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Evan Whitton
11 May, 2010  
Whitton at large

Matters of the heart and mind … Viscount Castlereagh showed Sin City how to get things done … Law and old rope … Plenty of options for Sir Joh’s kaolin … Effrontery aplenty

A Bogie heart surgeon

imageTo brunch at Naggy’s with the eminent novelist, Dr Peter Corris (pic).

He kindly gave me a book, Heart Matters (Penguin, 2010), edited by himself and Michael Wilding.

It’s by various parties, including the present writer, who have had a little local difficulty with the ticker.

The foreword is by heart surgeon Michael Wilson. He begins:

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

“She” is Corris; the gin joint is a heart intensive-care unit.

Wilson nervously saw himself as responsible for the continued existence of Cliff Hardy, Corris’s low-rent Glebe shamus. He has thus far appeared in 35 books and thanks to Wilson will presumably turn up in quite a few more.

Corris obiter dicta:

* A script-writer on the gin joint film [probably K.C. Robinson] achieved one of the great bits of dud dialogue: image”Was that cannon fire? Or was it my heart pounding?”

* When it was announced that a lung excised from Randolph Churchill (pic) was not malignant, Evelyn Waugh observed: “It was a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant, and remove it.”

Stunned mullet

To get a bit of sleep, you have to short-circuit the rats running round in your head, right?

Like, will this or that bit of sophistry persuade those dunderheads that they must have a reasonable doubt that my guy is guilty?

Here’s a 48-word mantra that quite often works for me. It purports to be an exchange in a gin joint in North Africa imageearly in December 1941 about something that happened on Friday, June 14, 1940, the day the Germans marched into Paris:

“Let’s see. The last time we met.

It was at La Belle Aurore.

How nice. You remembered.

I remember every detail. The Germans wore grey; you wore blue; and I wore the look of a stunned mullet. But that was later, on the steps of the train to Marseilles.”

Sin City

To the Police and Justice Museum for the launch of Tim Girling-Butcher’s Sin City: Crime and Corruption in 20th Century Sydney (125 pp, $19.95, Historic Houses Trust).

The launch, by a former judge, was held in the distinguished presence of Messrs Antony Reeves and R.G. Bottom, authors of the seminal, THE NIGHT THE MAFIA CAME TO SYDNEY (Sunday Telegraph, July 16, 1972.)

The report caused alarm in Mob circles; Commonwealth Police snoops noted that a milieu summit was immediately held in Double Bay.

imageAmong those present were said to be Fred (Paddles) Anderson, first among equals of Sydney’s Mr Big Enoughs, Lenny McPherson, Stan (The Man) Smith, Karl Bonnette, and Alby Sloss MP.

Alby presumably had a watching brief on behalf of certain elements of the Labor Party, then out of office. It is unclear who represented the Premier, Sir Bob Askin (seen, right).

They are all, and more, in Sin City. Girling-Butcher, a towering Kiwi, has thus usefully sought to repair the unfortunate truth in Gary Sturgess’s observation, “Sydney has no memory.”

For the second edition, one may diffidently suggest a minor addition.

To the Irish, corruption is just another part of the rich tapestry of life. Sydney, like Boston, is a very Irish town. We can thank an Irishman, Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, for that.

Castlereagh, Keeper of the King’s Signet in Ireland, put down a revolution in 1798, topped some of the revolutionaries, and exported others to Sydney. Shelley wrote:

I met Murder on the way
He had a mask like Castlereagh.

imageCastlereagh (pic) showed Sydney politicians how to do it in 1800.

To procure an Act of Union with England, he “persuaded” Irish politicians to vote their parliament out of existence. The bribes were 40 peerages, £4 million (some £400 million of our money), and a promise of Catholic emancipation.

As the Irish might have expected, the Poms welshed on the bit about emancipation. Perhaps it was a disgruntled Irish person who sought in 1822 to blackmail the Marquis of Londonderry (as Stewart, 52, now was) for homosexuality.

He topped himself.

A load of old rope

Justice Ronald Sackville says on the Federal Court website:

“The essential responsibility of a judge is embodied in the judicial oath. It is to decide cases according to law. Now that means that the judge is bound by his or her oath or affirmation to apply the law. A judge is not free to decide cases according to his or her personal conceptions of what a just result might be.”

But what, dear Ronnie, if the law is a load of old rope?

The Curious Case of the Bjelkist Kaolin

With Robert Frederick (Ric) Stowe’s WA empire in crumble mode, the word that inevitably springs to mind is … kaolin.

imageLike Sydney, Perth and Brisbane probably have no memory. Here is a little précis of the kaolin saga from evidence at Tony Fitzgerald’s 1987-88 inquiry in Brisbane.

Stowe (pic) controlled Griffin Holdings, W.R. Carpenter (vilely referred to as Would Rob Christ) and East-West Airlines. East-West could not get landing rights in Queensland coastal towns.

After what Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen called a “face-to-face” discussion with Stowe, East-West got the rights on January 31, 1986. (Stowe sold East-West to Ansett in 1987.)

A Griffin director, Ryoto (Bob) Yahiro, offered to buy kaolin on Bjelke-Petersen’s Kingaroy property on behalf of a Japanese company, Kokan Mining, early in 1986.

On April 5, 1986, Kokan agreed to pay Bjelke-Petersen Enterprises and Ciasom, a Bjelke-Petersen family company, $150,000 for a six-month option on the kaolin; if Kokan did not buy, the Bjelkist interests would keep the $150,000.

Kokan did not take up the option, but took out another option in October 1986.

At least from November 1986, Griffin was a partner with Kokan in the kaolin negotiations.

Kokan paid Ciasom $500,000 on December 24, 1986. In June 1987, Kokan and Griffin paid Ciasom $300,000 to further extend the option.

The negotiations effectively ended on December 21, 1987. The Bjelkist interests had accrued $950,000 from the broken options, and still had the kaolin.

The authorities were intrigued but took no action; we must assume that no one was naughty, according to law.

Brazen effrontery

The elegant Mr B. Obama, formerly of Harvard Law School, presumably knows it is a crime, perversion of justice, to cover-up crime.

Nonetheless, he refuses to investigate US torturers and their CIA and government masters.

imageCatholic officials, including the Supreme Pontiff (snap), have likewise covered-up the sex crimes of any number of prelates.

Early in April, Mr Obama had the brazen effrontery to read his even more elegant Afghanistan counterpart, Mr H. Karzai, a little lecture on corruption, and told him to stop it.

The Afghan crook decently did not tell Mr Obama to come back when he has cleaned up his own house.

Wannabe a judge? Here’s how

Lawyers, including academics, who are down on their luck and have mouths to feed, should urge Mr Krudd to change to a truth-seeking system.

They would have a compelling argument: apart from being cheaper and delivering more justice, the new system will require six times as many judicial officers, including magistrates.

That means another 6,000 lawyers will be elevated to the bench. Even the magistrates would get $3,000 a week, and the hours are congenial: 10 am-4pm.