhlmann since he thought it necessary to contacted the erstwhile leader of the opposition, the rabbott, to get his approval for the 7:30 job. He has been grateful and loyal ever since. brodtman must be terrified about talking in her sleep

  8. wam

    well you got to laugh, waltz(of the cuckoos) at bolt(no respect intended) suggesting the ABC should censor foxtel(ditto) for material he deems inappropriate?

  9. Kerri

    The response to the leaked Linda Reynolds comment has been handled just like the Sports Rorts saga.
    Choose the lesser of 2 evils and apologise for it in full knowledge of what the apology should really have been for.
    It seems to be a tries and true Morrison government tactic.
    The MSM need to call the government out for it more frequently.

  10. wam

    Kerri the msm will call it out if pushed because controversy gets ratings but who will push? albo??? tanya??? anyone???
    kaye sounds true to me sales is average compared to ferguson and uhlmann is definitely a limp vegetable.

  11. Ross

    Be careful what you say sewer rats. Porter’s lawyers are out on the hunt for nasty things being said about our intrepid Attorney General. Christian Porter’s political career is toast so a few juicy deformation payments are just the ticket.

  12. John OCallaghan

    Uhlmann is just another bought and paid for corporate/ conservative government presstitute doing the bidding of what he perceives as his betters, and he sees the rest of us like useless scum to be used and manipulated like a chapter from some George Orwell novel…….

  13. king1394

    I am totally stumped by the moral dilemma of the Shrodinger cat in the box, and whether you can ever throw it out

  14. andy56

    look , its not hard to grasp the fact that a non conviction isnt the same as innocent. Its just means there are not enough proven facts to prove either way.

    Mr Porter is in a no win situation, which means his position is untenable. He will be forever cast as ” the rapist” who got away with it.
    He is a victim of his past behaviour and no glossing over or legalistic evasion can shield him.

    So as much as i feel for the woman who took her own life, she also left a mess to clear up. And there is the sad part, she didnt think it was goin to get cleared up or her voice wasnt going to be heard.

    There just is no way for us to say he is guilty 100%, thats a sad reality. There is no way we can prove he is innocent 100% either.
    The legal system is in a away playing with probabilities. At what probability level are we to convict? 60%, 80%, 99%.

    Its a dirty game and the music has stopped, Porter is left holding the can. Thats life.
    In some way, its like Capone getting convicted on a minor charge for his major indiscretions. Yes its an exaggerated analogy, but like everything else in life, shit happens.

    Life wont end for Porter if he steps down, he will have his cushy super. Much more than many others have left in this world.

  15. Gangstas Paradise


    A juicy place on the bench beckons …… Morrison’s usual style is to rub the noses of the electorate in it as much as he can.

  16. Kaye Lee

    There are things that an investigation could look at. Porter says he was never in the girl’s room. Porter says he has never asked anyone else to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Porter says he never met up with the girl after 1988. The evidence may support those statements. Or maybe not. Or there may be no way to determine either way.

    I have a feeling that we may hear more quite soon.

  17. Anne Mills

    Ulhmann is of suspect character, shares the same outlook as Porter. ‘Tared with the same brush’ as the saying goes. Have recently read that his ex-wife suffered domestic voilence while married to him.

  18. Terence Mills

    Morrison has insisted that the rule of law apply and that Porter be given the presumption of innocence.

    The presumption of innocence is a preliminary legal step implying that one is considered “innocent until proven guilty or until acquitted “. …

    There must be a a secondary step which can be by way of a trial and a prosecution and this must find that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and if reasonable doubt remains, the accused must be acquitted.

    What Morrison is doing is hanging Porter out to dry with nothing to follow the presumption [of innocence] granted to him.

    As the NSW police have hastily closed their file without investigation or even interviewing Porter then the only avenue open in this instance is a formal inquiry and because we are talking about the Attorney General of Australia, this inquiry must be carried out by, at minimum, a retired High Court Justice.

    If as a result of this inquiry, with evidence under oath from witnesses, there is no substance warranting further police action then the man must be cleared of any wrong doing and he can for the rest of his days point to that exoneration.

  19. Rossleigh

    Without commenting on the allegations, the respective timelines given by the PM and Porter don’t add up. Porter says that they spoke on – he thought – Wednesday and that Morrison had the material and had sent it on to the AFP. Morrison claims that he didn’t receive the material till late Friday. Wednesday, the PM was meeting with Reece Kershaw, the AFP chief who then sent out a letter telling MPs to take complaints to the police rather than the media. No link between that and his meeting with PM! Two days later Morrison gets the allegations and hands them on without reading them and puts allegations to Porter except that he did that on the same day as he met with Kershaw.
    It would be worth some journalist constructed a timeline of events, according to each person and checking where they were on Friday.

