Mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest

The hypocrite of the year award is heating up with a tight race between billionaires Bruce Gordon and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and the entire Chinese and Russian governments.

Let’s take a look at the nominees.

Bruce Gordon

Last week we learned expat media mogul Bruce Gordon, normally based in Bermuda, had been given an exemption by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to live in Australia during the pandemic without incurring an additional tax bill.

That’s right. A 91-year-old billionaire who has lived in a tax haven since 1985 wanted to stay in Australia because, sources close to him revealed, he felt “safer” here.

That’s because most of those grubby little tax “havens” are actually upmarket swamps that don’t have the superior healthcare we have in this country thanks to, you know, those common little people who actually pay tax.

We also learned he spent most of the year holed up in his luxury Circular Quay apartment. It’s the longest he has been in Australia since quitting our shores last century. That would be because the ATO has a strict rule that you must spend 183 days offshore to qualify as a non-resident to avoid paying pesky personal income tax.

Twiggy Forrest

Billionaire Twiggy Forrest took the opposite approach: he left his home state of WA some months ago for Croatia, to pursue business opportunities.

Unfortunately, that meant Twiggy wasn’t here to massage his media profile as more unflattering stories crept into the local papers. This included reports Fortescue Mining was trying to destroy WA sacred sites.

At the inquiry into the destruction of the Juukan Gorge by fellow miner Rio Tinto, Fortescue was accused of “bullying” legal attempts to destroy the Eastern Guruma sacred sites.

That did not sit well with Twiggy’s carefully crafted image as a champion of Aboriginal rights, so it was rather timely that a story appeared in The Australian this weekend under the helpful headline “Andrew Forrest hailed as the voice for the Indigenous”.

But on careful reading of the short strange story, the man “hailing” Twiggy as “the influential voice to parliament on Indigenous issues” was one Ngaanyatjarraku shire president Damian McLean. McLean is not Indigenous and he also seemed to be speaking sarcastically. Irony or spin?

Gladys Berejiklian

The Queen of Spin, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, might need more than soft interviews and the upcoming Vogue fashion shoot to offset her avalanche of bad publicity.

“Poor Gladys” is now “Exhausted Gladys”, according to her media minders in the weekend papers. They noted how hard she has worked during the pandemic and said that sheer tiredness has led to recent mistakes.

Tell that to Dan Andrews. Or Julia Gillard. And let’s not mention her pre-pandemic misjudgments. The woman who fails to protect greyhounds and koalas never fails to fight for property developers and Nats leader John “Pork” Barilaro.

The premier’s minders seem to be spinning that her recent problems are nothing a good quick holiday can’t fix.

China

Then there was China with its latest ludicrous ban on Australian goods: this time it claimed we are dumping cheap wine. (They’ve already ripped off all the top-end ones.)

This from the nation that signed a free trade agreement with Australia, which is obviously not worth the paper on which it is written. So too their signing up to the World Trade Organization where they blithely ignore the countless dumping actions against them…

Russia

But then this morning came the ultimate hypocrisy from Russia with news their foreign ministry has attacked Australia’s credibility on the world stage after the Brereton report into unlawful killings by the SAS.

The same Russia that is truly “shocked” by our conduct is the nation that shot down MH17, killing 298 passengers including nearly 40 Australians. Not to mention invading Crimea, supporting the Assad regime in Syria and poisoning political opponents in Britain.

Oh and, for good measure, China joined in the pile-on claiming the report revealed the “hypocrisy of the human rights and freedom these Western countries are always chanting about”.

So strap in. With nominees like these, it’s going to be a very close race.

Peter Fray

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