Here is the news, according to The Australian: Bill Leak is still dead. The Walkley-award winning cartoonist has continued to be dead for more than a week. The Australian is keeping a watching brief on this, with daily updates on Bill Leak still being dead.

Today’s entry was a double-doozy: a long piece by retro-chic rightist Mark Steyn on the persecution of poor petals on the right. “Silencing a larrikin spirit” the headline reads. Would Steyn be tempted to go a little over the top? “Bill was not gunned down at his office, like the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo …”. Yes, he would.

For another 2000 words, we get the same wacky mind split of the right: Leak et al were brave, fearless people, speaking truth to power blah blah, on the other hand, a fatuous, and soon withdrawn, 18C complaint may have killed him. Death threats and the precautionary measure of a house move (Bill had to live in a “strange house”, Steyn remarks) are elevated to the level of real threats to free speech: the murder of dozens of journalists in Russia, lethal killings in Iraq, targeted killings by Israelis in the Palestinian territories.

This is the bizarre turn the right has taken in the wake of Leak’s death: a whining, mewling victimhood (I’m sure my old mucker Brendan O’Neill will have something to say about this vat of whine from the Oz right; he hates victimhood). Thankfully, having spent a page on Leak’s troubles, Steyn ends with a case of real persecution: the Charlie Hebdo-esque slaughter when Mark Steyn had, steady yourself, a case run against him in the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The horror. The horror. Perhaps Steyn is feeling a little neglected. He has largely disappeared from the public prints after a vast libel case began in the US over an article he wrote in conservative weekly National Review, casting some aspersions on climate change activist Michael Mann. National Review is defending against the suit, but Steyn has disappeared from their pages. Such cowardice. But that’s what happens when you start to play the victim.

Could it get any funnier? Yes! Over the page, there’s a Bill Leak cartoon! It’s the Bill Leak cartoon about the Aboriginal dad, beer in hand — who will take a firm stand against alcohol abuse, now that Bill has gone? — forgetting his son’s name! It’s the best of Bill Leak! With their alternating cartoonist, the excellent Kudelka, not capable of being relied on to toe a party line, it’s all they have! The cartoons will be doubly funny for being reheated. How long will that go on? Until they find a talented, funny right-wing cartoonist. Good luck with that. Here is the news (h/t Chevy Chase): Bill Leak is still dead.

Back across the page, it’s Richo. Richo’s not a one-note obsessive, like the Leakistas; these days, he’s a two-note obsessive: 1) burn coal, 2) t.e.h Greenz is ova. Richo has become the Glenn Wheatley to the Greens’ John Farnham, announcing their final concert every two weeks. Once again, he repeats the demonstrably false assertion that the Greens vote hasn’t changed in two decades. Once again, let’s do the numbers: in 1996, they had about a 1.3% primary vote, averaged across a partially federal and some state parties; their vote has improved by 900%. This is the third or fourth time he’s made this assertion; time for a press council complaint, I reckon; it’s a slam-dunk.

“They even entertained dreams of winning federal or state power,” he raves. No, they entertained dreams of being part of a coalition or support arrangement and, uh, they have, in Tasmania and federally. The article splutters out before the column ends (ran out of space on the Inn of Celestial Happiness menu?), and he fills with a bit of blather about the International Olympic Committee. “The goals of the Greens in some cases are absolutely right,” says Richo. Well, he shares their interest in recycling, that’s for sure. With him and the best of Bill Leak you won’t need to buy a new issue of the paper at all; just stick it in a plastic sleeve and remove it each morning.

One thing you won’t see in today’s issue is your man Gerard Henderson, BA (Santamaria), PhD (BA Santamaria), whose column appears to have vanished. Has he too been sent to Siberia, with Chris Mitchell’s media column (“IBM golfball typewriter spells end of journalism”)? Say it ain’t so, especially since Hendo is so wobbly on his Soviet history. He was not happy about my pointing out last week that he had misattributed five-year plans to Lenin (1870-1924), when they began in 1928, giving me a serve in Media Watch Dog, and impugning my alma mater (very grubby for a Xavier boy; I knew it was a mistake to let the Catholic schools into the APS). One would send him a letter but, alas, the “much loved” correspondence column has disappeared from MWD. A victim of sheer good taste? No, for the last few weeks, Hendo has been running letters written by himself to meeja peeps, which do not elicit a reply. Could you bear it? How sad can you get?

The question is answered by Warren Mundine, who has an op-ed article below the fold on … Bill Leak. Mundine appears to have dropped his brief self-designation of Nyunggai Warren Mundine, or perhaps the Oz has dropped it for him. Really, it should be “Henderson Warren Mundine”, since he is, yes, Gerard’s son-in-law. Henderson Warren Mundine does not think Bill Leak was racist. Mundine is, the bio line suggests, chair of the “Yaabubin Institute for Disruptive Thinking”. He’s been very disrupted lately, shifted off the PM’s Indigenous Advisory Council, as Malcolm Turnbull completes his process of weeding any evidence that Tony Abbott ever existed. Can you bear it? Perhaps he should write to his father-in-law about how the failing Greens killed Bill Leak.

Until next time.

Update: Bill Leak is still dead.

Peter Fray

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