  20. Harry Lime

    Just more examples of the lies and dodging of responsibilities that characterises Morrison and his woeful ‘government’.Morrison’s one and only motivation is his own survival,no matter who has to be sacrificed on the altar of his inflated ego,and with an ounce of luck and the pricking of someone’s conscience, will be his undoing.Karma has duly caught up with,and steamrolled Porter,and any serious and independent inquiry is likely to be horrendous..Morrison will be already calculating the likely results of such an inquiry,and as Porter is seriously damaged goods,his fate is a forgone conclusion..All that is left now for the Liar is to render everyone slack-jawed with his trademark gobbledegook.

  21. Henry Rodrigues

    I don’t trust these coalition politicians and their stooges, the police. Nothing that’s happened in the past 7 years of the coalition government convinces me otherwise. Who are the police loyal to, Scummo or the law ?

    I am excercising my freedom of speech in saying that.

  22. Gangey1959

    It’s a shame that the ag’s crimes weren’t committed in Victoria.
    After conviction, he would have the opportunity of at least two appeals for using the evidence of a deceased witness, but he might have spent some time in jug.
    The pm and his bunch of wind-up toys seem to not realise the difference between none, no credible, and no ADMISSIBLE evidence. The general public does not have the same difficulty.
    String him up, and let the crows sort it out.

  23. Harry Lime

    Elsewhere, the SMH reports that corporal Reynolds is extending her leave,hopefully permanently, and with porter getting his head seen to,the Liar would seem to be a minority misgovernment.Is this the end of the road for these charlatans,or can we just see it from here?
    The next little while will be thrilling for some, and chilling for others.A bex and a lie down can only take you so far.

  24. Kronomex

    I’m surprised that Saint Scotty of the Desperate hasn’t asked (ordered?) Labor to pair yet.

  25. jamie

    hey henry hate to rattle yer cage but der ain’t no freedom of speech in strawlya matey!! read on fellow penal colony inmate.

    You can almost hear the exasperation in the words of the High judges last week. They wrote: “As has been emphasised by this Court repeatedly … the implied freedom of political communication [in the Australian Constitution] is not a personal right of free speech.”

    In blunter language they may as well have said:: “Get it through your thick skulls. There is no freedom of speech in Australia. Stop watching American movies.”

    Under Australian law there is no individual right to free speech. In general it is for the person making the speech to prove that the law allows it.

    In defamation, it means you publish at your peril and if you cannot prove a legal defence to the speech you cop a hefty damages bill.

    In employment, if you cannot prove you abided by any requirements in your employment contract and you speak out, you get the sack.

    In national security, you have to mount a defence against any prosecution assertion that your speaking out compromised national security or you go to jail.

    The High Court’s reasoning in its decision upholding the sacking of a public servant for anonymously tweeting highly critical things about the department she worked for – immigration – should be (but probably won’t be) a jolt in the public consciousness that if you want freedom of speech in Australia you are going to have to argue for a Bill of Rights similar to that in Canada, New Zealand, the US.

    PS: Annette Kimmitt, chief executive at MinterEllison, told employees in an email sent on Wednesday that defamation lawyer Peter Bartlett had not advised the firm before accepting Mr Porter as a client, the Australian Financial Review reported.

  26. Rossleigh

    Over a year, vikingduk. As giving a pair is a convention, I think Labor should refuse one on procedural motions like “I move that the member no longer be heard.”

  27. Henry Rodrigues

    Thanks jamie for the reminder. Be that as it may, its good to get it off one’s chest, not that’s it’ll faze the bastards. I’d like to rattle their cages and their empty skulls and their smug satisfied existences.

  28. Terence Mills

    When it comes to the convention of granting pairs it was Abbott who first repudiated the convention during the Gillard government term : the opposition can but rarely does repudiate a pairing arrangement.

    Following the death of artist Margaret Olley Simon Crean as The Arts Minister, was scheduled to attend the memorial and Malcolm Turnbull was to represent the opposition. They would be paired with each other.

    Abbott withdrew a written agreement to pair Mr Crean with Mr Turnbull, which meant neither could attend the state memorial.

    Now, the government of Scott Morrison wants to pair two ministers off on stress leave – I don’t know if that is reasonable in the circumstances.

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