Of all the facets of the Einfeld tale, the personal tragedy, while stark, is not the most abject. More profound is the potential damage to the causes Einfeld has served. Einfeld’s ideological critics, in attempting to make a connection between his alleged conduct and the merits of these causes, are guilty of a gross untruth.

As well as his evidence in court, the bona fides of Einfeld’s CV are being examined. That is to be expected by any job applicant, let alone public figure. However, Einfeld’s gleeful critics go further. Already, the most enthusiastic of his pursuers are devising great tottering self-serving syllogisms to undermine not only Einfeld, but also the causes with which he has been associated:

Einfeld is a liar;

Einfeld is an advocate for cause A;

Therefore Cause A is based on a lie.

The ideological enemies of Einfeld are in the scorn game. In their enthusiasm to sink him, they fudge the facts. Witness Paul Sheehan’s finger pointing rant in the Sydney Morning Herald:

This son of a Labor politician, and Labor judicial appointee, has played the political game with ferocity. He has invoked the Nazi era (“The thuggery of the guards at Woomera … not much different to that shown by the SS guards in the name of the Third Reich …”).

Inevitably, he cried “genocide” after the Bringing Them Home report on the removal of Aboriginal children was published, a report whose claim of genocide, when subjected to the forensic scrutiny of the courts in Cubillo v Commonwealth (2000), disintegrated.

This is what Einfeld actually said in relation to the conduct of the Woomera guards in his address at the University of Newcastle in September 2002. Note the careful qualifications and the identification of the sources of evidence:

These camps are not concentration camps. A Holocaust is not occurring in them, and the suffering of the people, although great, is not to be compared to the Jewish and other victims of the Nazis. I do not much like historic parallels anyway but the thuggery of the guards at Woomera as shown on that TV program and of the employees at the other camps evidenced in my folders are not much different to that shown by some SS Guards in the name of the Third Reich in the 1930s in Europe. I hate to say it but these events happened in Australia in the 21st century.

As to genocide? No such allegation was made in the case of Cubillo v Commonwealth. In fact, Justice O’Loughlin clearly contradicts Sheehan’s assertions at the outset of his judgment when he said “Neither the evidence in this trial, nor these reasons for judgment, deny the existence of ‘the Stolen Generation’.”

Whatever the outcome of the police investigation, this controversy has already done damage. This episode should invoke bewilderment, not scorn.

Marcus Einfeld’s alleged conduct and the merits of the causes he has served are separate. Those who may wish to conflate these for their own ideological purposes would be peddling an untruth greater than any now alleged against Marcus Einfeld.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey