To steal from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and his wishful thinking about the ABC, “‘One down, many more to go”.

I am applying the quote to the passport ban on the 20,000 men (and a few women) on the child sex offender register announced this week by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

After the changes to the Passport Act are introduced into the House of Reps next month (and hopefully passed on the voices by the Senate) it will trigger what Bishop has called “the biggest passport recall since Federation”.

It will, I hope, finally put an end to what I have been calling “child rape holidays” by Australian paedophiles in south-east Asia.

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I launched the campaign for a passport ban on arrival in the Senate last year. It was prompted by a hand-scrawled note from Australian actress Rachel Griffith, who asked the question nobody else was asking: “If we can take a passport off a BANKRUPT why can’t we stop our paedophiles travelling to Myanmar!”

They will be stopped soon, but I want to go further, and that’s why I opened with Peter Dutton’s “One down …” quote.

Australia today. The UK and New Zealand tomorrow. This sounds like being over-ambitious, but I am plotting a serious extension of the passport bans after this week’s stunning win.

I’m hoping that after it becomes law here Bishop takes it to her counterparts in London and Wellington.

As I said on the BBC last night: “We don’t want your paedophiles coming here either.”

It might get a warmer reception in Washington because they’ve had a national public register of convicted sex offenders (something I’m striving for here) for more than 20 years.

***

Tony Foster, a great Australian, died suddenly from a stroke on Saturday.

Only a few days earlier I sat in my Melbourne office with him, and his inseparable wife, Chrissie, discussing how we could keep the government honest on the national redress scheme after the royal commission brings down its final report in December.

When you were with them, you forgot the horrors they had been through. Daughters Emma and Katie were raped by Catholic Father Kevin O’Donnell at Sacred Heart Catholic primary school.

Emma killed herself in 2008 after years of mental and physical pain. And Katie was hit by a car after a drinking binge and is now brain-damaged and in a wheelchair and 24/7 care.

This couple of extraordinary strength and determination fought the Catholic hierarchy for decades. They were mocked and disbelieved by Church authorities, including George Pell, whom Tony Foster would describe as showing a “sociopathic lack of empathy” to their anguish.

I applaud Victorian Premier Dan Andrews for granting a state funeral for one of the most magnificent people I have ever met. It will be held at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Wednesday morning.

***

As the damning drip-drip feed of One Nation taped conversations digs deeper holes for Pauline Hanson and James Ashby (or Cashby, as The Courier Mail dubbed him) I’ll just repeat my tweet from earlier in the week:

 

***

Speaking of tweets. I got into Twitter scalding water when I observed that, on the Queen’s laudable hospital visit to young Manchester victims, it looked like she had “borrowed her orange hat from Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory”.

What seemed to go unnoticed was her question to a teenager about if she enjoyed the Ariana Grande concert.

It reminded me of the apocryphal question supposedly asked of Mrs. Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre after Lincoln’s assassination.

***

Which gives me a segue into another presidential story. To get there, I have to mention Dasher. Senator Sam Dastyari is obsessed with hair — his own and mine. 

In a filibustering effort in the Senate recently, he went on at length about how they all couldn’t have perfect hair “like Senator Hinch over there.”

And when our paths cross in the corridor he’ll ask: “It’s still perfect. Who’s your hairdresser?”

Which leads me into a President Kennedy story because of his famous, boyish, head of hair. (He did follow eight years of the chrome-domed septuagenarian Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.)

In the flood of magazine colour stories about JFK and Jackie, in the 1960 presidential race against Tricky Dickie Nixon, I remember seeing one about Kennedy’s hair.

I was 16 at the time and just started my career as a cub reporter on the Taranaki Herald (circulation 11,000) in New Plymouth, New Zealie.

Kennedy attributed his abundance of active follicles to the fact that he vigorously massaged his scalp for two minutes in the shower every morning while shampooing his mop.

I’ve taken that advice every morning ever since.

Useless fact: In April, 1968, a new musical featuring nudity and hippies opened at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway. I couldn’t be bothered going and gave away free tickets. It was a hit musical called Hair. I missed the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Even though I was one.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

Liz
North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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