Andrew Laming
Andrew Laming (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Incarceration of speech Yesterday, News Corp journalist Eliza Barr tweeted: “Earlier this year I published a tweet about Andrew Laming MP. I accept that the claim made about Mr Laming in that tweet was false and defamatory. I unconditionally withdraw that claim and apologise to Andrew Laming for the hurt and offends caused to him by reason of my conduct”.

The heartfelt and spontaneous apology is now her pinned tweet. And thank god for that — after all, it’s been established that Laming’s only offense is being TOO full of empathy. And nothing will rehabilitate his reputation like a tweet that, to the untrained eye, looks suspiciously like a lawyer wrote it with a gun to their head.

But of course this appears to be a new weapon in every politician’s arsenal. Peter Dutton, so concerned about freedom of speech during the marriage equality debate, is attempting to sue refugee activist Shane Bazzi back for tweeting that Dutton was “a rape apologist”. Christian Porter sued the ABC for its report on historical rape allegations against a then-anonymous minister, leading to a slightly anti-climactic resolution,

And now NSW deputy premier John Barilaro, not content with suing YouTuber Friendlyjordies for defamation, put in a complaint to the police which led to the dramatic arrest of a Friendlyjordies producer under the state’s “fixated persons” legislation — usually reserved for lone-wolf terrorists and dangerous stalkers. It will be worth watching the outcome of these cases, which could well decide whether hard-right free-speech warriors (who, let’s not forget, have access to the nation’s media — and parliamentary privilege — to defend themselves if they feel they’ve been defamed, unlike the rest of us) will decide that using the law to stifle dissent is a viable option going forward.

Today, Barr’s tweet was joined by a similar one from Derryn Hinch — and if you’ve got Hinch to retract a statement, something’s definitely going on.

A Hanson sum That it should come down to this. Crikey has long chronicled the government’s attacks on industry super. The latest iteration of this is Your Super Your Future reforms, which look set to pass now after a deal with One Nation’s Pauline Hanson. The sweetener for Hanson are amendments that include higher concessional contributions for those aged 67 and above, for the current financial year onwards. In a happy coincidence, Hanson is 67.

It’s reminder that the Senator clearly wields a bit of power — remember how Hanson used parliamentary privilege in 2019 to make accusations against her son’s ex-wife’s conduct in the family court, after which, against all expert opinion, the family court was abolished?

As an interesting post script, this morning Hanson told the Senate her birthday was yesterday, and then, 13 whole minutes later, insisted her birthday was in May and anyone who said it was yesterday was a liar. Rick James would be proud.

Trump Watch The presidency of Donald Trump was replete with firsts — first president to be impeached twice, first president to get banned from all the major social media networks, first president to look directly into the sun. He appears to be adding to that cavalcade of innovation by being the first former president to struggle to get a book deal.

Given the guarantee of huge sales, this is saying quite something; but according to publishing figures it’s simply not worth the downside: “It doesn’t matter what the upside on a Trump book deal is, the headaches the project would bring would far outweigh the potential in the eyes of a major publisher,” Keith Urbahn, president and founding partner of agency Javelin, told Politico.

“Any editor bold enough to acquire the Trump memoir is looking at a fact-checking nightmare, an exodus of other authors, and a staff uprising in the unlikely event they strike a deal with the former president.”

Biden Watch Look, we wouldn’t have let this kind of shit slide if Trump said it. His successor Joe Biden, in a press conference following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, chastised Russia for alleged meddling in US elections. I mean, what if the US did stuff like that?

How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the elections directly of other countries and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he engaged in? It diminishes the standing of a country.

We’ll present that one without comment (but, you know, a few links).