Fred Nile
Fred Nile

Life, as Ferris Bueller so wisely said, moves pretty fast — and here are stories you might have zipped on by this week.

Nile’s pile o’ denial

It’s not been a great period to be a right-wing, religiously-flavoured minor political party in Australia. Both Fraser Anning’s National Conservatives and the Australian Conservatives have all crashed and burned in recent times, not least because the Coalition has been stealing all their talking points and self-righteous pomposity.

The latest party to be feeling the effect of increased irrelevance in the Australian votescape is the Christian Democrats, presided over by that spry young go-getter Fred Nile, 85.

After his party crashed out at the last federal election, and even failed to get a candidate into the previously-safe NSW upper house, there was a crisis meeting of the party about the urgent need for new blood and an invigorated leadership.

Nile agreed, suggesting that his wife Silvana was just the sort of bold, next-gen, out-of-the-box choice to take the party to the future, a captain’s call which led to no confidence motion and a board walk out. And now Fred’s worked out the best way to heal the division: sacking and suspending board members, in contravention of the party’s constitution.

And if that sounds ill-considered, be reassured that Nile’s been consulting with his supervisor.

“The Lord has shown me a divided house cannot stand,” Nile wrote to members, possibly confusing God with Abraham Lincoln. “I am accountable to God almighty.”

God was unavailable to comment before press time.

When is an ‘exclusive’ an exclusive?

More shocking details emerged this week via Nine and its affiliated papers regarding the regular Philippine travels of LNP MP George Christensen.

In the breathless reports with their bright red “EXCLUSIVE” tags came the news that Christensen’s frequent visits to allegedly see his now-wife’s family and work with local charities seemed to involve a surprisingly large amount of socialising in the red light districts of Angeles City. The visits particularly centred around a go-go bar called Pony Tails where, the story claimed, the now-Mrs Christensen, April Asuncion, worked as a registered adult entertainer.

And this heavily-denied-by-George information is indeed revelatory — at least, to those who didn’t see the story containing all the key details that came out almost eight months earlier.

That story was written by Serkan Ozturk and published at his self described “gonzo news site” True Crime News Weekly — a lurid, tabloidy affair that takes uncomfortable delight in some of the more salacious details, some of which are of dubious public interest. You might remember that True Crime News Weekly published rumours of Barnaby Joyce’s infidelity months before the story was broken by Sharri Markson in The Daily Telegraph.

Exclusives just aren’t what they used to be, huh?

Incompetence is now a defence

The South Australian Independent Commission Against Corruption has had a challenging job investigating embattled SA Health, to the extent that a report tabled to the state parliament this week concluded that things there are so bad it’s impossible to tell just how bad the things actually are. Which is, y’know, bad.

The report’s author Bruce Lander wrote, “I have closed a number of corruption investigations into conduct of SA Health employees because the system is so poorly administered that is hampered by efforts to obtain appropriate evidence.”

Specifically, record keeping at the Department of Health is so poor that they can’t even determine the extent or scope of what the report describes as “an environment where personal interests are preferred at the expense of the public interest”.

Not that it matters, obviously — at least, not to Health Minister Stephen Wade who admitted that he didn’t bother actually reading the thing before announcing the government’s response.

And that response? Not the royal commission which has been called for in the media, or a proper ICAC investigation which the state government has declined to fund. No, they’re deploying a cross-agency taskforce, led by… um, the Department of Premier and Cabinet. Sorted!

In short, the lesson here appears to be that corruption isn’t corruption if the people involved are suitably disorganised and sloppy about it. So maybe Canberra has nothing to fear from a federal ICAC after all!

What other news stories do you think flew under the radar this week? Send your thoughts through to [email protected]. Please include your full name for publication.

Peter Fray

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